Zend Framework License

Does anyone know if the Zend Framework License is GPL/LGPL compatible.

I’m guessing that clause 5 kills compatibility but maybe that can be read as redistribution must include the license file which seems reasonable.

Why can’t people just use the 3-clause BSD license or the lgpl for code like this instead of making things more complicated.

The possible problem with using Zend Framework code in an GPL application is clause 6 of the GPL:
Within Clause 6 of the GPL is the statement: “You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients’ exercise of the rights granted herein.”

I’m also think that clause 3 also makes it incompatible and is something that can be covered through trademarks and doesn’t even seem to fit into what a normal OSS license does.

For example the FSF says the almost identical PHP license is incompatible with the GPL.

For all the talk about making things legally easier for users they sure didn’t pick a license that does it. The best option for minimal effort by users of frameworks or libraries written in PHP is the 3-clause BSD. Its simple, well understood, and easy to find information about. Plus its compatible with pretty much every other OSS license.

Posted in PHP

19 thoughts on “Zend Framework License”

  1. Its a slightly modified PHP license .. so I would guess by RMS’s terms: NO

    I also agree that its stupid to introduce a new license. I guess they want to retain control over how the license evolves. But even large corps are getting that its a cause of major issues if we let the number of OSS license explode even further. So some of the have started to consolidate their licenses. A wise move .. why a supposed open source company does get it is beyond me.

  2. Quite annoying, so far the uses i’ve come up with for the Zend Framework are:
    Using its class.js JavaScript class in HTML_AJAX to help me in some namespace refactoring im planning on doing

    Using the Zend_Search stuff in Clearhealth for searching the patients document store.

    Looks like I can’t do either, HTML_AJAX is lgpl and Clearhealth is GPL.

    I just don’t see what Zend gains by not using the 3-clause BSD licsense all there current licenses do is cause people problems and make there code harder to use and distribute. Its not like the acknowledgement string burried in some text file is useful advertising.

  3. I guess you just don’t get that it’s GPL that’s the real problem license for re-distributing code in the real world. There are numerous advantages for people that code for a living in the framework license; the same cannot be said for the GPL for most people.

  4. Wez: but not one advantage over the BSD license (or the lgpl) that I can see. All I want to do is use the code in other open source projects, Zend has chosen a license that makes that impossible and I should applaud them.

    Plus the GPL is a great license for a PHP application (not framework) since it helps increase your chances of getting changes back.

    I mean the GPL is the most popular license out there (A quick sourceforge search says there are 10161 GPL php projectS) shouldn’t that make being able to use the Zend framework in a GPL application (even if you can’t include GPL in zf) important.

  5. I’m not sure that I like clause five for use in commercial products!

    I’m not sure that our client will want that text on their website… All depends on where we can get away with putting that notice.

  6. Hi Joshua,

    For the benefit of the thick people in the audience, why does Section 5 preclude using Zend Framework components in a GPL product?

  7. Denny:
    I’m not sure that it does preclude you. The GPL doesn’t let you add you add additional restrictions, there is the possiblility that the acknowlegement clause is that. A similar case where there was a problem was with the original BSD with its advertising clause.

    But since this clause is just an aknowledgement and i guess it doesn’t have to be public then including the license file should make things ok.

    I’d be more then happy for Zend to add an entry to there FAQ that says its ok to use the Zend Framework in a GPL application. But I still don’t like that fact that its yet another license, its not OSI approved, and now I need to talk to a lawyer before I can use the code.

  8. Joshua,

    We intentionally kept a license which is almost identical to PHP’s license. The ideas was to provide the PHP community with a license which is already respected and used, and not to reinvent the wheel and educate people on a new license. We couldn’t use the PHP License itself because the CLA assignment requires Zend Tech. to be the receiving party. Btw, the fact that it is/isn’t OSI approved hasn’t been a problem for some of the largest companies so I don’t think this should be much of a problem. The important thing is that like the PHP license, it’s very friendly, and you can use it in both commercial and open-source apps.
    It’s no news nor secret, that the PHP community never agreed with the FSF on licensing issues. We believe that licenses such as the PHP license are much friendlier to end users and it is FSF’s choice not to allow the two licenses to work together. I don’t think the PHP Group should change this fact, and for the same reason, I don’t think we need to in the Zend Framework. That doesn’t mean though that I’m not willing to hear feedback about specific issues that people might have. If there’s a way to work on those issues I’d be happy to but I personally do avoid the GPL like the pest 🙂

  9. Rob, I don’t think the acknowledgment has to be on the website itself, but it has to be somewhere in the source code. At least that’s how I understand it.

  10. Dennis, Rob:
    Thats my understanding as well which pretty much just makes clause 5 annoying, but not too problematic for most people.

  11. Andi, the GPL historically precedes the vanity that is the PHP license. It is the PHP group who rejects the FSF, not the other way around. You are in a minority if you think that the l/GPL is a “pest” or that the PHP license is “respected”. PHP as a product is certainly respected but the license needs to go. Many of the big corporations you wave your arm towards also maintain some of the most agregious licencing policies for their own products, so I submit that thay doesn’t really speak well towards your argument. Please, choose LGPL or BSD — for everyone’s sake.

  12. Joshua,

    you are pointing out all the reasons why we chose the New BSD License [http://ez.no/products/licenses/new_bsd] for the eZ components [http://ez.no/products/ez_components].

  13. “you can use it in both commercial and open source apps”

    Open source apps distributed under which license?

    I’m struggling to find a (non-commercial) license that is compatible with the Zend Framework License.

    I guess it is only compatible with BSD-style licenses?

  14. Having compared the Zend Framework License with the BSD license, the difference is clause 5:

    “Redistributions of any form whatsoever must retain the following
    “This product includes the Zend Framework, freely available at

    But how does this restricts the recipients rights under the GPL any more than the standard BSD clauses 1 and 2:

    ” 1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
    notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

    2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above
    copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following
    disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided
    with the distribution.”

    I dont see why when the above clauses (shared between the BSD and ZFL) do not cause GPL incompatibility, the ZFL clause 5 should be a problem.

  15. BSD Clause 2 refers to the disclaimer included in the documentation and/or other materials provided, which might be text, audio or video – seems to be only barely more specified than the Zend clause, and certainly no difference in effect.

    I’ve emailed the GPL guys to hopefully take a look at this license and add their verdict to the GPL compatible licenses page.

    I was hoping to license a product with GPL, but dont want to exclude the chance to involve ZF code, so now I’m stuck.

  16. Hi Denny,

    Please keep us posted. We are eager to know if we can legally use ZF in a GPL product.


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