You write “Since version 2.0.0, the plugin has become a commercial plugin.” That means that in the “Changes” and for the screenshots here on the wordpress.org you present a commercial plugin.
Is it a mistake, or has WordPress changed its policy?
Agree with you, it should be a community decision rather than Chuck Norris going around and claiming that this one or this one is bad and should be removed just because he doesn’t like it.
So it needs to be part of a WordPress survey sent out to regular users of the repository to ask them what is acceptable or not.
Then we should keep in mind that if all free plugins where a premium release is available are removed from wordpress.org, it is likely that remaining plugins will be very limited in terms of features (except for the TOP 20) because plugin authors won’t maintain plugins on the long term if they have no way to get a retribution for it, especially when it requires a lot of support attention.
I believe it is the community interest to reward better plugins authors. The more we give to them, the more they will contribute back. If we are just here to restrict the ways they could recover from their efforts, then they will switch to another CMS where community is more “friendly”. I don’t care to see some ads for premium plugins here, it is targeted advertisement which is way better than all the ads that you see on the other websites which are usually not targeted to visitor needs. And if it can help a bit the author, it doesn’t hurt me. In life, you need to give a bit if you want to get in return. Suffering from having features description or premium advertisement is not so painfull…
WordPress couldn’t host plugins with a non GPL license, this would be somehow redistributing freely proprietary software which isn’t possible. This is the point I was making by saying that. I agree with you that this isn’t the only reason why the plugins need to be GPL here, the derivative work aspect is another.
@webtechglobal Good ideas for the community to decide – trade-offs for access, how premium services are presented in the repository, etc. And again, my issue is with license restrictions – not access, installation, support, modification fees, or any other manifestation of profit that surrounds plugins.
@mauricius I’m a fairly positive individual, but it does dampen one’s spirits when I awaken to see that – with little direct discussion of the issues I raise – I have been mocked and berated for expressing my opinions.
And since the horse is surely dead by now, I do hate to beat it further, but I simply fail to see how a concurrent license can eliminate my rights under the original GPL license.
What, exactly, is the action, declaration, or whatever that you believe gives an author the legal ability to make a modified GPL plugin into proprietary software and eliminate the public’s right to modify and distribute it?
@esmi That is what I will do; this will be my last post on the matter. Still, with the rapid increase in such activity, I stand by my “Report” idea.
Might I suggest that you raise this on the Requests & Feedback forum where it can be discussed without reference to any one specific plugin?
It is simply the copyright… The plugin author is the code owner. The GPL license just gives to anybody the right to modify, resell and redistribute it as long as they credit the original author.
But then the original code author keeps the right to write a new release with the specific license he wants to. It is the code owner that decides on the license. The GPL doesn’t mention anywhere that if the original developper sets version 1 as GPL, then he can’t set version 2 as MIT or anything else.
GPL is tied to distribution. When a piece of code is distributed, it comes with a license, this is a kind of stamp. Nobody has the right to remove or modify that stamp for this specific release without author consent. But adopting GPL one day for a specific piece of code doesn’t mean that you need to keep it forever for any release as long as you own the original copyrights.
So when a plugin author decides to put release 1 in GPL, he doesn’t have the right to go to people at a point and tell them “stop using release 1, it isn’t GPL anymore”. But he could deliver release 2 under a different license as it is a new original distribution and not a redistribution.
There was some debates in the WordPress community few years ago about the GPL license and the ability to modify it for WordPress code. It turned out that it wasn’t possible because it would have required consent of every WordPress contributor (everyone that wrote a patch). But in theory, if everybody had accepted, then it would have been feasible to switch to MIT or something else. Obviously, you understand that it is easier for an isolated plugin author to agree with himself than for a hundred of thousand of contributors 🙂
So from my point of view :
1/ Plugins here need to stay free and GPL, no discussion about it. I believe we are in agreement here (yes we can!).
