Popular CMS Wordpress, distributed under the GPL license was in the center of the scandal. The content management system has gained wide acceptance due to the successful architecture and the built-in “themes” system with customizable templates and “plug-ins”, which allows Wordpress to be used in the development of virtually any projects from blogs to complex news resources.
Under the terms of the license, all additions to the CMS should also be released under the GPL, but not all developers implement them. So, the creators of the popular theme Thesis do not hide their reluctance to convert their paid product into the category of free. The creator of the project Matt Mullenweg (Matt Mullenweg) entered into a fierce dispute with Chris Pearson (Chris Pearson), the author of Thesis, and accused the latter of a gross violation of the terms of the GPL.
The creator of Wordpress reinforces his arguments and comments with the opinion of numerous experts and lawyers, in particular Mozilla’s lawyer Heather Meeker, with whom he consulted. Based on the analysis of PHP and HTML code, including API calls, program logic, the experts concluded that almost any design theme created for Wordpress will be derived from the main CMS themes licensed under the GPL. And although it is possible in principle to create a non-GPL “theme”, such an extension will lose most, if not all, of the Wordpress functionality.
As a result, Mullenweg insists that all the additions to his CMS, including the design themes, are required to follow the terms of the GPL, and therefore to be distributed under this license. Chris believes that Matt is wrong in the definitions, and argues that the design themes are essentially independent products, and their creators are free to choose their own licenses and build a business on their own.
Since the parties fail to reach a compromise, Wordpress representatives are considering the possibility of going to court to establish a precedent and resolve a dispute and recognize the activities of Thesis authors as illegal and violating the terms of the GPL license in court.
The leader of the Wordpress development team, Mark Jaquith (Mark Jaquith), tried to analyze
in detail the reasons
that indicate that creating plugins and themes for Wordpress violates the license, even if the topic does not use direct insertion of the main CMS code.
The theme for Wordpress is a set of PHP files that invoke system functions and have access to basic data structures that become part of Wordpress, since they are started and processed by a single PHP process. The bottom line is that themes are not executed on Wordpress, but within the system itself. The code for themes and cores in Wordpress is so tightly interlaced that the interaction between them is indistinguishable from the internal interactions of the system itself. In other words, php files of themes are separately supplied parts of Wordpress itself, and in accordance with the GPL license terminology, modules that are included in a single executable file or work in a single address space of a single process are part of the base program.
In light of these events, Mullenweg promised that Wordpress.org would promote and host only those who are 100% compliant with the terms of the GPL license or other compatible license. To support the few authors who create 100% GPL-compliant topics and are engaged in supporting and providing other services, even a special section has
been created in which commercially supported GPL topics are published.