[wp-hackers] General consensus of "Premium Theme" concept

Jacob Santos wordpress at santosj.name
Thu Mar 20 16:14:41 GMT 2008

I think the whole problem is that in the web environment, the terms used 
in the GPL or at least in the FAQ do not apply in the web environment, 
so there is enough loopholes to probably argue that you don't have to be 
GPL, but there is also enough language to say that you do have to. 
Either way, the GPL was not written for web or network like languages 
with some of the terms used.

Therefore, if it is your code, you can license it however you want, but 
if you want it to be used in GPL code, your license has to be compatible 
with the GPL, that much is clear. So if you sell your code or demand 
link backs, do expect a huge debate and ethic arguments from people who 
do not agree with your position.

I personally, do hope to one day build a plugin good enough to be sold, 
so that one day, I can actually make money. However, I'm not in the 
legal field, nor do I have an opinion either way (and my opinion doesn't 
matter anyway). I would just call your theme a theme and only 
differentiate it by how much it costs.

If you think about it, you aren't selling the code, but your time and 
services. Therefore, the code might be free, as in open source, but 
people will still have to pay you and in that field, you are entitled to 
accepting a fee, but if someone is paying for your theme, you can not 
expect them to link back to your site, unless they feel your theme is 
good enough for that.

If someone paid you to develop a theme for the sole purpose of putting 
links back to their site, then you are a spammer and hopefully will be 
hunted down like a dog and "handled."

Until there are legal battles to settle the loopholes and what is 
acceptable and what is not, then it is most definitely up in the air, 
from what I've interpreted of the FAQ. I'm not smart enough to 
understand the actual GPL text. That part I do know.

Jacob Santos wrote:
> While reading the GPL and FAQ, I've come to the conclusion that in 
> order to legally, without any ambiguously edge cases, is to just 
> release your code dual licensed or at least one that allows the user 
> to legally use your code in GPL environment.
> I think the big issue is that, for the user, your license stands above 
> all. So if you have CC with links back and the user removes that 
> because the code is now under the GPL, then they've violated your 
> license in order to be compatible with the GPL. You have to say in 
> your license that it is okay to use your plugin or theme under GPL if 
> and only if the original license is not violated.
> If you were going to release your theme with WordPress (officially or 
> unofficially) then it would have to be GPL.
> Also, since the majority of the theme uses the code in WordPress and 
> is loaded as WordPress, the code will have to have a GPL compatible 
> license in order to be distributed. You can still dual license YOUR 
> code, but in order to be completely legal, you would have to build a 
> bridge that disassociates your code from the WordPress code. WordPress 
> automatically includes functions.php, therefore you can license 
> functions.php in your theme any way you want, so basically, the user 
> is paying for functions.php and the design.
> You can still like sell your code with dual license, but as soon as it 
> hits the WordPress execution, it will become GPL code with its 
> restrictions on what your license can legally restrict and still be 
> compatible with GPL. Meaning, if you have a requirement that a link 
> goes back to your site, then it may or may not be enforceable. 
> However, if you have a license that states that the user can not 
> redistribute the code, then the other license would take effect, Since 
> the first license should take precedence, because you are the 
> copyright holder and therefore have a say on how your other code is 
> distributed.
> That is what I got from the FAQ, possible loopholes, and discussion. 
> The fact remains clear that all code that works with WordPress must at 
> least be compatible with GPL in some way. Anything else is borderline 
> with legal speak.
> Glenn Ansley wrote:
>> Thanks for the replies.
>> I regularly take freelance jobs for clients that involve charging for 
>> theme
>> / plugin development.
>> The reason I asked this question was to get a feel for buisness 
>> models like
>> wpremix_com, premiumthemes_net, or premiumnewstheme_com (of which I 
>> have no
>> affiliation).
>> Part of me wants to capitalize on such a model, the other part of me 
>> wants
>> to avoid it altogether and generate revenue on donations or requests for
>> proposals from the traffic.
>> I guess it all goes back to what one's primary goal for developing 
>> under the
>> WP platform is: money or contribution to the community. Maybe it's 
>> not so
>> black and white, but thanks for the responses anyway.
>> Glenn
>> On Wed, Mar 19, 2008 at 8:36 PM, Jeremy Visser <jeremy.visser at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> On Wed, 2008-03-19 at 17:01 -0400, Glenn Ansley wrote:
>>>> What is the general consensus among the members of this list 
>>>> concerning
>>>> premium themes and plugins for sale? *
>>> Way to start a flamewar. :-P
>>> -- 
>>> Jeremy Visser                                 
>>> http://jeremy.visser.name/
>>> ()                           ascii ribbon campaign — against HTML 
>>> e-mail
>>> /\                                               
>>> http://asciiribbon.org/
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Jacob Santos

http://www.santosj.name - blog
http://funcdoc.wordpress.com - WordPress Documentation Blog/Guide Licensed under GPLv2

Also known as darkdragon and santosj on WP trac.

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