On July 25th, SugarCRM announced its decision to adopt the GNU General Public License (GPL) v3 for its upcoming release of Sugar Community Edition 5.0 (previously known as Sugar Open Source).

The following FAQs have been prepared to give you insight into the decision and its implications for the Sugar Community.

This document is for guidance purposes only and is not a legal document and is thus not legally binding. We encourage you to read GPL v3 license in its entirety and consult legal counsel accordingly.


SugarCRM and the GPL v3

Q: What is the GPL v3?

A: The GNU General Public License v3 (GPL) is the latest iteration of the most widely used free and open source software (FOSS) license in the world. The GPL was created and sponsored by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). Read the full license here.

Q: Why did SugarCRM change from the SPL to GPL v3?

A: SugarCRM believes the GPL v3 will become the standard for all open source licenses, and wanted to get a head start on adopting that standard.

Q: What are the advantages of the GPL v3?

A: Since GPL v3 is based on the most popular license in the open source universe, the community is able to adopt and develop on what is sure to be the de facto standard license. This will insure greater interoperability and enhanced community collaboration as GPL v3 becomes widely adopted in the same manner as earlier versions of the GPL.

Q: What SugarCRM product does the GPL v3 affect?

A: Sugar Community edition (formally known as Sugar Open Source). Only Sugar Community edition (starting with the 5.0 release) is affected by GPL v3. Sugar Professional and Sugar Enterprise editions are both offered under commercial licenses, and are thus not affected by this license. SugarCRM's on-demand customers are also not affected by the GPL v3.

Q: Why is Sugar Open Source changing name to Sugar Community Edition?

A: Sugar Community Edition best represents who this project is for - the community.

Q: How does GPL v3 differ from the Sugar Public License?

A: The two licenses have several important differences: the scope of the SPL is focused primarily on files, but the GPL v3 is broader, based on "modifications" and, thus, the community has access to more modifications under GPL v3. GPL v3 permits modifications to the license for certain terms under Section 7. And the GPL v3 has more extensive patent licenses than the SPL.

Q: Is SPL still valid? Will older versions of Sugar Open Source work?

A: Yes, older versions of Sugar Open Source are still fully functional. However, some extensions to Sugar Community Edition licensed under GPL v3 may not be run with older SPL versions of Sugar Open Source if they create a modification of the extension, because the SPL and GPL v3 are not compatible licenses.

If you are running Sugar Community Edition licensed under GPL v3, it is compatible with extensions and modules that are also licensed under GPL v3.

Q: What is the difference between the SPL attribution provision and the GPL v3 attribution provision?

A: Sugar Community Edition conforms to the attribution provisions in GPL v3 – Section 7. The attribution provisions are not as detailed in GPL v3 compared to SPL. Please read more here.

Q: Will Sugar Community Edition 5.0 be licensed under Microsoft Community License?

A: No, it will not be. It is only licensed under GPL v3.

The GPL v3

Q: What am I allowed to do to the code that is released under GPL v3?

A: Please visit for information about the GPL v3 license and what it governs.

Q: What am I not allowed to do with code that is released under the GPL v3?

You can download the code base, install it, and modify it as you need to. If you modify the code, we encourage you to contribute it back to the Sugar community by contributing your modifications under GPL v3 and we will post it on For more information about contributions please visit the GPL v3 FAQs

Please note that if you distribute your modifications, you will have obligations under the GPL v3. However, because the Sugar source code is entirely written in PHP, you will not need to separately distribute source code.

Q: What is a modification?

The simple rule to follow is if you modify any file in Sugar Community Edition other than a configuration file such as config.php, you have created a modification. All modifications naturally are covered by the GPL v3 license. Read more on the GPL v3 FAQs

Examples of a modification - which originated from Sugar Community Edition:

  • Any code modifications other than changes in a configuration file.
  • Including bug fixes.
  • Adding or removing fields.
  • Modifying API's.
  • Modifying existing code to add a new API.
  • An entirely new language pack.
  • An entirely new template.

Examples of code that wouldn't be considered a modification.

  • Entirely new software that interacts with SugarCRM using existing Web Service API's

Q: What is the license compatibility with GPL v3 and any other licensed components or extensions?

A: As with any open source license, some compatibility issues can arise. Please refer to the GPL v3 website for compatibility.


Q: Are language packs subject to GPL v3 provisions? Themes? Modules?

A: The GPL v3 FAQ contains this item and this item that discusses the notion of a “larger work” and what constitutes a larger work. Our interpretation of GPL v3 is that language packs and, more generally, any code (e.g., modules, themes) that interfaces directly with (and would not work without) Sugar Community Edition form a larger work and are thus subject to GPL v3.

This is contrasted with extensions that interface with Sugar Community Edition via web services APIs (i.e., SOAP APIs). These extensions run independently of Sugar Community Edition and can presumably work in the absence of Sugar Community Edition, do not form a larger work, and can therefore be licensed under a non-GPL license.

