Blogsessive on WordPress Themes and the GPL

I recently read an interesting post over at Blogsessive on the big controversy over the GPL and WordPress. It covers the other perspective, that of the smaller theme developers trying to earn a living, from a somewhat neutral standpoint of someone who on one hand likes the GPL, but on the other hand doesn’t want to put stifle the creativity of the authors who can’t necessarily devote time to something that will have little return.

The discussion around this always seems to evolve into “open source” versus “author protection”. As Alex King pointed out in one of his posts, theme authors should be aware of what the GPL license exposes them too, while it provides freedom for basically everyone else.

I’m not by any means against freedom and open source. I’ve been preaching about the power of WordPress and the wonder that it is, but what I love more is to see a protection system for those authors that make a living out of releasing quality themes and plugins for WordPress. Somewhere along the way, in our quest for “freedom” we forgot how hard it is to earn our living, how hard it is to learn the things we now use to feed our families.

I have a similar position. I like the GPL as much as anyone who contributes to the WordPress community, and I appreciate it’s provisions for paid software, but as nice as that sounds in print, it doesn’t always work out that well in real life.

My Take on the WordPress Themes & the GPL License [Blogsessive]

  • Alex Cristache

    Hey Matt, I'm glad to see that some people still keep cool and don't get carried away by this recent I LOVE GPL, NO MATTER WHAT wave. There's nothing that's 100% pure good or pure bad, and everything has its downsides for certain people.

    WordPress has definitely made our lives easier and I have been an "evangelist" for WordPress in my own way, but I feel that this "new wave" puts a lot of pressure on people that don't really deserve the extra pressure in these harsh times.

    • redwall_hp

      Exactly. I've gotten into a few arguments about this in the past year or so, even with the big Matt himself. This is something that needs to be resolved.

      You may remember, or have heard of, the flood of users that left Movable Type and moved to WordPress a few years ago. (Because they took a free product and made it paid.) It's entirely possible that the same thing could happen with WordPress…because it's *too* free.

      • Alex Cristache

        My opinion is that WordPress should release a paid license too. Keep a free product as it is, and also a paid product for those that don't want to "benefit" from the GPL. Be it a fixed fee or percentage of sales.

        • redwall_hp

          Re-licensing it under the LGPL (Less er GPL) might work better, in my opinion. A lot of compilers and such use it. It's essentially the GPL, but without the stipulation that derivative works have to be released under the same license.