Using open source code for commercial applcations

Posted on 2004-10-04
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
 I want to know:

1. whether I can use open source php or other code for my commercial projects?
2. can I change the code so that names etc of the product is removed and I  itegrate it into my own web applications. Like removing the logo of the original open source project?

--Sukhwinder Singh
Question by:Sukhwinder Singh
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Expert Comment

ID: 12224367

You can Generally use the open source project in your project BUT WITHOUT REMOVING THE LOGO OF THEM. It is what a open source code Means. Read the License come with them and in gerenal it is used as mention earlier. What the use a developer has if even his name is removed from it.??? Better search for code snippet of what you want if you doesn't want to Use other's name in your project.


Expert Comment

ID: 12224591
The most common open source license is the GPL license which you can see here:

Here is the crucial bit of the GPL as I see it:

If identifiable sections of [your project] are not derived from the [open source project], and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then [the GPL license], and its terms, do not apply to those sections [of your project] when you distribute them as separate works. But when you distribute the same sections [of your project] as part of a whole which is a work based on [an open source project], the distribution of the whole [of your project] must be on the terms of [the GPL], whose permissions for other licensees extend to the entire whole [of your proejct], and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it.

As I see it you can change whatever you like, so long as you make the source code freely available for any parts which are directly based/derived from OS code.

Example 1: A program that uses an open source graphing component could be distributed as a commercial program so long as the program functioned OK even when the graphing component wasn't installed.

Example 2: You want to re-brand an open source bulletin board system. You have to be willing to distribute the source code for any modifications to the layout which you made (eg by written offer in the 'about' section of your site for example), and you have to make it clear that your bulletin board is based on the open source version.

Be friendly, don't try to rip off the open source community. It's just like this site here: people are giving you something in exchange for recognition; they won't be happy if you hide their work 'under the bonnet' of your software unless you show a similar willingness to share. Don't try to pass off something someone else has written as "your big fancy commercial project". That's the spirit.

Hope that helps

Author Comment

by:Sukhwinder Singh
ID: 12225192
Many companies use phpbb, phpnuke, oscommerce etc. as part of their commerical projects after customizing it according to their design etc. They remove logos etc. Is it ok.

I thought instead of writing bulletin boards, chat applications myself I should use the open source projects as others are using. That is why I am asking this quesiton.

Basically what I want is chat program and a bulliten board which are separate from other part of the website.
 Do you have any idea regarding which applications I can use as part of my project by removing logos etc and add my own.  I can use powered by etc if it is what is required by the application.

Please suggest me two such projects:
1. Bulliten board.
2. Chat application.

--Sukhwinder Singh
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Accepted Solution

jdpipe earned 100 total points
ID: 12225299
I am sure those tools would be fine for you needs. In that case you are really not 'redistributing' or 'copying' the software - you are simply installing it on behalf of a client.

When you make the installation of such a product as part of your work, you should charge for 'services' rather than 'software development': make it clear that you will be providing the required functionality to your customer through the use of an open source software package which you will be customising to their needs; you are not allowed to prevent your client from accessing the source code, and if you make major changes to the software (I don't think that changing logos/templates can be considered 'major changes') then you would be obliged to make the source code for your changes public.

Make sure you use a 'powered by' comment, and in your website terms and conditions, include the GPL license as required by the license rules.

forum/discussion programs:

chat programs:

Author Comment

by:Sukhwinder Singh
ID: 12225615
So what i need is powered by and I can remove the logos and use it in my own web projects?

Expert Comment

ID: 12225713
You also need to make it clear to your client that you are using the open source software: you are not selling them softare, you are selling them an installation and customisation job. And you need to quote the GPL in your website's terms and conditions.

Author Comment

by:Sukhwinder Singh
ID: 12229264
Ok. Thank you very much jdpipe. I'll follow your advice.
Just one question, do you yourself work on any open source project or do you yourself use any open source products in your apps?

Expert Comment

ID: 12232924
Thanks, Sukhwinder

I do use open source software myself, however probably the majority of what I use would be considered 'libraries' and such: I use PEAR Template_Flexy, PHPMailer, JPGraph, GraphViz, HTMLDOC, phpMyAdmin among other things.

So in my case, most of these things don't actually have a 'public face' and I don't have the quandry of removing logos etc. I haven't got an major open source projects under my belt, but I'm working on that...

Good luck with your work

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