Jake Caputo prohibited from speaking at WordCamps, sparks guideline discussions

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jake-caputo-blackballed

Jake Caputo is the developer behind DesignCrumbs, and you might also remember him from a ThemeThrift feature we posted last year. Caputo makes and sells WordPress themes, and does so via the ThemeForest marketplace. Last week he received notice that he was no longer allowed to speak or to volunteer at WordCamps.

Caputo wrote up a post in response to the news, which as of this writing has drawn in over 120 comments — including thoughts from a number of smart, experience developers and Matt Mullenweg himself.

The bit of the guidelines that Caputo ended up butted heads with is on the “Representing WordPress” page and reads:

If distributing WordPress-derivative works (themes, plugins, WP distros), any person or business should give their users the same freedoms that WordPress itself provides. Note: this is one step above simple compliance, which requires PHP code to be GPL/compatible but allows proprietary licenses for JavaScript, CSS, and images. 100% GPL or compatible is required for promotion at WordCamps when WordPress-derivative works are involved, the same guidelines we follow on WordPress.org.

Sellers on ThemeForest are not allowed to list their themes as 100% GPL, and Caputo said the Foundation told him that even if he found a way to do so, any participation at all on that network prohibits him from WordCamp speaking and volunteering.

Note that this is not about license compliance in a legal sense. Envato would argue that their stance is entirely legal, and the WordPress Foundation seems to agree. It’s not as simple as legal compliance — it’s about a special rule set for WordCamp speakers and volunteers by the WordPress Foundation.

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DotNetNuke’s Scott Willhite says GPL compliance often requires legal counsel

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DotNetNuke’s Director of Community Relations posted an editorial on Tuesday saying, among other things, that the GNU General Public License (GPL) is riskier and not as free as the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) license. I disagree with a number of his statements, but in particular this one:

Anyone who has been involved a lawsuit accusing infringement of any kind knows what kind of burden and disruption such a suit can place on a business… and it’s not good.  So if one license type is more susceptible to this kind of risk, that’s worth considering… right?

No license type is any more susceptible to legal risk than another. Only one’s compliance with their chosen license can lead to legal trouble.