[wp-hackers] WordPress and GPL (was: Putting the P in WordPress)

Elizabeth Buckwalter elizabeth at slatetechpdx.com
Wed Jul 7 18:58:33 UTC 2010

On Wed, 7 Jul 2010 12:50 AM,  Austin Matzko <austin at ilfilosofo.com> wrote:

> Subject: Re: [wp-hackers] Fwd: Re: Putting the P in WordPress
> On Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 12:26 PM, Peter Westwood <peter.westwood at ftwr.co.uk> wrote:
>> I believe the specific wording from the GPL2 you are interpreting is:
>> "The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation and installation of the executable. However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the executable. "
>> In my reading in no way does this preclude the distribution of obfuscated code - what it is trying to prevent is the distribution of compiled object files without the corresponding source code to allow modifications to be made.
> The FSF disagrees:
>> Therefore, accessibility of source code is a necessary condition for free software. Obfuscated ?source code? is not real source code and does not count as source code.[1]
>> As JS and PHP are always distributed in source form as part of the WordPress download I don't see how we are violating the licence.
>> Would you consider it a licence violation if we were to ship WordPress without the include .dev.js files so as to decrease the download size and make automatic upgrades use less memory?
> According to the GPL, you must make the original source available to
> the users.  The *dev.js files provide that through several means;
> there is no corresponding dev file available for the Matrix Easter Egg
> publicly.
> [1] http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

You two seem familiar with the GPL with regards to WordPress.
Hypothetical situation:

Company A develops a website based on WordPress for Company B.
Company B claims that all the software developed by Company A for
Company B is proprietary information despite being mostly based on
GPL'd code.

Two examples where that I am curious about:

1) An established plugin from the plugin directory that had a bug
fixed by Company A during the development of Company B's website
cannot be released as it violates the NDA between Company A and
Company B.

2) Company B developed a new plugin that is loosely based on many
other plugins (plus one that is private code who's owner gave express
permission to use it only for this plugin).

As I understand the GPL, the code does not have to be publicly
available, but if someone asks for it, the altered code must be
provided. Would this also apply to the new plugin, as it is developed
for GPL'd software?  I know that wpmudev.org has plugins for pay, but
I can't seem to find their licensing information.  I also know that,
to have a plugin in the plugin directory, it must be GPL'd.

Again, this is a purely hypothetical conversation, where I am looking
for your (and the rest of the hackers list) opinions.  Your help is
greatly appreciated!

Elizabeth Buckwalter

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