All posts filed under: GPL

learn-how-to-license-my-themes-and-plugins-with-the-gpl

How to apply the GPL to your themes and plugins (and avoid getting in the shi*)

Introduction “I wish this stuff could be easier!” Have you ever found yourself saying or thinking this or otherwise cursing the ins and outs of applying the GPL to your themes or plugins? Have you ever been worried that, perhaps, you’re not doing what the GPL requires or that you’ve overlooked a WordPress.org requirement? From a wide range of stories and comments I’ve seen around the web, I think Jamie’s story is one that rings true for many. So, if you’ve answered yes to one of these questions, you’re far from being alone and this post is for you. “How do I apply and comply with the GPL correctly?” If you feel this way, it’s not surprising. Indeed, if you’re only just getting into open source or releasing your first theme or plugin, I’d say it’s to be expected. I say that because not only do you need to understand a legally-oriented copyright licence but, if you wish to make your products available on WordPress.org, you also need to get to grips with the WordPress.org theme and plugin guidelines. And …

clarity

“I’d rather see [an] attorney’s attention spent … on clarity and brevity”

WordPress, Wix and the GPL The Wix controversy, if I can call it that, has stirred up quite a bit of emotion in the WordPress and wider tech and open source communities. I’ve given my thoughts on what I see as the main issues in my previous post “Some thoughts on the Wix mobile app story (updated)”. In reading a wide range of comments on the various news and blog articles on this story, it strikes me that many people don’t understand the GPL, either due to its complexity at the margins (and I assure you that, at the margins, it can bamboozle lawyers too) or, in some cases, because they haven’t read it. Then, in reading further through various comments, one comment on the WP Tavern story stood out to me. Lisa League wrote: “Spending time, money, and attention on court diverts it to attorneys instead of that valuable time money, and attention spent on software. … … this is where I’d rather see attorney’s attention spent – on clarity and brevity where possible in …

deer-for-wix-post

Some thoughts on the Wix mobile app story (updated)

The story Perhaps not surprisingly, Matt’s recent post “The Wix Mobile App, a WordPress Joint” caught my eye. Indeed, it caught both eyes. I’ve read through his post and I’ve read the Wix CEO Avishai Abrahami’s prompt reply, “Dear Matt Mullenweg: an open letter from Wix.com’s CEO Avishai Abrahami” as well as a Wix engineer’s reply in “How I Found Myself Accused of Stealing Code from WordPress”. The key points, it seems to me, are these: Matt has said that “Wix copied WordPress without attribution, credit, or following the license. The custom icons, the class names, even the bugs. You can see the forked repositories on GitHub complete with original commits from Alex and Maxime, two developers on Automattic’s mobile team.” Matt has also said: “This explicitly contravenes the GPL, which requires attribution and a corresponding GPL license on whatever you release publicly built on top of GPL code. The GPL is what has allowed WordPress to flourish, and that let us create this code. Your app’s editor is built with stolen code, so your …

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Selling themes yourself and on ThemeForest but with inconsistent licensing

With apologies for the radio silence for the last 5-6 months (for a while there life was just too hectic), I’m finally getting around to revving up WP and Legal Stuff again. This post will be pretty brief but addresses a phenomenon I’ve seen from time to time across the WordPress theme shop community. Here’s the scenario: you find a WordPress theme you really like on a theme shop’s website but, when you look at the licensing for the theme, it either limits what you can do with the theme or it’s a confusing conglomeration of terms that appear to have been plucked from an array of different sites and mashed together in the hope it’ll fly. Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I’ve deliberately not bought themes from theme shops like this because the lack of attention to clear licensing doesn’t give me much confidence in the overall soundness of the business,  its attention to detail and its customer centricity (or lack of it). But lo and behold, later you discover that this very …

Coding2

Discouraging public redistribution of commercial themes and plugins – poll results

Background Back on 4 August of this year, I published a post called Theme and plugin shops – Discouraging public redistribution – User poll.  The poll that was included in the post sought people’s views on the reselling of commercial themes and plugins. It did this because people’s views on this issue are relevant to the inclusion of a contractual mechanism I’d proposed for theme/plugin shop terms of use. The contractual mechanism I’d proposed would seek to discourage purchasers of a commercial theme or plugin from making the theme or plugin available on a website for download by others (whether for free or a charge), even when the theme or plugin is 100% GPL-licensed. The proposed term would say that, if a customer decides to make your commercial theme or plugin available on a website for download by others, you may exercise a right to deactivate their access keys (if that’s how you’ve set things up) and to terminate their access to support and updates. I explained why, in my view, this sort of clause …

