Support » Requests and Feedback » Switching license to AGPL

  • I’ve discussed the licensing topic for WordPress and other web service software lately and come to the conclusion that the GPL might not be optimal for WordPress. Partly as a consequence from the Thesis theme debate.

    From what I understand the only requirement for when to make modifications available with GPL software is in the situation that a copy of the program itself is made available. That is, if a binary or source code is being redistributed.

    First of all: Is this, considering me not being a lawyer, a correct understanding? Can an individual developer facilitate ones own branch of WordPress/themes and running it as a web service – i.e. only exchanging HTTP communication – without having to give back to the open source community?
    Secondly: Would it, if my understanding is correct, be or not be in line with WordPress’ thoughts on free software and sharing source code to demand also non-distributed modifications to give back to the community when asked for the source?

    The AGPL license, also an official FSF license, ensures that modifications to the WordPress source code must be distributed even if they’re just run on a server locally.

    Is it a good idea for WordPress to switch to the AGPL instead of the GPL?

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  • Moderator James Huff


    Halfelf Minion 🚀

    To quote lead developer Mark Jaquith:

    WordPress forked b2. And then WordPress continued, as GPL. In order to relicense, we would have to get the sign-off of every single copyright holder (or rewrite the sections of people we couldn’t find/contact). This is thousands of people, many only known by pseudonym. It is effectively impossible to do without starting from scratch. We’re not inclined to try.

    Why WordPress Themes are Derivative of WordPress

    James: Ok, it’s effectively impossible. But what are lead developers’ and community members’ view on the licensing difficulties of GPL vs. AGPL?

    I think it could still be a healthy discussion and perhaps something for other developers to take into account when starting new projects.

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