Wordpress Vs. Theme Developer Twit-Fight

WordPress, the indomitable blogging platform has a surprising new enemy – the developer of a theme for WordPress.

Matt Mullenweg, the primary developer of WordPress is unhappy because theme developer Chris Pearson refuses to honor the GPL license WordPress is covered by.

The GPL, or General Public License is designed to ensure that any derivative work is distributed under the same terms.

Pearson sells his themes with a license that protects his work completely, but ignores WordPress’ license requirements.

The debate because extremely public a couple of days ago, when Mullenweg began advising WordPress users to use other premium themes, and even began offering to pay for themes downloaded from other sources.

The debate was brought out into the open by Andrew Warner on Mixergy in the form of an hour long discussion between Mullenweg and Pearson.

The GPL license is a massively complex issue, one that has apparently never been fully explored in court.

It seems to me that WordPress does amazing work, and charges nothing for it, so if their only request is that people comply with the terms of their license, how can anyone argue?

Written by Toby Leftly

Toby is a Mac nerd, a hardware nerd and a web nerd, rolled into one. You can find him at accentmedia.ca or on Twitter.

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  • Because some of us sell premium WordPress themes and plugins and would like to protect our code and work as opposed to letting anyone who purchases it do whatever they want with it, for free.

  • Ric Nunez

    A lot of open source projects always have this issue with some people that don’t want to follow the license. I solved the problem by not using software from this kind of people. Greedy people? who knows, different people, different opinions.

  • From a designer/developer’s point of view, I can understand not wanting anyone else all up in my code. We work hard to create. But, since my clients are paying for my service and therefore own the code and the design, I would never prohibit them from editing it (although I wouldn’t recommend clients who have no experience tinkering, because that would just end badly). I wouldn’t tell my clients they couldn’t hire another designer or developer, though. That’s just wrong, no matter how you look at it. It’s the same when you create a premium or freemium theme or plugin; you know you are making it for others to use when you first start on it, therefore it isn’t completely yours, anyway.

    I love WordPress, and I love that the community has such a free spirit. It’s sad that greed has to get in the way and break this spirit, but it’s bound to happen.

    If you are designing themes for WordPress — or anything, for that matter: static websites, brochures, etc — you have to realize that, somewhere along the way, someone is going to tweak it. If you are designing a theme or developing a plugin for WordPress, you are obviously already familiar with the spirit of their community and their stipulations, so why would you go against that? The attitude that “this is mine and you can’t touch it” is absolutely ridiculous when you are creating something for someone else to use. Clearly,if you have this attitude, you are in the wrong business. Unless you are designing or developing something for your own use, it’s presumptuous to have such an attitude.

  • I love WordPress, and I love that the community has such a free spirit. It’s sad that greed has to get in the way and break this spirit, but it’s bound to happen.