[wp-hackers] Re: Removal Of Over 200 Themes?

Otto otto at ottodestruct.com
Fri Dec 12 19:47:32 GMT 2008

On Fri, Dec 12, 2008 at 1:20 PM, Jeremy Visser <jeremy.visser at gmail.com> wrote:
> Slightly off-topic, but a little aside
> The most awesome part of the WordPress copyright situation: that the
> copyright holders are us -- each and every one of us that has
> contributed code to WordPress. If Matt grew two horns and wanted to make
> WordPress proprietary, he would have to get written permission from
> every single person who has ever contributed code _ever_ to WordPress.
> (Good luck with that. :-D)

Depends on the use case. For a open source project like WP, it's
basically a "collective work", or a "compilation" under copyright law.

The individual patches are copyrighted by their authors, and are
derivative works of the WP project. But when you put them together
with the original work, then it becomes a compilation. And under US
copyright law, the person creating a compilation has copyright in the
organization of the material (plus any material he contributed, of

This seems odd at first, but think of it this way: the act of putting
the two things together (old version + patch = new version) creates a
new derivative work with a separate copyright.

So while nobody could make WP proprietary, the copyright of the
project for the purposes of licensing litigation does rest with
whoever is the person or group committing the patches into the

More information about the wp-hackers mailing list