A somewhat related issue is the free/open licensing of the contents of a wiki website. [Wikipedia] is a UseModWiki-based encyclopedia released under the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL). In fact each single wiki page is released under FDL. Good or bad? These issues are discussed on the wikipedia-l mailing list. One issue with licensing the contents of a wiki website is that licenses such as FDL require the source code format to follow an open specification, and the editable text format for wiki pages are defined by the wiki program. This is fine as long as the website runs an unmodified UseModWiki script, since it is available under the GPL. But if the website owner modifies the script for his own use, the GPL does not require him to publish his modifications. Please add your own experience or pointers to more information below. --Lars Aronsson, November 19, 2001
Is it the case that web users are running wiki every time they click on a wiki page? Technically every page fetch is a separate run of the script, but I feel it would be well over the top to force a (c) link onto every page.
I'd make a less severe practical argumant that every public wiki site is a public running of the script and therefore every site is bound to offer a means for its users to see the GPL.
That in turn would mean that every wiki installation should have a licence page - one that is visible to web users not just to the installer who got it out of the tarball or who can read how to get it by post in the comments.
Maybe every wiki site should manually upload the page, or maybe a copyright and licence page should automatically be preloaded into wiki at install time.
I'm fairly sure this is not what the GPL says. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't believe you can mix site proprietors with site users in the way you are doing. The FSF has been working on closing this "loophole", but they haven't yet.
Anyway, the copyright notice only has to be displayed at runtime if the script can be run interactively. Surprisingly, it can (cf. OfflineMode?). In that case, the script is violating the license. However, no one runs it in offline mode, so it doesn't really matter. When using the script through CGI, a copyright notice does not have to be displayed as the script is not interactive.
Secondly, each site may patch the script anyway it chooses without republishing the script. Only if the site proprietor wishes to distribute the script, he or she must distribute the source with it. Since the script is Perl, that's a given anyway. As the distribution comes with a copy of the GPL, it is satisfying that requirement as well.
Finally, I don't think you really want to require proprietors to publish the script source to site users. The administrator password, for instance, would be displayed. -- SunirShah
I have to say I am relieved by your response and I hope what you say is right because it would be a pain to have to do more than we are at present, even if that "more" was only to include a link, like http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html, disguised as a copyright symbol.