GPL - possible violation - what should I do?

MJ Ray markj at
Mon Mar 18 13:55:05 UTC 2002

Jan Wildeboer <jan.wildeboer at> wrote:
> The way we use modules is by using include() statements that include the
> modules in the calling page thus forming a single source page that the PHP
> interpreter interpretes.
> Modules work with objects generated by the main application, they use
> functions from various project-wide include files. They use database query
> wrapper functions etc.

Right.  So, they are not "linked" as such and are distributed seperately as
extensions to your distribution?  (If they are distributing a combined
ready-to-run package, this is moot and they must obey GPL.) I don't know
what previous thoughts are on PHP'd software.  In the FAQ, Perl is mentioned
and using GPL'd modules means that you must be GPL'd.  Java is mentioned and
subclassing is a derivative work.  I guess that *because* they use your
functions and data structures, they are derived works to all intents and
purposes.  So they should be GPL'd.

But they don't call your scripts, do they?  They just expect you to
include() them and your functions to be available.  Consider this: Would
#include'ing a GPL'd file require your work to be GPL'd?  Probably.  But if
you are #include'd by a GPL'd program, what happens there?  I don't know,
but I think it makes your software Free Software using non-free "libraries". It seems that
the combined system may not be distributed unless you grant a specific
exception.  I'm guessing that you won't.

Do they have to modify your files to run their software??

> I don't know which files you are looking at, I am talking about the
> development versions that uses this in (almost) all source files:

Yes, that's better.  Maybe I snagged the stable version by mistake.

> The third party thinks that their modules (which I believe are based on our
> sample modules, but they won't show us the sources) can be published under
> any license they like. They even used our mailing lists to advertise their
> modules.

Can't you analyse their binaries?  Maybe not, if their licence is nasty.

If they are abusing your mailing lists, you should set their messages to be
held for moderation.  If they evade the moderation, you should file an abuse
report with their provider.

I am not a lawyer.  I'm just trying to understand.
MJR ,----------------------------------------------------
    | Q. Do you need a net-based application developing, 
    |    or advice and training about web technology?
    | A. I suggest you try

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