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The GPL: What It Means (And What It Doesn't) - WC Udaipur

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The GNU General Public License (GPL) is a free (as in freedom) software license that is used by many open source projects, including WordPress. While many of us are probably familiar with the GPL, there are also a number of misconceptions. It’s important, as WordPress professionals, for us to be able to talk about the GPL with our clients and coworkers -- both in terms of what the GPL says and also what it doesn't say. The GPL is based on some extremely powerful ideas, and it is a shame that they are sometimes misunderstood. If you feel like maybe you could use a refresher or some ideas about how to explain the GPL to people you are working with, this talk is for you.

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The GPL: What It Means (And What It Doesn't) - WC Udaipur

  1. 1. THE GPL WHAT IT MEANS (AND WHAT IT DOESN’T) NANCY THANKI
  2. 2. HANDY LINKS ▸ Twitter | @NancyThanki ▸ Website | nancythanki.com ▸ Slides | http://www.slideshare.net/NancyThanki/the-gpl- wc-udaipur-2017 ▸ Post | https://nancythanki.com/speaking-paneling-wc- udaipur-2017/
  3. 3. WHAT IS THE GPL? WHAT DOES IT COVER?
  4. 4. FREE SOFTWARE VS OPEN SOURCE “ the differences . . . are small: nearly all free software is open source, and nearly all open source software is free.” - Free Software Foundation (FSF)
  5. 5. THE FREE SOFTWARE DEFINITION’S FOUR FREEDOMS BY THE FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION’S DEFINITION, FREE SOFTWARE GUARANTEES YOU: 0 The freedom to run the program, for any purpose. 1 The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish. 2 The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor. 3 The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.
  6. 6. VARIETY OF FREE SOFTWARE LICENSES COMMONLY USED ▸ Apache Software License ▸ MIT License ▸ WTFPL – Do what the f*ck you want to public license ▸ The GNU General Public License (GPL) Note: Each license has its own terms and may, or may not, be compatible with the GPL’s terms, due to a few stipulations within the GPL. *
  7. 7. OFFICIAL DEFINITION
  8. 8. Short for General Public License, the license that accompanies some open source software that details how the software and its accompany source code can be freely copied, distributed and modified. The most widespread use of GPL is in reference to the GNU GPL, which is commonly abbreviated simply as GPLwhen it is understood that the term refers to the GNU GPL. One of the basic tenets of the GPL is that anyone who acquires the material must make it available to anyone else under the same licensing agreement. - webopedia
  9. 9. - webopedia ▸ The GPL does not cover activities other than the copying, distributing and modifying of the source code. ▸ A GPL is also referred to as a copyleft, in contrast to a copyright that identifies the proprietary rights of material.
  10. 10. GNU IS NOT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. EVERYONE WILL BE PERMITTED TO MODIFY AND REDISTRIBUTE GNU, BUT NO DISTRIBUTOR WILL BE ALLOWED TO RESTRICT ITS FURTHER REDISTRIBUTION. THAT IS TO SAY, PROPRIETARY MODIFICATIONS WILL NOT BE ALLOWED. I WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL VERSIONS OF GNU REMAIN FREE. Richard Stallman, GNU Manifesto (1985) COPYLEFT (Ɔ)
  11. 11. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
  12. 12. TERMINOLOGY COPYLEFT (Ɔ) ▸ a play on the word copyright ▸ the practice of offering people the right to freely distribute copies and modified versions of a work ▸ the stipulation is that the same rights must be preserved in derivative works down the line ▸ i.e. not only make your work free, but to ensure that any modified versions will also be free.
  13. 13. LIBRE, NOT GRATIS Richard Stallman
  14. 14. FREE AS IN SPEECH, NOT AS IN BEER
  15. 15. TERMINOLOGY SHARE-ALIKE ▸ the requirement that any freedom that is granted regarding the original work must be granted on exactly the same or compatible terms in any derived work ▸ implies that any copy left license is automatically a share- alike license, but not the other way around (not all share- alike licenses are copyleft) Note: Check out the variety of Creative Commons licenses for examples of the variety of share-alike licenses
  16. 16. = FOUR FREEDOMS GPL
  17. 17. THE FREE SOFTWARE DEFINITION’S FOUR FREEDOMS BY THE FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION’S DEFINITION, FREE SOFTWARE GUARANTEES YOU: 0 The freedom to run the program, for any purpose. 1 The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish. 2 The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor. 3 The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.
