Tuesday Trainings: Open-source and the GPL in Community Events

It’s #trainingtuesday!

As a local event organizer, you are expected to learn and share the correct knowledge of the WordPress license. While we (or at least most of us) are not lawyers, it’s important to understand the basic rules and philosophy behind the license, because they are closely tied to how we vet anyone for anyone representing WordPress, like speakers, sponsors, and volunteers.

In this document, we’ll explore the ways you and your local MeetupMeetup Meetup groups are locally-organized groups that get together for face-to-face events on a regular basis (commonly once a month). Learn more about Meetups in our Meetup Organizer Handbook./WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. participants can deepen your understanding of the WordPress license to build a stronger community together.

What is the GPLGPL GPL is an acronym for GNU Public License. It is the standard license WordPress uses for Open Source licensing https://wordpress.org/about/license/. The GPL is a ‘copyleft’ license https://www.gnu.org/licenses/copyleft.en.html. This means that derivative work can only be distributed under the same license terms. This is in distinction to permissive free software licenses, of which the BSD license and the MIT License are widely used examples.?

The GPL is an acronym of General Public License. The source code of the software licensed under the GPL is free for anyone to run, study, share/copy, and modify.

Why does WordPress use the GPL?

The short answer is: the license of its predecessor software b2 was also GPL. It’s a “copyleft license” – that means all contributions must also be open sourced.

The WordPress community has fully embraced the GPL not only because it had to, but also because it has benefited from the freedoms the license provides to all users.

Just like how community events are organized by volunteers, WordPress software itself is written and maintained by a team of volunteers. Plugins and themes in the WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ directory are also 100% GPL, allowing authors the freedom to learn from each other’s code and collaborate. This is similar to the way we share how we organize community events and build upon each other’s experience.

WordPress Community’s 100% GPL Rule

One of the requirements for WordCamp organizers is to embrace the WordPress license. Products they distribute or promote need to be 100% GPL or compatible when WordPress-derivative works are involved. This goes the same for the speakers, sponsors, and volunteers at WordCamp.

Meetup organizers are also asked to uphold the principles of the WordPress open sourceOpen Source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL. project, including the GPL. They should keep it in mind when considering co-organizers, sponsors, and hosted venues.

Helping Others Understand the GPL

If anyone asks you for a quick explanation of the GPL, you can always point them to the Bill of Rights section of wordpress.org/about page and explain these “four freedoms”.

Four Freedoms

If they want to learn more, the GPL Primer page in our WordCamp Organizer Handbook is a great resource. The links within the page are also very helpful.

Community DeputyProgram Supporter Community Program Supporters (formerly Deputies) are a team of people worldwide who review WordCamp and Meetup applications, interview lead organizers, and keep things moving at WordCamp Central. Find more about program supporters in our Program Supporter Handbook. Handbook also has a great resource called “Frequently asked questions about the GPL”.

Some people can get a better grasp of an idea when the information is delivered in a medium other than writing. You can assist them by explaining things using slides and story-telling (e.g. some meetup communities use a short presentation to open every meetup, which includes the four freedoms and how they affect the WordPress ecosystem). Or you can share this video: Matt Mullenweg: WordPress and the GPL.

Misinterpretation happens

It is common to see individuals and businesses make mistakes in understanding the principles of the WordPress community’s 100% GPL rule, such as:

  • Stating their derivative product is under the GPL but add extra clause(s) that limit the four freedoms
  • Choosing a split license and think that complies with the 100% GPL rule
  • Not explicitly indicating any license

It’s wise to have a conversation with them and try to sort out their misunderstandings, instead of seeing them as an enemy or calling it out in public. This may sound surprising, but more often than not, they’ll appreciate your help in correcting their wrong interpretations.

If you are not sure how to confront with others about the license violation, reach out to your mentorEvent Supporter Event Supporter (formerly Mentor) is someone who has already organised a WordCamp and has time to meet with their assigned mentee every 2 weeks, they talk over where they should be in their timeline, help them to identify their issues, and also identify solutions for their issues. or Community Team deputiesProgram Supporter Community Program Supporters (formerly Deputies) are a team of people worldwide who review WordCamp and Meetup applications, interview lead organizers, and keep things moving at WordCamp Central. Find more about program supporters in our Program Supporter Handbook. for assistance.

Translating Resources

If you are involved in a community where many of the members don’t speak English, consider translating the existing resources to communicate the idea.

#gpl, #tuesdaytrainings