Make WordPress GPL compliant or change client-side code license

  1. anonid


    All WordPress websites are breaching the GPL.

    WordPress-powered websites are currently distributing GPL-licensed client-side code without appropriate copyright, disclaimer and license notices, contrary to section 1 of the GPL.

    WordPress is a software package licensed under the GNU General Public License v2 (GPL). The WordPress package is not a single Program or work within the context of the GPL, but rather a collection. In particular, at least two separate Program contexts exist: the server-side Program and the client-side Program context.

    Client-side code (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) is distributed by WordPress websites to every visitor who views a page. This means the GPL distribution terms and conditions apply to everyone who uses WordPress on their site.

    The WordPress software includes various files or components that are licensed under the terms of more permissive GPL-compatible licenses, such as the MIT License or BSD License. These licenses are better for client-side code because they are not viral and are generally easier for web publishers to comply with.

    Approximately 200 source files in the WordPress package specify explicit license information in comments; the remaining files are either covered by a directory license document or implicitly covered by the WordPress package license grant.

    In the case of client-side code implicitly licensed under the GPL (files or parts thereof published over HTTP without explicit copyright, disclaimer or license notices), the WordPress package causes its users (website owners) to unknowingly breach a fundamental clause of the GPL.

    With all the talk about following the spirit of the GPL, I would have thought the WordPress core package would at least facilitate basic technical compliance with the GPL for its users.

    Additionally, client-side JS and CSS licensed under the GPL will become the blight of WordPress. It causes the GPL terms to “infect” part or all of the client-side Program context, which usually includes non-compatible code. Most serious businesses refuse to allow GPL-licensed JS or CSS on their public websites, but routinely use open source MIT/BSD code.

    Posted: 11 months ago #

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    2 Votes
  • Status

    This idea is under consideration