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Plugin License - GPL Compatability Question (3 posts)

  1. justin_k
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Hey all,

    I'm a plugin author and I have a question regarding GPL compatibility.

    My plugin that was originally released with the standard copy-paste GPL license, but it wasn't long before someone else "stole" the code, releasing a 99.9% identical plugin with the exception that they removed all credit to me as the original author and replaced all donate links with their own. They even named it identically to mine, so users searching for my original would "accidentally" download the clone and donate to the other "author". I reported it to WordPress and they removed it, but to prevent a repeat of the issue I added the following license conditions:

    * If you choose to create and distribute a derived plugin, you must satisfy all of the following:
    * 1) You may not represent it as a fully original plugin, nor attempt to confuse it with the original plugin by means of its name or otherwise.
    * 2) The derived plugin must clearly give credit to the original, including a link to the original plugin's page on the WordPress Plugins repository.
    * This credit and link must be provided in each of the following locations, and must be plainly visible:
    * -The plugin's entry on the "Plugins" page of the user's wordpress install
    * -The plugin's admin panel
    * -The plugin's readme file
    * -The plugin's support page (if relevant)
    * 3) You may add your own PayPal Donate link, provided it always appears with my own.
    * You may not remove my Donate link.
    * It must be clear which link donates to the original author and which donates to the author of the derived work.
    * 4) You should make it clear precisely what functionality you've added to the plugin and what was original.

    I figured it was pretty reasonable to state that anyone is free to derive from the plugin or use it however they like, but they should at least give credit to me as the author and not try to disguise my work as their own. Surprisingly, WordPress pulled it from the repo and said I can't place *any* of these conditions in the license. So my question is: does anyone have any suggestions of how I might deal with this? Does the above really violate GPL?

    Thanks very much in advance,
    Justin

  2. (Jan steps gently here, listening for the *CLICK* of the booby trapped mine...)

    but it wasn't long before someone else "stole" the code, releasing a 99.9% identical plugin with the exception that they removed all credit to me as the original author and replaced all donate links with their own.

    "Stealing" the code is allowed as long as the copyright and credit are all in place. You licensed your code but it's your code and does not belong to the troll who misappropriated it.

    but to prevent a repeat of the issue I added the following license conditions:

    When you write and distribute your code (plugins, theme, haiku poetry, etc.) you get to set the terms for use and distribution. You are the owner of that work, and if you want to put those restrictions on then you should. But those restrictions will probably mean that the WordPress Plugin Repo won't host it.

    Does the above really violate GPL?

    I'm afraid so. The GPL is about the free and unfettered distribution of code. That does not mean people can do what the troll did to your plugin.

    Your item #1 is probably OK, but item #2 is a restriction and prevents the user from modifying the code. That's not compatible with the GPL. Ditto with items 3 and 4.

    The reason #1 is okay is that you are protecting your copyright on the code.

    See http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#RequiredToClaimCopyright

    and

    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#IWantCredit

    You are probably not required to claim copyright, but you don't have to since it's your work. If someone claims your work as their own, then they are violating your copyright.

    With the GPL anyone can modify and distribute your work, but they must include credit for your work. They can claim credit only for the parts they added.

    Last bit from me on this is this: no matter the license, no matter the terms of use, a troll stole your work. Putting on restrictions like the one's listed above won't matter to a troll.

  3. justin_k
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    "Stealing" the code is allowed as long as the copyright and credit are all in place.

    Right...well, basically what they did was put one tiny comment in one file that said "this plugin is based on the original by Justin_K", but it was clear that the troll was not trying to give credit - nobody would've ever seen it unless they were specifically looking through the source comments. Everything on the frontend, admin panel, and readme made it seem like it was their work. Thus the reason behind my carefully-worded statement that it should be made obvious what was my work and what was theirs, and they shouldn't try to confuse the two.

    You are the owner of that work, and if you want to put those restrictions on then you should. But those restrictions will probably mean that the WordPress Plugin Repo won't host it.

    Well of course...and I do want it to be in the WP plugin repo, which is why I'm trying to figure out a way to do so and also "cover myself", so to speak :)

    I'm afraid so. The GPL is about the free and unfettered distribution of code.

    Understood - and of course I'm cool with that. I released this plugin freely. It just surprises me that saying something like "The derived plugin must clearly give credit to the original" would not be okay. Perhaps my requirements are "too strict", I was just trying to avoid something like had been done - where they leave one tiny hidden credit to me in an obscure comment, but put largely visible links to i.e. their own paypal all over the place, replacing my own. The thought of someone collecting PayPal donations for my work just seems really unfair considering all the personal time I put in.

    Putting on restrictions like the one's listed above won't matter to a troll.

    True...but of course, it couldn't hurt :)

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