GPL confusion


If a person creates a website that sells a service and uses css or icons that are GPL, I’m trying to understand the ramifications of having to make the source code available. According to the GPL documentation:

“You must license the entire work, as a whole, under this License to anyone who comes into possession of a copy”

Is the correct interpretation that you don’t need to license your website under GPL (in other words, you can keep the code “closed source”), but in the event that give someone else a copy of your code (for example, in a licensing agreement, where you allow them access to the code to customize it for their needs), then all of a sudden all of your code becomes GPL?

Thank you for helping me to navigate this very confusing licensing landscape.


I think this point is not clear too many people, because most people would probably not see the GPL icons as part of the source code. Because of this some people may include the icons in a separately downloadable template, which is not part of the website download as such. You would however probably have to get your client to install the template themselves.

For example the Joomla CMS had to clarify what GPL means from their viewpoint and they made the distinction that if you inherit their framework classes, you have to make your extension GPL, if you just use them, you don’t have to.

In your case, if it is important to you to protect your source code, I would see that you can get a commercial licence for your icons (from the same source)

HTH, Jochen

Thanks sharing this detail because it would be work better than the best for those who wants to work something unique than others.