With great interest I have read the WordPress GPL discussion, evolved from the Thesis story. I would like to add my view to some issues.
Matt is fighting for his GPL WordPress Ecosystem. Backed by the SFLC and R. Stallman, he has arguments. Although I feel the counter arguments have the same strength, this discussion can only be settled in court. But the fact is that most of the problems related to GPL v2 are acknowledged so GPL v3 was born. But it is just a matter of time until a smart solution will be presented to circumvent those flaws. If not, Matt will have a even harder time on defending his non-commercial Ècosystem philosophy on the software itself since GPL allows commercial software; it’s part of the Users Freedoms.
I have read many comments Matt made about GPL and it’s user freedoms. But when we are talking about user freedoms, how come the extensions must come from a repositories hosted on wordpress.com? Why not develop the extension code in the Core in a way that users can choose a repository from any source? This source/repository could be set up by everyone and not just wordpress.org (=Matt).
Choosing for a single repo instead of unlimited repo’s is a choice that serves wordpress.org better than the users. A truly OSI-minded WordPress Foundation President would recognize this problem. Matt claims to be OSI minded but so far he only proved to me that he has a great business sense.
Yet, not knowing all exact details, I fear for the worse now the WordPress Foundation is being misused to prove Matt’s charitable character. The Foundation is not clear about major issues like bylaws (members, voting, assets, etc.) and whether the Foundation is a private or a public Foundation. Having read his formal announcement, I’ll know he discussed all those topics from many legal, financial and fiscal perspectives with all those guys helping out, yet no info what so ever on the most basic reasons for this Foundation to exists!
The problem is that charitable and tax exempt OSI Foundations should be open for and to the community so there is no misunderstanding about its goal. Especially when there is a lot of business around the software. It probably legally ads up but the community just won’t except this since it doesn’t morally adds up. And remember Matt: It is the community who creates a successful GPL product.
Also the Foundation states: ”The point is to ensure free access to the software projects we support.” And ”to ensure that the source code for these projects will survive beyond the current contributor base”. But what does this Foundation offers extra to the GPL since the GPL is already offering this? Ok, it is holding the trademarks but as you could have read: I think the Foundation is doing a terrible job since it is not even open about stuff which is well prepared and formalized.
Above problems are obvious and as long as they aren’t solved, it is clear to me that Matt isn’t capable of his current double role. It is time to make some choices. Maybe Matt should have a chat with XBMC Foundation. They have the same legal advisors, the same legal structure, the same attitude and the same community problems.
(See this post for the GPL paradox and the rest of this blog is full of related problems XBMC Foundation is having)
Ps. I know things would become so much clearer if someone (from the US) would request and publish the bylaws of this Foundation.