Thesis gets hacked and the coming Thesis Vs. Automattic battle

14 July 2010 comment icon6 | Categories: Legals, theme news, wordpress

So diythemes.com – producers of the infamous Thesis WordPress theme got hacked today. Apart from the fact that it’s nasty for anyone to get hacked at any stage, this event inadvertently reignited the WordPress/Automattic vs. Thesis war of words after some follow up tweeting from what I can make out.

The war of words is still very much in progress and you can follow the exchanges over on Twitter.

In a nutshell it would seem that Matt has had enough and is going after Thesis in a big way and even offering to buy alternative GPL compliant premium themes for Thesis users.

It now also looks like this may end up going down the legal route.

In response to this tweet, Matt responded:

@flashingcursor Working on it, even though it breaks my heart. If the GPL is invalid, vast swathes of Open Source die #thesiswp

Looks like this is going to get a lot messier before it is all sorted out. For those living under a rock this entire debacle has been covered to death across the WordPress community but it essentially boils down to two opposing views that incite as much emotion as a religious or political debate:

  • Pro GPL Community – Strongly held belief that all themes, plugins that are distributed publicly (whether they are sold or not) must inherit the GPL license. Why is this important? Essentially this means that the community can extend and re-distribute ANY theme, plugin etc. that is created – whether the author supports that position or not. Most premium theme sellers don’t have an issue with this and have largely prospered on this basis and have built sustainable business models on it.
  • Pro Commercial Distribution License – A select and vocal few vehemently oppose this position. They strongly believe that anything plugin or theme that they produce does not fall under the GPL license and therefore they can restrict what their customers can use their products for.

Up to now, things have been heated but it now looks like things are escalating and we may see a court battle to settle this once and for all.

Personally I’ve watched this with great interest and strongly advocate and support Matt’s position on all of this. WordPress after all has primarily thrived because of the very fact that the core software is distributed under the GPL. The more I listen and read on the subject the more I see that if WordPress is to continue to thrive into the future, the more critical it becomes that this fundamental spirit of openness, collaboration and community is protected and nurtured. I followed many other open source GPL projects in the past only to see the community ripped apart because of ideological differences between prominent members of the community. I think and hope that this time it’s different. This time I think the community are very much on side with Matt’s stance on this and that ultimately Thesis must change it’s licensing policy or else it will ultimately decline and die.

For now, I’ve removed any affiliate links I previously had pointing to DIYthemes. I think Thesis is a fine theme framework but I can’t support it as long as it doesn’t share the same core values of the WordPress project.

UPDATE: There’s a nice post by Mitch Canter here taking this a little bit further.

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