The “duel” between WordPress and Thesis Theme (Matt vs Chris) is now noisier than ever. Matt Mullenweg the dude behind WordPress and Chris Pearson the founder of one of WordPress’ most popular and powerful theme, Thesis, are somehow showing us a clash of the Titans!
The reason behind this whole buzz whereby WordPress is thinking to sue Diy Themes is one word: GPL! Ps: For the non geek, wordpress is the open source platform which most blogs, professional websites, amazing websites…and things which you would never think about, are based on.
WordPress is released under the GPL license. I am not a lawyer, but from what I understand of the somehow confusing license (for me), the GPL states that WordPress is open source, and anyone can use and modify and further share the WordPress core codes to other people but by only sharing it under the same license. The only restriction WordPress puts on their users is that they can redistribute it and if they build something on top of it, it should also be GPL. Am right?
Now when it comes to Thesis Theme, Chris Pearson is not so happy with the GPL license and therefore the Thesis theme which runs on WordPress is not released under the GPL license. You can buy the Thesis theme, and use it on your website but cannot distribute or share it or make derivative work out of it.
Well from Chris business perspective maybe he is right because he does not want people to rip off his work and claim it as being their’s. For example someone can buy the Thesis theme at its normal price of $87 and then resell it to 10 persons at $20 each! It is good to point out that WordPress license says that any work based on WordPress must be released under the GPL license. But as far as I can understand, the Thesis theme was fully crafted by Chris and no codes belonging to WordPress have been used. So logically there is no obligation for Chris to release his theme under the GPL!
However Matt, has another argument on this matter and we also somehow back him on this one. If Diy Themes decides to sell the Thesis Theme under the GPL, then anybody can just take a copy of it and offer it free on his website without Diy Themes being able to legally do anything! But Matt said:
Matt: Apparently, people are already doing that. (source)
Well, he is right. You just need to visit any of those file sharing search engines (Phazeddl or Katz etc) and search for the Thesis Theme. There are so many illegal copies out there being shared everyday. Who can stop this? Whether Chris decides to go for GPL or not, people who are used to use illegal stuff will keep doing. I personally think that Chris can go for the GPL license but not just to abide to what Matt from WordPress wishes.
He should not do it because Matt is sort of imposing this license. The Thesis theme’s real value is the added value support and services, such as the private forum, the free upgrades and the continuous improvement of the theme. I had the chance to work with a single licensed copy of Thesis for a client site and the Thesis theme is indeed a wonderful theme!
People who want to use stolen copies can do so, as you can’t really stop them but they will not benefit from the added value services. The guys who will be genuinely paying for the theme will on the other side benefit from it. However the situation right now is more of an ego-powered one between the two men: Matt and Chris!
None want to step down and let the other win and I think it is the wordpress community who is feeling quite confused about this situation. If this issue goes in court, then maybe most people using Thesis theme right now will have to remove the theme as their hosting provider can ask that the files are removed until the case is solved. Do we all really really want that?