[wp-hackers] On Submitting Code

Jeremy Visser jeremy at visser.name
Tue Aug 31 12:17:24 UTC 2010

Hash: SHA1

Hi Hakre,

hakre said:
> Wordpress lacks a clear policy for submitting code[1].
> I got reminded yesterday on that one by one of the free software
> guys.

What would that achieve? In your blog post you wrote:

> WordPress does not have such a policy right now [...] This is a
> serious issue.

> That’s really a big problem, because after code has made it in, it’s
> very hard to find out for every contribution if the needed rights
> were given or not. Just think a moment about that.

You say that like it’s a bad thing. On the contrary, it is a good thing,
and ensures that WordPress is and will always remain true to the spirit
of free libre open source software.

This is because it is simply impractical for Automattic to contact each
copyright holder to request a change away from the GPL to something
proprietary. That’s a Good Thing™, and keeps them honest. :)

Even without a code submission policy, it is 100% clear that all
contributions to WordPress fall under the GPL. There is no doubt about
that. The LICENSE.txt file is included with every copy of WordPress,
which clearly talks about derivative works. A code contribution policy
will not clarify that.

You talked about the need for a code submission policy, then said that
it’s hard to track down individual code contributions, as if the two are
somehow related, and you even seem to imply that the latter will be
solved by the former.

That will not be the case. A code submission policy is not going to
magically track down contributions any more than the existing “Props
Br’er Rabbit” bylines in SVN.

Let me go back to my first point about WordPress remaining FLOSS. One
code submission policy that some big projects like MySQL or VirtualBox
use is that contributors must sign a copyright assignment, which assigns
the copyright of the contributions to the parent company. This enables
the parent company to create proprietary and non-GPL versions of the
contributed code.

The spirit of WordPress is definitely not in favour of moving in that
direction. From what I remember of Matt Mullenweg speaking about open
source software, I am certain he is not inclined to move in that
direction either.

Maybe you weren’t suggesting a copyright assignment be included in a
code submission policy. But if you’re not going to include that in the
policy, there’s not much else to put in there that’s not already in

In good faith,

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