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Opened 9 years ago

Last modified 9 years ago

#16100 closed defect (bug)

Licensing Issue: Akismet Plugin external conflicts GPL version in it's readme.txt for WordPress package — at Version 3

Reported by: hakre Owned by:
Milestone: WordPress.org Priority: normal
Severity: critical Version: 3.0.2
Component: General Keywords:
Focuses: Cc:
PR Number:

Description (last modified by josephscott)

Each time a WordPress package is build (ie nightly) files from the external Akismet Plugin repository are incorporated into the work.

Back in August 2010, the licensing of the Akismet Plugin was named as "License: GPLv2"). Prior to that change, no License information was given.

In contrast to this, the WordPress work is licensed under GPL, no specific version named (see r15534). The text of our license, is the one of GPL license version two.

Section 2 of WordPress' license explicitly does not force the GPL on to other works of their own, but when you

distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based
on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of
this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the
entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it.
Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest
your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to
exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or
collective works based on the Program.

So even the GPL version in Akismet's readme.txt might not be wrong on it's own, having that exact licensing information given for code in the plugin subdirectory within the wordpress work as a whole as it is distributed is wrong.

In the past this was not a problem at all because readme.txt in the Akismet Plugin did not state a license and therefore could not conflict in such a way.

But since it changed back in August 2010, there is such a version conflict.

The first non-developer release in conflict was WordPress 3.0.2.

IANAL and suggest the following to resolve the conflict:

The Akismet plugin's copyright holder should be contacted and informed about the problem to find a solution.

If it demands to release the code under GPL v2 only, it must be removed from the package.

If they are okay to not introduce licensing constraints, it can stay in the package.

As long as this conflict is not resolved, no new non-developer packages should be released.

Change History (6)

@hakre
9 years ago

Decision A - 1/1

@hakre
9 years ago

Decision B - 1/2

@hakre
9 years ago

Decision B - 2/2

#1 @hakre
9 years ago

Patches attached. For any of the resolvements I could see so far.

As it's proposed to unbundle shortly (#16033), an accepted alternative to resolve the conflict could be to unbundle directly. Which would be same as remove. And it would not introduce any problems at all.

In any way easy fix. As the external developers have not asked prior to change their licensing notice while they knew that the code gets incorporated, I even no problem to directly blank it and ask them later. I'll mail the author who introduced the change, so the copyright holder of the plugin is informed about the issue.

As seen first here: Akismet Introduces GPL Version to WordPress

Tag: FIXIPO

#2 @josephscott
9 years ago

  • Description modified (diff)

Would listing the Akismet plugin as "GPLv2 or later" be sufficient?

#3 @josephscott
9 years ago

  • Cc josephscott added
  • Description modified (diff)
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