THE WORDPRESS NEWS CORE
FEATURING WORDPRESS COMMUNITY EXPERTS AND THE WP DAILY ARCHIVES

You’ve been GPL’d!

What WordPress and WooThemes can learn from Linux History

I’d like to tell you all a story to give some perspective on recent events that have happened in the WordPress community. Once there was a smart Founder who wanted to change the world. He was a scrappy and outspoken 20-something who decided to build his own Open Source Software (OSS) project with a few friends because he knew he could design something that was better than the competition. He chose principle over profit and picked an OSS license that would protect the community over even his own interests. He handed over all of his intellectual property to a foundation, which he himself started, to promote the technology.

The project took off by leaps and bounds and was soon being adopted by companies of all sizes, both because he opened the project up to anyone who wanted to commit code and because he encouraged people to participate fiercely in its development. He even began conferences all over the world with his project’s namesake on the title. Both developers and users came in droves to build for the new platform, leaving behind the proprietary versions they’d hated.

growthcogtree_71322319

Soon people started to make money off of his platform. Not just a few thousand here and there, but somewhere in the millions, and that’s when the trouble started. A battle brewed between the companies making the most money from developing add-ons to his framework and the Foundation itself, the Founder stood his ground and defended the OSS license that protected the community even though in the mind of many of the developers all of this seemed so unfair.

These companies had poured tons of money and people into building add-on functionality and here was this license that required them to open source their own code which they had put blood, sweat and tears into. They all cried a fowl but the Founder was wise enough to let the license speak for itself, and stayed out of the drama for the most part unless it threatened the entire OSS project as a whole. Eventually the project matured and everyone learned that in Open Source you don’t sell code, you sell a service tied to the code.

Soon one of the largest companies in this ecosystem had forked a not so popular add-on at the time and made it their own, they built an entire ecosystem on top of it and created the best support in the industry for it. They continuously changed their pricing structure and policies and  upset a large portion of their user base. When others—out of frustration—decided to fork their work and the work of their 3rd party developers, they sued and made a mess of the ecosystem. People who didn’t understand the nature of OSS moved to create other platforms that they could better control, but ultimately failed, and those who stuck with it benefited greatly from the openness which the license and the community provided.

Now I won’t go any further but considering this article is about WordPress you’d think I was talking about the WordPress community, yet the story I just told you happened over a decade ago and it wasn’t WordPress but the Linux community that experienced the above growing pains. The 20-something founder was a man by the name of Linus Torvald, who still works with the Linux Foundation to this day. The large dominant company was Red Hat.

Having witnessed this drama happen all those years ago, there are a few lessons that we, as an open source community, need to learn. Our situations relate to the trials the Linux guys went through and how we should understand the GPL as it relates to WordPress.

opensourcestamp_101207953

Before you start building something, read the GPL for yourself and agree to it or move on

I’m not an attorney and don’t claim to be, but I was in the Marines for almost a decade and now work in the government software contract sector as an open source developer, so I’ve had to learn these lessons the hard way. I can say that government work has some of the greatest infringements of FOSS and GPL licensing I’ve ever seen.

Well known and respected billion dollar companies have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar replacing entire open source licenses with their own proprietary ones all because a few developers or project managers didn’t read or understand the source material enough to follow the license properly.

If you’re not willing to read or understand the GPL, and disagree with it then you don’t have any business writing software that will depend on it, this hurts not just the community but the licenses themselves in the long run. If after attempting to read the license you still don’t understand the do’s and don’ts, then hire an attorney that has a history with software licensing to explain it to you.

Forking active projects (even premium ones) is perfectly okay and fair for the community, stop the FUD

It was perfectly okay for Woo to fork Jigoshop’s plugin and the community as a whole benefited from it, just as it’s perfectly okay for someone to come in and fork WooCommerce and any paid add-ons associated with it. Many of us may not like it because of the money and time spent and may deem it unfair, but telling people that it’s wrong creates Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) and doesn’t allow the community to grow the way an open source community should, if you don’t want this to happen to you then focus on service over software.

If you’ve ever used a free copy of CentOS to run your servers, then you must be unfairly stealing from Red Hat. They work hard to build a powerful system with their Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) on every update but they are required to release their source code to the public because of the Linux Kernel (something the WordPress foundation is nice enough not to require you to do) and the guys over at CentOS strip out all of the copyrights and images and releases an identical copy as the next version of CentOS.

