In what should serve as a sobering reminder to always pay careful attention to licensing agreements, blogging platform Wix recently came under fire for using code taken from WordPress for their new mobile app.
WordPress co-creator and Automattic founder, Matt Mullenweg, brought the issue to light in an open letter published on his blog, where he shared the following statement:
“If I were being charitable, I’d say, “The app’s editor is based on the WordPress mobile app’s editor.” If I were being honest, I’d say that Wix copied WordPress without attribution, credit, or following the license. The custom icons, the class names, even the bugs. You can see the forked repositories on GitHub complete with original commits from Alex and Maxime, two developers on Automattic’s mobile team.”
Mullenweg finished the post by calling for Wix to release their mobile app under the GPL and add the source code to GitHub so the development community has the opportunity to learn, improve and build on it.
Wix’s CEO, Avishai Abrahami, responded with an open letter of his own, published on the WixBlog:
“If you believe that we need to give you credit, that you deserve credit, I must say, absolutely yes. You guys deserve a lot of credit, but not because of a few lines of source code, you deserve credit because you guys have been making the internet dramatically better, and for that we at Wix are big fans. We love what you have been trying to do, and are working very hard to add our own contribution to make the internet better.”
While the general consensus is that Wix made a genuine error (it’s been suggested that there was a mix up between GPL and LGPL licensing) and the issue between the two platforms looks to be resolved, it’s still a good opportunity for all of us to brush up on our understanding of the various licensing agreements that we are bound to within our respective markets.
Open-source licensing can be particularly tricky to get your head around, so we dug up this handy guide from Choose a License that lays out the differences between various licenses in an easily digestible way.
Now, we’re off to swot up on our licensing knowledge, who’s going to join us?