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Stolen Plugin Code (11 posts)

  1. peterwsterling
    Member
    Posted 1 year ago #

    The author of the plugin, Simple Intranet Directory (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/simple-intranet-directory/) has stolen and copied a complete copy of my plugin Add Local Avatar (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/add-local-avatar/) as a completely verbatim copy embedded within the download. That is, within the Simple Intranet Download the file profiles_lite.php is a verbatim copy of my code! Is this allowed? There is no credit, acknowledgement, or anything - it's simple a copy complete with comments, just the original author (me) details comment block at the top is removed! Could a moderator please take a look at this guy's rip-off activities...

    I only learnt about this rip-off from another WP developer (Hakan). I also understand from Hakan that this guy may have also pirated other WP code - even the 2012 packaged Theme and passed it on as his own creation!

  2. esmi
    Forum Moderator
    Posted 1 year ago #

    I've flagged this up for the attention of the Plugin team but I have to say that, if you release anything under GPL, there's always the chance that this can happen. I do feel your pain and I personally think that this is seriously unethical but I'm just not sure what - if anything - can be done in this situation. :-(

  3. peterwsterling
    Member
    Posted 1 year ago #

    Thanks. I understand the license issues, but it does kind of mean the plugin library hosted by WP can end up with 100s of duplicate rip-offs? Not good for anyone in the community...

  4. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 1 year ago #

    You should email plugins@wordpress.org about it, however what we'd do would likely be to tell him to add back the comment containing your name and URL (but not the plugin name, since that would cause it to show up as a separate plugin in the admin interface, which would probably be undesirable).

    All plugins in our directory, including yours, must be licensed under a GPL or compatible license. This gives anybody the freedom to redistribute that plugin, as well as modify it and redistribute it. Notably, the GPL does not give them the freedom to remove your copyright information (author comments, etc) from the work, but he's well within his rights to add your plugin to his own as long as he is also releasing under a similarly compatible license, which he is.

  5. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 1 year ago #

    but it does kind of mean the plugin library hosted by WP can end up with 100s of duplicate rip-offs

    Yes and no. We do not allow direct 100% copies of existing plugins. However, we do allow for forks of existing plugins, if they are modified enough to make them reasonably separate. And in this case, he's only using your work as part of a larger whole, which is reasonable as well.

  6. peterwsterling
    Member
    Posted 1 year ago #

    he's only using your work

    I'm not at all sure I see that as "reasonable". But even then as you recognise, he does not even the credit my original work - which is not allowed by GPL. Deleting the comment block that identifies the original work is simply dishonest! Under any circumstances I feel that the WP community should discourage that sort of behaviour...

  7. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 1 year ago #

    The author added the attribution back to the top of the code.

  8. peterwsterling
    Member
    Posted 1 year ago #

    Thanks Otto.

    This is a start. But I still think there's someway to go before the WP development community is better served and protected from this kind of dishonesty. The fact is that almost every WP user is not a developer and won't have any intention, desire, or skill to be able to figure this out for themselves. Thus hard working WP developers will remain unseen while those who plagiarise take the credit.

    A lot of WP developers rely on users following up with paid work based on the quality of their GPL contributions. This is clearly this guy's business model (http://www.simpleintranet.org/pricing/), yet much of the referral business he will get from users who see and follow the far more user visible links presented.

    I urge the senior WP community to give this some thought. It doesn't serve honest WP developers (e.g. me) well, it doesn't serve users well (i.e. they don't easily see who is really best suited to help them out), and it doesn't serve WP well.

  9. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 1 year ago #

    There's nothing dishonest about what he did other than to remove the credit from the top of the part of the plugin that he lifted from your code.

    Releasing code under the GPL is about sharing. You explicitly gave him, and me, and everybody else permission to use, modify, and redistribute your code. These are the same permissions WordPress gives you with their code, you know.

    And he has added the attribution back to the code segment as well as added attribution to the readme.txt as well. This is above and beyond the stated requirements of the license that your code is being distributed under. Credit has now been given. This is not "a start", now that he has complied with the license, this is really the end of the matter.

  10. peterwsterling
    Member
    Posted 1 year ago #

    Again thanks for your time Otto.

    But I do think you are missing my point. Please try to put aside any dogmatic positions about GPL that either of us may have. What I'm trying to point out - and at least get you and other senior members of the WP community to at least consider and not reject out of hand - is that this may not be the most sensible, fair, or sustainable way to go on forever. Are you flexible? Do you think it may be possible that there are other, maybe better, answers out there beyond what you currently know and think? I'm sure your answers to those questions must be "yes". Therefore, why not consider a debate about my points rather than simply reject them?

  11. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 1 year ago #

    I'm not rejecting your points, I'm just disagreeing with them, to a certain extent.

    While I do agree that he took your code and incorporated it into his own plugin, his plugin also does much more than yours does. The local avatar code is but a small part of his directory system.

    And while credit is important, all it took was one email pointing out his mistake for him to fix it. This is kinda minor, in the grand scheme of things.

    Yes, if there was wholesale copying with nothing added, we would have simply removed the copy. It doesn't benefit our users to have multiple copies of things under different names. But this isn't just copying, his plugin does things that yours does not, and uses your code as a feature add-on. Perfectly acceptable, in my own view.

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