[wp-hackers] Premium plugin protection

Andy Charrington-Wilden andycharrington at gmail.com
Mon Dec 13 02:24:47 UTC 2010

Karma. It's funny you say that because I've just listened to the full discussion matt had with Chris over thesis. Here's matts closing statement -

Matt: I think that the facts basically come down to three basic things. One, going GPL is the right thing to do. You don’t want to be at odds with the platform that your entire business is built on. Like I said, WordPress is a very large community. That’s apparently why he chose it as opposed to a different platform. However, when you chose software, you abide by its license just like you would want people who use Theis to abide by its license. Second, I believe it is the legal thing to do. Some of the best legal minds have looked at this issue, at WordPress, and at Thesis and have decided. Three, I just think it is good businesses. Many other businesses made the switch. You have direct analogs to what Chris could do here. In addition, back to the first point, you want to be aligned with the platform you built on. In summation, those are the three things I believe. Again, thank you Andrew for bringing together this special.

"the right thing to do". Karma. Ethos. All have the same implications. And i agree. You are right. Wordpress is a community and there is something different about it. 

This started because i was asking for ways to protect my code. Which is actually ludicrous. Let me explain.... I have built on wordpress because i believe in it as a platform, believe it offers value to users and developers and because it was built by people like me! Well.... People who I'd like to be like in a few years anyway! Wordpress is distributed under the gpl. I don't care about the legalities of it all. If nothing else Matt has asked that ALL plugins, themes be distributed under the same license. It's the "right thing to do" to abide by that request. What i am building is totally dependant on wordpress. Sure i could develop a stand alone php platform but how long would that take me? Wordpress has been built and developed governed by what is needed and users and developers feel is best. I can not replicate that. So asking how to protect my code is ludicrous because if the developers of wordpress had done the same i wouldn't be developing the plugin at all! 

Listening to the discussion between matt and Chris was very very helpful in deciding my stance on this topic. It's not about legalities. It's about what's right. 

End of sermon. ;-)



Sent from my iPad

On 13 Dec 2010, at 01:43, Mike Schinkel <mikeschinkel at newclarity.net> wrote:

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