A-Practical-Guide-to-WordPress-and-the-GPL

A Practical Guide to WordPress and the GPL – now available – 30% introductory discount

Finally… I’m pleased to be able to say that A Practical Guide to WordPress and the GPL is now out in the wild. You can find it right here. Outline Here’s a quick outline of the chapters: 1. Introduction: conception, birth and forking 2. Understanding the GPL licensing of WordPress 3. Common GPL-related questions 4. WordPress themes, the GPL and the conundrum of derivative works 5. The GPL and assumptions of automatic inheritance 6. Theme reviews, CC0, model releases and GPL-compatibility 7. Selling ThemeForest themes outside of ThemeForest 8. Reselling commercial plugins 9. The GPL and trademarks 10. Theme and plugin shop terms of use versus GPL freedoms Packages Three different packages, or editions, are on offer: 1. The business package If you’re into the business of developing WordPress themes or plugins (or both), you might want this package. You’ll get: the ebook (PDF) of A Practical Guide to WordPress and the GPL; a professionally narrated audio book, enabling you to listen to the book when you’re on the go (narrated by Steve Chase); and …

First-aid-kit-and-key

A human readable summary of the GPL?

In my ebook (A Practical Guide to WordPress and the GPL) which will be out within the next 6-8 hours, I’ve included a one page summary of the GPL which I hope will make it easy for people to understand the core concepts of the GPL. That summary outlines the position in relation to copying and distribution, fees, modifications/derivative works, distributing non-source forms, termination, and downstream licensing: This particular summary follows the flow of the clauses in the GPL and that’s why it flows through the subject headings I’ve just mentioned. One consequence of this common approach to summarising legal documents is that the discussion of a single topic may contain a summary of both a person’s rights and a person’s obligations. For example, the discussion of modifications / derivative works says: “You may modify the Program or any part of it and distribute the modifications or new work as long as modified files contain notices regarding the existence and date of changes and any work that you distribute or publish that contains or is …

FreeBeer

Theme and plugin shops – Discouraging public redistribution – User poll

Context Last week I sent an email to subscribers on my email list. I hadn’t proposed to publish the content of that email but, given some questions I’ve received in response, I thought it might help to publish it. I also thought it would be helpful and interesting to take a quick poll of people’s views on the reselling of commercial themes and plugins because people’s views on this issue are relevant to the inclusion of the contractual mechanism in theme/plugin shop terms of use that I discuss below. I’ll set out the email then take the poll. (Please retweet as the more that take this super quick poll the better.) So, the email This is what I said: “I’m in the process of finalising my 10 chapter ebook called A Practical Guide to WordPress and the GPL. The ebook will be offered in a range of packages, from just the ebook through to a package that will offer the ebook, an audio book and a terms of use builder for WordPress theme and plugin …

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Theme and plugin shop terms of use versus GPL freedoms

Introduction For a while now I’ve wanted to address an issue that niggles away at me every time I see it. I touched on the subject slightly at the end of Readers ask: About reselling commercial plugins (updated) but I wanted to explore it a bit more in its own post. There are so many theme and plugin shops out there now that you probably couldn’t count them all with even 20 hands. Perhaps not surprisingly, this multiplicity of WordPress businesses has resulted in a wide range of terms of use and licensing statements in relation to the themes and plugins they sell. Of course, what these businesses say in their terms is constrained – or should be constrained – by the requirements of the GPL, at least in situations where they’ve created derivative works of WordPress or other GPL’d code or where they’ve otherwise chosen to apply the GPL to their themes or plugins. In this post, I’m going to focus on theme and plugin shops that have expressly applied – or purport to …

Plugin-concept

Readers ask: About reselling commercial plugins (updated)

The questions Following the posts on WordPress themes, the GPL and the conundrum of derivative works and A reader asks: Selling ThemeForest themes outside of ThemeForest, two people from countries far apart have asked me similar questions (albeit possibly from opposite perspectives) regarding the reselling of GPL’d plugins. The first person asked this (I’m paraphrasing): ‘If someone purchases a plugin (or theme) from a commercial plugin (or theme) provider, and then translates it, changes the code and puts it in a marketplace to sell, would that be permissible under the GPL? I’ve seen outfits doing this and I’m not sure how they can do it.’ The second person asked this: ‘As a plugin developer, how can I protect my plugins to prevent people from reselling them, bearing in mind that many plugins are largely PHP/HTML/javascript code with minimal CSS and graphical elements or, in any event, with CSS and graphical elements that might easily be replaced. In these circumstances, a ThemeForest-style split licence might not have much effect. In these circumstances, how can a plugin …