Are websites made with Google Sites compatible with GPL 3.0? A prospective user can create a web site with Google Sites using the web editor, but the HTML output, which may be interprited as the source code, is ultimately delegated to Google's proprietary engine, unless I am misunderstanding something.

However, should such a site be given a "View Only" link on Google Drive, a user who wishes to could make a functional copy of the site, and modify it as they wish, once again, using the Google Sites/ drive editor. Does the use of Google's proprietary software make such a site ineligible for GPL use, given that the HTML source is not available?

Similarly, for Google Docs, does the fact that you essentially have to open the original Document on the proprietary docs software make it ineligible for use of the GPL open documentation/ publication license?

For reference, I am looking between the GPL and the GFDL and trying to see which license is appropriate for the website that I am making via GSuite. The site will read potentially like a technical whitepaper in a lot of regards; most of the site will be Google Docs documents.

When looking at the GFDL, there is a section regarding "Transparent" and "Opaque" documents, which spawned my curiosity about the qeustion. Taken from version 1.3 of the GNU Free Documentation License:

A "Transparent" copy of the Document means a machine-readable copy, represented in a format whose specification is available to the general public, that is suitable for revising the document straightforwardly with generic text editors or (for images composed of pixels) generic paint programs or (for drawings) some widely available drawing editor, and that is suitable for input to text formatters or for automatic translation to a variety of formats suitable for input to text formatters. A copy made in an otherwise Transparent file format whose markup, or absence of markup, has been arranged to thwart or discourage subsequent modification by readers is not Transparent. An image format is not Transparent if used for any substantial amount of text. A copy that is not "Transparent" is called "Opaque".

Examples of suitable formats for Transparent copies include plain ASCII without markup, Texinfo input format, LaTeX input format, SGML or XML using a publicly available DTD, and standard-conforming simple HTML, PostScript or PDF designed for human modification. Examples of transparent image formats include PNG, XCF and JPG. Opaque formats include proprietary formats that can be read and edited only by proprietary word processors, SGML or XML for which the DTD and/or processing tools are not generally available, and the machine-generated HTML, PostScript or PDF produced by some word processors for output purposes only.

I'm not sure is that is even imposing a restriction or not on the types of formats I choose, but I would think that the benefit of using the GPL would be that it doesn't seem to have any similar clause, and like commentors have said, the output of a program is licensed differently than the program required to make the output, so I'm thinking GPL 3.0 is the way to go. By the way, I don't think GFDL and GPL3 are compatible...

What about algorithms provided via Collabratory? Those are licenseable via GPL3?

  • Possible duplicate of Is the output of an open source program licensed the same?
    – Brandin
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 12:10
  • 2
    The fact that you need proprietary software to run a program does not mean that it is not open source or free software. There are countless open source programs for Microsoft Windows, for example. To use those programs, you first need to have Windows (a proprietary operating system and related proprietary programs that come with it).
    – Brandin
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 12:12
  • @Brandin I guess I was drawing an imaginary line between programs that are compatible with a proprietary software / those that only produce output with the aid of a proprietary software and those that the source code itself is the product or result of the execution of a proprietary software.
    – user15191
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 15:06
  • 1
    Read the linked question and see if you still have a question. Basically the output of a program and the program itself are different things. If you make a PowerPoint file using PowerPoint, then you own the rights to the PowerPoint file that you made, and Microsoft owns the rights in the PowerPoint program itself. They are separate things and Microsoft can't dictate how you can license your own creation. The same idea applies to basically all software that creates some output.
    – Brandin
    Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 4:11
  • @Brandon I think you are correct in your assertion that it is a duplicate. Upon reading the linked answer, it seems that I can license my output how I like, as you say. Thank you for the link. However I also added some information about my confusion/ motivation to make the question clearer.
    – user15191
    Commented Jun 10, 2019 at 12:57


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