[wp-hackers] Plugin Licenses

David Chait davebytes at comcast.net
Fri Mar 16 16:00:18 GMT 2007

Matt Mullenweg wrote:
> David Chait wrote:
>> I'll put my vote +1 to a check-updates solution that does NOT depend 
>> on GPL-only repositories, and -100 otherwise... ;)
> The opinion of the FSF is that distributed plugins for WordPress also 
> fall under the GPL:
> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLAndPlugins
> I've met people who suggest their work is too good to "give away" as 
> Open Source software, but we're all lucky none of the contributers to 
> WordPress felt that way or we wouldn't be having this discussion today.

I've never suggested my work is too good to "give away".  I have a 
family to feed, and need to recoup something on my time (I thank the 
people who DO 'donate', but it's too small, too far between).  I don't 
mind GPL terms.  I prefer LGPL in general though, and my own major 
plugins are all just 'non-commercial-use licensed'.

The opinion of the FSF is just an opinion.  It is not part of the GPL as 
language (though I heard newer GPL might start to delve into such 
topics).  The GPL is describing compiled code, and in fact code that has 
a very particular threshhold of integration.  It does not specifically 
cover 'plugins' for a web/interpreted language like PHP, or the issues 
therein, it does not cover with any level of specificity at what point a 
plugin would NOT have to be GPL (for instance, a photoshop-esque plugin 
is given a pointer to a memory/image buffer, and says 'go'...  I don't 
call that tight integration of internal structures and functions!).

I'm thankful for WP.  I've also contributed more than my share back over 
the years, and I'm not one of the many gainfully employed by it.  In the 
early days I tried to do more debugging/improvement side, now I'm lucky 
if I have time to help answer Qs in the forums! ;)  I have a number of 
plugins which I should go and put up in wp-plugins, as they're small 
enough, yet useful enough, that I'm happy to just share them.

But I also pretty early on separated my major plugins into a 'core' and 
a 'plugin stub'.  The core, in general, doesn't know a freaking thing 
about WP, could care less, could be integrated into any number of 
PHP-based systems.  For those without that separation, some of them have 
a tight integration, some of them don't.  Some might have example files 
of how one might more tightly integrate with a particular PHP system, 
like WP.

<soapbox>I also dislike some of the holier-than-thou I hear from 
GPL-ites who are either being paid to do their work (many of the 
significant GPL projects are by paid corporate staff or educational 
faculty), or significantly benefitting from it via other secondary 
means.  (That isn't to point at you Matt, I have no idea whether or any 
of the Automattic team have made money directly or indirectly off of 
WP... or what salaries you make... etc.)</soapbox>

And back to the original points someone made: I have no problem having 
my plugins hosted somewhere other than my server.  I'm not a control 
freak.  The code is PHP, it's all readable, if someone wanted to 
steal/lift from it they probably already have.  I just obviously can't 
host most of them on a GPL-only service.  So having a plugin manager, 
plugin checker, whatever, that only supports the GPL-only service is bad 
in my eyes, shortsighted, and actually a bit of a slap in the face...


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