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The GNU General Public License V2 is a 'copyleft' license designed to protect the rights of users whilst still providing protection to the author of the software. It is intended to ensure the following rights for users

  1. The freedom to run the program, for any purpose
  2. The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to meet your needs
  3. The freedom to redistribute for the benefit of others
  4. The freedom to distribute modified versions to give the entire community chance to benefit.

The license permits users to use, modify and redistribute the software under certain conditions. These, essentially, are

  • Any redistribution must take place under the GPL
  • The source code must be made available by anyone distributing either the original software of the modification
  • The software must be accompanied by either a copy of the GPL or information on where to find a copy of the license.

If you receive software licensed under the GNU GPL without source code (or an offer of the same) then this is likely to be a violation of the GPL and should be reported by following the steps published by GNU here.

The GNU GPL V2 was replaced by GPL V3 in June 2007 (The main changes being to prevent so-called Tivo-isation). Developers do, however, remain free to license their software under V2. All projects will contain details of which version they are licensed under (usually in the headers). Some will contain the text

Licensed under the GNU General Public License V2 or any later version

This essentially means that if the specified version has been superseded, you (as the user) have the option to abide either by the specified version of any later version of the GNU GPL.

The Joomla project is licensed under "GPL Version 2 or later", but users should be aware that the authors of some extensions may have explicitly opted to license their components under GPL V3.

You can view the GNU GPL V2 License in full on the GNU Site