[wp-hackers] Premium plugin protection

Mike Schinkel mikeschinkel at newclarity.net
Mon Dec 13 01:43:28 UTC 2010

On Dec 12, 2010, at 8:03 PM, Andy Charrington-Wilden wrote:
> Can we not do both? I for one rate the community approval very high in my priorities. However I would also like to be a good businessman! 

I think good businessmen can honor the GPL.  My personal opinion is that it is a harder business model to implement then a proprietary business model because the GPL license limits your flexibility in what you can and cannot do.  Some people can manage it brilliantly, other's cannot.  

I frankly think it comes down it part to whether you are a staunch believer in the GPL or see it as a burden.  I think the former will have a better chance at success then the latter.  Matt has done brilliantly with it and arguably so has Brian of StudioPress (though I won't if he'll ever be able to sell StudioPress for F*ck-you money[1].) 

What I don't see is nearly as many viable companies offering GPL plugins and/or GPL themes as in the 1990's when I ran a catalog mail order company selling VBX controls to Visual Basic developers. In those days there were well over 500 identifiable commercial vendors with enough revenue stream to advertise (since we sold them advertising, we knew!) and I dare say that there are more WordPress users (~13 millions sites) then there were Visual Basic developers at the time (~1 million.)

> Someone earlier said that that taking a stance on premium plugins is not Matt's concern (words to that effect) and i believe they are right.

Which is probably true but if it is true I'm really curious as to why Thesis' lack of GPL became such a big campaign for him (just google "thesiswp" to read more than you'll ever want to know about it.)

> If i were to circumnavigate the gpl (not saying i will....) i would be doing it in order to protect the product in order to maximise profit. The more control i have over the code (and the less control developers have) the more money can be made.

I don't think that is a foregone conclusion, at least not in the WordPress space.  Many would argue, including me that there is a huge "karma" benefit to being GPL especially (IMO) if you architecture your plugins to themselves be extensible with hooks and cultivate 3rd party add-ins.  But just how much value that "karma" adds is impossible to quantify because every example for study executes differently.  

Caveat Emptor.

[1] http://www.google.com/search?q=F*ck-you+money

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