[wp-hackers] Plugin Licenses

Computer Guru computerguru at neosmart.net
Fri Mar 16 16:43:34 GMT 2007

> -----Original Message-----
> From: wp-hackers-bounces at lists.automattic.com [mailto:wp-hackers-
> bounces at lists.automattic.com] On Behalf Of Alex Günsche
> Sent: Friday, March 16, 2007 6:33 PM
> To: wp-hackers at lists.automattic.com
> Subject: Re: [wp-hackers] Plugin Licenses
> I'm +1 on GPL-only (or GPL-compatible) in the official repositories.
> Users should not have to consider a bunch of legaleese before using
> software. The GPL may be a restrictive license among the Open-Source
> ones, but it still makes it possible to modify and share software
> without limitations. That's what makes Free Software popular.

What about people who publish their Plugins as even MORE relaxed? BSD?
Apache? That doesn't fit in your reasoning for GPL-only.

> And: If you restrict commercial use, then what will happen? People will
> download and use it commercially anyway, if they want. (Yet they won't
> spread the word about it.) And what are you going to do about it? If
> you're in the same country, and you have plenty of time and a good
> lawyer, you can start a lawsuit. Elsewise -- you just sit and watch.
> As for putting food on the table: I publish my plugins under the GPL, I
> even refuse to take donations. But the users of my plugins spread the
> word, and that's very good PR for me. So good that I sometimes have to
> reject requests for new projects (as much as it hurts). And if a
> competitor takes my software and earns money with it, so what? I am
> well
> off, and I see no reason for wasting my nerves with complaining. By the
> way, my experience shows that some of them even come to me in the end,
> and ask me to improve the plugin for special purposes.

Congratulations, and lucky you. I only wish it were the same for me :) But
the fact of the matter is, it's not and for most people it's the same thing.
> Besides, what happen if Matt and Automattic would put WordPress itself
> under a non-commercial license, forbidding to earn money from plugins?
> You see, you couldn't earn money with proprietary plugins, if WordPress
> itself was proprietary.

You *can't* forbid people from earning money with Plugins. Look at Windows:
it's proprietary, but that doesn't make it illegal to develop software for

> We should be happy that WordPress is free software, and what WordPress
> provides for us with the provisions of the GPL, we should also give to
> others.

We are. Very happy. But as far as providing for others go, I say do what
your capable of. If it's in your capacity to provide free software, well and
good. And if it's not???

BTW, the FSF opinion on Plugins for GPL software is ridiculous and flawed.
Here's the real logic:

1) WordPress publishes APIs for developers to hook into and extend
1) Linux developers create APIs and SDKs so developers can hook into and
extend functionality

2) According to the FSF, Plugins shipped for GPL packages are VIRALLY
2) Yet the FSF doesn't claim that if you create software for Linux & co.
your software must by GPL. 

If the STEPs and METHODS are the same, then why the contradiction? The
answer is that the FSF just wants to spread GPL wherever it can get away
with it.

I MUCH prefer the GPL license to the Apache license as far as
developer-protection. But when coding open-source for myself or independent
projects, I choose Apache over GPL anyday because the Apache Foundation
doesn't act like dictators demanding the world switch to GPL left and right.

But that's just my two cents. I'm not a big name in GPL or open source
development, what do I know...


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