This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

Can I License My WordPress Plugin Without Copyleft?

Question from wp, Can I License My WordPress Plugin Without Copyleft?

Answer from AI:

When you create a WordPress plugin, you’re entering a space that has a strong tradition of open-source software and community sharing. WordPress itself is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPLv2 or later), which is a copyleft license. This means that any derivative works, such as plugins or themes, are generally expected to be licensed under the GPL or a compatible license to ensure that the freedoms to use, modify, and distribute the software are preserved.

Understanding GPL and Copyleft

The GPL is designed to ensure that software remains free and open. Under the copyleft principle, when you distribute your plugin, you must do so under the same license terms, which allows others to modify and redistribute your work, even commercially, as long as they also share their modifications under the same terms.

Choosing a Different License

If you wish to release your plugin under a different license that does not have the copyleft requirement, you have a few options. However, it’s important to note that while WordPress encourages the use of GPL-compatible licenses, they do not enforce this for plugins not hosted on their official repository. Here are some steps you might consider:

  1. Review WordPress Guidelines: Familiarize yourself with the WordPress Plugin Guidelines to understand the implications of licensing your plugin differently.
  2. Choose a GPL-Compatible License: Look for a license that is compatible with the GPL but has terms that you find more suitable for your needs. The Free Software Foundation provides a list of such licenses.
  3. Consult with a Legal Professional: Before making a decision, it’s advisable to consult with a legal professional who specializes in intellectual property and software licensing to understand the full implications of your choice.

Protecting Your Brand

If your concern is about fraudulent merchants using your company name, you might want to consider trademark protection for your brand. Trademark law can prevent others from using your company name or logo without permission, which is separate from the issue of software licensing.

  • Register a Trademark: You can register your company name and logo as a trademark to protect your brand identity.
  • Enforce Your Trademark Rights: If someone uses your trademark without permission, you may have legal grounds to stop them.

Conclusion

While the GPL and its copyleft principle are deeply ingrained in the WordPress community, you are not strictly bound to it if your plugin is not hosted on the WordPress.org repository. However, choosing a non-copyleft license may limit your plugin’s compatibility with other GPL-licensed software, including WordPress itself. It’s crucial to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of moving away from the GPL and to seek legal advice to ensure that your interests are adequately protected.

Remember, this information is not a substitute for personalized legal advice. It’s always best to consult with a legal professional to address your specific circumstances.

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