WordPress GPL Storm

Having just returned from a speaking engagement at the Inman Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, I had the pleasure of speaking to a large number of people in the real estate industry and caught up with some old friends from the WordPress community. The WordPress community is a large church and getting a chance to catch up with Gregg Toyama, Chris Pearson and Jane Wells (WordPress Core Team) amongst others was a lot of fun.

As a writer I feel I should add something to the GPL storm that has brewed over the past couple of days in relation to a not so happen-chance meeting between Jane Wells and Chris Pearson. I will not mention anything said in the actual discussion because I was not there for that reason and they both should feel like they can discuss these things without effect outside of the purpose.

I have read Jane’s take on the discussion and whilst reasonably accurate I think she downplayed her role in this somewhat. Jane alluded to her reasoning for going to the conference in the first place to talk with Chris signifies reasonable cause.

Chris seems to have copped a fair bit of flack over his attitude in this discussion and as a witness, I think both of them have to take a little bit of the blame. Chris is a pretty passionate guy and I sense that sometimes he lets his emotions get the better of him, however I think Jane can also take some blame as some of the language she used (not colorful at all – but rather strong) and the delivery of those terms were perhaps baiting Chris just a little.

This may indeed end up in the courts, however I think cool heads should prevail. Matt and Chris (possibly a mediator as well) need to get together and sort it out once and for all. Unfortunately for Chris, legally he is going to have to move more than Matt, however I truly believe that Chris can continue his phenomenal success whilst abiding by the GPL.

I am sure there are a few holes in the GPL that could be explored but this will not result in anything but more costs on both sides and could do more damage than good to reputations.

Chris is right- he is a big fish, but we all swim in the same pond and we all benefit from each others work. I benefit from the work of the Woo Team, Press75 and Brian Gardner and we all benefit from the work of the tens of thousands of designers and developers across the community.

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  • Hi Colin

    GPL or GNU is a license to use software. In this case, it is the license to freely use the software. With WordPress, basically the license states that if you build something on top of the software then you are free to sell that software, however the person that buys that software from you, is then free to do what they want with the software they purchased from you.

    That is basically what it means in this case.

    The argument here – is that there are a lot of companies profiting from WordPress in the community that do not abide by the GPL, so in effect they are in breach of the WordPress license. In this case Chris has spent a lot of time and money building great software to run on WordPress and he is very successful.

    He wants to protect his hard work and success, and so lays out specific ruiles for using his software – which does not abide by the license rules.

    I dont think it would go to court, I hope it doesn't, however if it did I think Chris would lose and if he won, then he would aslo probably lose in the eyes of the WordPress community.

    You can read more by going to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_General_Public_L… or http://www.gnu.org/

    Regards Peter

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