  18. 18. GPL = FOUR FREEDOMS + COPYLEFT
  19. 19. USING THE GNU GPL WILL REQUIRE THAT ALL THE RELEASED IMPROVED VERSIONS BE FREE SOFTWARE. THIS MEANS YOU CAN AVOID THE RISK OF HAVING TO COMPETE WITH A PROPRIETARY MODIFIED VERSION OF YOUR OWN WORK. - “Why Use the GPL” FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION’S TAKE ON THINGS
  20. 20. SO WHAT…? ▸ Free software is used in every device, software, and site you regularly use ▸ for example: WordPress (a Free Software project) powers over 27% of the web ▸ ecosystem of developers and freelancers making livings off of WP-related business
  21. 21. WORDPRESS
  22. 22. “ENSURE FREE ACCESS, IN PERPETUITY, TO THE SOFTWARE PROJECTS WE SUPPORT” WordPress Foundation
  23. 23. THE GPLV2 (OR LATER) FROM THE FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION IS THE LICENSE THAT THE WORDPRESS SOFTWARE IS UNDER. VERSION 2, JUNE 1991 COPYRIGHT (C) 1989, 1991 FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION, INC. 51 FRANKLIN ST, FIFTH FLOOR, BOSTON, MA 02110, USA GNU General Public License @ WordPress.org GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE AKA GNU GPL / THE GPL
  24. 24. IMPACT GPL license family
  25. 25. THE REASONS FOR WORDPRESS RELEASING UNDER THE GPL ARE BOTH PRACTICAL AND IDEALISTIC. WORDPRESS WAS BORN OF THE VERY FREEDOM MENTIONED EARLIER. THE PREDECESSOR TO THE WORDPRESS PROJECT, B2/CAFELOG, WAS ALSO AN OPEN SOURCE PROJECT. License on the WordPress Codex HISTORY
  26. 26. HOW DOES THE GPL COMPARE TO OTHER LICENSES? MIT, Apache, GitHub, Flickr (Creative Commons)
  27. 27. DOES THE VERSION MATTER?
  28. 28. FEBRUARY 25, 1989 VERSION 1 1. any vendor distributing binary files (executable, but not readable or modifiable by humans) must also make the human-readable source code available under the same licensing terms (Sections 3a and 3b) 2. modified versions, as a whole, has to be distributed under the terms of GPLv1 (Sections 2b and 4) ▸ allowed GPL software to be combined with software that had more permissive terms without changing its own terms ▸ disallowed combing with software distributed with more restrictive licensing as that would conflict with #1
  29. 29. JUNE 1991 VERSION 2 ▸ the developer may not distribute their work if a license imposes restrictions that prevent distributing GPL software in a way that disrespects other users’ freedom ▸ hopefully this makes it less tempting for companies to use patent threats to require fees from free software developers ▸ aka the “Liberty or Death” clause
  30. 30. JUNE 29, 2007 VERSION 3 ▸ disallow hardware restrictions on software modification aka “tivoization” ▸ addresses compatibility with other free software licenses ▸ strips Digital Rights Management (DRM) of its legal value, i.e. people can break anything a court may recognize as DRM on a GPL licensed software without breaking the DMCA ▸ prevent patent-related agreements, for example the Microsoft- Novell patent agreement ▸ can only be combined with GPLv2 if it includes the “or any later version” clause
  31. 31. The GPL in a small nutshell YOU CAN COPY AND DISTRIBUTE THE PROGRAM, YOU CAN CHARGE A FEE FOR TRANSFERRING THE PROGRAM OR PROVIDING WARRANTY PROTECTION, AND YOU CAN MODIFY THE PROGRAM AND DISTRIBUTE YOUR RESULTING DERIVATIVE WORK. BUT, IF YOU DISTRIBUTE YOUR DERIVATIVE WORK, YOU NEED TO LICENSE IT UNDER THE GPL, OTHERWISE YOUR LICENSE TO USE THE PROGRAM WILL TERMINATE (AND YOU’LL BE INFRINGING COPYRIGHT IN THE PROGRAM).
  32. 32. PER SITE PERSONAL SITE BUSINESS SITES the entire source code needs to be made available to end users if for sale or distribution GPL software can be run for all purposes including commercial purposes even as a tool for creating proprietary software charge a fee for copies or give them away the software can be modified or reused without releasing the source code if it is being used privately or internally (no sales or distribution)
  33. 33. IN PRACTICE ‣ premium WordPress plugin and theme developers usually sell a license key providing access to support and automatic upgrades ‣ without this license, the software should continue to work, but you won’t benefit from updates (new features, bug fixes, security hardening, etc) or support for questions or issues
  34. 34. Q: If I modify the core WordPress software or a GPL theme/ plugin, do I have to release the source code of the modified versions(s) to the public? A: If you are using the modified version privately without distribution, then you do not have to release the source code of the modified version to the public. However, “if you release the modified version to the public in some way, the GPL requires you to make the modified source code available to the program’s users, under the GPL.” -FSF
  35. 35. Q: Say I take a GPL theme/plugin from the WordPress theme or plugin repository, or I purchase a GPL theme or plugin from a commercial provider. Then I modify the theme or plugin for my own purposes. Do I have to release my modified version to others? A: No, you are not obliged to release your modified version to others.
