Yet Another #thesiswp Post

For all you WordPress lovers on Twitter I’m sure you’ve notice the hash tag #thesiswp going around. What’s the big deal? Well yesterday Matt Mullenweg and Chris Pearson got into a little debate on Andrew show Mixergy on wither or not the Thesis WordPress Theme Framework should be GPL because WordPress is. The full debate can be seen here. It boils down to this, Matt says yes, Chris says No.

So who’s right? There have been lots of posts about if themes for GPL software are derivative works of WordPress therefore must fall under the same license. The general consensus (from Matt and others) is that because they pull in php code from their host platform that php code IS a derivative work therefore must be under GPL. This does not apply to CSS, Javascript, or Images (unless the author states so.)

The other side of the fence (Chris) is people who say that because the author wrote their own code they get to choose what license to use. This would be a valid argument if the author truly did write their own code, meaning they aren’t depending on function calls or any code from the parent platform.

This isn’t true for Thesis, however as Drew Blas has pointed out at his blog there is code copied directly from WordPress core used inside of Thesis. How did it get there? Well Rick Beckman, a former Thesis developer,  put it there as he explains on Matt’s blog post about the whole issue. Now with that information being true that clearly makes Thesis a derivative work and therefore must be licensed under the GPL.

To me I feel it really comes down to attitude. Chris put on a bad egotistical attitude about the issue at one point stating “I’ve been arguably one of the top three most important figures in the history WordPress.” He even went as far to say: “There’s no resolving this. Either you sue me or you don’t. Or you continue to talk, or you don’t.” To me the easy solution would be for chris just to humble himself bite the bullet and license his framework as Matt ask. There has been no proof that adding a GPL to your theme is hurtful in fact many developers claim and increase in sales since going GPL. Sure you could equally argue that Matt could humble himself and drop it but I feel that it comes down to respect.  Matt and WordPress are the platform that has allowed Chris to develop such a platform that he’s able to profit from it.  Now they are asking Chris to repect them and follow their license and he refuses. I feel that he has four options, make Thesis GPL, stop developing Thesis, do a complete rewirte of the code without any WordPress code, or write Thesis for another none GPL platform.

As for me and what I’ve learned. I learned that I will never buy/create/download a WordPress theme or plugin that is not GPL I feel that my freedom (as is speech) is more important than my right to license my work under my own license as least as far as WordPress is concerned. I also learned that #thesiswp answers its cell phone in the movie theater.

5 thoughts on “Yet Another #thesiswp Post

  1. If there’s GPL code included, then Thesis needs to be GPL. However, Chris has said he’ll remove that by the next release, as I understand it. Therefore, as I read the situation, right now some pro-open-source legal advisory group have said all PHP code in plugins or themes needs to be GPL. However, this hasn’t been put to the test in an actual court case.

    Matt said that they’re preparing a case, and to me that’s the best way to resolve this. Put it to test in court, get a bona fide legal answer, and put an end to the debate.

    Personally, I’m not a fan of Matt’s bullying tactics. I think he’s abusing the @wordpress twitter account when he says things like: .@OldSpice, could you please tell @Pearsonified to respect the @WordPress license (like a man)? And, you know, the open source developers. The dot at the start meant it showed up across everyone who follows @wordpress, which it wouldn’t normally as a reply. I’m guessing it was a mistake, but it’s still a pretty obnoxious tweet. I read some other stuff by Matt that was equally bullying and obnoxious.

    It seems many people in the WordPress or AutoMATTic world have large egos they like to stroke! 🙂

    1. Looks like this is settled out of court and in a way I feel is fair to both parties. My understanding is that if Thesis has any GPL code all versions must be GPL so even if that code was removed or re-written it would still have to be GPL because it build on the GPL code. If Matt was abusing WordPress or not that’s debatable I just see him as a bossiness man who is using his resources.

      1. Nice, thanks for sharing those links. 🙂

        Oh, and I like your other sites. I particularly liked your story about the little girl and her mother. 🙂

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