Something Controversial - Can someone advise?

6 replies
Read the following in an ebook recently:

This might be the most controversial Internet marketing lesson that you have ever purchased. Some will say that it is pure genius and have an ah-ha moment, while others will say these money making methods are unethical.

I can sum up this entire lesson by simply saying: You have the right to sell almost any WordPress Plugin or theme, regardless of what the developer says.

You are probably wondering how you can legally do this. It's simple, the WordPress code is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), a free software license that allows anyone the freedom to distribute, modify, and use the code.

Many people attribute the huge popularity of WordPress to the fact that its open source code allows for community contributions. These contributions come in the form of themes and plugins. Since these contributions rely on a program that is licensed under the GPL, they too fall under the same rules.

This is spelled out in this paragraph of the GPL:

You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.

This translates to say that whenever any software (plugins and themes in this case) uses a single function from the WordPress code, the GPL takes over as the governing license.

Can some experts in this area advise on this?
#advise #controversial
  • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
    I would be reaaallly careful taking this advice at face value. Even if the author is right about the code falling under the GNU Public License (about which you need to ask an experienced IP attorney), there are elements of many themes that would not.

    Graphics, CSS, and possibly certain GUI elements and any content that goes with it come to mind.

    I'm not a lawyer. Since you're asking this, the odds are good you aren't either. This can get to be tricky stuff.


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  • Profile picture of the author AidenTingley
    I've never came across this before but sounds very interesting. I would also like to know more about the topic!
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  • Profile picture of the author Ravikanth
    I was terribly concerned about this at one point of time. That was when I planned to build a plugin. You should also consider other consequences. For instance, you may be verbally hounded on the internet for stealing no matter what the license says.
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  • Profile picture of the author MarketingBees
    It's also why there's an argument that developers can't charge license keys or limit it to one installation and so on.

    However, the law isn't as simple as you make out (or the eBook does anyways). Like Paul said, the code might be under the GNU license but that's it. No other elements are likely to be and that's where you may come stuck.

    You could (IN THEORY I AM NO LAWYER) copy the code from the plugin and design a plugin around that code yourself.

    This is just an opinion though and should not be used as legal advice in any way.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alexander Mak
    I would not recommend to do this, and take the advice with a pinch of salt. Even someone find a legal loophole on this, I don't think the developer is gonna easily just let someone get away with it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lance K
    Regardless of any legal interpretations on this specific topic...

    Just because you have the right to do something doesn't make it the right thing to do.
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