[wp-hackers] WordPress and GPLv3

Roy Schestowitz r at schestowitz.com
Thu Dec 27 15:57:01 GMT 2007

Hash: SHA1

Hi Pixline,

> Maybe is a little too early to talk about that? What's wrong with GPL2?

Nothing is wrong with the GPLv2.

While much of the coversation has drifted towards Tivoization, which is
the more controversial part of the licence, I worry more about other
aspects, such as software patents. There are companies with very broad
patent portfolios and even prior art would cost a fortune to get hold of
and show in a court a law. To give you an example, a company called
Blackboard 'owns' the genius that is having different roles in a CMS,
which facilitates different access privileges. As patent trolling
constantly reaches an all-time high (the popularity of WordPress
likewise), it is worth thinking ahead. Additionally, let me get to
another issue that I will discuss below now that you mentioned MySQL.

> At least, we can read it without a lawyer, unlike GPL3. I'm not pleased
> to release something under a license that needs a FAQ: the license can
> have legal value, but what about the FAQ?

I cannot see what difference the version makes. As you may be aware,
there is already a prominent page in the WordPress Codex about the GPL.
The differences between versions 2 and 3 of the licence are highlighted
in the Groklaw article which I cited earlier. The need for excessive
consultation is part of the smear campaign which plagued the mainstream

> Another interesting point - at least for me - is about community.
> Why WordPress is stuck with php4 and mysql4

That is an excellent, albeit an entirely separate question. It was
discussed here many times in the past and back/forward compatibility in
PHP  proves to be a bit of an issue.

Another thing to point out here is to do with MySQL and the GPL. In an
interview with Matt Aslett (CBR) last year, MySQL's CEO seems to have
described complacene with GPLv2 as temporary. That's why compatibility
issues begin to crop up. According to Palamida (research, consulting),
GPLv3 adoption continues to rise at a steady pace, with over 1,300
projects listed in their database at the moment as ones that are bound
to upgrade (to v3).

> "because they're widely
> supported and really tested" but needs to switch its license quite early
> even before a single valid legal test for the GPL3?

GPLv3 needn't a case that is very separate from GPLv2. The GPL has
already been tested successfully in some courts. In the US, nobody
wanted to accept the challenge, so there have been several settlements
recently, all of which took place outside the court.

The Wallace case proved about a year ago that his complaints about the
GPL were futile. He lost his appeal too, so things in general look very
encouraging for the licence at the moment. I'll give you the references
if you require them. You can inquire further to be entirely convinced.

> I think that the
> approach needs to be one and global. If GPL3 is ok, why PHP5 support is
> not?

That comparison is not a very compelling one. You are comparing licences
(law) to code (mathematics).

> I really can't understand why we have a conservative approach on system
> requirements, but we can afford a enthusiasm-driven licence switch. GPL2
> is well known and widely accepted, while GPL3 is basically just released
> and not-so-well accepted.

I beg to differ because adoption has exceeded expectations. Again, I
will happily back this assertion. There is a lot of disinformation out
'in the wild'.

With kind regards,


- --
		~~ Best of wishes

Roy S. Schestowitz
http://Schestowitz.com  |  GNU/Linux  |     PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E
Freelance journalist @ http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/
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