[theme-reviewers] GPL and limiting usage

Otto otto at ottodestruct.com
Fri Sep 20 21:22:31 UTC 2013

On Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 4:01 PM, Ünsal Korkmaz <unsalkorkmaz at gmail.com> wrote:
> And yes, we cant use this theme/plugin/whatever in multisite if not
> developer licensed: http://www.pagelines.com/pricing/

Okay, so let's just boil this objection down here, to the root of the problem.

>From looking through the latest theme code, it appears that they've
moved all the paid functionality out into something called

So, my first view here is that we have a free theme with support for a
paid plugin. Not that unusual. I've seen special support for, say,
GravityForms before.

Now, that paid plugin comes from them as part of a subscription
service. They offer different models for different levels of users. On
the whole, this is not particularly objectionable either. Users with
more websites will need more support. Multisite is more complex.
Things like that.

The plugin also checks that the subscription is an active one. It's
tied to the subscription via code. Note that it doesn't necessarily
need to be tied to said subscription, but it is, in the plugin code.
The idea being that it's a perk with the subscription system. This
last bit is the big objection some people are disliking. And honestly,
GPL doesn't enter into it. Whether the plugin is GPL or not doesn't
really matter here.

The big question is this: Should we reject a theme because the theme
author also sells an add-on plugin for it that has a monthly fee
attached to it?

Even if you want to yell "GPL" from the heavens, that's just an
excuse, in my view. Are we really going to add this tight of a
restriction on every subscription system made by every theme author?
That seems like insanity to me. They want to sell an ongoing service.
Presumably they provide support with this service. Presumably they
have forums and other things to justify this service. The pro-code
editor thing doesn't strike as something worth $8 a month,
realistically, so I'm guessing that really they're selling their
support here.

As we all know, the selling support model is the only one that works
for theme shops in the long run. You cannot provide
free-lifetime-support. That would be silly. So a subscription system
is perfectly justifiable in-and-of itself.

If selling support services on a monthly basis was all it was, would
we even be having this debate on the list? Now, suddenly, they throw
in a plugin with some deactivation code in it and everybody loses
their shit?

The plugin doesn't bother me. The subscription doesn't bother me.
They're selling support like every other theme shop out there. Simple
as that.


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