Why GPL ?
In the last weeks I read a lot about the GPL discussion for WordPress themes and you maybe noticed the recent reaction of the Cforms plugin author. NextGEN Gallery is as well a popular plugin at wordpress.org and here is my opinion why GPL is not a bad thing :
The most authors argue that someone grap their work and make money with it, so the minimum return of invest is a backlink to the author page. I think the most of them doesn’t understand the idea behind GPL. Yes, you can release a code under a other licence, Creative Commons contains some version where you can disallow to remove attribution or the use in a commercial project, so why should be all code at wordpress.org restricted to GPL ?
Please keep in you mind :
Does the Apache team require a backlink to their page, due to fact that you use it ?
Does the PHP team require a backlink to their page, due to fact that you use it ?
Does the MySQL team require a backlink to their page, due to fact that you use it ?
Does the WordPress team require a backlink to their page, due to fact that you use it ?
None of this projects require a link in any footer, for none of them you need to spend any cent to use it in a project. And if you are a talent web developer you can sell a setup of a simple web page to your clients, within a minute.
But why should they still develop these great product, if nobody need to pay for it ? What’s the motivation ?
Here is my personal view as plugin author :
I started to program my plugins just for my own projects and feel that when I release the code I can return a little bit to the community instead of donate anybody some money. Of course not everybody is able to program plugins, themes or whatever, so a donation is a great motivation any way. But I cannot claim that you maybe use it for a project where your client paid a lot of money. Some of my plugins are not so popular (like wp-table) and I closed the develeopment, because I never need it again, it did the work a long time for me and so I see no reason to continue the work..
But what happened if a plugin, a theme, a CMS or a blog system gets popular ?
First of all you receive more feedback, maybe other programmers contribute to your project, then – and this is the most important part – you are able to sell your knowledge ! As author of a plugin, a program or a theme you have the best knowledge about it and sometimes a company require your help. For you it’s maybe a simple thing and here you can get your best motivation to continue your development.
My plugin NextGEN Gallery is approx. 500.000 times downloaded and during the success a couple of people donate money for more features or even they would say thanks for the work. THIS is my motivation and for the rare case (I don’t belive it) it has still more success, I maybe able to create some buisness around it.
If you see how PHP, WordPress or other large projects evolved, you can see how GPL could help you. Please keep in your mind, YOU are the author of the code and you have the best knowledge about, so don’t restricted it with some silly links.
For all the people which could not follow my opinion I suggest to read also the arguments from Owen Winkler and Justin Tadlock.