Do I have to open source my Discourse modifications if I don't distribute them?


(knwang) #1

If I set up a Discourse server and talk to its APIs with my own code, do I have to open source my own code? If I make some modifications on the server Discourse code, do I have to open source my server or client code?

My use case is to potentially use Discourse to power a platform with a discussion board component, plus other non-forum features. what should I do so that I do not have to open source the non-forum stuff?


(Kevin P. Fleming) #2

The first answer is always “talk to a lawyer” :wink:

Generally, though, network connections are considered a license boundary, and thus any code you write that talks to Discourse over a network connection is not affected by the license on Discourse.

If you make modifications to the Discourse code and distribute the result in any form, then the Discourse license obligations affect you.


(knwang) #3

maybe a common sense GPL question then - if i do not distribute it then I don’t have to open source anything?


(Kevin P. Fleming) #4

The GPL (as most open source licenses) is a copyright license, which means it only affects distribution, not usage. There are conflicting opinions in the open source community as to exactly what ‘distribution’ means, but most reasonable people don’t include ‘access over a network to a running copy’ as distribution, as far as the GPL is concerned.


(ComputerDruid) #5

Some people consider that a flaw in the GPL, which is why the AGPL exists. But I imagine the discourse team picked the GPL on purpose.