Q: What practical difference will a switch to GPL v3 have for me?

A: Many of the rights under the GPL v3 are very similar to the SPL,

It means among other things that:

  • You can modify the code
  • You can fix bugs as you find them
  • You can customize an application in any way you want
  • If a developer stops working on the application you or someone else can continue development without fear of any legal consequences
  • You can hire someone who is not the developer to perform any of the above functions.

The major practical difference is that the code will be licensed under GPL v3 which works with many more licenses and projects than SPL.

Q: Do I own the code I write?

A: Yes. Whether the code you write is a modification of Sugar Community Edition or completely new code, you (or your employer) own the copyright to that code. However, if you modify code covered by the GPL v3, you can only distribute the originally licensed work and your modifications under the GPL v3. Most importantly, you can sell a modified work and make it publicly available.

Q: As a developer, how does the GPL v3 affect my existing work that I developed under other licenses?

A: If you own the copyright to your work and it does not depend on including software licensed under a different open source license, you may re-license your code under GPL v3. You may keep your works under SPL if you like.

Q: Does the GPL v3 change how I make code contributions?

A: Contributing code is performed in the same manner as before, those contributions are simply now licensed under GPL v3 and not the previous SPL license.

Q: Can I post code snippets or my code samples on public sites?

A: Yes, GPL v3 allows redistribution. Please note the license the code is released under.

Q: Are themes and language packs considered larger works?

A: Extensions implemented via the Module Loader form a larger work according to the GPL v3. See this FAQ response, in particular: "Combining two modules means connecting them together so that they form a single larger program. If either part is covered by the GPL, the whole combination must also be released under the GPL--if you can't, or won't, do that, you may not combine them."

Q: My extension interacts with Sugar Community Edition purely through Sugar Web Services (SOAP API) calls. What do I need to do?

A: It's likely that your program and Sugar Community Edition do not form a larger work and thus your code can be licensed in any manner. See this GPL v3 FAQ item for more information

Q: Can I release an extension under a non-GPL license?

A: No, because most modifications by their nature are modifications and must be distributed under the GPL v3.

Q: I know of or am currently evaluating or using a SugarForge project that is not licensed under GPL v3. What should I do?

A: Sugar has contacted SugarForge project administrators and developers associated with project that are currently not GPL v3 compliant. We encourage you to also contact the project members as well. It is in the best interest of SugarForge project administrators to ensure their project licensed under GPL v3 or compatible license.

Sugar Administrators

Q: I am the project administrator of a SugarForge project licensed under the Sugar Public License. What do I need to do?

A: Sugar encourages you to update your project to GPL v3 for it to remain compatible with Sugar Community Edition when it becomes available starting with the 5.0 Release. To convert your project to GPL v3, update the License section under "Project Categorization" in the Admin section of your project on

Q: I am the project administrator of a SugarForge project licensed under a license that is incompatible with GPL v3 What do I need to do?

A: Sugar encourages you to update your project to GPL v3 for it to remain compatible with Sugar Community Edition when it becomes available under GPL v3 starting with the 5.0 Release. To convert your project to GPL v3, update the License section under "Project Categorization" in the Admin section of your project on


Q: Can I sell new SugarCRM modules I create?

A: Yes you are allowed to sell your modifications. You own the copyright to the code that you write. However, you cannot require that your licensees charge to distribute a copy. If it's a modification of Sugar Community Edition, then the code is automatically governed by GPL v3 . Please visit the GPL v3 FAQs for more information.

Q: I am a Sugar partner/reseller/consultant and I occasionally do one-time Sugar Community Edition customization work for clients which are derived from Sugar modules. These customizations are used only for the client. Do I need to make these changes publicly available?

A: No, unless your client redistributes the code in which case the client must make it available to its licensees.

Q: Am I allowed to host (rent or provide an on-demand service) modified versions of Sugar Community Edition without making available the modified work source code?

A: Yes. More information available here:

Exchange Provider

Q: What happens to my previously purchased SugarExchange extensions - can I still use what I purchased with the new GPL v3 releases?

A: We do not recommend utilizing any extensions licensed under the SPL with Sugar Community Edition that's licensed under GPL v3 as it violates the policy. It is best to perform a thorough inspection of your CRM deployment to insure no code violations result from mixing older SPL-licensed extensions with a GPL-licensed version of Sugar Community Edition.

Q: What do I need to do if I provide a Sugar module that I'd like to make available on SugarExchange for Sugar Community Edition, as well as for Sugar Professional and Enterprise?

You can dual-license your offering by providing your module under a GPL-compliant license for Sugar Community Edition and a commercial license for Sugar Professional and Enterprise installations.

Last Modified: 07/27/2007 2:00PM PDT

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