On Fri, Jul 19, 2002 at 09:53:16PM +0100, awhalley at eircom.net wrote:
> The setup is as follows:
> I develop a piece of code using PHP 3.0.9 which is, to
> my knowledge, GPL.
PHP is released under the GPL, yes.
> The piece of code runs on my server and is an integral part of a system
> that I have developed for a client. I did not recieve payment for this
> particular piece of code but I did recieve payment for the system. My client
> now wants to use a different service provider but keep my code.
> Do I have a right to claim intellectual property rights for my little
> piece of code that he did not pay me for or do I have to give the client the
> code under the GPL.
Exactly what rights you would have to the code depends on the contractual
arrangement you have with your client, and I'm betting that that's not at
all cut and dried.
However, I have been in this situation where a client was using code I
developed and then decided that he should own the code. Push never came to
shove (at least, not yet :-) ) but my understanding of the situation vis a
vis software is that in the absence of any contract granting ownership of
the code to another party, it remains with the person who wrote it. I didn't
take legal advice on this but my customer did :-) and his lawyer told him
that I was right and would most likely win in court.
So much for the ownership of the code vis a vis you and your client - now for
the GPL issues.
Code compiled by a compiler which is GPL software (e.g. gcc) is not itself
covered by the GPL unless its author chooses to make it so. This is perhaps
not made clear enough in the GPL text and is a particular piece of FUD which
Microsoft loves to toss about. Similarly, the copy of PHP which is part of
your customer's system is covered by the GPL. You can charge him whatever
you like for it but you must provide him with acces to the source code, and
you cannot restrict what he can do with it (in this case, move it to another
service provider). However, you have not (I take it) chosen to license YOUR
code under the GPL so the conditions of the GPL do NOT apply to it.
If OTOH you had written some code which modified PHP as such, and then
distributed (whether for a fee or not) that modified PHP, then the modified
code must be licensed under the GPL. But this applies to a modification to
PHP itself and NOT to your scripts which run under PHP.
The relevant clause is 2(b) which says (though Lord knows why I'm quoting when
locate COPYING will turn up a shedload of copies of the GPL on just about
any Linux box - 540 on this box)
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
Your PHP scripts do not contain, nor are they derived from, PHP, in whole or
> I know this is not strictly a 'Linux' issue but any help would be appreciated
Microsoft has very much made this a Linux issue - it has attempted to imply
that any company using GPL software must make everything it owns public and
it must be true - that nice man from Microsoft wouldn't lie, would he ?
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