back to article WordPress daddy Matt Mullenweg says Wix.com 'explicitly contravenes the GPL'

WordPress daddy Matt Mullenweg says the editor offered by drag-and-drop website-builder Wix.com “explicitly contravenes the GPL” (GNU General Public License) and “is built with stolen code, so your whole app is now in violation of the license.” Mullenweg made that accusation, and plenty more, in a post that accuses Wix of …

  1. brotherelf
    Paris Hilton

    No surprise there?

    The name was a certain clue it'd be full of wankers (at least to the teutonic potato brigade, to whom that service might as well be called jerkoph.cum).

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    Wix, like other companies that are only interested in making money, don't give two hoots about the GPL as long as they can get away with it. Now that Mullenweg has blown the whistle on them, MAYBE the overlords of the GPL will do an investigation and lawyer up if/when they see fit.

    But at the end of the day we're in a culture of making the biggest amount of money for the littlest outlay without any question of the morality behind it. A few years ago the exploitation was of slaves, now it's the exploitation of those who want to create something to help others around the world, who only ask that their contribution is recognised.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Now that Mullenweg has blown the whistle on them, MAYBE the overlords of the GPL will do an investigation and lawyer up if/when they see fit."

      Why? They'd have no standing. The GPL is only a legal boilerplate to use as an agreement between the copyright owner and anyone using the code to make derivatives. In this case Wordpress are the copyright owners. They're the ones who have standing in this unless Wix are also making derivatives of the GPL.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Investigate WordPress

        Mullenweg is a hypocrite who exploited GPLed code to build a commercial empire using the dirty tricks the GPL was designed to stop.

        While WP core may be in the clear, the "freemium" themes/plugins on wordpress.org surely violate the GPL by placing restrictions on GPLed code. Mullenweg has made noises about it (https://ma.tt/2015/07/licenses-going-dutch/) but failed to remove offending plugins from his site. He (Automattic) actually owns some of the worst offenders, like Jetpack. At the very least, they violate the GPL in spirit. His hosted WP service (wordpress.com) may violate GPL as well. There's ample ammunition for Wix to fight back.

        I hope they knock each other out cold.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Investigate WordPress

          A hosted service does not violate the GPL. A hosted service running unreleased (i.e. custom) code also does not violate the GPL. Unless, of course, it's the Affero GPL we are talking about here; which we are not.

          More: https://wordpress.org/about/license/

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Investigate WordPress

            I wouldn't be so sure about the JavaScript and CSS code. Given WP's propensity for playing fast and loose with the GPL, it's quite possible.

  3. Alan Birtles

    does the GPL apply to server side code?

    My understanding is that it doesn't hence the need for the AGPL licence

    1. Nextweek

      Re: does the GPL apply to server side code?

      Why are you talking about server code? This dispute is about Wix's mobile app which used a GPL keyboard created by Wordpress.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: does the GPL apply to server side code?

      In short, yes, the GPL applies to server side code, but that isn't the issue here.

      The GPL says that if you distribute GPL'd code then you must also distribute any changes you make to that code. If, however, you run GPL'd code on a server as an application service then you're not distributing that code, at least as far as the GPL is concerned, and so don't have to release any changes you make to it.

      This is regarded as a loop-hole because whilst the code itself is not being distributed, its functionality is [being distributed].

      The AGPL licence addresses this loop-hole by requiring that the full source code be made available to any network user of the AGPL-licensed software.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: does the GPL apply to server side code?

        The AGPL licence addresses this loop-hole

        It does seem to me that all forms of the GPL are too concerned with the mechanics of copyright law rather than the practicalities.

        When push comes to shove there are only two things you can do to deal with GPL infringements - seek an injunction and/or claim damages. You're unlikely to get an injunction as you'd have to convince a judge that you're suffering present irremediable harm - which will be hard to do in many jurisdictions if you're giving the code away anyway to other people. And you're going to find a damages claim hard to substantiate on the same basis: what have you actually lost? You could claim that you'd lost potential commercial licensing revenue which would accrue from non-GPL use of the software, but setting that value much above the zero cost of GPL-compliant use might be difficult to substantiate unless you take action in a jurisdiction that provides for statutory damages or exemplary damages.

        I think it's significant that the majority of GPL cases have occurred in Germany (where the cost of going to law is relatively low and in the USA (where the cost of continuing litigation is very high and there is provision for punitive damages). The German injunction granted in the netfilter/iptables case against sitecom would, I think, be unlikely to have been granted in the UK, and in the D-Link case (again in Germany), D-Link ended up having to pay only legal costs and the cost of the "test purchase", but not, as far as I can gather, any actual damages. The Cisco/FSF case in the US was settled out of court and the busybox case was a default judgment so there was no argument about the level of damages.

        I've not been able to find a defended case resulting in an award of actual damages and although the validity of the GPL has been (mostly - the linking provision is still moot, I suspect) established, I still think it's far from clear that it's much of an actual threat unless a claimant can demonstrate they have an income stream from commercial licensing of the same software. Though, of course, given that you could potentially be taken to court in any jurisdiction, the uncertainty is a powerful tool in the GPL's favour. Whether the GPL Is ultimately in the interests of software developers is another thing.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: does the GPL apply to server side code?

      > My understanding is that it doesn't hence the need for the AGPL licence

      Your understanding is wrong, as already mentioned in subsequent answers, but I don't see why you should have been downvoted simply for asking a question.

      Come on chaps, make it up to him.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "Yes, we do use open source here"

    Usually equates to "we haven't paid for anything, grab the toolchain, an IDE, some bug tracker, and auto build thing off the Internet would you? When you've got time while you're not firefighting other things."

    No code contributed.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm just baffled that anyone would want to use code from Wordpress for a new project. There are plenty of alternative open source platforms; why start with the worst one of them all?

    1. wolfetone Silver badge
      Trollface

      Because that "W" logo looks amazing on the Mac screen of a Hipster.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Joke

        "W" looks amazing?

        as opposed to that other "W" on your Windows 10 thingy then?

        1. wolfetone Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: "W" looks amazing?

          "as opposed to that other "W" on your Windows 10 thingy then?"

          as opposed to the "W" that's in your mirror when you look at it?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "W" looks amazing?

            Wix only borrowed the nifty new React-based editor, not what we think of as Wordpress.

  6. Down not across Silver badge

    Filters

    Ah, that Wix. I did wonder what GPL had to do with oil filters.

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