[theme-reviewers] GPL and limiting usage

Trent Lapinski trent at cyberchimps.com
Fri Sep 20 21:36:37 UTC 2013

On Sep 20, 2013, at 1:49 PM, Otto <otto at ottodestruct.com> wrote:

> On Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 3:38 PM, Trent Lapinski <trent at cyberchimps.com> wrote:
>>> If the copyright holder says that the terms are GPL, then the terms
>>> are GPL. Period. No magic coding trickery can make it "incompatible"
>>> with those terms.
>> Just because you claim something is GPL does not make it true.
> If you are the copyright holder, because you *wrote the damn thing*,
> then it absolutely does make it true. Every single time, without fail.
> Only the copyright holder has the power to license the work. That's
> the whole point of copyright.

Copyright is by law and guarantees ownership.

If you release the code under a 3rd party license like the GPL, and you violate the terms of that license then you are in fact violating the terms of the license regardless of the fact you own the code and chose that license to release your code under.

In this case we are debating a 3rd party license that must be adhered to for inclusion on WordPress.org. What the copyright owner does with their code is up to them, but claiming something is GPL when it violates the terms of the GPL is still a violation of the GPL regardless of the copyright owners claims.

Coypright and the GPL are not the same thing.

>> There are plenty of people who release code under the GPL and violate the terms, and there have been several lawsuits on this matter. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-violation.html
>> The GPL is not the same as copyright, there is no inherent law granting you the right. If you release something under the GPL that is not GPL compatible, it is a GPL violation and you lose the privilege to claim your code is GPL compatible.
> This is so wrong that I honestly don't know where to start.
> Time for quick copyright school lessons:
> - The creator of a work gets the copyright to that work. This gives
> them all the rights to it. Nobody else has any rights to it at all.

The GPL states that you are granted usage rights to your users, if you build in proprietary limitations to limit those rights then you are in fact violating said license.

If we report this to the GNU/GPL they will deem PageLines is in violation.

The GPL police in this situation is this review team, and this review team has operated under the premise that GPL violations are not tolerated in themes or plugins.

Again, this has nothing to do with copyright. No one is questioning PageLines ownership. What we are questioning is the limitations they've placed on their own code that are against the license they chose to release their code under which is a violation of WPORG policy.

> - The copyright holder can give those rights to others. They can do it
> freely, or make it subject to conditions. The conditions are called
> the "license".

Thats not correct when referencing a 3rd party license. If you release your code under the GPL there are certain usage requirements as defined by the GPL that PageLines is in violation of.

PageLines can violate the GPL and their own licenses as much as they want, its their right as a copyright holder to do so but it doesn't make their code violation free because they say so. They are limiting users rights in a way that their license says they aren't. 

While your assertions about copyright law and ownership are correct, the application of the GPL in this case is a violation of the license and current WPORG policy.

> - The GPL is a license like any other. It is the contract by which the
> copyright holder gives you, the person with no rights, the ability to
> exercise those rights from the copyright holder.


> - The copyright holder cannot violate their own license. The very
> notion of this fundamentally misunderstands how licenses work. The
> license applies to you and everybody else. Not to them.

While they are within their rights to violate their own license and the GPL, we still have to recognize the fact they are violating the GPL and therefore shouldn't be allowed under the currently WPORG policy.

If we as a community decide to change this policy then so be it, but I have yet to hear a valid reason for why we should.

In fact, the irony of this situation is EVERYONE here is arguing for user rights, and for some reason you're trying to use copyright as an excuse to violate the terms of the GPL which is completely counterintuitive to everything WordPress stands for.

While technically you are not incorrect from a legal standpoint, in my personal opinion what PageLines is doing is ethically, morally, and socially wrong and that hurts the credibility of our community.

While I respect your opinion on this matter, I'm going to have to disagree with your stance on this for the sake of the greater good.

I also want to make it clear that the opinions expressed by anyone related to CyberChimps are simply those persons opinions including my own and don't reflect CyberChimps in any way.

CyberChimps has always supported the GPL, all of our themes are 100% GPL compatible free and Pro, and we do not limit usage on our customers or users and have no plans to do so.

Even if DSM is eventually approved GPL violations included we will not follow them down this path, and will continue to defend users rights for as long as we're in business.

-Trent Lapinski
CEO of CyberChimps
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.wordpress.org/pipermail/theme-reviewers/attachments/20130920/7e403cf1/attachment.html>

More information about the theme-reviewers mailing list