The open spirit of WordPress
Everyone knows that the founders of and contributors to the WordPress software at WordPress.org wholeheartedly embrace the spirit of open source software. The GPL (the open source licence under which WordPress is licensed) sits at the centre of what they do and Matt Mullenweg, for example, speaks passionately about the GPL and champions the cause it represents (and those that defy the GPL’s requirements (or spirit) when the community thinks it applies (or should be applied) may, well, be frowned upon). Here’s an example of Matt speaking about the GPL:
From software to other creative content
Whilst copyleft has its origins in the software world, the open source software movement is now a subset of the larger world of open licensing and open data. Various licences and tools exist to enable people to share not only their software but also their creative content and other data on standardised terms that are quick and easy to put in place.
Those not familiar with Creative Commons licensing might like to take a look at this helpful video commissioned by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand. It does a great job explaining what the Creative Creatives licences are about and how they work (and it too is Creative Commons licensed so you can copy and mash it up to your heart’s content):[vimeo https://vimeo.com/25684782]
So what content has Automattic openly licensed and on what terms? I’m sure I’ll be missing something but here’s a starter for 10:
- the WordPress.com Terms of Service are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported licence (CC BY-SA 3.0);
- content on Automattic’s Transparency site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence (CC BY-SA 4.0);
(It’s also interesting that, to “the extent possible under law, Automattic, Inc. has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to the declarative code that is necessary for function calls to the Automattic APIs as well as the structure, sequence and organization of the Automattic APIs” under the Creative Commons public domain dedication tool known as CC0 (pronounced CC zero). See the WordPress.com developers guidelines for the detail. This is different to the licensing of the kinds of copyright content listed above but it’s notable nevertheless.)
What this all means
Whilst different versions of the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike licences have been applied to the different items of content referred to above, the key elements of this particular licence common to all versions are that it lets others copy, adapt and share the work, including for commercial purposes, as long as they credit Automattic and license their new creations under the same terms. Note that the obligation to license new creations on the same terms only applies where the person making the new creation shares that creation with others. If a licensee makes a new creation purely for personal purposes, the obligation to share alike on the same terms does not apply. In this regard the licence is like the GPL is for software.
(Incidentally, Automattic might like to make all of the licences consistent by updating the older versions to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence it uses on its Transparency site 🙂 This isn’t a big deal but the latest Creative Commons 4.0 licences are better and more user-friendly than their predecessors. Just saying. Happy to help if need be.)
Beware of cookie-cutting
That said, great stuff
“Liberally riffing off WordPress.com’s terms of service to produce similar for the J-School. Thank you Automattic for your support of Creative Commons.”
Thanks to Thomas Hawk for sharing his photo of Automattic HQ under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 (Generic) licence.