[kwlug-disc] Wordpress themes must be GPL

Khalid Baheyeldin kb at 2bits.com
Mon Jul 26 13:15:02 EDT 2010

On Sun, Jul 25, 2010 at 12:28 AM, unsolicited <unsolicited at swiz.ca> wrote:

> Khalid Baheyeldin wrote, On 07/24/2010 11:10 PM:
>   From a practical point of view, not just licensing, I believe that
>> releasing your
>> modules free is far better for the developer, and the ecosystem, for many
>> reasons: the code gets fixes, features and upgrades that are impossible
>> for one or a few people to do on their own, the developer gets
>> recognition,
>> the ecosystem for the larger application gets better by having more
>> components,
>> the developer gets new business, everyone wins, except those who are
>> locked
>> into the mentality that they should press CDs and sell their software
>> commercially
>> only.
> But, to Paul's point: How do developers put food on the table?
> Without having to execute a continuous stream of work?
> They create something 'wonderful', but, in essence, must (practically
> speaking) make it free. How do they gain a 'royalty' (not an annual license
> fee, but a bite of pie) every time their work is 'acquired' (downloaded?)
> I get your business model, your code (and other activities) enhances your
> reputation and makes you the go to guy for a continuous stream of work.
> But how do FOSS developers put food on the table for effort expended
> without having to continuously execute new streams of work?

> e.g. Suppose you get sick (and have no income replacement insurance) - your
> revenue plummets and you have to live on what you have managed to save. Or,
> what about those who don't make enough or have insurance?

Those developers should think ahead of time and get legal advice as to what
are really doing.

For example: They should not pick a license that forbids/allows certain
things, and
then lament after they encounter success then their error is pointed out to

They should also think about their business model ahead of time.

Don't like the GPL? Fine. Don't release your code under that license, and
write extensions/plugins for software that uses that license. Go with Apache
licenses and the like ...

I can't remember how many times I have seen this "license regret".

Even large venture capital funded companies (e.g. Alfresco) released their
product under a dual license (proprietary and GPL), then say that if time
goes back, they would
have picked another license, and that the GPL is not a good license for

Also, MySQL released their code under GPL, and then sort of regret that down
the line.

All of that time, the GPL helped make their code base and project popular
and successful. But then when they take that success for granted, they think
of what Apple has done with NetBSD, and they want to be able to fully
commercialize and make proprietary what was open for example, or close off
sections of their code.

We don't see commercially failed extensions lamenting the GPL, do we?

Use due diligence and common sense, as well as business acumen and legal
advice. That is all.

And now, let us go back to "how should FOSS developers put food on the

The proper answer is long and has been hashed and rehashed before, but let
me respond with a counter argument: how does a non-FOSS developer who does
not operate their own business put food on the table"? The rights to what he
writes has been taken over by the corporation he works for, and he can be
laid off any time because of market conditions, company faltering, CEO
embezzling, ...etc. ? What assurance does he have if he gets sick after he
is laid off?
Khalid M. Baheyeldin
2bits.com, Inc.
Drupal optimization, development, customization and consulting.
Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability. --  Edsger W.Dijkstra
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. --   Leonardo da Vinci
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