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Copyright and Whitelabel

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I thought I'd ask a question about copyright, and whilst I'm at it thought I might as well ask a less popular question about whitelabelling software ;)

Am I right in assuming that when altering the admin templates, we can do pretty much anything we like aside from removing the copyright in the footer? So I can take off the Processwire logo at the top and put in the logo for the company whose website it runs if requested to do so by a client?

And now on to the less popular question - is a white label version allowed? As in, without the copyright in the footer, but obviously leaving all copyright in the files themselves? I've personally not had this request crop up yet, but I have heard of companies wanting to take any branding off CMS admin templates before and stick their own logo at the top - purely to use it on their own site from what I gather and not to redistribute as "their own" work.

What's your stance on this ryan?

Most folks don't allow this but I thought it was worth asking whilst I was asking about the templates. Another CMS I've worked with actually made money working with honest*1 companies this way by selling a license to allow removal from the admin templates. Again, we're talking the templates and not touching the copyright in the code itself.

*1 By "honest", I think that what they were doing was removing branding and replacing it with links to their internal support department's contact pages in some cases, though I have no doubt that a useful side-effect of this for them is that people would then assume that they've built the software in-house. You'd have to hope they were being honest with their users and management as well and giving credit to the actual authors when asked who built the software.

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I don't know about the licensing issue, but you'll have technical issues then, because you'll have to manage each upgrade manually (edit files) or chose to keep an outdated version for your client.

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Processwire is free software released under GPLv2 license. I am no expert on this subject but i think GPLv2 allows you to make both modifications you metioned as long as this 'derived work' remains under the same license terms.

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I don't know about the licensing issue, but you'll have technical issues then, because you'll have to manage each upgrade manually (edit files) or chose to keep an outdated version for your client.

Aha, well in this case you'd just copy the templates-admin folder into your /site directory and upgrades are fine - if PW finds a templates-admin folder in the /site directory, it doesn't use the one in the /wire directory, so you can upgrade without breaking your templates. You would still have to check that an update doesn't introduce new features though I'll admit, but the theoretical scenario in question would probably only involve changing CSS, a few images and the footer so I imagine for the most part upgrading would be as simple as it is with a default installation.

Remember, I'm not actually considering the second option myself - just asking the question about white-labelling in case it comes up in the future. The first option, removing the PW logo from the top, is something I'm interested in doing though.

EDIT: In fact, Apeisa has already done what I'm asking with regards to removing the logo from the top in his admin theme, so I guess that's okay: http://processwire.com/talk/index.php/topic,252.0.html

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EDIT: In fact, Apeisa has already done what I'm asking with regards to removing the logo from the top in his admin theme, so I guess that's okay: http://processwire.com/talk/index.php/topic,252.0.html

Don't count on me on this one, I have very little knowledge on what comes to software licences. Ryan hasn't sued me yet, so I think that is pretty safe to remove the logo ;)

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Don't count on me on this one, I have very little knowledge on what comes to software licences. Ryan hasn't sued me yet, so I think that is pretty safe to remove the logo ;)

Hehe, well I figured it was safe to do so as he's also installed your theme to have a look at and put a link up on the site :D

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Much of this defers to the GNU v2 license. My thoughts are that people should feel free to make their own admin theme and put their logo (or their clients logo) wherever they see fit. But regardless of admin theme, I do think the software name ProcessWire, version number and copyright should always remain in the footer of the admin at least.

The reason for this is that I don't ever want ProcessWire to be a burden on a client. Web sites very often outlive the relationship of the site developer to the client. I think it's important for the client to know what software and version they are using and where it came from. Without that, if some future issue surfaces, the client would be blind and ProcessWire would be a burden on them. Can you imagine white label installations of any other major open source CMS out in wild, and what a security nightmare that would be? :)

Keeping this information in a place where the client can find it keeps everyone honest about how the software is licensed. If someone just provided a re-branded PW to a client and charged them $25k for it, I think it's important that the client knows they are paying for a service from their developer and not the software.

If a company still felt strongly that they needed to remove the software name, version and copyright from the admin, then I'd want them to keep and maintain a long term support contract with us and make the GNU license really clear to the users of the software.

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Cheers for that ryan - I totally agree with all of that :)

Whenever I build a site for a client, aside from telling them what platform it's on (and leaving copyright notices in-tact) I actually put the cost of the CMS down on the invoice as FREE and more recently the name of the CMS as well. Sometimes it's a good selling point too - "if I had to build this system from scratch the website would be £xxxx more costly" ;) Either way, they've got the name of the CMS on a piece of paper they're not going to throw away.

