[kwlug-disc] Wordpress themes must be GPL

Khalid Baheyeldin kb at 2bits.com
Mon Jul 26 14:02:11 EDT 2010

On Sun, Jul 25, 2010 at 8:48 PM, Johnny Ferguson <hyperflexed at gmail.com>wrote:

> I just read the debate between Chris (Thesis) and Matt (Wordpress), and I
> thought this illustrated rather well the caliber of understanding on each
> side
> ---
> Matt: Well, if in the WordPress community people started deciding that the
> GPL doesn’t apply that’s a very, very slippery slope. Not just for WordPress
> but for all of open source. Like you said, there hasn’t been a court case
> yet in the United States because every company, including big ones like
> Cisco, have backed down. If Chris wants to be the court case that proves the
> GPL, I am sure there are many people in the open source community that would
> love that opportunity.
> Andrew: What’s your position? Do you want to do this? Are you thinking of
> doing it?
> Matt: I wasn’t before. However, it sounds like Chris, like a business
> argument isn’t going to change his mind. It sounds like, you know, all the
> legal analysis from the biggest experts in the world isn’t going to change
> his mind. Chris has just decided that the license doesn’t apply to him and
> so he shouldn’t have to care about it. That’s breaking the law.
> Chris: I mean, you know, when I was in college in Georgia apparently it was
> illegal, in the Georgia State Doctrine, it was illegal to get a blowjob in
> the State of Georgia. But that’s one of those laws that’s never enforced.
> That brings up a valid question. What kind of law is it if it is
> unenforceable?
> ---
> definitely a non-sequitur of the highest degree. I started out somewhat
> sympathetic towards the Thesis guy, but the Wordpress guy absolutely tears
> him a new one:
> http://mixergy.com/chris-pearson-matt-mullenweg/
> I hope Thesis maintains its attitude. Would be nice to see the legal
> precedent solidified.

The problem here is that most developers who start a project decide on the
basically on a whim. They don't have the time or inclination to do extensive
to decide which one to use BEFORE they start the project, and the bulk of
time is spend coding, communicating, cat herding, ...etc. not on legal

Not one of them is sure that their project will be a success like Linux,
or Drupal, and puts the forethought to select a license to build a business

It is mostly afterthought.

So I bet both Matt and Chris never thought much of the GPL when they started
to do what they do. It is a popular license and hence they use it.

And then you have the precedence that most license disputes are resolved
without litigation: normally, you report the violation to the violator, and
ask them
to rectify it by either publishing their code under the same license and
make it
available to anyone who asks, or stop distributing the violating code.

Going to court is not the first option, nor should it be. Only the lawyers
win here.

Oh, and by the way, we don't have that argument within Drupal. People are
to sell premium themes, and some companies already do that. All they have to
is license the code parts under the GPL (normally PHP), and they are good.

A theme's value is never in the PHP part, it is in the look and feel and

Wonder why Wordpress let things go that far and turn into a crisis ...

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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