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PHP License


I am working with other members of the Debian devlopment team to include
many of your fine PEAR packages in Debian. One recurring problem has
been consistently arising however, that we have had a hard time
addressing at the correct level, which is why I am contacting you about

The problem is that many of the PEAR packages are licensed under the PHP
License. As you probably know, many packages take the PHP License by
default, probably because they assume that they are writting in PHP and
so they want to use the same license.

The problem is that the current version of The PHP License (version 3.0)
contains several clauses which are specific to the PHP language, and
either inapplicable or even problematic for applications written in PHP.

For the sake of completeness, and in an effort to get this issue ironed
out once and for all, let's walk through the six points of The PHP

  1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
  notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

  2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
  notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
  documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

These two points are almost identical to the first two points in the BSD
License, and are all kinds of good. :-)

  3. The name "PHP" must not be used to endorse or promote products
  derived from this software without prior written permission. For
  written permission, please contact group@php.net.

  4. Products derived from this software may not be called "PHP", nor
  may "PHP" appear in their name, without prior written permission from
  group@php.net. You may indicate that your software works in
  conjunction with PHP by saying "Foo for PHP" instead of calling it
  "PHP Foo" or "phpfoo"

Hmm. These two points are very specific to distributions of the PHP
language. A PHP application that is distributed separately from PHP
itself should 1) not need to stipulate how the name "PHP" is used, and
2) probably lacks any authority to make such claims.

  5. The PHP Group may publish revised and/or new versions of the
  license from time to time. Each version will be given a distinguishing
  version number. Once covered code has been published under a
  particular version of the license, you may always continue to use it
  under the terms of that version. You may also choose to use such
  covered code under the terms of any subsequent version of the license
  published by the PHP Group. No one other than the PHP Group has the
  right to modify the terms applicable to covered code created under
  this License.

Good, good.

  6. Redistributions of any form whatsoever must retain the following
  acknowledgment: "This product includes PHP, freely available from

Ouch. This means that I can't distribute a PEAR module released under
the PHP License without bundling in PHP itself. This makes it impossible
to distribute PEAR modules by themselves (i.e. not bundled with the PHP
language) in a deb or an rpm. :-(

The problem is severe enough that we are currently unable to package
PEAR modules for Debian when they are relased under the PHP License. We
attempt to contact the upstream authors, and ask them to adopt a new
license, but our requests are not always accepted.

So, what can be done to rectify this situation?

  1) The PHP License itself could be modified to become a more generic
  license, removing points that don't apply to PHP applications, making
  it compatible with its current use by most PEAR modules. (Arguably the
  resultant license would be indistinguishable from the BSD license.)

  2) The PEAR Group could change its licensing policy, and no longer
  include the PHP License in the list of officially acceptable PEAR
  licenses. Of course it might take a while for existing modules to be
  changed, but if the PEAR Group had an official position on this, it
  would be a lot easier for us to work with individual package
  maintainers to incrementally make this change.

Your assistance in finding a workable solution to this problem is
solicited. As you can tell, we at Debian are quite excited about PEAR
and the clean interface which it provides for installing and working
with PHP modules. Thus our interest in working this issue out, so that
we can include more PEAR modules in Debian. :-)

Let me clarify that while I maintain several Debian packages (including
several PEAR modules), I am not yet an official Debian developer. Nor do
I speak officially on behalf of the Debian community. I am simply
attempting to assist our two groups (Debian and PEAR) in coming to a
resolution which will address the licensing issue outlined above. I
realize that this issue may have been partially discussed in the past,
but given the current state of things, I consider it currently

Thank you for your time and consideration in evaluating and dealing with
this licensing issue.


Tail-chasing pup
Follow and follow
But never catch up

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