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July 28, 2009

The GPL and Your Work

HeckertThis is final part of the Blog Herald’s Guide to the GPL License series. You can read part one, part two and part three here.

Over the course of this series, we’ve taken a look at what the GPL is, why using GPLed blogging software is important and how the GPL impacts some of the more common peripherals and add-ons to most blogging software. However, one of the most critical aspects of the GPL remains to be looked at, what is one’s own requirements under the GPL when they use such licensed code.

Of all the elements of the GPL, this is perhaps the most important. The idea of free software means little is users are unable to use GPLed code or build upon it. However, with those rights does come responsibilities that must be addressed.

An understanding of this is especially vita with blogging software as changes are more easily made, even by novice programmers, and the desire to customize and improve ones blogging platform is almost ubiquitous among those managing their sites. This combination leads to a large amount of tinkering, but by those often unaware of their obligations under the GPL.

However, in this post we’re going to talk about what your obligations are under the GPL and, make it simple to follow both the letter and the spirit of the license. read more

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July 21, 2009

The GPL and Themes/Plugins

HeckertThis is a continuation of the Blog Herald’s Guide to the GPL License series. You can read part one and part two here.

One of the more common misconceptions about the GPL is that it is “viral” in nature and can “infect” any software that touches it.

While it is true that the GPL does have a viral component, it is only to ensure that derivative works based upon GPLed code are also released to the GPL. It is possible, and even common, for GPL applications and proprietary ones to co-exist side by side. For example, there are many proprietary programs, including Skype and MyDropBox, that run on Linux, which is GPLed.

However, when one delves into plugins and and themes, something of a gray area begins to emerge. Though a WordPress theme, for example, might not be based upon a GPL theme, it relies upon a GPL application to function. As such, it has been widely held that they are GPL-licensed, even if they haven’t been explicitly licensed as such. read more

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July 14, 2009

Why GPL Blogging Software is Important

HeckertThis is a continuation of the Blog Herald’s Guide to the GPL License series. You can read the first part here.

It is easy to see why GPLed software would be of great interest to developers. GPL software, though not always free in terms of the money charged, always has to come with its source code and the ability to edit and customize the work.

This means that, if a developer obtains a GPLed application and needs to fix a bug or add a feature, they can do so. They are then free to distribute the fix under the same terms and, in doing so, are ensured that all future modifications are treated the same way. read more

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July 7, 2009

The Basics of the GPL

HeckertThere has been a lot of talk and a lot of confusion in blogging circles, especially among WordPress users, about the GNU General Public License or GPL as it is more commonly known.

When most people think of the GPL, they immediately think of Linux, Firefox (which actually uses several licenses, including the GPL) or other well-known programs that use it. However, several blogging platforms are also GPL including WordPress and Open Melody, a fork of Six Apart’s Open Movable Type project.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to take a look at the GPL, what it is, what it means and, most importantly why it is important to bloggers and those who are running Web sites on open source platforms (including, for example, phpBB).

To start off, we’re going to talk about some of the basic premises of the GPL, what the actual license says and what your freedoms and rights are with GPLed software. read more

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