Dec 30, 2009 at 1:58 PM
Edited Dec 30, 2009 at 2:02 PM
First of all I'm glad you like the projectidea as such and it's an interesting thought you've submitted. As far as the licensing is concerned you are right about the GPL2 license: the new Survey project is based on the open source webapplication formerly
known as NSurvey 1.6. NSurvey was written by Thomas Zumbrunn, copyright (c) 2004 and published under the GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE Version 2, June 1991.
This does of course have consequences for the way the project and most of all the software can evolve.
In general the GPL license is quite strict in keeping both the original code and any changes to it under the same licensing conditions. In this sense you are right about it not being easy to do any new work under a different license or to get away from the
GPL licence (although GPL does offer options for this as well - see below).
The question however is would the fact that the GPL license applies to both original and new work alike pose a real problem and to whom?
It's a good thing you've raised the issue and to further the discussion please feel free to respond to some of the following considerations which may help to sharpen the ideas behind the project:
a. Praktical consequences:
- they can be handled and taken care of without too much extra effort. E.g. "You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices stating that you changed the files and the date of any change."
- In general as long as you make reference to (mention) the original or new contributors and enclose the GPL license agreement, you can go ahead making changes or creating new versions of the application.
b. Survey project principles:
- both Nsurvey and the new Survey project are set up as "open source" projects; "open source" meaning all sourcecode original (old) and new of the webapplication being available at all time;
- the idea behind the Survey project is to share knowledge, work cooperatively on and freely contribute to a common (web)solution which will then be freely available to anyone interested in using the webapplication or to further develop another new application
on the basis of the Survey programming code (which in its turn was based on the Nsurvey code);
- "(creative) thoughts and idea's are never fully original - they are always based on the work of others - our software ancestors"; the concept of (legal) "ownership" of thoughts or the products of thinking is for schoolyardbullies (read:
lawyers, politicians, global corporations etc.) but not a sustainable (web)concept;
- GPL prevents third parties from claiming full ownership and copyright of any "newly build application" that was based on or derived from the original sourcecode. Additions made by third parties are (in most cases) also forced to be published
under GPL as open source. This can only contribute to the idea of "fighting" intellectual copyright claims and legal ownership of thoughts and ideas.
- Of course this may be considered a problem by "commercial parties" that want to make money out of the "softwareproduct" instead of making money out of the services delivered surrounding the product. In short under GPL it's difficult
to commercialize the "product". Nevertheless you can make a decent earning by delivering special services (e.g. maintenance, hosting, installation, implementation, consulting etc. - even programming).
- Finally GPL does allow in certain cases to create new (survey related) work under it's own license (see red lines below). Distribution would have to be separate from the original application. As an example it would be imaginable to see an additional Survey
module/plugin created that is distrituted separately with it's own license and and can be added/ imported into the Survey basic installation (see the DotNetNuke concept).
In short GPL does not have to stand in the way of a succesfull Survey project and webapplication product as long as the purpose and intentions of the project are not forgotten.
From the GNU GPL2 license
2. You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion of it, thus forming a work based on the Program, and copy and distribute such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1 above, provided that you also meet all of
a) You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices stating that you changed the files and the date of any change.
b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.
c) If the modified program normally reads commands interactively when run, you must cause it, when started running for such interactive use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an announcement including an appropriate copyright notice and a notice
that there is no warranty (or else, saying that you provide a warranty) and that users may redistribute the program under these conditions, and telling the user how to view a copy of this License. (Exception: if the Program itself is interactive but does not
normally print such an announcement, your work based on the Program is not required to print an announcement.)
These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole.
If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate works.
But when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire whole, and thus to each
and every part regardless of who wrote it.
Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or collective works
based on the Program.
10. If you wish to incorporate parts of the Program into other free programs whose distribution conditions are different, write to the author to ask for permission. For software which is copyrighted by
the Free Software Foundation, write to the Free Software Foundation; we sometimes make exceptions for this. Our decision will be guided by the two goals of preserving the free status of all derivatives of our free software and of promoting the sharing and
reuse of software generally.