  36. 36. Q: Can I sell the core WordPress software? A: Yes. Doing so is consistent with the freedoms in the GPL. However, trying to do so would be pointless and unlikely to earn you any money, as everyone knows or could easily find out that WordPress is freely available at wordpress.org.
  37. 37. Q: I’ve purchased a GPL theme(s)/plugin(s) from a commercial theme or plugin provider. May I sell those themes or plugins from my own website for my own benefit? What about publishing those themes or plugins on my own website and give them away for free? A: Yes, under the GPL, you may do either of these things (or both on separate sites if you were so inclined). Bear in mind that some in the WordPress community are likely to frown on such activity and that you are unlikely to be able to provide (or may not wish to provide) the support that the developers/owners can provide.
  38. 38. Q: I take a GPL theme or plugin from the WordPress theme or plugin repository, or I purchase a GPL theme or plugin from a commercial provider, and then I modify the theme or plugin for my own purposes. Do I have to release my modified version to others? A: No, you are not obliged to release your modified version to others.
  39. 39. Q: I’m a theme/plugin developer. I’ve put huge effort into writing my theme/plugin and I’m going to release it under the GPL but I want to make sure that everyone who receives my theme or plugin, even if from someone else, is obliged to pay me a licensing fee or notify me that they have it. Can I do that? A: No. The “GPL is a free software license, and therefore it permits people to use and even redistribute the software without being required to pay anyone a fee for doing so.” -FSF Similarly, if someone receives a copy of GPL software, that person does not have to inform the developer that s/he has it. You are entitled to charge a fee for access to support and later versions, but this is quite different to requiring recipients to pay a licensing fee for merely using the software.
  40. 40. Q: I’m a commercial theme or plugin developer. I sell my GPL theme or plugin online, behind a pay wall. People can only access the theme or plugin files after paying my prescribed fee. Does the GPL allow me to do this? A: Yes. You are entitled to charge a fee for distributing copies of GPL’d software. Note, however, that anyone who obtains a copy is entitled to release it to anyone else, with or without charge; the GPL allows this to occur.
  41. 41. Q: I’m the same commercial theme or plugin developer mentioned previously, selling my GPL theme or plugin online behind a pay wall. As a commercial operator distributing a GPL program, do I have to (for example, if someone asks) make my theme or plugin available to a member of the public for free? A: No. However, as noted earlier, anyone who obtains a copy is entitled to release it to anyone else, with or without charge.
  42. 42. Q: I’m the same commercial theme or plugin developer mentioned previously, selling my GPL theme or plugin online behind a pay wall. As a commercial operator distributing a GPL program, do I have to (for example, if someone asks) make my theme or plugin available to a member of the public for free? A: No. However, as noted earlier, anyone who obtains a copy is entitled to release it to anyone else, with or without charge.
  43. 43. RESELLING RESELLING COMMERCIAL PLUGINS AND THEMES - WPANDLEGALSTUFF ▸ comply with the GPL ▸ not infringe any trademark or other branding rights ▸ not pass on any non-existing relationship with the original developer or business ▸ not breach any fair trading laws based on the location ▸ not infringe any copyright in non-code files
  44. 44. GPL - SECTION 2 GPL AND COMMERCIAL THEMES ‣ the intent is to control the distribution of derivative or collective works based on the Program, not to “contest your rights to work written entirely by you” ‣ if identifiable sections of the modified work are not derived from the Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves, then the GPL does not apply to them when distributed as separate works; ‣ however, when you distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of the GPL; and ‣ “mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of a storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under the scope of [the GPL]”.
