Symfony's views on the GPL

Hugo Roy hugo at
Thu Sep 24 14:06:46 UTC 2015

↪ 2015-09-24 Thu 14:07, Sam Liddicott <sam at>:
> On Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 10:27 AM, Hugo Roy <hugo at> wrote:
> > Le 24 septembre 2015 11:25:11 GMT+02:00, Sam Liddicott <sam at> a écrit :
> >>To my understanding, works can be developed and also used privately by
> >>the developer in the case where the licensing combinations do not
> >>permit copying as coverd by copyright law.
> >
> > Why do you think that? Can you elaborate?
> The GPL license is a conditional permission to do something that would
> otherwise be forbidden by copyright.
> Copyright does not prohibit such development, so no new permission is required.

It depends. Copyright laws give a monopoly on certain activities
related to a “work” (which can be e.g. a computer program or a novel).

More precisely for software, the rights to reproduce, to adapt as well
as the right to distribute forms of the software are restricted
activities (see EU directive 91/250, article 4).

So depending on what you're doing to develop new software, it is
possible that you might be doing some reproduction or some adaptation
of another original work; in such a scenario, the development is
restricted by copyright laws without the need for distribution to

This is why GPL actually gives your permission to reproduce, adapt
from and distribute the software (this is actually more or less the
title of the Terms and Conditions of GPLv2).

> For the same reason I can buy books and build a castle out of them,

Building a castle out of books does not reproduce, adapt from or
distribute the work. This is indeed not covered by copyright law. But
construction laws may apply depending on how big your castle is ;-)

> or re-order the pages or write my own stories based on them even
> including large parts of the original book. But I may not distribute
> these works without permission from the rights holder.

For non-software copyrighted works, you need to look at directive
2001/29. So that's off-topic for this list but if you're curious you
can have a look. Not all analogies with literary works are good for
thinking about software.


Hugo Roy – Free Software Foundation Europe
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