[theme-reviewers] GPL and limiting usage

Otto otto at ottodestruct.com
Fri Sep 20 19:56:39 UTC 2013

On Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 2:45 PM, Chip Bennett <chip at chipbennett.net> wrote:
> So, you would imply that the WPTRT stance, for over three years, that any
> and all usage restrictions are incompatible with GPL is incorrect? Because
> that has been our operating principle all along: Themes cannot restrict
> usage in any way.

The problem code isn't in the theme. It isn't in another version of
the theme. It's in a plugin that they sell as an add-on to the theme.

WP-Ecommerce is free. Several add-ons for it are not. Why is this a problem?

> If we say that this subscription model is acceptable and that it conforms to
> WPORG policy, then I would view that statement as a fairly significant
> sea-change in WPORG free-software philosophy.

Not from my viewpoint. The one wanting to make the sea-change here is
you. You're saying that we should impose new restrictions above and
beyond those that we currently have.

> Again: the key difference here is that 100% of the code and functionality
> are contained within the distributed Plugin itself. The server is entirely
> unnecessary to the function of the Plugin, and server API connectivity
> exists solely to determine whether or not to disable functionality within
> the Plugin, based on subscription status.

If the code ain't hosted on .org, and you have to pay to obtain it,
then I don't much care what the code actually does.

They wrote it. If they state that it's available under the terms of
the GPL, then those are the terms under which it is available. As far
as I'm concerned, and by my reading of all the guidelines, it's fine.
If somebody wants to get a copy, modify it, and release it elsewhere
for free, well, then they can do that if it really is under the terms
of the GPL.

These types of things fix themselves. We don't need to rigorously
enforce our personal viewpoints as to how code should behave. We *do*
need to ensure that the terms are compatible with ours, and that the
rights of the end user are protected. That's enough.


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