[kwlug-disc] Wordpress themes must be GPL

Khalid Baheyeldin kb at 2bits.com
Thu Jul 29 12:12:18 EDT 2010

On Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 12:00 PM, R. Brent Clements <rbclemen at gmail.com>wrote:

> I have asked this question before, and I am not sure I have ever heard a
> definitive answer, but this is what I don't understand about GPL software
> distribution.
> If I create code "derived" from existing GPL'd code I need to licence it
> GPL.  Which makes sense.  If I choose to sell the code, for say $100, I have
> the right.  And under the GPL when I distribute the software I am required
> to grant access to the source code for my code and the pre-existing code.
> The question is this.  If I sell 10 copies of the software, am I not only
> required to provide access to the source code to those 10 customers.  If
> some guy sends me an email stating that he/she wants the source under the
> terms of the GPL, what obligation do I have to give it to them?  I know that
> one of the 10 people I sold it to now have the right to do that, but I am
> not required to identify them, am I?

You are not required to identify them. But anyone can ask for the source
and you should make it available.

Because your derived work is licensed under the GPL, and you are not just
using it internally, you are "distributing" a GPL licensed code, and
therefore you should make the source code available to anyone who ask. You
can charge a reasonable cost to cover expenses. This used to be mailing
tapes, or floppies, or CDs. Nowadays, it is having an FTP site to download
the source from.

Moreover, anyone who bought the program from you has the right to the source
AND has the right to share it with anyone under the GPL license as well, be
it free or for money.

Even if none of the buyers ever ask for the source code, you can still be on
the hook for it. And if you withhold the source code for a third party
request, you could eventually get on
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gpl-violations.org too. Not a big deal, since
most people eventually comply, but you don't want the publicity.

That is why I said earlier in the thread that although the GPL allows for
charging money for GPL code, it inhibits the business model where people
want to make money selling copies of the software.

More reason for due diligence ahead of time, from a legal point of view,
rather than finding out too late in the game that you have a flawed business
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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