Friday, September 28, 2007

Understanding GPL - Vote on the two scenerios

I'm sure by now everyone's familiar with the first U.S. GPL lawsuit filed against Monsoon Multimedia by BusyBox and Free Software Foundation.
(If you're not familiar, check out the following links:

Well reading through those made me question the license and how it applies to two different scenarios.

Scenario - A: Say you create a publically accessible website called and this website on the server-side uses a library called abc.jar that's released under the GPL license.

Does that constitute that we release the source code of website to comply with the GPL licensing?

Scenario - B: Say we create a Java framework, called Fritz (Fritz.jar). This is the next upcoming big MVC framework like Struts or WebWork but proprietary. This framework uses a library called abc.jar that's released under the GPL license. And the person or company that developed it wants to sell it. And people can buy it and use it in their development work.

Now since Fritz.jar depends on or uses abc.jar, does that constitute that we release the source code of Fritz.jar to comply with the GPL licensing?

Share your thoughts. Which one of these two cases do we need to release the "fritz" software? Is there a violation in this case? And when you reply, explain why instead of just voting...

Current Votes:

Scenario - A - Yes, release your code as well............................1
Scenario - A - No, you do not need to release your code.........2

Scenario - B - Yes, release your code as well.............................3
Scenario - B - No, you do not need to release your code..........0


Anonymous said...

Scenario A: You do not need to release your sites source code.

Scenario B: You need to release your source code under GPL to comply.

Anonymous said...

You need to release the source-code in both scenarios

Anonymous said...

Scenario A: doesn't constitute a redistribution, so you aren't required to make your source available.

Scenario B: Since you are linking to a GPL library, you would need to make your source code available to your customers.

Anonymous said...

In response to the last users comment...

Wouldn't that depend on how you define "redistribution"? If 'redistribution" is considered as the act of the public user using your tool on a remote server or "redistribution" is defined as someone having to hold a physical copy of the compiled code in their computer of hand?

Anonymous said...

"computer of hand" = "computer or hand"

cornflake.pirate said...

In the first case, the user is providing input (e.g. using forms) and reading the output (in the browser). The user is not actually running the program nor is the user able to access the actual program.

Redistribution of a program means giving or allowing access to the binary. That is not happening in this scenario.

Anonymous said...

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