This doesn’t make the Linux community any worse for it, nor does it make CentOS a bunch of thieves looking to hurt Red Hat, who sells a tremendous service. CentOS removes a barrier to entry for many customers. Red Hat eventually created the Fedora Project as a way to stem the growth of CentOS, but as many of you can attest it’s still strong and growing. My advice is get over the forking or copying of software and focus on providing a service that no one else can compete with. And stop calling it unfair, it’s open source.

Where there is big money to be made, Open Source licenses will always be challenged

No one cares about an open source license when the project is new or small; at the very beginning everyone tends to accept the terms and begin developing on top of it. As businesses begin to form and new improvements are made, people start to believe that changes they’ve made on top of the platform are their intellectual property and should not be freely available to the community even if it may conflict with the license they originally agreed to.

When a change is made to a piece of open source software that gives your company a distinct advantage over the competition, for many small and large organizations much of the agreements made when they started using open source tends to go out the window. As can be highlighted in Goldman Sach’s recent attempt to try and retry their former employee for releasing Open Source Code changes they didn’t want to be made public, companies can get real nasty when they don’t understand the rules for their particular license or feel they are above them. After all what Non-Profit Foundation can go after a company like Goldman in court?

As the WordPress community grows and gets bigger, and it will get bigger, the GPL will continue to be a point of contention to old- and new-comers who see it as an impediment to growth. Externally some may say they support it, but internally they will fight it with every bone in their body because it goes against their eventual business interests of selling software. All large open source projects go through this and I have no doubt that WordPress will eventually face this as well if it hasn’t already.

Your PHP code belongs to the community once you release it, let it go

So what do you do then as a company—how do you both protect yourself against what you may consider to be “theft” or unfair use of your hard work? Accept the fact that your PHP and HTML code is going to fall under the GPL, period. As highlighted back in 2009 by Matt in a letter from the Software Freedom Law Center, you could potentially copyright your CSS or images but then most plugins and themes also use other open source libraries like JQuery, Bootstrap, Foundations, Less, Sass as well as many others because of how quickly you can develop for them.

That means that most of your external CSS and Javascript may end up falling into some form of open source licensing in some way, shape or form as well. Accept it and let it go or go protect your copyright (aka brand name), not your code. Updates and bug fixes to your derivative GPL code that you’ve put behind a pay wall should not and cannot be considered part of your “service” either. Stop trying to make them one, do something or create something on your end that can’t be duplicated by the end user without your license. That’s how Red Hat makes real money off of RHEL.

There should be nothing stopping someone from forking WooCommerce and including all of the great functionality that comes with it and so many of its add-ons as long as it was done per the GPL and stripped of any potential copyright-able material much like CentOS does with Red Hat. As an open source community we should not despise or hate these ideals and practices, we should embrace them as part of the open source culture that already exists within projects like Linux and has made it the dominant server based operating systems in the world.

In conclusion, Linux suffered through many of the same growing pains that WordPress is now facing as an open source platform, it had many of the same battles and much of the same drama. I for one admire Matt for sticking to his guns and choosing to defend the GPL if need be. But Automattic may not always be the dominant force in WordPress, and as a community it’s important for us to really understand the legal stuff involved with GPL before we do work in the space and to accept the good with the bad.

Because in the end, it is our bill of rights, and it protects all of us in the long run.

fork_terstock_145046278


Michael
Michael Bastos – Self & School taught C++, Java, PHP, Perl and Ruby Open Source Developer working as a Software Engineer for SPAWAR Research (G2 Software Systems) with a BSCS degree. Started using and developing on WordPress in 2009 and started the AdvancedWP.org community in 2011 which now has over 1,400 members world wide across 3 social networks. Has spoken at over half a dozen or more WordCamps on a range of advanced topics. Message him on twitter @bastosmichael
 
 
 
 
 
  • Philip Whitehouse

    ” As can be highlighted in Goldman Sach’s recent attempt to try and retry their former employee for releasing Open Source Code changes they didn’t want to be made public, companies can get real nasty when they don’t understand the rules for their particular license or feel they are above them. After all what Non-Profit Foundation can go after a company like Goldman in court?”

    I’m no friend of GS, but this is a rubbish understanding of the case.

