Technically speaking, ““GPL” stands for “General Public License”. The most widespread such license is the GNU General Public License, or GNU GPL for short. This can be further shortened to “GPL”, when it is understood that the GNU GPL is the one intended.” (via GNU.org)
The GPL is the “heartbeat” and the “lifeblood” of why WordPress exists at all.
Without that type of license (yes, GPL is a type of license), the entire community would not be here today. Don’t let the term scare you! You’ve been familiar with the friendly and generous rules of the license (and your right to modify the code), from the minute you started working with WordPress. (Firefox, Open Office, Audacity, GIMP, Filezilla, Clam AV, and more have a similar, though slightly different, “Open Source” license.)
GPL is just good karma! (And non-GPL… well… that’s how you find bad karma!)”
You can learn more about my journey with GPL here:
Download your favorite plugin to your computer. Unzip the file. Locate the license.txt file inside of it and open it up. If you do not see that the plugin license references “GNU Public License” for all of the code elements (which does exclude trademark names/logos), then you’re dealing with a sad non-GPL plugin.
The GPL does not stop a plugin or theme creator from selling their plugin. In fact, there are hundreds if not thousands of Premium (you pay for them) GPL licensed plugins. The WooThemes team reported having their biggest sales year ever AFTER switching to the GPL model of licensing.
With GPL, however, you have to get over the scarcity idea that your code is going to be shared (it will be! because that’s what helps the community move forward) and understand that what you are getting paid for is support, attention, and more frequent fix-releases than the free community can usually offer.
It is through this method of working TOGETHER that WordPress came to exist. It is through this method of TOGETHER that it has become one of the most user-friendly platforms for publishers. It is through this TOGETHER that WordPress is able to impact the lives, businesses, projects, and futures of so many.
WordPress may be “free” but the GPL licenses reminds us all that we’re all in this together and we all have a role in serving, helping, testing, and giving back to the community.
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