8 Responses

  1. Dan Knauss
    Dan Knauss October 18, 2014 at 10:54 | | Reply

    In other words, you CAN’T protect yourself against “unauthorized reselling” (or free redistribution) of GPL code because there is no such thing under the GPL. You can only protect your trademark, which may well be infringed on by the more ignorant and ethically murky resellers of software they didn’t create. But if you really want to protect your code as a proprietary product, don’t use the GPL.

    It would be good to emphasize that this is not a fault in the GPL that makes it difficult to monetize software and treat it is essentially proprietary. That is a major goal of the GPL, right? The “correct” way to monetize GPL software is to distribute, support, and improve a superior, trusted, highly regarded product that most customers will recognize as such and prefer.

    On the other hand, there is also the emerging possibility of someone providing simple, reliable, and cheaper (or free) access to copies of others’ plugins with timely upgrades included. That could be done in a trusted, GPL compliant way that rapidly “kills the goose the codes the golden egg.” Is this the Achiles’ heel for commercial GPL? Will it press developers to turn against the spirit of the GPL and build plugins that rely on external services they can control?

  2. Gary W
    Gary W October 19, 2014 at 03:58 | | Reply

    While releasing your code under the GPL, as all WordPress plugins must be, means that your code is free to copy and share, not everything included in a plugin is code. Other plugin assets such as images, data, readme files and other text are not covered by the GPL. A reseller that includes your documentation or sample data in the resold plugin is violating your copyright.

    1. Dan Knauss
      Dan Knauss October 19, 2014 at 17:31 | | Reply

      Actually that is open to interpretation. In the WP ecosystem, Automattic has very successfully pressed for an interpretation that includes all (or most?) plugin and theme assets. The Joomla ecosystem took the opposite interpretation. Since it has never been tested in court, there is not definitive legal answer to this question. Whether trademarked and copyright material can be spread throughout GPL licensed code to make it effectively impossible to redistribute without authorization (quasi-proprietary GPL code?) is another emerging open question.

      1. Gary W
        Gary W October 19, 2014 at 18:29 | | Reply

        I’d be interested to know how they pressed for this and how they were successful. I don’t think any version of the GPL references images or other assets included with the code.

        A lot of things we take as given with respect to the GPL have not really been tested in a court of law. The so-called “viral” nature of the GPL, such that linking to GPL libraries is not permitted unless your code is also GPL, upon which the GPL requirement for all WP plugins rests, has not, to my knowledge, been tried.

        1. Dan Knauss
          Dan Knauss October 20, 2014 at 06:13 | | Reply

          Right, so it comes down to what particular communities elect to do on their own, or where the biggest pressures fall. You’re not familiar with the Envato/ThemeForest controversy over their provision for theme authors to distribute their themes under a “mixed” license (GPL+proprietary assets)? A pure GPL option was not available from ThemeForest until Automattic said that anyone using the mixed license was not welcome at WordCamps.

          1. Szabolcs-Istvan Kisded
            Szabolcs-Istvan Kisded October 19, 2019 at 22:55 | | Reply

            I also have a similar adventure with one of my plugin selling on CodeCanyon with mixed license, and people that are rebranding it and selling on WarriorPlus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xEyTlZEYho

  3. gotyoium
    gotyoium October 22, 2014 at 17:59 | | Reply

    I use a lot of GPL licences from some of the website listed above. I do not have any support (i do get updates usually a day or two later than normal)

    The support I have received from one of the companies you mentioned above was abysmal, really awful, although they have apparently improved, but as i now never use them, I am unsure of the current service levels. Poor service NO SALE. Thats nothing to do with law, trademarks, copyright or ethics or morality, its business.

    There is also no refund policy in place. You never really know if the plugin you want to purchase is right, especially now there seems to be 10 plugin choices for every situation these days. There is no trial offered and no refund. Paying $15 for a plugin is sometime worth a gamble, but not $200+. I would be far more open to spend $200 on a plugin if i could try it out first, on my environment, and if it was not suitable for my needs the ability to get a refund. I think that is very reasonable position for me to take.

    These guys seem to want the best of both.

    I often use a GPL store to try out a plugin to see if it is suitable for my needs, if it works and can be bought for a reasonable fee then I buy it, especially if the money is going to the coder, either direct or via codecanyon.

    be happy


  4. Kristian
    Kristian March 26, 2015 at 07:26 | | Reply

    WooThemes really aren’t ‘victims’ then, as their Content Use Terms grant a trademark licence (and furthermore insists that their trademark be used in any redistribution) to anyone obtaining themes/plugins from their website.

    “WooThemes grants users a Content License in respect of WooThemes’ Intellectual Property which forms part of the Services.

    To the extent that any copying, reproduction, distribution, transmission, display, broadcasting or publishing of any Content is expressly permitted (such permission to be interpreted in its most restrictive sense) users may do so, provided that all trademarks, trade names and all copyright, ownership, proprietary and confidentiality notices included on or in relation to the Content are retained and displayed without alteration or modification and not in any manner obscured or removed.

    Users are further required, as a condition of this Content License, to clearly and expressly attribute WooThemes as the Content’s source.”
    http://www.woothemes.com/terms-conditions/#contentuse (effective since 2013–12–01)

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