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Opened 3 years ago

Last modified 3 years ago

#37307 new enhancement

Indicate non-GPL plugins and themes for users

Reported by: Zuige Owned by:
Milestone: Awaiting Review Priority: normal
Severity: normal Version: 4.4.3
Component: General Keywords:
Focuses: ui, administration Cc:
PR Number:

Description

There are a lot of WordPress plugins in circulation that ship with a non-GPL compatible license.

The wordpress.org plugin repository, of course, only contains plugins that ship with the GPL license, and we are all well aware that all WordPress plugins are considered derivatives and should thusly be licensed under the GPL. This does not remove the fact that not everyone agrees with this, and still vendors insist on shipping with proprietary software licenses.

For the regular WordPress user installing plugins from outside of the wordpress.org plugin repository, there is practically no way to differentiate a plugin that ships with the GPL license, and a plugin vendor that chooses to ship with a proprietary license.

The readme.txt already always contains the license field, but currently the licenses aren't shown anywhere in the plugins.php UI.

I propose we add a license indicator in the plugins.php UI. This would help the user make better choices by choosing to use plugins that ship with a free software license.

It would also be useful to somehow also explain (e.g. in a tooltip perhaps) what it means that a plugin author has decided to ship their plugin with a non-GPL license.

I would love discussion on how the license field could be indicated in plugins.php.

Ideas:

  • Part of the Shiny Updates feature?
  • Should clearly indicate when a plugin is NOT using a GPL compatible license
  • Colour coding different licenses
  • A tooltip that would explain the use of GPL vs. proprietary licenses

Related: #29820

Change History (5)

This ticket was mentioned in Slack in #feature-shinyupdates by anttiviljami. View the logs.


3 years ago

#2 @Zuige
3 years ago

  • Summary changed from Differentiate non-GPL plugins and themes for users to Indicate non-GPL plugins and themes for users

#3 @swissspidy
3 years ago

I usually stay away from GPL discussions, but commenting here nonetheless as you brought it up in the Shiny Updates Slack channel.

For the regular WordPress user installing plugins from outside of the wordpress.org plugin repository, there is practically no way to differentiate a plugin that ships with the GPL license, and a plugin vendor that chooses to ship with a proprietary license.

Worth keeping in mind that the average user doesn't know the differences between GPL and other licenses. It simply is hard to explain to someone.

I propose we add a license indicator in the plugins.php UI. This would help the user make better choices by choosing to use plugins that ship with a free software license.

What's the benefit in showing the license of a plugin that is already installed? The majority of users only installs plugins from WordPress.org. Telling them "Hey, your plugins are 100% GPL" isn't helpful.

If a non-GPL plugin is already installed, does the user even care? It's already installed, so what? Should they uninstall it again even though it's working just fine? They don't know the difference between all these licenses anyway.

Part of the Shiny Updates feature?

I don't see this being related to the shiny process of updating and installing plugins.


To sum this up, I have one question: Why?

#4 @Zuige
3 years ago

What's the benefit in showing the license of a plugin that is already installed? The majority of users only installs plugins from WordPress.org. Telling them "Hey, your plugins are 100% GPL" isn't helpful.

That's fine. There might not be a need to tell them when all their plugins are GPL. Might be nice to know, but not so important when all is good in the world.

When _it is_ important, is when they go outside of the plugin directory and install a piece of proprietary software that strips them of their rights to know exactly what the plugin does to their site.

If a non-GPL plugin is already installed, does the user even care? It's already installed, so what? Should they uninstall it again even though it's working just fine? They don't know the difference between all these licenses anyway.

I'd for example like to know for sure that all my plugins allow me to use them in a for-profit manner without the vendor taking a cut.

You do have a point there. It might be too late once the plugin is already there. Usually the problems begin way later, like when the vendor abandons their plugin and stops providing support and updates, or once they find out the plugin is tracking users.

Giving the user positive feedback in the UI for running GPL plugins might teach the user to prefer plugins and themes with a GPL license. I genuinely believe it would help their experience with WordPress, when they wouldn't run into trouble with shady plugin vendors.

To sum this up, I have one question: Why?

It's a very basic thing for the user to be able to know what kind of plugins they're running. Wouldn't it be nice if we could steer them into preferring GPL plugins and freedom, instead leaving them to the dangers of proprietary licenses?

#5 @expertoswp
3 years ago

I really think that we need something to detect and know the plugins that are not GPL, but I am not sure that this needs to be added into the core.
My main issue is when I find a free plugin on the repo that promote a non GPL premium plugin.
They are using the resources from the community to benefit a non GPL plugin, and I do not like this.

Maybe we just need a form to contact someone from the legal team (is there a legal team?).


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