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Re: [PHP-QA] Debian and the PHP license

On Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 3:55 PM, James Wade <jpswade@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi all,

There seems to be some confusion over the PHP License.

We had this bug report into a PEAR project which outlines that Debian cannot include any projects that fall under the PHP License.

 * https://pear.php.net/bugs/bug.php?id=20172

You will find details of the reason behind it here:

 * https://ftp-master.debian.org/REJECT-FAQ.html

   You have a PHP add-on package (any php script/"app"/thing, not PHP
   itself) and it's licensed only under the standard PHP license. That
   license, up to the 3.x which is actually out, is not really usable
   for anything else than PHP itself. I've mailed our -legal list about
   that and got only one response, which basically supported my view on
   this. Basically this license talks only about PHP, the PHP Group,
   and includes Zend Engine, so its not applicable to anything else.
   And even worse, older versions include the nice ad-clause.
   One good solution here is to suggest a license change to your
   upstream, as they clearly wanted a free one. LGPL or BSD seems to be
   what they want

After a quick search, I quickly found that this isn't an isolated case...

 * https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=728196
 * https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=752530
 * http://pear.php.net/bugs/bug.php?id=20316
 * https://www.mail-archive.com/debian-bugs-rc@lists.debian.org/msg362847.html
 * https://github.com/nicolasff/phpredis/issues/384

Judging by the email to legal sent almost a decade ago this situation is in need of a review...

 * https://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2005/08/msg00128.html

I can't understand this line of thought in this context:

   GPL enforces many restrictions on what can and cannot be done with
   the licensed code. The PHP developers decided to release PHP under a
   much more loose license (Apache-style), to help PHP become as
   popular as possible.
   - http://php.net/license/

I also read that Rasmus Lerdorf issued a statement which said that the PHP license is pretty much identical to the Apache license.

 * http://pear.php.net/manual/en/faq.devs.php

I've also discovered that this is not the first instance that this issue has been discussed:

 * http://lwn.net/Articles/604630/

All this has raised some questions:

1. Is 'The PHP License, version 3.01' an Open Source license, certified by the Open Source Initiative? Their website only lists 'PHP License 3.0 (PHP-3.0)'.
2. When was 'The PHP License, version 3.01' released?
3. Can 'The PHP License, version 3.01' be used for anything other than PHP itself?
4. Are there any legal implications of changing a project from 'The PHP License, version 3.01' to LGPL or BSD?
5. Is the PHP license clear enough to ensure that it is correctly applied to extensions?
6. Why would the (Apache-style) PHP License be listed by Debian as a 'serious violation' yet the Apache license is not?



please see the thread at http://comments.gmane.org/gmane.comp.php.pecl.devel/11046 and if you want to reply I think pecl-dev@ is a better place than php-qa@
Most of your links are old and some of the previous problems claimed by debian was addressed with php license version 3.01.
from the replies on the debian mailing lists it seems that this decision on dropping any project using the php license distributed outside of php-src is controversial to say the least.
I've tried to start a discussion to find some kind of resolution, but most of the replies from php-dev side was that the current license is fine, and we don't need to change anything, while we didn't got any reply from the debian-legal (apart from the mail from Francesco Poli who explicitly stated that not part of the debian project and not speaking on behalf of it).

Based on the lack of clarification and cooperation from their side, I think the consensus on our part will be to keep everything as-is, and at the end of the day, it is up to the package maintainer to decide if they take the advice from the debian package maintainers and change the license for their project.

Ferenc Kovács
@Tyr43l - http://tyrael.hu

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