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GPL and commercial themes/plugins (17 posts)

  1. jivyb
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    I'm hoping you can clear something up for me. On this page (http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/commercial/) listing the GPL commercial themes, it says "GPL doesn't say that everything must be zero-cost, just that when you receive the software or theme that it not restrict your freedoms in how you use it."

    SO, that means you can redistribute and change their code however you want, which = freedom.

    What I'm confused about is that the people listed on that page as having licensed their code as GPL are restricting use. Let's take Crowd Favorite, for example. If you go to their site, it's $400 for a developer's license which is clearly labeled as "single site". How can they be listed at wordpress.org as GPL and only give out a single site license? GPL clearly says they can't build their code around WP and then not pass on the WP GPL license.

    Am I missing something? If I paid crowdfavorite for the developer's license would they come after me if I followed the GPL instead of their own license (and used their code on multiple sites)? And how come wordpress.org says they're GPL?

    If I started a free site that redistributed all the GPL themes/plugins people are charging for, I would be well within my rights, but how come no one does this?

    I'm really trying to understand, so please be civil in your responses...

  2. So, that means you can redistribute and change their code however you want, which = freedom.

    That's correct.

    Let's take Crowd Favorite, for example. If you go to their site, it's $400 for a developer's license which is clearly labeled as "single site". How can they be listed at wordpress.org as GPL and only give out a single site license?

    Crowd Favorite's Carrington Framework (including Blog, Text, Mobile, and JAM) is offered under the GPL, but Carrington Build and Carrington Business are under the newly developed CF Commercial-to-GPL License. As you can see, the commercial theme showcase here only mentions the Carrington Framework.

    GPL clearly says they can't build their code around WP and then not pass on the WP GPL license.

    Unfortunately, the particular issue is being obfuscated by the various media outlets. Theme developers are free to build whatever they want around WordPress. As long as they don't use any core WordPress code in their product, they can use whatever license they want to.

    If I paid crowdfavorite for the developer's license would they come after me if I followed the GPL instead of their own license (and used their code on multiple sites)?

    Probably, since you agree to the CF Commercial-to-GPL License when purchasing Carrington Build and Carrington Business.

    And how come wordpress.org says they're GPL?

    The commercial theme showcase here only mentions the Carrington Framework, which is available under the GPL.

    If I started a free site that redistributed all the GPL themes/plugins people are charging for, I would be well within my rights, but how come no one does this?

    Because most people are honorable individuals who believe in the integrity of the open source community and the GPL license.

  3. jivyb
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    THanks for your detailed response! I wasn't aware of the CF Commercial-to-GPL License, so I'm going to go read through that.

    I used to agree with your statement: "Because most people are honorable individuals who believe in the integrity of the open source community and the GPL license." So I know where you're coming from.

    After a lot of thought, summarized below, I'm starting to think that *some* developers who want to have it both ways. I'm speaking of developers whose work IS covered by GPL and whose product they're selling directly relies on WP to function and is therefore a "derivative" of WP.

    Matt said: "our Bill of Rights would be the GPL because it protects our core freedoms."

    There are devs who seem to want the benefits of declaring GPL but they don't want to give others the freedom in the "Bill of Rights" that has done so much to benefit them. I think they're the ones who are dishonorable (if it's fair to say that about anyone) and who are hurting the integrity of the community. WordPress has made their business possible and they are building on years of work by thousands of people. They're using software that *requires* them to allow others to freely redistribute derivations like theirs. They benefit from and agreed to this license.

    Then they want to restrict its use and act like the code is solely theirs and not a derivative of WP and its GPL.

    I'm hoping this isn't too personal, but this basically what is confusing me so I'll ask: as an example, I've worked with and totally respect Collis, but on CodeCanyon, they sell WP plugins that have to be GPL by definition. But you'd never know it if you were an end user. The license page says under Plugins: "For web content a regular license is suitable for use on a single domain or single subdomain or single directory." There's no mention of WP being different from this or GPL. If you were a typical buyer you'd have no thought other than that the plugin or theme was "single use". (Themes on Envato are split-GPL).

    So I was confused, knowing Collis to be a stand-up guy. I went looking for info on the GPL cause I knew something had to be there. It took me an hour of digging to find this nugget at the bottom of another page: "(i) If the whole, or part, of the Work has been created using materials which are the subject of a GNU General Public License (GPL), your use of the Work (or part Work) is subject to the specific terms of the GPL in place of the foregoing conditions (to the extent the GPL applies)."

    I'm truly not wanting to offend any of you authors of plugins/frameworks, but I don't get the attitude here. It's so different from the GPL. Speaking generally and not of Collis, that inconsistency is what is confusing and seems "dishonorable" and hurts the "integrity of the open source community and the GPL license."

    I know that ThemeForest wouldn't sell WP plugins for a long time because they fully understood this. I was just surprised that when they did, this is how they did it. No wonder they tell plugin authors, don't worry about the GPL cause your plugin will sell like it would if it didn't have it. That's cause it's totally buried and then if someone did use a plugin on multiple sites or fork it or whatever, you could easily get labeled "dishonorable" and undermining the community. But I thought that's what the community is: people using GPL code and working together on it in multiple sites.

    See why I'm totally confused? I just figure maybe I'm missing something and I can rely on the community to enlighten me:)

  4. Devin Reams
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    I wanted to stop by and clarify that the Commercial license cited here is not what our themes nor the Carrington Build system are released under.

    http://crowdfavorite.com/faq/what-license-is-this-released-under/
    http://crowdfavorite.com/faq/carrington-build-non-gpl/

    Alex has a post that helps clarify some other common questions:

    http://alexking.org/blog/2010/08/11/carrington-build-qa

  5. Thanks for clearing that up. The licensing info is a bit obfuscated. It would be nice if each theme's page stated clearly, "Licensed under the [license]." For now, this FAQ is the closest I can find to a direct answer:

    All of the products Alex King has released for WordPress (personally, or through Crowd Favorite) are 100% GPL; some are also commercial (including Carrington Build and the Carrington Business theme).

