GPL and putting food on the table
August 8th, 2009 by ravi

Patrick Ewing infamously proclaimed, in his role as the leader of the player’s union during the heated negotiations with NBA basketball team owners circa 1999, that the strike was an issue of putting food on the table for his children. Ewing and his offspring may not have faced any real threat on the food and shelter front, but it could be argued that it is indeed a question that dominates (and determines) the lives of most human beings. In previous posts ([1], [2]) I offered some responses to Dan Jalkut and John Gruber’s criticism of the GPL and Matt Mullenweg’s defence of it. Both Dan’s criticisms and my responses were centred around his sense that the GPL stifles participation. But the other 800-pound question is: is a GPL model sustainable? And importantly, are the alternative Open Source ones any more so?

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A daring fireball of a miss: Gruber on Mullenweg
July 30th, 2009 by ravi

In an earlier post I gave my take on why Matt Mullenweg is spot on in his criticism of Dan Jalkut’s criticism of the GPL. Shortly after Matt’s post, John Gruber of Daring Fireball chimed in with his thoughts. First he quotes Matt, which I reproduce in entirety below (to be clear, this is Matt’s text):

  1. I’ve never encountered a serious client who chose not to use WordPress because it was GPL-licensed, and I think it’s hard to argue that WordPress’s license has had a dampening effect on its adoption, given its success over competitors with widely varying licenses.
  2. I think we have an incredibly strong third-party extension, plugin, and theme community that has flourished, not in spite of the GPL license, but because of it.
  3. I’ve seen the absence of GPL in practice; there have been times in the WordPress world when parts of the community have “gone dark” and claimed their code was under more restrictive licenses, like used to be common with themes. Every time this cycle starts it basically kills innovation in that part of the WordPress world until people start opening up their code again or until a GPL equivalent is available. I’ve seen this firsthand several times now.

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