GPL License Abuse In WordPress: Money Out Of Thin Air?

GPL license is designed, among others, to encourage innovation and development in software industry without being confined by certain vendor or developer. The original purpose of GPL is all in a good spirit. It’s for the user, for the people. That’s what makes WordPress so amazing.

Look how far WordPress have come and how much it has benefited everyone. The growth of WordPress itself and its community are so rapid year after year. It’s a good thing all around.

Now, WordPress make lots of people lots of money, don’t it? Many have built businesses off WordPress. But with all of this, there also came those who set out to abuse the license and the system, for their own profit. People who just blatantly abuse the GPL license, not to benefit the community, not to contribute to innovation, not to help other people in a good manner, but to make profits out of thin air.

I’m talking about people who blatantly take other people’s products (plugins or themes) and then sell those for a lot less than the original prices without adding value to the plugins or themes. In other words, they’re making money not actually doing anything at all. Doesn’t this straight out defeat the real purpose of GPL and Open Source?

The rights that were promoted by Free Software Movement (free as in Freedom) are, quoting Richard Stallman (founder of Free Software Foundation):

1. The freedom to run the program as you wish,

2. The freedom to study the source code and then change it so that the program does what you wish,

3. The freedom to help your neighbor  that is, to distribute copies to others  when you wish,

4. The freedom to contribute to your community  that is, the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions  when you wish.

Now I’m no expert in this, and I also understand it has been going on for some time, not just recently, but at least if you’re going to do something like that, add some value to the products first, will you? Wouldn’t it be better? You profit but you also contribute to the community, ya know? However small it might be.

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