[wp-hackers] Plugin Licenses

David Chait davebytes at comcast.net
Fri Mar 16 17:20:22 GMT 2007

Alex Günsche wrote:
> I'm +1 on GPL-only (or GPL-compatible) in the official repositories. 
I've never said otherwise.  I said I was -100 on having a plugin 
'upgrade checker' that will only check GPL-only repos.
> 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.
Actually, what makes free software popular is that it is free. ;)  And, 
to counter, users should ALWAYS consider the legal terms of software 
they use.
> 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.
That's an argument for software piracy.  "Eh, I don't want to pay for 
stuff I use, I'll use it anyway..."

If I restrict commercial use, 'good citizens of the world' will properly 
contact me and request a paid commercial license.  NOTE THAT AKISMET 
DOES THAT!  WOW!  Unheard of! ;) ;)

> 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.
Great for you that you refuse money people want to give you.  And, I see 
you run a consulting company that specializes in OSS.  Great you can do 
that and earn a living, and afford to turn away money.  I can't earn a 
living off my OSS work, and I don't turn down donations.

Also, I find as much as people say those of us in the US don't think 
enough of the rest of the world, some of the rest of the world forgets 
that the cost of living vs cost of earnings in many areas of the States 
(and certain other countries) can make certain jobs 'unviable' in those 
regions.  I'm in one of those regions.  And I'm not looking to 'build 
PR' from my plugins, get more work from my plugins, so again, great for 
you but doesn't help me a bit. ;)
> 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.
Depending on the origination of the project, they could do a commercial 
version.  Many OSS projects have commercial versions with added features 
and support.  But, an open plugin system is an open plugin system -- 
they'd have to lock out plugins, have the code precompiled so a 
purchaser can modify it, etc.
> 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.
I have had my plugins free for years for personal use.  I've been a 
large contributor to the support forums for years.  I give to others.  
But I can't depend on my (few but thankful!) donations.  Would making my 
plugins free and clear in GPL get me more users, more donations?   Maybe 
a tiny bit.  But switching to a completely paid-use license on my big 
plugins would make me a lot more (as those users have proven they're 
actively willing to pay for features).


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