Symfony's views on the GPL

Jann Eike Kruse jannkruse at
Wed Sep 23 16:06:32 UTC 2015

Hi Nico!

Good question.
I see similar questions coming up quite frequently between me and my

The "linking exception" you are referring to is probably one of the
1) The exception allowing works released under the GNU LGPL, the "Lesser
General Public License" [1,2] to be linked with works under other licences.
2) The GCC Runtime Library Exception, which allows works compiled with
the GNU C Compiler (GCC) to be released under a different license. [3]

I am not a lawyer, far as I understand, this is rather
irrelevant in this case:

A GPL-licensing of a web development framework has practically no legal
impact on the freedom of choice of license of the developed web
application, since the framework is not part of the "object code" of the
developed web application, but rather a separable and independent
"system library" in the terms of the GPL text.

Similarly I may (if I wanted) legally develop a proprietary software,
written as a "bash" script, which makes use of "sed" and other GNU core
utilities, which are all released under the GNU GPL. I may legally do
that because they are not linked together and distributed as one "object
code", they just make use of each other, but are clearly separable, both
in source and in binary form (if any). In this sense the GNU core
utilities are a "development framework" for bash scripts.

For PHP development frameworks, we see a similar situation:
There are various PHP scripts, which together form the development
framework. But each part and each PHP script of the development
framework is a separate file. And the web application, which I write
will be in other (separate) files again. Nothing will ever be linked
together into any "object code" and if distributed together, it will be
possible to separate the framework files from the application files. So
the GPL will cover all changes (if any) made to the framework but it
will not necessary affect any code licensing of the web application I
wrote within other files.

GNU-people, lawyers, please correct me if I'm wrong! ;)



On 23/09/15 16:40, Nicolas JEAN wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'm looking into Symfony right now, and this stopped my reading: " 8.
> License Licenses are important simply because they can have a
> significant impact on your applications. For example, an application
> developed using a GPL-licensed framework will necessarily be subject
> to GPL. On the other hand, this is not the case for an MIT-licensed
> framework. "
> This seems untrue for several reasons, at best not worded very
> carefully. As I understand it, for example, using a GPL framework
> probably does not make your project "necessarily subject to" the GPL.
> Anyone more on this? Isn't that exactly what the GPL linking
> exception is for?
> What do you people of the Free Software think? :)
> Nico

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