That selling point doesn't work when the client things your "cheap" quote is still to expensive of course, but you can't win every time!

I personally think it's important in relation to how open source software is usually licensed to show the client that the software is totally free and it's actually the setting up, development and templating that is being charged for.  It's still all skilled work that you're charging for at the end of the day, but the CMS is giving you a massive help in developing the site quicker, causing developers and users less headaches and keeping costs down.

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Hi Ryan,

Thanks for all your work...really! Someone releasing their project like this truly speaks for itself.

How do you feel about removing the name of individual (you of course) from the admin side in the footer but leaving the software info?

ProcessWire 2.2.0 © 2012 Ryan Cramer
vs.
ProcessWire 2.2.0 © 2012

The reason being, the moment I showed the admin login the first question I was asked is "Who the heck is Ryan, I though you will be doing the work?". So it just looked like I 'stole' an app from another individual. :) Is there a perhaps a 'company name' that we can use as an alternative?

Again, please don't take this the wrong way just asking so I don't step on anyone's toes.

As always, thank you.

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I'm unfortunately not trained in legal matters well enough to know what the distinction is or if it even matters. The GNU license doesn't like copyrights removed, but don't know how specific it is. So I can't give a solid answer one way or another here. I'll make a note to ask this the next time I come across someone that knows about this stuff though. However, outside of this, there are a couple reasons you may not want to remove it: 1) unless you make your own admin theme, you'll have to do the same thing every time you upgrade (which would be a pain); 2) With GNU software, it's required that the client gets the same GNU license, and they should understand it and that it's copyrighted software. You don't want them to think they are paying you for the software itself rather than your services.

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Excellent, thank you.

Honestly I know very little about licenses, laws and how it all works; but it is nice to have some answers ready and as I said, just want to know the general rules and boundaries. Having #1 as an option will help deter the request for additional (and billable) work needed in order to make the theme. This puts us in position to say that it can be done if needed but at much higher cost than just butchering the footer. Some corporate users are big on ego and branding.

Thank you again, I am really liking PW so far and...can’t believe it is free.

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I have never removed or slightly suggested that the stuff I use is made by me or the company I work for. Andy Rutledge also has a very interesting point of view regarding white labeling (and branding) and why it isn't really fit for the web.

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@arjen - that was an awesome article. Thanks for the share.

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I am new to processwire and I am a little confused over what I can do with the admin since I didn't notice restrictions with other GPL software like wordpress regarding these things.

I have the same question as biotech regarding having the name 'Ryan Cramer' next to Processwire.(Nothing against the name Ryan :-) ) I can see how this can create issues and confuse the client. Also I didn't notice any other open source cms out there with a developer name or creators name next to the name of the cms in the admin backend. It kind of implies that the site was also designed by the developer of the cms. I am not sure that Ryan would like to take the credit for some badly put together or designed sites :-)

How about just having 'Processwire' and version as below like biotech suggested? Maybe in the next up coming version?

ProcessWire 2.2.0 © 2012 Ryan Cramer

vs.

ProcessWire 2.2.0 © 2012

Other open source cms don't seem to have issues with this such as wordpress which even list on their plugin directory white label cms plugins (Didn't do wordpress any harm). Also Wordpress has no copyright notice at all in their admin.

From what i see as long as the copyright notice and licence is distributed with the cms in the root folder and with the code then all is fine as far as the licence goes.

I agree with Ryan that it is helpful to keep the name process wire and version shown somewhere in case of future issues and having it displayed in the admin can help but then again if there were future issues whoever could fix it would go into the files and see the software and version in the copyright.txt file included with the software. 

Personally I would keep the name and version in the admin as I think this is best practice for most cases.

As a newbie to processwire I am very pleased with what I see and think that Ryan has done a great job but I am starting to feel a little restricted with what I can do with processwire after reading through the forum. I think that things like this can limit the growth of processwire if new comers to processwire feel they are not free to customise the software freely.

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Hello Dazzyweb,

Welcome to ProcessWire.

I've dealt with clients and Ryan Cramer's name has never been a problem.  From the beginning of any client engagement, I have gladly explained to them what ProcessWire is, who are the major contributers behind the software are and most importantly, the technical rationale for using ProcessWire over whatever else.

Personally, I admire and respect that the software is labelled as it is.  Developers of Open Source software need to be adequately credited for their hard work and charitable contributions.  I don't believe that others should be able to just use the code or snippets of code without properly attributing where the source came from.

The creator of the product has the right to determine how their own creation works or is used/shared. Furthermore, the branding and copyright doesn't stop the proper functioning of the software.