2/ Then, it is the interest of the community to have premium plugins developped because when you have an issue with a plugin, it is good if you can get prompt support by paying something. I really dislike to see a plugin crashing my site and then having nowhere to get prompt support because it is free and maintained on a best effort basis (which is natural for a free plugin). So I would rather push to have all the services and premium releases advertised heavily on the free plugin pages. This would allow to exactly understand what level you can expect if you run into trouble.
3/ WordPress.org is a unique place. I usually put more trust on plugins I find here than elsewhere, whether free or free with a premium release available. So I’d prefer to see all staying here.
4/ I believe plugin authors will put more efforts to maintain the free releases if they have a reward from the community. A good reward is to allow advertisements of premium releases. It doesn’t cost anything to us, the plugin users and it allows the plugins authors to get some benefits out of their work. Nobody can work hard for free on the long term, I am sure you understand it. So why would plugin authors write very complex free plugins if they have no way to recover their time? So things need to be balanced…
And I am against your “report” button. We aren’t in a pornographic forum. There is no point having this kind of button here.
@mauricius Okay. Yes, I see in theory that it is possible to have a situation where duel licensing would make a difference – but I haven’t seen it in the repository. You do not have that situation in any instance I have seen (nor in the instance that prompted the start of this post) where the plugin was introduced on day one with two versions, having two segregated development efforts. Instead, they have been released as GPL and developed in concert with public input and often specific code contributions, and then, subsequently, that previously licensed, released and distributed GPL software is forked into a commercial, proprietary plugin. It may be a subtle distinction, but I do not see that as complying with the original GPL terms.
Also, for yet a final clarification, I fully support paying for access, installation, support, modification, or any other profit-bearing non-GPL-intruding strategy an author might adopt.
And last but not least, a Report feature would be an easy way for admins to judge community response to an authors behavior, just as the Rate feature is an easy way for the public to judge the community’s impression of the quality of a plugin. There is no pornographic aspect to the suggestion.
Hopefully we can just agree that we don’t agree, as this really is it for me on this post.
Glad to see that you understand what I am saying.
Indeed, a plugin author can set a GPL release for release 1 and then later on decide to set another license for release 2. The only person he needs the agreement from are the people who contributed to the code since the first GPL release. So if only the plugin author wrote the code and he hadn’t integrated any external contribution, he is free to just modify the license for the release 2. He just can’t modify it for the release 1 as it has been distributed and so that’s too late.
But for later releases, he can do what he wants to do as long as he has the agreement from the code contributors (ie himself if he is the only one who wrote some code). A code contribution is a code contribution meaning that someone that gives the advise to add this or that feature isn’t a code contributor. When you suggest to Microsoft a Windows enhancement, you don’t become a copyright holder. You understand what I mean, the contribution needs to be concrete and clear.
And if an another hand, if he wants to originally deliver the plugin under two different licenses, he can also do that. If the code delivered under each release is similar, then it is probably not a good idea, except if he grants special rights with the other license that the GPL doesn’t include.
To give you a concrete example, see here :
Plupload is the library included in WP core for the media uploader. It is available in GPL but there is also a commercial license available which provides additionnal capabilities. I believe it is fair in this situation, what is your opinion on that?
Personnally, I believe that plupload is a good addition to WP core and I am also happy to have them selling commercial licenses of their library to allow them to maintain this library at the right level.
So it is exactly the same story here. Some will ask you to pay money for support, some others for additionnal features, etc… They are free to license their code the way they want to as long as they respect the copyrights holders and they don’t put a non GPL release on wordpress.org. If you pay, it is because it meets your needs, so why are you unhappy with a different license for a premium plugin? I don’t see your point, please clarify, it is interesting.
The problem I see with the report feature is that it can be easily abused and I believe moderators have more positive things to do than to investigate false reports… User assistance, feature development and community expansion are better targets for me.
Im confused by that argument. surely if v1 of a WordPress plugin inherits GPL licensing from WordPress as a derivative work, a subsequent version could not be released under a more restrictive license as it would still inherit GPL even if if was hosted on the dev’s site & only available to purchasers? – btw I’m not arguing but asking as this stuff makes my head spin.
