We’ve gotten a lot of tweets and emails via our contact form in the last week about the overarching GPL debate created recently that has clearly shown that for many this appears to be an entirely new issue which many of us know to be not true.
For context and for helping out a lot of people with similar questions I just wanted to clearly state what I’ve been answering a number of people who have asked essentially: “What the heck is going on?!?”
@wpdailyco Hey Guys, can you helps us newbies who use Envato to purchase themes understand what the heck is going on, in simple terms???
— Aaron Sowma (@aaronsowma) January 29, 2013
To be sure, the GPL debate over WordPress Themes and licensing has been a conversation that’s been hotly discussed over the last few years with a few major blips here and there occasionally rising for the much larger media to grab a hold of.
For example, Chris Pearson of DIY Themes was the center of the WordPress universe only a few years back when he and Matt Mullenweg had some words after Matt shared his thoughts about “premium” themes and WordPress developers who do not use the GPL as generally ‘evil.’
Of course, a lot of people had issue and a storm began to form. Chris Pearson vigorously defended his position which ultimately ended up in audio sit-down between the two via Mixergy, hosted by Andrew Warner. The full transcript can be found here.
To Pearson he should be able to license his theme and any of his own work in any way that he wants. This is without regard to the platform or even the technology that is used. Of course, the GPL has specific issue with this that states that anything built on GPL platform should also be under GPL when released.
It got so heated at one point that Matt insinuated that he could take Pearson to court in order to enforce the GPL. I’m not sure if anything ultimately was resolved in this regard but we know now that Pearson has created his own licensing called the “DIYthemes Software License Agreement” which he recently shared on Twitter after a conversation via Chris Wallace:
The point of this post is to again clearly show that this conversation which has enveloped many of us and which has stolen countless hours of our sleep already isn’t entirely new and will most take a bit of time to “iron out” – ultimately, when it all comes down to it, you must personally decide what you want to do with the information that you have and that you understand.
Some of these decisions will impact the way you do business, the way you earn an income, and the way you build web-based products for WordPress. You can stick with WordPress or even begin exploring other options, like Habari which has a very different perspective on licensing.
The choice is up to you – do your own research, ask the people you respect the most, and then make a decision. Remember, the world will continue to spin and life will go on as the dust clears and settles. Don’t worry about it too much and you’ll be just fine.
And already we see some positive changes in the air, at least from one perspective – so hang out tight, it’s going to be a fun and worthwhile ride.