Drupal SMFforum Integration module no longer supported

Development of the SMFforum Integration module for Drupal is no longer.  Amy Stephen over at OpenSourceCommunity.org pointed out on her blog that the module's project  leader, "vb", pulled the module due to licensing disagreements with SMF LLC.  Amy references vb's original post at the Drupal forum, but she has a lot more to say.  Amy's an active participant in the Joomla! community, a community which had their own issues with a bridge between Joomla! and SMF.

According to vb's post, an email sent by Michael "Oldiesmann" Eshom, Project Manager, Simple Machines LLC stated that:

The problem isn't with the smfforum.module file or the packages distributed on drupal.org. The problem is with the "smf_api_subs.php" file that you're distributing as part of the smf api package - it contains modified versions of several SMF functions, and you did not ask for permission to use this code or distribute it.

It appears that Simple Machines LLC doesn't have so much of a problem with bridging SMF and Drupal as much as they have issues with their own code being used without proper permission.  The Simple Machines License clearly states that "Any Distribution of a Modified Package or derivative requires express written consent from Simple Machines LLC."  No word on whether Simple Machines LLC would endorse the use of their code if permission is asked.

It may be good to point out before continuing that smf_api_2.zip packages were made available at vb's own site and not with the module itself available at Drupal.org.  This action was more to protect/follow the GPL in ensuring that GPL and SMF code were not distributed together.   Also, the license for SMF (Warning: this is my own interpretation of the SMF license) doesn't actually forbid you to modify their code but it does forbid you to make that code available for others (without permission).

Amy asks a very good question regarding SMF having issues with "vb" distributing the SMF code.

I wonder why SMF allowed this to happen for so long? The Drupal bridge discussion began over two years ago on February 15, 2006 in SMF forums. This is not the first time SMF has pulled the plug on integrating software.

Yes, where has Simple Machines LLC been the past two years?  If you recall, we've also have had similar discussions here at CMSReport.com, including a discussion on the issues with bridging GPL and non-GPL software.  In that discussion, the concern was more about how best to protect software under the GPL from non-GPL software.  However, in that post's comment section, it was me and others that pointed out that the code to make the contributed Drupal module work was in violation with the Simple Machine's license. 

If the module doesn't violate the GPL it most certainly appears that it would violate SMF's license.

I realize that Simple Machines may not read this blog (or their own SMF forums as Amy pointed out).  But when months go by with no action being taken taken by Simple Machines...you tend believe that no issues existed with what others are doing with SMF's code.  Simple machines has done a disservice to its users by not speaking up sooner and waiting until now to finally say something about the issue.

In the end, I think I'm going to seriously review all options before I consider bridging a site with GPL software and non-GPL software.  At the very least, I think it is extremely important that before you use a contributed module that bridges something like Drupal to a third-party software that isn't GPL compatible...you make sure that the people behind that third-party software approves of the module.

For myself, I'm seriously going to take a look at some of the SMF to phpBB conversion tools and hopefully put this issue finally behind me once and for all. I wonder how many Drupal users in their current and future projects will be using another forum application instead of SMF?

Note: See Simple Machines grants permission for Drupal-SMF Bridge for an update to this post!