    1) You’re only required to open-source the changes you make under the GPL if you distribute it. GS weren’t distributing it.
    2) There’s some debate about whether the code was not GPL, but LGPL, which doesn’t require you to distribute code.
    3) GS aren’t trying anyone, that’s the courts. Companies don’t bring criminal charges either, that’s the FBI. The author of the linked blog and you need to understand the legal system

    • Michael Bastos

      1) You’re right, his employer had no requirement to release the code because they were not selling it or distributing it, yet the developer who wrote the code had the write to submit the changes himself because he was the original author. He wasn’t releasing company GPL code that someone else had written or so he claimed in court which got him acquitted.

      2) There is a debate on whether it was GPL or LGPL but still doesn’t remove the right of the original author to release if he so chooses.

      3) I hope you don’t think that GS doesn’t have a hand in his trial in any way, the fact that he was acquitted and then the state of New York decided to go after him bringing up questions of double jeopardy screams cronyism in every sense of the word.

      I understand the legal system Philip, you seem to be missing the point of what I’m discussing here.

      • Philip Whitehouse

        Addressing points 1 & 2

        “yet the developer who wrote the code had the write to submit the changes himself because he was the original author.”

        In most contracts work done on employer time is owned by the employer. If I modify GPL code during my work, my employers owns the changes I make.

        For point 3, we’ll agree to disagree. I prefer not to dream up conspiracy theories.

        I’ll make some other points while I’m here. Fedora is absolutely not a replacement for CentOS. Fedora is the bleeding edge kernel which provides a testbed for RHEL features. RHEL like Fedora because they get to do unconventional stuff and pull in the latest upstream changes, get feedback and what works can be fairly straightforwardly pulled into RHEL.

        CentOS is a stable distro, but RHEL tolerates it because it knows that few companies will outright pick a distro with a support contract. It knows however that if a company starts using RHEL-based distros and begins to want support, it’s a fairly painless switch to RHEL.

        PHP code isn’t necessarily open source. WordPress themes are a tricky one, but I don’t think they are necessarily open source, just because they run under WordPress. To WordPress the themes are explicitly content and hence data, not part of the software. Changes to core WordPress code would be however. I’m not a lawyer however and it’s definitely a bit grey. Articles certainly aren’t.

        Incidentally, Linux started out closed source, but went FLOSS pretty quickly. I don’t recall a battle myself (if you’re referencing the SCO rubbish it was an absurd case, possibly underwritten by Microsoft for FUD) but I wasn’t involved back then.

        • Michael Bastos

          1) It all depends on the language of your employer contract but they do not own the rights to all of the open source code changes you make by law, only by contract. That means that if you’re employer makes you sign a contract that says “company owns all open source work you’ve done during the term of your employment” verses “during working hours” can mean that you are in the hook if you release anything but it still wouldn’t be a criminal case but a civil one.

          2) Tilly was one of the Perl Monks that was threatened with a law suit because his company claimed ownership on all of the GPL’d code he had worked on during his employment. His code was pulled from the project because of a “work for hire” provision in his contract. Same situation here, it falls under contract law if it was included in his contract and GS should have never gotten the DOJ to prosecute him and then try again when a Jury found him not guilty.

          RHEL doesn’t tolerate CentOS, there’s nothing legally they can do against it because it’s using the very code that Redhat has to release per the OSS license. Fedora is free RHEL and thus competes against CentOS, whether the excuse given is that it’s bleeding edge doesn’t change the fact that it’s taken time in order for Redhat to play nice with CentOS because it had no real claim against it. The Linux community is better for the existence of a stable CentOS with or without any support contracts.

  • http://eatingrichly.com/ Eric J

    Thanks Michael a great article, it gave me a lot to think about.

  • Ben

    Great post thanks for the perspective. In open source we trust!

  • http://www.strangerstudios.com Jason Coleman

    Thanks for this article Michael. It’s a breath of fresh air.

    When the GPL scandals come up in the WP world, lots of folks overreact IMO about whether or not it’s “ethical” or a “dirtbag move” to fork premium code, when they really should keeping their cool and stay focused on delivering a better product and/or service (outside of the code itself) to keep their customers happy. Everyone knows that WooThemes is in a better position to support WooCommerce than a team of anonymous Avengers and they’ll be able to charge a premium for that support.

    At the same time, I’m always a little upset with the companies that seem to be reluctantly GPL. I understand that most customers don’t really care about the license, so you don’t need to place it prominently on your homepage or footer like I do. But some companies seem to go to a lot of effort to obfuscate their license if not their code. I wish more people would embrace the GPL and even the narrower vision that Mullenweg has for WordPress (100% GPL).

