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WordPress GPL Debate – Pearson vs Mullenweg

*Issue resolved  – Pearson deciding on a split GPL license for the Thesis theme – see Mashable  post for greater detail

In the past several days a debate has sprung up between Matt Mullenweg ( WordPress C0-Founder) and Chris Pearson (WordPress Theme Developer) over the GNU GPL License.

My take on it (and my opinion – just want to make that clear):

Matt Mullenweg  co-founded WordPress,  a blogging / cms platform and distributes it  under the GPL License - basically you can use and build on WordPress but if you do so and distribute it,  you must distribute under the GPL License, meaning others can then use and build on changes you have made and so on and so forth.

Chris Pearson embraced the GPL License terms to his advantage and developed a WordPress theme that he sells.   Now simply selling his theme is not a problem, no one is saying that he shouldn't profit from work he has done but,  he sells this theme based on someone else's work , distributed under a license that he agreed to, when it suited him, but now refuses to distribute his theme under the GPL License.   His position is: sue me.

At first glance, it seems pretty cut and dry (although I’m not a lawyer or anything like that)  – Chris Pearson is violating the GPL License he agreed to when he built a theme based on WordPress.

Matt and WordPress could sue , as Chris has suggested, but the only people who really make out in lawsuits are the lawyers – he really should man up and do the right (honorable) thing and distribute his theme under the GPL License or create / develop on a platform that doesn’t use it.

Since it appears, at least so far, that Chris is not going to do the right thing, I would suggest that the WordPress community deal with this internally and quit using or purchasing WordPress themes that are not distributed under the GPL License - loss of income and support would, more than likely, fix the problem.

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