    Is there a specific commercial license in use, and which themes does it apply to?

    The wording is a tad bit conflicting, "All of the products . . . some are also . . . "

  6. Devin Reams
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Is there a specific commercial license in use, and which themes does it apply to?

    As these themes are released by Alex King via Crowd favorite, they are 100% GPL. Sorry if that's not clear but it seems to be when in the context of the FAQ (displayed on a per-product basis). As you're aware, commercial and GPL are not mutually exclusive. ;)

  7. Ok, I get it now. I know that a theme can be both GPL and commercial, but it just seemed to imply that some were licensed under the GPL and some were licensed under a completely separate commercial license.

    If you're keen on suggestions, may I recommend cutting that down to "All of the products Alex King has released for WordPress (personally, or through Crowd Favorite) are 100% GPL." and then make a separate FAQ regarding commercial availability?

  8. Devin Reams
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Right, as noted in Alex's post linked above:

    Sure, but what about the license he linked to?
    We strongly considered using a split license; even went to the effort and expense of having the C2GPL license created during those deliberations. The purpose of the C2GPL license is to create a commercially viable and defensible environment for a product while staying GPL compliant and providing many of the user freedoms that the GPL does.

    Hope that helps. :)

  9. I know, but that still doesn't change the fact that the initial "What license is this released under?" FAQ confused me. ;)

    Having it clarified in a completely separate blog post doesn't really help, especially when I was scrambling to answer jivyb's accusations regarding Crowd Favorite.

    Just trying to help.

  10. stufuller
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    So, if the Carrington Business Theme is under the GPL, where can it be downloaded from other than through the link given during the purchase process?

    Stu

  11. Just because it's licensed under the GPL doesn't mean that it's free. You need to purchase it.

  12. trivum
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    This topic came up on another forum today, and so I was looking for answers to some questions I had and ended up here.

    I too was wondering how some theme developers can assert that you "MUST" pay for a "developer's" license if you plan to use the theme on more than one site when it seems that the GPL would says that isn't so. (Of course I'm talking about themes that don't have some type of split license, but are solely under the GPL.)

    Tech Wizard wrote:

    Just because it's licensed under the GPL doesn't mean that it's free. You need to purchase it.

    This seems to indicate that it MUST be purchased, which isn't my understanding. Of course the developer has the right to charge for it, and maybe if you want to get it from the developer's site then you MUST purchase it there, but if you were to get it somewhere else for free then it would be perfectly legal to do so. Is this not right?

    From what I understand about it (which may be a misunderstanding, but I don't believe so), the GPL does seem to be consistently misrepresented with threatening and aggressive language by many developers.

    Any clarification on these questions?

  13. Sure, pretend a theme is GPL-licensed and sold in separate single-install and multiple-install packages.

    You could certainly purchase the single-install package and use your GPL-granted rights to install it on as many blogs as you wish, even distribute it free, but that would be morally wrong and basically an insult to the developer that you admired enough to purchase a theme from.

    It would be better to support the developer by purchasing the multiple-install package as requested.

    Basically, it all comes down to one question. Do you care about the developer's livelihood?

  14. trivum
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Well, I'm not advocating for anything one way or the other. I was simply taking up the point that jivyb had brought up before, which is that many developers seem to intentionally mislead customers about the rights that the GPL affords them. It's one thing to say, "It costs X for single use and Y for multiple use," (which is misleading enough), but it's another thing for them to word their "terms" in an aggressive manner that preys on the buyer's ignorance, making it sound as if they will be subject to legal ramifications when that simply isn't true.

    I am all for paying developers for their work. In fact, I believe that when a monetary component is added, it generally improves the quality of the work and the support behind it because now there's a serious motivation for the developer. I'm happy to see talented people paid to do what they do best. It's a win-win situation.

    But as has been pointed out, the theme developers aren't paying for WordPress. And the only reason they have this opportunity to make money off their designs in the first place is because of the wide adoption of and the community of the GPL licensed WordPress. It's the spirit of the license that counts, and that's why Matt has been so adamant in defending it. It would appear that these developers are not only NOT upholding the spirit of the license, but they seem to be intentionally perverting it for financial gain as well. Why? Because they can.

    Not exactly saints if you ask me.

  15. They're upholding the spirit of license simply by using it.

    They're also expecting to be paid for their hard work.

    Are you suggesting that they switch from a "It costs X for single use and Y for multiple use," model to something more like this?

    "It costs X for single use and Y for multiple use, but this theme is GPL, so you really only have to pay X for single use and then you're free to distribute it as you please. However, we'd really appreciate it if you paid Y for multiple use because we put a lot of work into this theme and need to feed our families."

  16. trivum
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    How about just one price? Or how about doing what some do and add extra support, etc. for the higher price? If you're a developer, you probably need extra help or extra features, etc.

    I'd hate to be in a position of making faux legal threats (as some seem to do) to feed my family, as you put it. If I were in that business, I think I'd get out of it ... and fast.

  17. Just to clarify, I don't agree with any "faux legal threats," but I do agree with the multi-install pricing structure that many theme authors have adopted. It's a good way to request money equivalent to the use of the theme.

    For example, I could charge $100 for a single install and strongly request that you pay $300 for an unlimited install.

    Or, I could just split the difference and charge $200 for just an unlimited install and not offer a single install option.

    As a consumer seeking to install the theme on one blog, which would you rather see? $100 for a single install with an unlimited available for $300, or just the unlimited available for $200?

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