As a newbie to processwire I am very pleased with what I see and think
that Ryan has done a great job but I am starting to feel a little
restricted with what I can do with processwire after reading through the
forum. I think that things like this can limit the growth of
processwire if new comers to processwire feel they are not free to
customise the software freely.

Can you please elaborate on what you read in the forum that somehow restricts you from customizing the software freely?

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Hi

Firstly I am happy to have the name processwire and version in the admin as I said before but I was thinking just like the experience biotech had that it could be a problem. I asked a few others and they had the same opinion so I am not alone with this thinking.

As well with all software that has gpl licence the person is attributed in the licence file or within the code just like has been done in the licence file included with processwire for code that has been taken from other sources which was also licenced under gpl as shown in the list below.

Timepicker Addon - Copyright 2012 Trent Richardson

TableSorter Plugin - Copyright 2008 Christian Bach

Fancybox Plugin - Copyright © 2009 Janis Skarne

Markdown Extra - Copyright © 2009 Michel Fortin

SmartyPants    - Copyright © 2006 Michel Fortin

TinyMCE - Copyright © 2011 Moxiecode Systems

Would you say that these people were not properly attributed by processwire since it is only included in the licence file?

I really appreciate what Ryan has done and that is why I am writing here because I would really like to get my teeth into this cms as i find it very interesting.

I am just used to using open source code and software and having the option to just include the licence and copyright with the code just like processwire does with other peoples code.

"The creator of the product has the right to determine how their own creation works or is used/shared. Furthermore, the branding and copyright doesn't stop the proper functioning of the software."

To answer the quote above, the creator has chosen to determine how the the works are used and shared under the gpl licence of which I am grateful for which is why I am here.  Also the functionality is not the issue here. The issue is the freedom to customize the look of the software as is normal under gpl.

I have only just come on the forum and don't really want to get into a heated debate over this. Just wanted to express my thoughts and give some feedback as a newbie here and the thoughts of others I have spoken to about this.

I would be the first to recommend processwire to others and attribute Ryan for his work.

I think that the perception and feedback from newbies or others looking at processwire for the first time is important and can help processwire further improve it's popularity. Many that come here for the first time are users of wordpress so will look at processwire the same way as wordpress since it uses the same licence and expect the same freedoms that wordpress provides under the gpl licence.

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I have only just come on the forum and don't really want to get into a

heated debate over this. Just wanted to express my thoughts and give

some feedback as a newbie here and the thoughts of others I have spoken

to about this.

I would be the first to recommend processwire to others and attribute Ryan for his work.

Interesting, you give your opinion and everything is alright.  I give my opinion and now it's a "heated debate". There is nothing heated or adversarial in my remarks.  As far as I remember, the GPL doesn't stop you from being as creative as you need.  From my perspective, nothing is actually stopping you from using this great piece of work.

I wish you all the best using ProcessWire, as it doesn't limit anything you want to do (via software) to create any website or application.

It's only my opinion, but removing Ryan Cramer's name seems to me to be what they call a Red Herring.  Good day.

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cstevensjr - I wasn't suggesting that you was creating a heated debate.

What i meant is that I am a newbie here and that i don't want to create heat if you know what i mean as soon as I step inside the door. Nothing to do with you. 

I would just like to get down to the points i made. I feel that the points have not really being addressed.

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Tackling a small part of what has been discussed first, I don't think white-labelling completely is a good idea at this stage. Wordpress has a very strong identity with their admin, and anyone who has used it would know what they were using without the branding unless they were using some really fancy admin themes. Whilst a system is still growing in popularity and can benefit from the simply line of text and the link back to the website I personally think it should remain.

Wordpress, depending on the version, has one or more links in the footer linking back to the website just with the software name.

MODx is managed under the company name "MODX Systems, LLC" so it's a bit easier for them to simply list "MODx" in their footer.

ProcessWire is by "Ryan Cramer Design, LLC" (with many developers/contributors) but it would be confusing to have the full "Ryan Cramer Design" bit in the admin footer ("who designed the website?" might be what the client then asks :)).

Rather than me speculating further as to reasons why ryan has his name there it's probably best to wait for him to answer of course.

All in all though, since I started this thread back when I'd been using ProcessWire for just a few months, I've not once come across a client who got confused by it nor have I noticed anyone else seeing it as a restriction. Obviously it would be interesting to see what ryan says, but I wouldn't see it as a show-stopper either way and I don't think other people do either or we'd probably hear a lot more concerns over it :)

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Thanks for that Pete.interesting. I do think that just the name processwire would make it look more professional.