  • Stephen Kane

    Not sure this post is directed at front end devs like me, but it’s a great story, well told by Michael Bastos. The strongest takeaway for me is the phrase ” focus on service over software”. Philip articulates some interesting points in his comments. Especially point #1. Is that a legal fact or urban legend I wonder?

    • Michael Bastos

      Philip’s point one on his first comment is fact and not urban legend, per the GPL you are not required to release the source if you’re using it in house or within your company, only when you are planning on distributing it ala Free or Premium Theme or Plugin does it become GPL and you aren’t allowed to go after someone else for using it without your permission. There’s plenty of case law on this issue but get in touch with any Software License attorney and they can tell you.

  • http://andrewnorcross.com/ Norcross

    I tend to stay out of these arguments because (a) I’m not an IP law professor and (b) I have a life. I support the GPL (and OS in general) because reading that code is how I learned to develop software. All the knowledge and skill I have is because of OSS. Whether my themes / plugins are “legally” GPL is of little interest to me. The code on its own isn’t worth much. its my skill and understanding that create the real value.

    • Michael Bastos

      I merely tried explaining things in a way that everyone could understand and wasn’t trying to argue with anyone but alas some people like to take apart everything a person has to say and miss the point. I think a lot of people feel the way you do and try to stay out of this kind of discussion almost completely, in the end what you are providing is a service to your customers, the plugins you build and release have little value in terms of the code involved, it’s your service that people are after. I learned how to code long before I went to school for CS and so I have plenty of OSS Perl and PHP projects to thank along the way for getting me started down this path. The legalities only come when people start telling others what they can and can’t do and it starts creating FUD on the part of the end users and people consuming it.

      • http://andrewnorcross.com/ Norcross

        I didn’t mean to dismiss your argument, apologies if my tone said otherwise. But this isn’t the first time this has come up, and probably won’t be the last. And every time it does, the WP echo chamber loses their collective minds and become IP law experts and the moral police. As a business owner, I simply don’t have the time or patience for it anymore. I let those who want to argue do so, and go about my day.

        • Michael Bastos

          Hey brother, I didn’t misread your tone and I agree with you, again I’ve seen this happen time and time again and deal with this kind of stuff daily so I get it. At AWP we get a lot of new people, people that are new to software development as well as open source and though you and I may have seen these kind of things played out before and will probably see it played out again I’m simply speaking from personal experience before the echo chamber drowns out the common sense stuff. Thanks for the input.

  • wpavengers

    Very well written and absolutely on target. Thanks for retelling the story Michael and reviving the spirit of open source.

    • Michael Bastos

      I have to admit I was taken a bit by surprise when I first saw your website but I completely disagree with your approach. One of the main reasons I wrote this article is to explain to people the right way to fork and try to get them to avoid the wrong way. The right way to show your frustration would have been to go the CentOS or OpenSolaris route, strip WooCommerce of any possible copy written material and created something that was 100% GPL from the start, then I would have included all of the features that you felt were not added on purpose and allowed the community to support your cause through a crowd funded feature process or donation system but by picking the club membership route you are giving myself and others the reason to not trust you. That is open source, what you are doing I’m sorry is not and I hope for one you change your mind and do it right, do it the way that would allow you to not have to be anonymous and that the community would be forced to accept. Otherwise no one will listen to what you have to say, I’ve been in this industry a long time and I’ve seen this kind of stuff before and it never ends well.

  • smehero

    Hi Michael, this is a very insightful article and totally agree with it.

    It serves as a useful reminder to sell-side players to build your business beyond code, its about the entire customer experience (customer-orientation, supports, updates etc) and running your business with your expenses under control. Code can be a commodity in the GPL world if it is not wrapped around good branding and customer service.

    On the contrary, I would like to thank the likes of wpavengers and wpgreed who set the wheels turning for stakeholders in the WP ecosystem to talk and think about difficult topics beyond code such as GPL, how to treat customers right, how to run a sustainable business. Such issues never receive much attention until lately as evidenced by the various new articles sprouting out over the last few days. It has been a great educational experience for me for the past few days :)

    • Michael Bastos

      You should read the comment I had for wpavenger, I don’t agree with his methods and hoped to dissuade him from doing what he’s planning. I’ve just met WPGreed after he read the above article and can’t speak on someone I don’t know so sorry no comment there. This is all common sense stuff but if you’re going to fork then you have to do it right, you have to do it in a way that leaves no question as to your roles and plans in and for the community. Thanks for the comments.

