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

Jeremy Clarke jer-wphackers at simianuprising.com
Fri Dec 12 20:15:22 GMT 2008

The GPL doesn't matter until someone gets sued.

If Otto wanted to be extreme about it, he could buy some "Non-GPL"
plugins/themes, then post them on his site for free and claim that
they are GPL because they use wordpress code. Then if the original
author sued him the courts would make a decision about how the GPL
applies in this case. Of course it seems that the value of a WP
plugin/theme is almost definitely less than the cost of any kind of
copyright trial, so the author might just let it go (and depend on
their brand/support) or Otto might take them down before it got that
far (or maybe he'd get Eben Moglen from FSF to represent him, which is

The cost of finding out these things is so prohibitive that the GPL
usually works as a preventative measure and a social contract rather
than a practical contract used to determine court outcomes (though
it's designed to do so if necessary). As you can imagine, courts
aren't very well informed about this stuff though, so it's
particularly slow and complicated to come to a decision.

Another interesting thing to note is that FSF as a whole practices a
very polite form of litigation when it comes to these things. They
never ask for damages, just compliance. So it's not that risky to
release "Non GPL" code because if FSF pressures you all you have to do
is admit your code is GPL and Free and then you are fine.

Some interesting reading:

Jeremy Clarke | http://simianuprising.com
Code and Design | http://globalvoicesonline.org

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