Excuse me while I beat a dead horse, but I just recently took a few moments to peruse some audio on Mixergy — check it out — regarding Matt Mullenwag, Chris Pearson, WordPress and the GPL. The argument being portrayed is that should a theme built ‘on top’ of WordPress have to adhere to the very license that WordPress is distributed under, e.g. the GPL. Though slightly murky territory considering the specific details regarding wordpress themes, past situations with Joomla & other content management systems alone would shout a resounding ‘Yes!’. All arguments aside, I’d actually like to discuss another aspect of the situation altogether.
During the course of the audio there’s discussion in regards to Matt Mullenwag (co-founder of WordPress) siphoning away users of Thesis using the GPL issue as a lure. I’ve personally seen similar issues (GPL related, in fact) tear communities / userbases in half, spit them up and leave nothing behind. During the course of my younger years I was involved in a few MUDs or two that were in direct violation of the very license the software was developed on. In one particular case (Ahem, Medievia) there was such an undercurrent from the community that several derivatives spawned off, servers were exploited, users quit left & right and the project itself lost multiple developers and thousands of active users as a result of the backlash.
The GPL is an extremely well backed license whether it applies to Diku, WordPress or Linux itself & touts and extremely strong following. I believe that Chris Pearson is treading very thing ice when he states that WordPress needs to “back up their statements”, through force or otherwise. I do suspect Mullenwag’s own twitter remarks alone lead me to believe he’s generating an uprising of his own against Pearson and GPL-naysayers, something I see as somewhat belated but necessary to ensure future derivatives and themes stay in line with the license.
I do hope the situation gets prettier before ugly, and Pearson decides to switch his themes over to the license. The license itself wouldn’t inhibit or detract from any of his offerings, business or personal, but I suppose that’s for him to decide. Several other wordpress theme developers have swapped over to releasing their themes with the GPL intact and from what I garner through their public commentary, “Success” is all they’ve experienced since.
Any thoughts of your own?