Nothing in GPL claims that because original release is GPL, then all subsequents release needs to be GPL. GPL just claims that if someone that isn’t the original code owner wants to modify or redistribute the code of a GPL release, then it needs to keep a GPL compatible license as he would have modified GPL code. But obviously, the original code owner keeps the right to modify the license whenever he wants for new releases, he can even distribute the same code under a GPL license for some users and a non GPL license for other users.
Again, GPL is tied to distribution. So it is really up to the code author to decide under which license he wants to distribute a release and this can change along the time. It is just about changing the distribution. As long as all the code contributors agree on that, there is nothing in GPL preventing that. GPL just prevent that for the GPL release.
We shouldn’t mix up the situation of the original code owner and the situation of the people who obtainer the GPL release. Deciding to release some code under GPL at a point doesn’t mean you have to do that forever and you can’t do anything else with it. Just take the dual license example for plupload, I think it is a clear one.
Nothing in GPL claims that because original release is GPL, then all subsequents release needs to be GPL.
That doesn’t make sense. a subsequent release would be a derivative work. The only way it could be licensed differently is if it didn’t use any of the original code (ie it would be a new application).
No, this isn’t true, I am sorry for that. Read the GPL and you’ll see that it isn’t mentionned anywhere that the copyrights on the original code are given away forever. It is even clearly stated in their FAQ :
“would like to release a program I wrote under the GNU GPL, but I would like to use the same code in non-free programs. (#ReleaseUnderGPLAndNF)
To release a non-free program is always ethically tainted, but legally there is no obstacle to your doing this. If you are the copyright holder for the code, you can release it under various different non-exclusive licenses at various times.”
I agree that it is kind of complex to understand how it works… But it is quite clear that distributing under GPL doesn’t mean that you can’t distribute under any other license. This remains the copyright holder decision and has nothing to do with the code similarities. A plugin author could distribute some code as release 1 under GPL and then just change the name and release it under another license.
People usually mix up copyrights and licensing. GPL just gives to users the rights to modify and redistribute a GPL distribution of the code under the GPL. But the original copyrights remain the property of the contributors, this is why they have to be credited.
Surely the key phrase in the context of WP is “If you are the copyright holder for the code”. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a plugin or theme that doesn’t use a WP core function.
I was talking about the plugin code, not WP code. The contamination aspect is a different topic which you might not want to mix up with the distribution aspect in order to keep discussion simple 🙂
Otto who is a core contributor just made it clear in another post that premium plugins outside of this site don’t need to be GPL… End of the story. I believe you can give a bit more credit to him than you give to me.
The only story that Otto’s post might end is one that demonstrates the scope of the problem and the lack of response to complaints like mine.
(1) Matt Mullenweg was quick to point out to Chris Pearson (of Thesis Themes) the following:
“It’s just that anyone violating the license is disrespectful to thousands of people that built WordPress and all of the other businesses that have respect for WordPress’ license.“
“Well, if in the WordPress community people started deciding that the GPL doesn’t apply that’s a very, very slippery slope. Not just for WordPress but for all of open source. Like you said, there hasn’t been a court case yet in the United States because every company, including big ones like Cisco, have backed down. If Chris wants to be the court case that proves the GPL, I am sure there are many people in the open source community that would love that opportunity.“
(2) The GPL states “If the program dynamically links plug-ins, and they make function calls to each other and share data structures, we believe they form a single program, which must be treated as an extension of both the main program and the plug-ins. This means the plug-ins must be released under the GPL or a GPL-compatible free software license, and that the terms of the GPL must be followed when those plug-ins are distributed.“
(3) The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) have rendered an opinion that WordPress themes and plugins are derivative of WordPress and therefore must necessarily inherit WordPress’ GPL.
(4) US Copyright law defines a “derivative work” as follows: A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.
Yet Otto, a core WordPress contributor, today declares…
“Now, their pay version may not be GPL, but it doesn’t have to be. If it’s not in our repository, they can use whatever terms they like.“
Jeeze, I can’t imagine why there’s so much confusion about these issues.
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