  45. 45. FSF OF INDIA, 2001, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM (TRIVANDRUM), KERALA SWATANTRA SOFTWARE KATTATRA MENPORUL (க"ட$ற_ெம(ெபா+ll)
  46. 46. WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD I RELEASE MY CREATIONS UNDER THE GPL? FOSS AND THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE ROOM* * Clay Shirky’s talk on “Institutions vs Collaboration”
  47. 47. “NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE, MOST OF THE SMARTEST PEOPLE WORK FOR SOMEONE ELSE.” Billy Joy
  48. 48. COSTS MAINTAINING CLOSED SOFTWARE ▸ security vulnerabilities ▸ closed software, for example Facebook, Apple, etc ▸ hire the smartest people in the world to stay ahead of the problems ▸ open source, for example Linux, WordPress, etc ▸ allow the software to evolve with community contributions
  49. 49. GPL INFECTION
  50. 50. …A CANCER THAT ATTACHES ITSELF IN AN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY SENSE TO EVERYTHING IT TOUCHES… Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, 2001 REFERRING TO LINUX
  51. 51. THIS VIRAL ASPECT OF THE GPL POSES A THREAT TO THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF ANY ORGANIZATION MAKING USE OF IT. Craig Mundie, Microsoft Senior VP, 2001 REFERRING TO THE GPL
  52. 52. “GPL IGNORE”
  53. 53. CLOSED SOURCE CONTENT
  54. 54. GPL IS A LEGAL COPYRIGHT THAT PROVIDES USERS WITH THE LEGAL RIGHTS (AND RESPONSIBILITIES) OF COPYLEFT
  55. 55. CRITICISMS
  56. 56. WHAT ABOUT SPLIT LICENSING?
  57. 57. THE THEMES PRESENTED, AND ANY THAT ARE SUBSTANTIALLY SIMILAR, CONTAIN ELEMENTS THAT ARE DERIVATIVE WORKS OF THE WORDPRESS SOFTWARE AS WELL AS ELEMENTS THAT ARE POTENTIALLY SEPARATE WORKS. SPECIFICALLY, THE CSS FILES AND MATERIAL CONTAINED IN THE IMAGES DIRECTORY OF THE “DEFAULT” THEME ARE WORKS SEPARATE FROM THE WORDPRESS CODE. ON THE OTHER HAND, THE PHP AND HTML CODE THAT IS INTERMINGLED WITH AND OPERATED ON BY PHP THE CODE DERIVES FROM THE WORDPRESS CODE. aka “PHP in WordPress themes must be GPL, artwork and CSS may be but are not required.” SOFTWARE FREEDOM LAW CENTER, 2009
  58. 58. FINAL PRODUCTS ▸ Do WordPress themes or plugins have to be GPL? ▸ What if you write a Google Maps app that interacts with the API and links users to their Fitbit data? Does the final product need to also be GPL? ▸ And if you sell it, can it be sold as non-GPL?
  59. 59. WE DON’T DO IT FOR FREE. WE DO IT FOR FREEDOM.
  60. 60. FREE SOFTWARE IS A POLITICAL MOVEMENT; OPEN SOURCE IS A DEVELOPMENT MODEL. Richard Stallman TEXT
  61. 61. GOOD IDEAS AREN’T THE SOLE PROVINCE OF GROUPS OF PEOPLE BEHIND HIGH WALLS, AND SOFTWARE SHOULDN’T BE EITHER. Matt Mullenweg WHAT IS OPEN SOURCE?
  62. 62. WE’RE HIRING! COME WORK WITH US automattic.com/work-with-us
  63. 63. ALL THE LINKS :) SOURCES ▸ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_terms_for_free_software ▸ http://fsf.org.in/ ▸ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Software_Foundation_of_India ▸ http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/G/GPL.html ▸ http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html ▸ http://www.dmoz.org/Computers/Open_Source/Licenses/ ▸ https://opensource.org/licenses/gpl-license.php ▸ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_General_Public_License ▸ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyleft ▸ http://wpandlegalstuff.com/understanding-gpl-licensing-wordpress/ ▸ https://wordpress.org/about/gpl/ ▸ https://ivycat.com/a-newbies-guide-to-the-gpl-and-wordpress-licensing/ ▸ http://wpandlegalstuff.com/understanding-gpl-licensing-wordpress/ ▸ http://wpandlegalstuff.com/readers-ask-about-reselling-commercial-plugins/ ▸ http://wpandlegalstuff.com/a-reader-asks-selling-themeforest-themes-outside-of-themeforest/ ▸ http://wpandlegalstuff.com/wordpress-themes-gpl-conundrum-derivative-works/ ▸ https://enriquesthoughts.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/wordpress-is-gpl-must-your-plugin-be-as-well/ ▸ http://www.wpmayor.com/wordpress-gpl-abuse/ ▸ http://themeforest.net/collections/3516382-100-gpl-wordpress-themes ▸ http://wordpress.tv/2009/10/13/matt-mullenweg-wordpress-gpl/ ▸ http://pointlessness.arc-nova.org/2006/december/gpl-misconceptions.php ▸ http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20031214210634851 ▸ https://michaeltorbert.com/wordpress-plugin-theme-gpl/ ▸ https://ma.tt/2014/01/four-freedoms/ ▸ http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/the-gnu-manifesto-turns-thirty ▸ http://unsplash.com/
  64. 64. THE GPL WHAT IT MEANS (AND WHAT IT DOESN’T) NANCY THANKI

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