      • smehero

        I commented to wpavenger in his website that I did not support his approach. But I did share with him/her the pain points from the perspective of a customer of ecommerce plug-ins, in particular that woocommerce needs an All-In-One extension that combines many of the functionalities, now served by numerous extensions, that should have been part of the core in the first place (e.g. pdf invoice). People will be willing to pay for it instead of having to install a dozen of extensions and worry about all the extensions (from various developers) working nice with one another.

        I do see that now a lot more WP developers are aware of GPL, which is important. Being a WP plugin developer avails you to a market size that’s equivalent to some 18% of websites in the world. You have to price your plug-ins correctly because once the the price point gets too high, prospective customers will look for alternatives, and GPL enables that alternative to happen more easily.

        To me GPL is an enabler: GPL enabled WP to be popular , GPL enabled WooCommerce to be popular.

  • http://www.christinawarren.com/ Christina Warren

    While the Red Hat analogy is apt (though I totally disagree that Fedora was in any way a response to CentOS or Scientific Linux or any other RHEL derivative, it was developed as part of Red Hat’s move to fully embrace the enterprise, as a result they discontinued Red Hat Linux and created a Debian-esque community edition that became known as the Fedora Project. Along with Ubuntu, which was about a year behind, it was part of the second wave of personal desktop Linux distros after the commercial failures of Mandrake, Corel and others with a hybrid community/corporate sponsorship model — in fact, CentOS didn’t even start until 2004, a year after Fedora (then Fedora Core) and two years after RHL shifted into RHEL), let’s not pretend that it’s all sunshine and kittens.

    Recall that as of RHEL 6, Red Hat stopped releasing the patch files to the kernel, just releasing the tarball as source, to make it harder for Oracle to compete with them, since Oracle Linux is RHEL with some additional kernel changes. This didn’t impact CentOS (again, because CentOS is not a threat. They don’t go after the same clients and Red Hat wants businesses that pay hefty support contracts. CentOS doesn’t compete with them there and never will) because they don’t modify anything beyond RHEL’s changes, but whether you like Oracle or not, obfuscating code changes to prevent or make “forking” more difficult is still controversial.

    I’m not actually saying Red Ha has done anything wrong, just pointing out that the natural outcome of this sort of thing, if you see an attempt to fork not to improve but to try to swallow up the same customer base (as WPAvengers seems to be doing), is that more and more devs will start to obfuscate parts of their plugin code so that it becomes more pure SaSS rather than pure PHP. If it becomes SaSS and the logic is run off of another server (like how Akismet works), the GPL doesn’t freaking matter because it is being run from a cloud, not distributed. So sure, you have a fully GPL connector (again, like Akismet) but core parts of the function run off of a cloud instance and not within the plugin itself.

    • Michael Bastos

      I appreciate the in depth discussion and it’s not all sunshine and kittens, I’m a full time Debian user that also has to live in the RedHat world for work projects so this is my day to day and drama still exists but not to the extent that it use to.

      As for the Fedora vs CentOS vs RHEL issue, I didn’t want people to get lost in the analogy which is why I didn’t go too much more in depth but although Fedora was the redheaded step child of RHL when it first launched, there were plenty of other projects like Tao Linux and others which where basically doing the same thing and joined forces moving their users over to CentOS on version 2 which was actually version 1 etc.

      Redhat was forced to pay attention to CentOS and they used Fedora as a vehicle to do so, everyone may have a different perspective on all of this so I’ll post the interviews with the two main project leads for both projects and people can make this determination for themselves.

      Interview with CentOS lead Karanbir Singh
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TH4zBG1n3r8

      Interview with Fedora lead Paul Frields
      http://twit.tv/floss71

      Again what I’m trying to say is that if Dev’s want to protect their plugins and themes they should do like Akismet and pull much of the business logic into a service side component, otherwise they will be faced with possibility that their code can and will be forked. As for your assumption that CentOS is not a threat to RHEL.

