[wp-hackers] Plugin Licensing

Chip Bennett chip at chipbennett.net
Tue Mar 15 18:08:33 UTC 2011

There are two competing priorities: the legal concerns, and the ethical
concerns. Here's how I've made my peace with the conflict between the two:

I don't think anyone would question my stance on the matter of WordPress
Themes/Plugins being inherently derivative works of WordPress. I've been as
outspoken as anyone on that matter.

However, I accept that the WordPress community has rightfully defined its
own ethos with respect to acceptable licensing of WordPress Plugins and
Themes. I can stand on legal principle and disagree with that ethos - and as
a result, become outcast from the WordPress community; or, I can choose
willingly to give up some of my own freedom and legal rights (of licensing
choice for works for which I own the copyright), in order to conform to the
ethos of the WordPress community.

For me, the choice is easy: I want to be a part of the community, and I want
to give back (what little I am able), in a "pay it forward" sense that makes
licensing my WordPress-related code under GPL. So, I choose to do so.

(Admittedly, this stance on principle is not much of a sacrifice for me. The
food I put on my family's table doesn't in any way depend on anything I
contribute to the WordPress community.)

Others may choose differently, for differing reasons. But I've made my
choice - even as I remain outspoken regarding the lack of copyright case law
precedent for claiming that copyright law considers *dependent* code, absent
any actual incorporation of copyrightable code, to be *derivative* code.

To be sure: what you *believe* matters. But what matters much more are the
*choices* you make, based on what you believe.


On Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 12:44 PM, Trent Martin <trentmar at gmail.com> wrote:

> You just have to face it, either you follow Matt's philosophy and let other
> people copy and even resell your stuff or the WordPress/Automattic inner
> circle will completely shun you from the community. It doesn't matter if
> your code is 100% your own work and distributed separately from WordPress,
> if it touches WordPress in any way Matt says it is a derivative work. You
> can use all the logic, facts, and legal precedents you want but it won't
> make any difference to them, it's either GPL or you're out.
> None of the core bloggers will let you advertise on their sites, they will
> refuse to let you sponsor Word Camps, and you will basically be treated as
> a
> bastard in the community. If you try to converse with important people in
> the community and they find out you sell non-GPL software, the conversation
> abruptly ends.
> Also, you cannot advertise your plugin on wordpress.org and of course
> cannot
> use any of the distribution or update methods built into wordpress so your
> customers are forced to manually update your software.
> So yeah go ahead and argue.
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