MoodleRooms, the Cloud - Services and the GPL

Posted 17 May 2014 at 05:12 UTC by aicra Share This

When services are not conveying but users interact the GPL does not seem to come into play. While companies like Moodlerooms allege they donate a lot of funding to Moodle, we are unable to use the source code from this deriv because it is "Cloud" based and no copies are distributed.

I was absolutely surprised when I saw that Moodlerooms did not have a GPL notice on their website. I was confused, shocked and dismayed when I realized they were not required to have one. Honestly, they use Moodle as a backend. They use both 1.9x (GPL v2) and 2.x (GPL v3). At least, according to their Joule documentation, this is how their service works.

They take a 1.9x course and archive it. They then use 2.x to convert this to Common Cartridge format for importing to Learning Management Systems like Moodle and Blackboard - the company who bought them or whatever - Blackboard is proprietary. Moodlerooms code and Joule is closed source even though it uses open source.

The interface of Moodlerooms is admittedly Moodle. The look and feel is exactly Moodle. The processes on the back are not seen, but seems like a simple backup, restore, export process.

However, maybe I want to see the code. I cannot. This is a service.

A lot of programs use ffmpeg. Sometimes I see the GPL, sometimes not. I never see the code in these items. In this regard, I understand it somewhat because ffmpeg is being utilized in the process. Companies like Articulate use ffmpeg. Articulate makes big money but doesn't give any to ffmpeg or contribute to our community afaik.

Do we need another version of the GPL to address service?

Using the apps is great! Making money is understandable. Giving back to our community would be nice.

How can we progress when open code is now used as a service in a derivative format without open code.

For me, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Any thoughts?

Affero GPL, posted 20 May 2014 at 02:08 UTC by cdfrey » (Journeyer)

This is what the Affero GPL is for. I suspect it will take a similar amount of work to fix SaaS license issues as it did to fix proprietary license issues.

yes, Affero, posted 17 Jun 2014 at 17:32 UTC by grant » (Journeyer)

there is a fine line between using free/open source packages and *changing* their code, which is the requirement of the GPL: changes are required to be published.

for example I remember reading that Sony used Linux extensively in development & testing of the PS/2... and eventually Linux could run on the PS/2. without making changes to the code the GPL has no requirements.

it is nice when users of free/open software give money to the community.

I like the Affero license for services, but without incentive to publish sources there may not be a lot of adoption anytime soon. For disparate services sharing common APIs I think it would be a boon to publish openly.

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