How does this GPL licensing issue play out?
October 8, 2012 6:23 PM Subscribe
Are WordPress and Drupal themes, plugins, extensions, etc. legally obligated to be released under the GPL?
posted by jsturgill to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
WordPress and Drupal core code is GPL. Are plugins and functions that interface with them using the supplied APIs etc. "derivative works" that must also be released under the GPL?
My understanding is that there was some furor over this question in the past, and Automattic's stance was that any PHP in plugins and themes must also be GPL. Drupal takes a similar stance. Is that the legal standard?
It seems odd to me, as plugins and themes don't alter the core code. Utilization seems separate to me from derivation. Were any actual legal opinions/decisions reached, or are there only the opinions of non-lawyers with extremely vested interests on one side or the other?
Part the second, assuming plugins and themes must be GPL (just roll with it, even if that's not the case): Am I correct in my understanding that the GPL cannot place restrictions on secondary distribution, so that if anyone purchases a premium WordPress or Drupal plugin or theme, which is GPL, they are then legally and morally free to distribute the source however they wish, including for free?
How (assuming GPL) would premium pay plugins that don't run on a service model (pay for support or whatever) make any meaningful number of sales, as surely the source code would become publicly available almost immediately?
Part the third, regardless of anything else: My understanding is that modifications of GPL code that are used internally by a person or company do not need to be shared. In other words, a company can take a GPL product, extend it for internal use, and not be required to release the code to anyone.
If the company used a GPL framework to power an online stopwatch API, it could sell access to the stopwatch service running on its own servers without being forced to disclose the derivative source. Is that correct?
Part the fourth: The Drupal licensing FAQ mentions that you can't build an intermediary framework or bridge and have non-GPL licensed code interact with the framework. The framework must be GPL, as would be anything interacting with the framework. That also seems counterintuitive to me. Is it correct? Has that perspective had a day in court, and what was decided?