So, this post is not about accessibility, but something that I must discuss. GPL zealots are making their presence felt in ways that just boggle the mind. Recently both WordPress and Drupal have been removing themes from their repository for allegedly not respecting the GPL license. Not that long ago there was a huge discussion on the Joomla! forums about GPL and what 3PD could, or could not, do.
The stance taken by these people is just so fanatical and narrow minded that it is bound to be harmful to the FOSS world.
I must admit, I’m not an attorney (nor do I play one on TV). I am also not a specialist in licensing issues, but I think I have a decent understanding of what’s at play.
WordPress removed over 200 themes, under the pretext that they were carrying links back to their author’s site, and the author’s site either was offering commercial material, or even simply had links to affiliate programs!
So these guys are making a living by programming. They released a free GPL theme to the world, but the GPL theme could not be used with WordPress because it came from a commercial outfit. This is incredible!
It means that nobody trying to make a living from programming can release anything to the world as GPL. Commercial developers can benefit from releasing GPL products. So what if it’s a way to attract people to their site to view pay-for products and services? The GPL license applies to a specific product, not to the whole range of products offered. How ridiculous is it to extend it that way? But then, GPL products will also benefit from extensions and add-ons developped under the GPL by commercial developers.
Geeesh, how long is it going to be before businesses using WordPress to run their websites are going to be told that they can’t do that because they are generating revenue from WordPress, merely because WP is used as the engine for the website where services or products are sold?
So, professional coders have no incentive at all to develop for the FOSS world.
But there is still demand for FOSS products. Someone’s going to develop them. This means that novice programmers, students, young kids and total hobbyists are going to be the ones working on FOSS. While many of these guys can be good, it is not a stretch of the imagination to envision that the overall quality of FOSS code is going to come crashing down. And with lower quality of code, less people are going to be interested in using it.
And I’m tired of arguing with the fanatics. There is no fun at all anymore in being involved in FOSS projects when self-appointed "keepers of the faith" could descend on me, directly or not, and yank the carpet from under my wheels.
Yes, the narrow-minded GPL zealots out there are going to KILL FOSS.