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.
The bit of the guidelines that Caputo ended up butted heads with is on the “Representing WordPress” page and reads:
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.
While Caputo at times confuses the WordPress Foundation and Automattic (hey, who hasn’t?) he makes a salient point that stands out above the minutia of the guidelines themselves: a lot of people end up in the middle of this disagreement.
“…there are over 2.3 million users on the Envato marketplaces,” Caputo said. “Over 2.3 million people are hanging in the balance. People who can’t speak, share their ideas, or share their expertise, at a WordCamp.” This is a sobering point, because many, likely most, of those people don’t have the slightest idea about the philosophical disagreements between the Foundation and Envato.
A philosophical disagreement is at the root of this, and those who have been in the community for a while recognize it likely won’t change any time soon. Still, the discussion continues.