It’s officially kicked off in Twitter. It was between two parties. On one side it was Chris Pearson (@pearsonified), producer of the Thesis WordPress theme. On the other it was Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt), creator of WordPress.
I don’t really understand the ins and outs, but it seemed to all stem from two tweets.
- The first was that pearsonified tweeted that a developer Bill Erickson, was taken off the WordPress Consultants list because he promoted Thesis.
- The second was a tweet where an exposure in Thesis’ was shown. This was retweeted by Matt Mullenweg with an (admittedly very sarcastic comment on Thesis). From then it went onto a discussion about the GPL.
What Is The GPL?
The GPL, or the GNU General Public Licence is the licence that WordPress is under. The licence is simple, you’re free to do what ever you want with it, make money with it, go nuts. However derivative works need to be under GPL.
What Is The Problem?
Of course, what counts as a derivative work? WordPress says that premium themes & plugins are included in this. Of course, by having effectively open sourced themes, it will allow other people to propetier from your work. For free software, this isn’t much of an issue. I’ve used code before that people have made within WP Email Capture. It’s made the software better. Of course, when I finish WP Email Caputre Premium, I’d like to think that I can make a little bit of cash out of it, and not have it ripped off.
Am I Breaking The Law?
A lot of software I use on this blog such as OIO Publisher & Maxblogpress Ninja Affiliate aren’t in the GPL. I use them because they’re useful. Technically though, they’re breaking the law. Am I breaking the law for not only using them but promoting them (I am not a big fan of Thesis, hence why I don’t promote it)? Developers are rightfully a little up in arms over this, as they believe it hampers their right to make an income (see Why The GPL Doesn’t Apply To Premium Themes).
I’ve been advised by experienced members of the WordPress community when I do finish my plugin whether I should release it or not under the GPL. I’m not sure whether I should or not. What I do know is that the GPL needs some sort of clarification, because I cannot make head nor tail over it.