October 7, 2009

Linux licensing and for-profit web sites

Hi -  I'm finding it difficult to understand how  Linux can be used to host a for-profit web site.  I'm putting together a web hosted app which will have both a free section  as well as a monthly subscription section, built on a LAMP stack.  I'm not selling software, I'm selling a service. 

 I've tried to understand how Linux' GPL  licensing would impact the site and its business model, but surprisingly haven't found much informaiton available

Surely many commercial / for-profit web sites are built on Linux?

Thanks for any insight (and yes I know I'll need to consult a lawyer at some point...)

 

By the way, Apache, the actual HTTP server possibly accessed by clients of...

By the way, Apache, the actual HTTP server possibly accessed by clients of your web app, is not GPL, it's Apache License. That means you may use Apache source code to create proprietary software, with the restriction that you keep the Apache copyright notice and disclaimer. Furthermore, it's probably not right to modify Apache and to then try to license it as GPL--Apache has not determined that the Apache license is compatible with GPL, per se.

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GPL v2 it's just one kind of license you can use to distribute web services,...

GPL v2 it's just one kind of license you can use to distribute web services, it's not the only one as you see from other comments.
This license for example allows you to modify code and distribute your work as GPLv2 as well, users may require source code from you except when you're using applications for providing web services to others (software as a service in general). Look at Google... :-)

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Any code you write is yours. If you are modifying any GPL code then you have...

Any code you write is yours. If you are modifying any GPL code then you have to release your code under GPL only.

In your case you are hosting a site on LAMP stack so you are good to go with it.

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Any data that you create entirely yourself from scratch and serve using a...

Any data that you create entirely yourself from scratch and serve using a lamp server is not bound by license and you get to decide the license(s) you want to use to distribute your data. You can use different licenses for different parts of the site.
http://creativecommons.org/
is a great resource if you want to redistribute some of your own work under a license.

Most people license their entire site's content under one license but some use a different license for certain content.
You can see at the footer of this page that the Linux foundation have chosen the proprietry Copyright ©. Which means no one is authorised to do anything with the content without permission.
(Which is a little misinformed for a community website.)

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Thank you Katrina, this is very helpful.

Thank you Katrina, this is very helpful.

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It's generally considered to be the case that under the GPL providing a...

It's generally considered to be the case that under the GPL providing a webservice based on opensource software does not constitute "distribution". This is why the AGPL exists - under the AGPL using software to provide a service does constitute distribution and thus requires you to provide the source code of software which links to AGPL-covered code to the users of your site.

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