[theme-reviewers] GPL and limiting usage

Chip Bennett chip at chipbennett.net
Fri Sep 20 19:09:38 UTC 2013

I think the source of confusion stems from here: whether in the Theme, or
in a commercial Plugin, code is being distributed that *stops working*
(partially) if a subscription payment isn't maintained.

This isn't a case of SaaS. This is code, fully encapsulated in the
distributed work, that stops working, based on a payment subscription tied
to an API key. The sole purpose of the API key is to determine if the
subscription is current. As such, it is reasonable to construe this model
as a usage restriction - or at least, to ask for clarification for why it
doesn't construe a de facto usage restriction. (And it is de facto, and not
a true usage restriction, because the code can be modified to de-couple the
API key - but IMHO it is contrary to free-software philosophy and
principles to require the user to modify code in order to ensure that it
continues to work as-distributed.)

As far as I can tell, nothing of this model has changed from the original
ticket. The subscription-based code has simply been moved from the
commercial version of the Theme to a commercial Plugin.

While I am willing to be shown to be wrong, out-voted, or over-ruled, I do
not believe that this subscription model - that requires a subscription
payment not for a service but for already distributed code - complies
either with the letter of GPL, or with the free-software principles that
drive WPORG policy.

I think this is a legitimate question, that merits discussion. I don't
think that raising the question constitutes "trolling". And I think that
any reviewer is welcome to comment on any ticket, whether that reviewer is
the owner of the ticket or not. We are a team, and work as a team.

I only ask that everyone be afforded the same degree of respect in having
that discussion, and that questions and comments be taken at face value,
rather than assumed to be "trolling".

On Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 2:57 PM, Otto <otto at ottodestruct.com> wrote:

> On Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 1:55 PM, Trent Lapinski <trent at cyberchimps.com>
> wrote:
> > Are subscription based themes and plugins that limit usage if the user
> stops
> > paying allowed on .org?
> No, they are not.
> > If no, then the theme shouldn't be allowed on .org until they change
> their
> > pricing model.
> The problem is that their theme no longer does this. Their pricing
> model for another add-on piece of code they are selling is irrelevant
> to the theme.
> > This isn't an us vs. them situation. This is simply a "is this allowed?"
> and
> > so far not a single admin or .org representative seems to have an answer.
> >
> > Can we please get a clarification so we can put this issue to rest once
> and
> > for all?
> I have already answered this, multiple times, in multiple ways. What
> answer are you looking for that will satisfy you? How can I better
> explain this? Tell me, please, because it's as clear as day to me.
> -Otto
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