Commercial use in script

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Commercial use in script

Postby Abstract » 11:43am, Wed 26 Mar, 2008

Hi Everyone,

I'm making a php script which will be soled to other companies. This script needs to have a newsletter functionality.

I could start writting a basic newsletter functionality for this script, however this will never come close to the functionality PhPlist has now. I just don't have the time to make it so advanced.

The perfect solution would be to integrate the PhPlist in my script. This would add a long list of features to my script and it would only cost me time to write a API for PhPlist that would fit my script needs.

The question is now, I'm a aloud to do this and still sell my script with an integrated phplist as a commercial product?

Note that the PhPlist is a part of the script. The purpose of the script is not sending newsletters, it's just a one of the ways to send information to the members.

Thanks Arian
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Postby Ernesto » 2:13pm, Wed 26 Mar, 2008

Phplist is distributed under the GPL v.2 license. I suggest you read it carefully. See the links on the official phplist download page:
Search first, Ask questions later...
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Question about a FAQ

Postby Abstract » 12:41pm, Thu 27 Mar, 2008

Thanks Ernest, ofcourse I got had though of that myself, didn't think about it.

I had a question related to this FAQ: ... mmercially

I like to use existing php script with this license in my new script which will be sold commercially.
This existing php script is only a small part of the whole source code and will be modified a little bit.

When I want to sell this new script should I only make the modified source code of the existing script available for the buyers or should I should a make the complete source code of the new script available
and put this new script under the GNU GPL v.2 licence?

Because the existing script only is a small part of the new script it isn't really attractive to publish the whole source code of the new script.

Thanks Arian
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Re: Question about a FAQ

Postby michiel » 1:37am, Fri 28 Mar, 2008

Abstract wrote:
Because the existing script only is a small part of the new script it isn't really attractive to publish the whole source code of the new script.

Thanks Arian

I was alerted by Dragonrider about this interesting issue.

The main problem as far as I'm concerned is not legalities. I've written (most of) the code, and I've given it away in appreciation of all the fantastic code that I have received from other people who have done the same (PHP, Mysql, Apache, Linux, to name a few big ones, but Mantis, PhpBB and many more should be on the list as well)

Now, I know that a lot of people are very puzzled about how it all works, and to be honest, so am I (still). I'm not a lawyer, and interestingly enough, any lawyer I know hasn't got a clue about how the GPL would work, as it's very much against the way they work (this is mine, and you're not to touch it, or I'll sue you in court).

As I see it, the main problem is not the legality but the future. Software is too easy to tweak and adapt to do something else. It's not a table, which you can get a carpenter to make. You're not getting the carpenter in every two weeks to just make that final adjustment to make it even better. No, a table is finished when it's finished and that's it. Software isn't like that.

You release a version and you think, blast, forgot to put in A instead of B and whoops, there's another version, just because of that.

Anyway, let's not waffle and get to the point.

Bruce Perens wrote a very interesting article of the Economy of Open source software, which I only recently found (it's actually from 2005, but still very relevant).

The problem is this. You build your system, you sell it to your clients and then a security vulnerability is found in phplist (which has happened a few times, and thankfully, the people finding it were open source friendly, so we could sort it out and update the code).

Now, if you made many updates to the phplist code, it'll take you quite a lot of time to figure out how to apply the updates. So, my guess is, you're not going to, because your clients are not going to pay you, to fix something that should have been working anyway, and you have given them a warranty, which they demanded, so it's all on your time, which is unpaid.

However, if you don't touch the code and slot in the next version that we update with the security fix, you're laughing.

So, from a legal combined with a technical point of view, the thing you'd do is this:

1. you make sure that phplist is used verbatim in your system. I don't think there's the need to GPL your entire system, even though officially that would actually be required. If only phplist had been licensed the LGPL (Lesser GPL) that would not be an issue, but with the GPL you are actually required to publish the source of all of it.

It may be best to keep them more separate: (a) login to your system and (b) go to phplist to do something else. Clients are generally fairly ok with that.

2. you contribute your code changes to the phplist project, and make sure it works as you want to. Now, that's a bit time consuming, as you'd have to convince us first that your changes are really useful to the world and secondly that you're a great coder who can be relied upon to make changes that will work and have been tested and will be maintained. That, unfortunately, takes some time of posting to the developers list, communicating, discussing and whatever else.

But most of all, you need to rethink your way of working.

You could for example work out the badly needed API for phplist and would allow you to build anything you want on top of phplist. There have been some efforts to get it sorted, so there's already something to work from. Once that's in place, which will benefit loads of people, you will be able to make your system the way you want it, and charge anything for it to your clients. But most importantly, it will make sure that phplist will still work as you want it in say six month's time. Or a year, or be it two.

Because if you now charge money for things and in six months time it's out of date, you're going to be out of business quite quickly.
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