[kwlug-disc] Wordpress themes must be GPL

Ralph Janke txwikinger at ubuntu.com
Tue Jul 27 15:53:54 EDT 2010


On 07/27/2010 01:59 PM, Chris Frey wrote:
>
> Are you referring to the kernel here?  Because to my knowledge, the kernel
> has always used the GPL, not LGPL.
>
>
>    
The kernel is GPL, but the runtime stuff comes with gcc and is
LGPL. I am not sure about the kernel headers, but obviously we
have proprietary kernel modules, hence it must be LGPL.


>> However,
>> there is an unresolved discussion about something similar. A lot
>> of people in the python community believe, that code that just calls
>> a library which is GPL must also be GPL. I somewhat disagree with that.
>> No code (or derivative) is copied for such, hence copyright is not really
>> an issue. It is rather an issue of usage, for which the GPL is very liberal.
>>      
> This is why the LGPL was created, so that linking doesn't require
> putting all the code under GPL.  Linking does count with GPL.
>
> 	http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#LinkingWithGPL
> 	http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLAndPlugins
>
> I think most plugins are a bit more than just calling a "main" function
> and waiting for it to return.
>
> To be clear about proprietary modules in a GPL'd program, they recommend
> an explicit exception clause:
>
> 	http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#LinkingOverControlledInterface
>
> It is worth noting that some people release code under the GPL specifically
> to discourage non-free use.  It's a big sign that non-free users should
> go away.
>
> - Chris
>
>    
Well.. the question is the difference between linking, and just calling.
Even that question gets more and more gray. If you statically link a
library, you copy it in fact. If you link it dynamically, it gets 
complicated, one
could argue that if you do not distribute the .so library with your 
executable,
because it is already in the distribution, you do not need to comply with
GPL even if the library is GPL (the problem might still be the header files
though).

In some ways, you just use what is already there. In the same way M$ might
otherwise claim that your word document is owned by them, since their
software has created a derivative of your input.

If you look at themes, if they just call something which is already existent
in the distribution of wordpress, drupal etc, then you have not copied 
anything.
If you use existing php, javascript, css, etc. code, that you have 
copied and
pasted and then modified, then you would fall under the license.

On the other hand, we have the Pystar vs. Apple case in the US, in which 
Pystar
was prohibited to resale Apples copies of leopard and snow leopard with 
their
software. However, I am not sure if this case said anything about the 
case if Pystar would have only sold an additional software, and the user 
had to find
a legal copy of Apple's (snow) leopard themselves.

Maybe it would be an interesting test case to see if a court would put 
the building of a theme in wordpress or drupal equivalent to what Pystar 
did (even though is wordpress or drupal distributed with the theme?) or 
if it would be solely a question of the usage and derivation of existing 
code.

Ralph






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