[wp-hackers] Licensing and Copyright Issues with the Hello Dolly Plugin

hakre hanskrentel at yahoo.de
Wed Dec 15 17:31:15 UTC 2010

Please check the Hello Dolly plugin.

First, it does not specify it's license. So users who download[1] it 
do not know about it's license.

As it's written by Matt Mullenweg I _assume_ it's licensed under GPL. 
But I can not speak for Matt and I'm unsure if other users can do the 
same assumption on their own.

_If_ licensed under GPL, it needs to be checked again as it contains GPL 
in-compatible code[2] (documented by novasource) which terminates the 
GPL for the plugin. See 4. in GPL second version:

> 4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program 
> except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt 
> otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is 
> void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this 
> License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from 
> you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so 
> long as such parties remain in full compliance.

In the related ticket #15769[2] lead developer markjaquith wrote[3], 
the distribution of the code is intended for "non-commercial" and 
"educational" use.

If the use of the plugin is really limited to non-commercial and edu-
cational use, then this would be incompatible with the GPL as you can 
not restrict commercial use of GPLed code.

From all I could read about lyrics and the license terms provided on 
the lyric sites, the usage of lyris is restricted. And the lyrics 
are not compatbile to the GPL.

Therefore the GPL termination of 4. applies for the whole plugin.

And as the plugin is part of the wordpress software package as well, 
termination of the GPL is accross the whole package. (!)

Looks like the GPL has protection against violating code built-in.

I think the project should contact a lawyer to find out about what 
and what not can be done with the copyrighted lyrics of Hello Dolly.

Maybe it's possible for the wordpress project to redistribute the 
lyrics under the GPL? Someone with a well known name might ask 
the copyright holders?

Until then the copyrighted text can be replaced with something else 
to be on the safe side.


[1] http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/hello-dolly/
[2] http://core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/15769
[3] http://core.trac.wordpress.org/ticket/15769#comment:8


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