Just trying to think how it would look on wordpress with: 'Wordpress © 2013 Michel Valdrighi'

Maybe I am moaning over nothing :-) but the story biotech told resonated with me since i already had a similar response from a couple of people that I showed the admin to while playing around with processwire. (I was so excited i had to show someone :-))

Then reading that I can not change this or that if I want made me feel a little restricted since i thought i can customise the admin and frontend how I want as long as I keep the gpl licence and copyright intact with the code. I like to think i can mold a tool to how I need it for which ever purpose as long as I keep by the terms of licence.

Anyway for best practice as Ryan said before I would always keep the name processwire and version in the admin.

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Yep, but Wordpress wouldn't put his name, they'd put Automattic Inc. instead as that's the company behind it isn't it? That's the point I was trying to make, badly :)

It seems now that I've re-read some of the earlier posts in this topic that it must stay as it is for now or until ryan gets some clarification from a legal perspective.

The reasoning for leaving the ProcessWire name in plain view though is clear - whilst a client's next developer (should their current developer vanish) can see what the system is built in from the license files and so on in the installation folder, most clients wouldn't know they're there. Having something in plain sight enables them to get help from here if something goes wrong - this has in fact already happened once I think where a client has parted ways with their dev and come here for help, so we know it works and it helpful.

I very much doubt there would be anything wrong with expanding upon the copyright line though by doing something like this, which clarifies things nicely:

ProcessWire 2.3.5 © 2013 Ryan Cramer | Website designed and developed by YourCompany

I daresay you could even prepend the words "Built with..." to that as well for even more clarity.

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Thanks for the info Pete

Regarding the legal perspective as long as the licence and copyright is included with the code then all is fine such as is done with any other open source gpl code that most of us use at some point and of which processwire also uses which can be seen in the processwire copyright.txt with the list of of other code used with processwire and their respective copyright as I showed earlier. As said earlier this is how processwire deals with included open source licenced code it uses.

For example under GPL it is quite common for software to be forked and the only requirement is that the copyright and licence stay intact somewhere within the code or files. Many gpl licenced cms have been forked and rebranded also. so legally I don't really see an issue  with just having processwire and version in the admin as long as the licence and copyright files are included with the code.

The reason I ask here about this is that I respect the wishes of Ryan even though legally anyone would be within their right to rebrand and customise the admin as they please under the freedom of the gpl licence as long as the licence and copyright files are included within the files of the cms. 

I agree with you that it is best to keep processwire name in clear view in the admin for the reasons you mentioned.

I will look into the idea you mentioned of expanding the copyright line as you showed.

Would be interesting to hear from Ryan his thoughts on this.

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I am not a lawyer, but my simple understanding is that the clauses of GPLv2 are triggered only when distributing the covered work. You can make any changes you like to the code, including removing the copyright line from any viewable interface, so as long as you do not distribute it.

I do not think that allowing your clients access to the control panel can be classed as distribution, in the context of the GPLv2.

However, if you were to make your modified version available for download, or give them to somebody else, it would then have to satisfy all of the clauses within the GPLv2 where appropriate - which would mean the copyright notice should stay, and that all the modifications are also under GPLv2, same conditions apply etc.

This distinction is important. The AGPL is similar to the GPL, but "distribution" also extends to the modified work being "performed" - e.g. accessed over a network.

IMO, the GPLv2 is vague and confusing, and open to (mis)interpretation. A lot of people's complaints about v2 was solved with v3 (and in other licenses), but with those, come other conditions that authors may or may not want.

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I don't care so much about whether my name is in the admin, but my understanding is that the company name has to be there, and I think it should. My full company name is Ryan Cramer Design, LLC. Very little of my business is design anymore (it's mostly development), so if the context is not one of design, I simply use the shorter version: just Ryan Cramer, or RCD. The plan is to change the company name to ProcessWire LLC, at which time I can change it to say "Copyright 2013 ProcessWire" like the other CMS projects do. The only reason I haven't done it yet is that it costs $ to do that, and I'm not running on a budget surplus at present. I honestly didn't think anyone cared what the copyright line said, so it's been hard to justify that change until I've got the extra cash to do it. Regarding use of a copyright line in the admin interface: the end users of the product (our clients) generally don't see or have any idea how to access the copyright statements in the server-side code/text files. So it should be visible to the actual end-users, with the admin tool they use being the most clear placement. Though I think the laws regarding this may vary from country to country, but I think it's better to just play it safe. Rest assured it will say Copyright ProcessWire at some point in the future. 

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