In 2009-10, there was an intense debate between the co-creator of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, and the founder of DIY Themes, Chris Pearson. The debate centered on whether or not Thesis needed to be 100% GPL licensed. Thesis lifted lines of code from the core of WordPress, which some people claimed made Thesis a derivative of WordPress. Pearson disagreed with the assessment which lead Mullenweg to insinuate he would take the matter to court. Five years after that memorable debate, Richard Best of WP and Legal Stuff, has published a thorough analysis of WordPress themes, the GPL license, and what is a derivative work. His post is a breath of fresh air and the best I’ve read so far on the subject. Best doesn’t sell themes or plugins in the WordPress ecosystem giving him a neutral position to discuss the matter. He also has a legal background, but does not offer legal advice through his site. Determining what defines a derivative work is complex, but according to Best, no one truly knows the answer to the question: The reason we don’t truly know the answer is that the courts haven’t decided a case that is squarely on point (there are potentially analogous cases, of course, but – as far as
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