There are a number of posts on WordPress blogs (including our own take on the GPL and potential abuse) that deal with WordPress plugin and theme licensing. Many people don’t really understand the concept of open source software, and either view it as a sure way to financial ruin or the best thing ever as there is no protection and everything is free.
It’s not so straightforward. Many websites have sprung up during the past year or two reselling WordPress plugins and themes. One of the biggest ‘victims’ are Woothemes whose add-ons for WooCommerce are now easily available from other websites for a very small fraction of the price that Woo sells them for.
The GPL licence, which is the foundation of WordPress and all plugins in the WordPress repository, is a great licence, no doubt. It has permitted WordPress to become what it is today, and have such a wonderful community form around it.
I’m however seeing a small surge in the number of people who are taking advantage of the GPL in an arguably unethical way. I’m talking of the WordPress plugin stores that are cropping up and selling plugins developed by other people.
We’re not talking about ripware sites here, but rather of new and real businesses built solely on the selling of products which they themselves did not develop.
This week we’ve had a real storm brewing in the WordPress community. It was brought about by the grand entrance of WP Avengers onto the scene, which rekindled talk about the GPL and ethical conduct between plugin and theme developers.
As many of you surely know, WordPress is released under the GPL licence, as are many other open-source software e.g. Linux.
Although you might know that WordPress is GPL-licenced, you might not be aware of what the licence actually consists of and how it affects us as users and developers. Let’s take a look….