All posts filed under: Copyright

The GPL and the story of WPScan and Vane

The debate By now, many in the WordPress community will have heard about the WPScan/GPL debate. Personally I was a bit late to the party on this one but, thanks to a tweet from ManageWP this morning, I’ve now read a bit about it. I’m not expressing a legal conclusion Now, I don’t want to wade into this specific debate and try to express a legal view on what’s right and wrong here because I don’t know the facts well enough. Instead, I’m just going to state a few propositions that I believe reflect copyright law (in many countries) and the requirements of the GPL. I leave open how they might apply to this situation and, to be clear, I’m not providing any legal advice to anyone that reads this post. My usual disclaimer applies (I know that sounds a bit OTT but I’m just exercising a lawyer’s caution). The propositions So, without further ado, here are those propositions I mentioned: Sole copyright owner can do what she wants:  A person (or company), lets call …

Automattic, open licensing and open data

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. Automattic’s generosity Not surprisingly given its founders, Automattic has always contributed back …

Legal checks when building a content-driven WordPress website

Introduction Recently I’ve built two blogs (both running on WordPress of course). The first is this one and the second is a blog for a group of lawyers in the United Kingdom. The purpose of the second blog is to enable the lawyers to share their knowledge and thoughts on a particular area of practice with clients, potential clients and the wider legal community. As well as building the site, I also attended to the usual legal and related issues that arise with a content-driven website like a blog, just as I did for this site which is similar in many ways. I’ve done this sort of thing many times in the past, for myself, for colleagues and for clients. Each time I do it, I run through a range of legal and related checks in my mind that ought to be covered off. I thought it might be useful to document the checks for others building similar sites. The purpose of this post, then, is to do exactly that. The checklist covers the kinds …

Why legal stuff matters

For some people, thinking about legal stuff may not be at the forefront of their minds when they’re developing, designing, launching or adding content to a WordPress website or developing and releasing a theme or plugin. I suspect it’s also not at the forefront of the minds of some people who launch commercial theme and plugin shops, release WordPress ebooks, produce WordPress podcasts, and so on. It’s easy to get caught in the moment and the excitement of developing, writing or releasing something new. I know what that’s like. Just as a lawyer building a website may pay little attention to something that a developer would consider crucial, so too can developers, designers, bloggers and entrepreneurs pay little attention to things that lawyers consider important if not crucial.  And, of course, in some cases people want to do what’s right or in their commercial interests but just don’t know what the relevant laws are or how they apply. The legal stuff does matter There are various reasons for sticking to the right side of the …