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General Public License (GPL) has been established to protect the freedom of users to modify software and distribute it, thus helping developer’s association to have more options to use it. WordPress uses GPL, and premium plugins and themes are licensed under it. If you wish to develop WP themes for the common public, you have to be familiar with this license that is used by WordPress. For end users like web designers it means freedom to use, modify and even redistribute themes and plugins following GPL terms and conditions.
Much of what WordPress is today is due to the GPL. WordPress is the most famous content management system (CMS) of the world, and has got a lot of benefit due to the input of many people since the day it was set up, in ways that is impossible with the proprietary software. It was impossible for WordPress to exist without free software being in existence. Actually, it was a b2/cafelog fork, and this itself was ‘free software’.
Matt Mullenweg, who co-founded WordPress, is among the main voices in the world on ‘free software’. He was the one to set up WordPress with the clear intention of making publishing democratic. The GPL tenets mean much to him.
There are multiple reasons why it can be a good idea to adopt it.
It is possible to align yourself with the primary influencers. Although most users of WordPress have not heard about the GPL, for every key influencer in the WP community, it is very important. Matt Mullenweg is its best possible example. The man is extremely passionate about the GPL license, and does not want to spare any effort for its protection.
When you adopt the GPL license, it will be possible for you to adopt the same philosophical and ethical perspective as quite a few people of the WP community. Given the fact that community is intrinsic to WordPress, doing this can be regarded as a wise move.
The plugin and theme repositories of WordPress are wonderful marketing tools for developers as well as fantastic resources that can help end users. Any developer can upload their plugins and / or themes without any additional expense, and release them to the WP community. However, there is a catch, given that the theme / plugin has to be compatible with Version 2 of the General Public License of GNU, or any subsequent version.
You can consider GPL licensing from a standpoint that is more practical. If there is no WordPress, there would be no existence of wp software (theme or plugin). Also, these cannot benefit from this major platform for exposure and adaptation. Therefore, while it is not absolutely necessary to have GPL licensing, when all the other factors happen to be equal, it is the best thing for developers to do. WordPress Tools authors have more peace of mind and it can be reassuring to know that they have done the right thing.
Devtools regularly donates Free Software Foundation.
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