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

Lynne Pope lynne.pope at gmail.com
Sat Dec 13 04:04:13 GMT 2008

2008/12/13 Matt <speedboxer at gmail.com>

> On Fri, Dec 12, 2008 at 6:18 PM, DD32 <wordpress at dd32.id.au> wrote:
> >> Why is a theme considered a derivative work of WordPress, if it is
> > released separately, but dependent on WordPress?
> >
> > Because it relies upon WordPress, A Derivative work does not need to be
> > distributed with the parent, mearly rely upon it.
> You could actually make a theme that wouldn't be a derivative. By not
> using any template functions, and "simply" getting everything directly
> from the database. Which would mean it could operate without WordPress
> (it would need a WordPress-styled database, but that really has
> nothing to do with licenses) and would not be a derivative. That
> would, of course, be a PITA, but you could do it if you wanted to sell
> a non-GPL-compat theme.

There is still disagreement, even within the FSF, over whether a simple API
call creates a derivative work. Some GPL projects take the position that it
does, some take an opposite view. Both are right in terms of their own
projects because the copyright holder has the right to enforce their license
as they see fit (although, keeping within the clear terms of the GPL
itself). Without case law to determine exactly what makes a derivative work
the debates over GPL are going to continue to take up far more time than
they should, and cause more angst in FOSS communities. Shame.

Templates have traditionally been seen as outside the scope of the GPL.
See: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#WMS

WordPress themes usually consist of (X)HTML, CSS, images, and often include
JavaScript. They do not necessarily use the JavaScript libraries that are
included within WP (which are not GPL anyway). Many WP themes can also stand
alone as static HTML templates simply by removing the WP functions. I
suspect many are even designed at the outset as static templates with the WP
function calls added later. It's also possible to build a WP theme without
using any WP function calls at all, by using functions.php as a bridge
between WP and the theme.

IANAL, and am also not a seller of WP themes, but I do not believe that WP
themes are necessarily derivative or have to be licensed under the GPL. A
clear position statement by WP.org would clear matters up so everyone knew
where they stood.


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