      I think it can be but see it more as a benefit to the Linux community, it widens the install base of RPM based distros and allows people to get more use out of a RHEL or CentOS install because 3rd Party items work across both. There are plenty of IT shops around the world that host 100 or more CentOS servers and one or two Redhat ones for access to the Support lines so if you think CentOS doesn’t take away from Redhat’s bottom line then we will end up disagreeing on that point.

      I appreciate the comments though and my hope is to teach a lesson about the bigger picture here, that what we are seeing in WordPress is not a new problem, it’s happened before and it will happen again. The introduction of Ghost resembles much of what I’ve seen in terms of the battle between the Linux and Solaris guys and I can see much of the same comparisons playing out with our community in the near future. I want people to look at history to understand both the mistakes that Linux made as well as understand the things they did right. We are moving away from the wild west days and are entering a more civilized echo system but we can’t forget the principles that brought the kind of growth WP has experienced until now. That is what I hope people take away from this.

  • Pingback: The Weekly WordPress News, Tutorials & Resources Roundup No.38 - WPLift()

  • http://find.brentshepherd.com/ Brent Shepherd

    Michael, thank you for publishing this very well thought out and measured piece. It’s a great contribution to the discussion.

    My favourite line:

    Before you start building something, read the GPL for yourself and agree to it or move on

    It’s something every developer needs to do.

    Taking the time to understand the freedoms the GPL affords you and your users, and the freedoms it takes away, helps avoid the anger and confusion some feel when the GPL’s freedoms are exercised.

    The only point of your post I disagree with is this:

    Updates and bug fixes to your derivative GPL code that you’ve put behind a pay wall should not and cannot be considered part of your “service” either.

    Contrary to most, I actually quite like commercial open source.

    I’d much prefer to create an ongoing, paying relationship with a plugin developer to maintain and update GPL’d code than to either end up with the alternatives. The alternatives often being either relying on abandoned or infrequently updated code because it was released free, or to get a plugin that’s useless as soon as it is decoupled from a commercial and closed API. As Christina pointed out, the later is becoming increasingly common.

    • Michael Bastos

      Hey Brent, In no way do I dislike or disagree with the Commercial and Premium Update model, in fact I think it’s one of the better things that have happened in the WordPress community.

      My point in that statement was to say that sites who do not include another service and instead only rely on selling updates associated with memberships should not be mad then when those same updates make their way into the free ecosystem the minute they’ve been made.

      By not putting their business logic behind a closed API they are opening themselves up to the legal forking of their updates and code changes and this surprises a lot of people I meet and talk to when they ask me what they should do if someone releases a copy of their updated plugin every time they release an update.

      I tell them there’s not much they can do, you can maybe go after them if you have any copyright material like images and such that are not available on any free version of your stuff but the code is fair game, the GPL is actually one of the more liberal and business friendly licenses out there which is why it’s so popular believe it or not.

      The point here is that developers have a choice with an API based service, in general distribution they don’t because the GPL is designed around the idea that derivative work should be freely available for anyone to learn from. I don’t want to see more plugin and theme developers being misinformed by GPL FUD’ers who like I mention in the article may promote it publicly but internally are fighting it in any way they can.

      The later should become common if that’s the kind of protection those businesses want, but the lesson here is that those who embrace the idea that code isn’t valuable but rather their service is have the greatest potential for growth in open source.

      • http://find.brentshepherd.com/ Brent Shepherd

        Ah I see what you were saying now. I misunderstood.

        I think the confusion around that often stems from the automatic updates some vendors provide as an extra convenience to paying customers.

  • Pingback: WP Avengers and the GPL Storm : WPMayor()

  • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

    Woot! I don’t feel so bad being such a shit coder now! No one would evee want to fork my stuff. It’d take them longer to work out the mess than write it from scratch. :P

    Although it would have been nice if WooThemes bought Jingoshop out (maybe they did try), such as happened to NextGen.

  • Pingback: WordPress Themes and Plug-ins are GPL()

  • Christopher Price

    While it’s great to endorse people forking commercial products into freely-licensed forks, the converse should be just as welcomed by the WordPress community. WordCamp, for example, still bans many in the commercial developers in community that author great code, fully within GPL compliance.

  • Louis Reingold

    “Accept the fact that your PHP and HTML code is going to fall under the GPL, period. ”

    Probably false.

    Just because WP.org wishes this were the case doesn’t make it so. Just because SFLC says it is so doesn’t make it so.

