[kwlug-disc] Wordpress themes must be GPL

Andrew Kohlsmith (mailing lists account) aklists at mixdown.ca
Mon Jul 26 16:31:22 EDT 2010

On Monday, July 26, 2010 03:42:02 pm Khalid Baheyeldin wrote:
> > Do you have any links to this effect? I don't doubt it, but I'd like to
> > read
> > more about it.
> Here is Matt Asay, who used to write a blog on CNET on Open Source,
> and was an executive at Alfresco (an Open Source dual licensed Java
> Enterprise Content Management system).

[ much reading snipped ]

Wow, thanks for such detailed links! I did a quick read just now, but I'm 
going to go back over these links later on, as it is interesting to see how he 
has changed his position somewhat.  My cursory read left me with the 
impression that he is less enchanted with the GPL because of the "cheese 
touch" syndrom: it makes others afraid to touch it lest they have to make 
their proprietary code available due to "contamination".

> But when you move to stuff that is interpreted and shares process space
> (e.g.
> Wordpress or Drupal interpreted via PHP which runs inside Apache), things
> get more interesting. Is your module or theme "derived work"?

Linus made it blatantly clear that modules (code which links to the kernel) do 
not have to be GPL. It appears that Wordpress and Drupal need to make very 
clear statements as well.  It seems that Wordpress has, and that's what this 
whole thread was about. :-)

> Then don't give it away? And don't write extensions to GPL software then
> complain
> about the license ...

I agree. Personally I think that if all you want to do is develop or code you 
are probably best suited for working as part of a larger corporation, maybe 
even one that will pay you to write open-source software. If you are looking 
for the ability to make money while relaxing... you need to don a few other 
hats and be prepared to do businessy stuff so that you have a marketable 

Just my $0.02 (+ HST).

> When you ride that wave, you play by the rules and give back your
> extensions under the same license.
> Otherwise, write it from scratch under a proprietary license and then sell
> it any way you want.

Agreed, but I am also thinking that in the case of themes Wordpress may have 
shot themselves in the foot. If all you have are the standard themes and you 
aren't inclined to write your own, you might decide that other software 
(prettier software, since others aren't restricted to giving away their 
themes) is more suited for your needs.

> I used to think like that, and even tried it for a while.
> I found that going to services is best, and freeing the software.

I agree with you.

> I agree that business people sell value, but they do care about the license
> too.
> Why is there such a thing as the BSA then? Why do they police proprietary
> software
> usage (pirated or borrowed?)

The BSA exists because you need to be able to use a stick to enforce the "do 
not copy my code" that proprietary software needs since they are making 
(bucketloads) of money off of licensing.

But let's be honest: the BSA doesn't care about licensing. They care about 
member fees and have to club people and scare monger in order to earn those 
fees. The BSA would be a very different entity if they went after GPL 

(it is my understanding that the BSA only visits people who violate the 
licensing of the companies who pay them... I could be wrong about this.)

> Why do we see lawsuits where due diligence was not done for copyright?

Again, because the holder of the copyright has a business centered around 
selling multiple copies of the same thing, and if they don't enforce the "you 
can only get copies from me" aspect, they would not have a business.


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