    If you want to read a decent legal analysis of the GPL and how it (doesn’t) apply:

    http://perpetualbeta.com/release/2009/11/why-the-gpl-does-not-apply-to-premium-wordpress-themes/

    http://perpetualbeta.com/release/2009/12/why-the-gplderivative-work-debate-doesnt-matter-for-wordpress-themes/

    And I’m a plugin developer and I do release my plugins under the GPL because the benefits of doing so (I can re-use other GPL code) outweigh the risks (for now).

  • Pingback: You’ve been GPL’d! | Michael Bastos, BSCS()

  • hookedonweb_usa

    You could have saved a lot of time if you just went with, “. . . read the GPL for yourself and agree to it or move on.”

    Best line in the entire article.

    I don’t understand all the noise about forking. If you don’t like getting tacked in football don’t play football. If you can’t handle people forking your WP work projects then stay the fork away from releasing plugins and themes. No matter if you think it was or was not forked properly or with respect. Just move on.

    Forking, it happens in all lines of business, everyday, not just the software business. 99% of all new patents filed today are improvement patents, not original work patents.

    I see that Nathan Walker has posted and there is a negative response to his post. I am not for or against his membership model, success or whatnot. However; I am with him on two levels, 1) it’s great that his has developers and software customers talking about, thinking and debating over a) licensing, b) product value and service, and c) competitive advantage; 2) he is actually testing a less traditional pricing model over the pay once and get support and upgrades for life over pay monthly/annually for the same . . . and he has the forking bites and bytes to do it and make himself a huge target.

    I am curious how it turns out. it will be great up to date research we all can benefit from.

    I was recently told by a person who is supposed to be big in the WP world that InfinateWP is not worth investing in and Manage WP is – why? Because InfianteWP’s pricing model is not sustainable. Well they have a decent free software platform that has some pre-built features that allow you to actually use the product without buying add-ons. They sell affordable one time fee add-ons, update the core product and add-ons regularly, and answer your support question quick. Plus the product works well. That is a product i will continue to invest in. Right now it’s not the same as ManageWP but nor is WordPress from when it was first released, meaning any pre 3.0 and back.

    Sounds a little like WooCommerce and EDD?

    So what if WP Avengers may not have started out in a away that others say he should have – it’s not how you start the race but how you finish.

    I don’t see how forking WooCommerce would have been a better fork. In the end, if they can fork extensions, make them better, offer better service and any price point, how is that a bad fork?

    So what if they forked your extension, read the quote in the first line of this post. Make darn sure you do a better job in all the point raised in the main article and let the better pricing model and product win.

    I say if you get out forked, then it’s your own fault for not following the ideas in this article and letting the competition do a better job at what you started out offering.

    • http://twitter.com/JMowery James Mowery

      Hey there hookedonweb,

      I’m sorry that ManageWP did not earn your business. Our team over at ManageWP does our best to take care of our users, and we have a team of nearly two dozen full time employees dedicated to its success, along with 24/7 support. We always try to take that extra step to make sure our customers are happy. So please feel free to contact us if you ever have any questions or suggestions on how we could earn your business in the future.

      Thanks!

      • hookedonweb_usa

        James, I have the highest respect for your product. I am however, a rebel when it comes to using any services that have a monthly reoccurring cost.

        I carefully evaluate my time investment versus cost. I don’t like chasing after dines to save pennies. It just happened that when they came to market I was right in the middle of evaluating new enterprise solutions to manage several large networks for a small one time investment of a couple hundred dollars. So far I am getting the service I need and my bottom line better for it,

        Trust me the very moment that changes, I am happy to spend money to make money and your solution is hands down, right where I am heading.

        I really appreciate your interest and comment. If I have any future questions or suggestions, I will seek you out.

        Hopefully, my mention of your product does not come across as negative. I was just trying to use a recent conversation as a comparison to the point I was trying to make.

        You know, actually, there is one question I really need answered and the person trying to get me to convert to MWP never answered. Not sure If you can private msg over Disqus but I will reach out to somehow.

        Thanks for your comment.

        • http://twitter.com/JMowery James Mowery

          I certainly respect your viewpoint, and I also fully understand that cost can be a contributing factor in anyone’s decision. That being said, I’d love to hear more about what project(s) you’ve got going on that ManageWP could have helped you automate your workflow with. And I’ll be more than happy to get you answers to any questions you have.

          Feel free to follow/DM me your email on Twitter: @JMowery, and I’ll happily get in touch!

TOP