Templates License and Manji

Hmm, ok after I wrote my previous post I strolled over to this link over at podz’s website. For those in the dark, Podz is an incredibly helpful chap. He’s always online answering questions on the wordpress forums and should be given a medal. He was going to help out with Manji as well which was nice, but he got a bit busy which is completely understandable.

After I read through his post and really started thinking about things, the following dawned upon me, Manji doesn’t belong to me. Wordpress doesn’t belong to Matt Mullenweg, and Persian doesn’t belong to Chris J Davis. Wordpress was a derivative of B2 which was originally on a GPL license morphed into Wordpress, does anyone know who the lead designer on B2 was? No, I know it’s easy to find out, but off the top of your head does anyone know? Unless you were using B2 probably not.

GPL basically means NOBODY has copyright of that particular bit of code. It’s there out in the open for everyone to play around with and create something better and bigger.

So when Michael asked people to credit him in the Kubrick code (download kubrick and read the readme file), he effectively had no right to do that, simply because HE made the decision to release Kubrick under a GPL license. People could do that if they were so inclined and wanted to thank him for it. But they have NO OBLIGATION. They can then take that code alter it and release it under a completely different name, without even thinking about including his name or whatever. Not even in the CSS. The only stipulation I see that you can’t do is alter the license. Nothing you do after that make it copyright of you. You don’t own the copyright of the code, and neither does the originator. In fact making people feel like they have to credit you kind of goes against Open Source code. You don’t see php.net in the bottom there, or apache.org anywhere on the site (except now of course). And yet this site wouldn’t be here for you to see without these open source codes.

This seems to be standard practice for most code we all use. Who’s the lead designer for Apache? What about MySQL? PHP? Some projects have a lead developer, since it does take a lot of time and knowledge and resources to keep something like Wordpress going. Matt’s doing a great job, but he could decide to stop tomorrow, he has after all turned 21, (Happy Birthday dude), does that mean the end of Wordpress? Well maybe, but the code might live on with someone else who would probably rename it and not include Matt’s name in there. Then again he might, but that would be a courtesy thing.

Which basically means that if you put the code in the bottom with a link back to where it was downloaded from, well that’s just a courtesy thing really. Nothing in the code stipulates that you have to link back to this site. So what I’m saying about Manji is that, by me releasing it under a GPL license, you’re effectively free to do whatever you want with it. You want to keep a link to my site in there, go right ahead, I thank you kindly and appreciate all your love. If you don’t want, take it out. What you can’t do is then say that the design is YOUR copyright, because no matter what you do with it, it will NEVER be your copyright. It’s out there in cyberspace to live or die. I will continue to work on Manji, tweaking and fixing bugs, because it means a lot to me. Wordpress is a community and in the same way that I have taken so much from it this was one way of giving something back.

So if you want disregard the below post, I could ask you to put the link, but NOTHING in the license I release with Manji says you have to. I include the link as a default, but as with everything else in that file, you’re free to do with as you please.

Free as in FREEDOM.

It’s amazing what a day does, after you’ve thought about things a little.


  1. This rocks, it really does - and it’s giving and doing for the sake of giving and doing.

    Go you Khaled !

    1 Podz
  2. I think your post just gave me a moment of clarity there, and I realised why I hadn’t said anything about this prior to this. I think I’m going to use parts of this post in the readme file so that people get the license ideals in the future.

    Thanks for the wake up call.

    2 khaled
  3. Well said! As a writer, arist, and father I know what it’s like to make something and then send it out in the world to fare on its own - it certainly isn’t easy, and I for one beleive that level of generosity deserves a link and credit.

    Cheers Khaled

    3 TINALS
  4. I believe though it is proper and right ethically to credit the source/inspiration for a site design. I plan on doing that for my site redesign that I have been playing to do. It will probably borrow code from Kubrick and Manji among other themes, but I will properly credit them somehow (probably on some credits section on my about page).

    That said, I think any code that is GPL should follow what Matt does with WordPress. If you link it, great, if not then that is your choice. However doing your part in promoting a theme and/or WordPress helps the entire WordPress community as a whole and pays back everyone for their effort.

    4 Chris G.
  5. Ethically yeah it would seem to be right to include the link, or list the inspiration, (depending on your ethics of course), however the creator, i.e you, me him EVERYBODY (Blues Brothers), should not really be asking that.

    Otherwise release it under a CC license and say whatever you want as caveats. But it’s not Open Source, and therefore doesn’t provide you (the end user) with full freedom.

    And yes you’re right, creating templates, plugins or whatever really brings wordpress to the forefront, and blogging in general.

    5 khaled
  6. GPL is a license, and only that.
    The author or designer of the things you mentioned do have the copyright, and they preserve it.
    GPL is the license they release their work under, so anyone can use their copy-righted work in the manner specified in the license.

    The difference is subtle, but important - since they have the copyright, they will always be identified as the rightful creators of their work.

    6 Carthik
  7. The copyright might be in there, but the general GPL license says nothing in there, that the creator needs to be credited or acknowledged. That means that without that point required in any part of the code, the copyright is pretty useless, except for that person to claim that they were the originator of that particular piece of code.

    In the same way, as Matt did with Wordpress (and countless others did with other software after the original creator saw fit to call it a day), he renamed the code, kept the license and started modifications.

    Who owns the copyright now?

    If I download Manji tweak it and release it under the same licenses do I automatically have copyright of that tweak? It could be as simple as changing the background colour.

    The reason why I don’t think copyright comes into play at all here, is because of how that license is set up. These two things are linked.

    7 khaled
  8. I think licensing is important to level things out.

    If I stuck something on my “reset your password” page, and said that this advice was given under a licence that said you MUST give credit on your blog, that’s fine. But if I then say to someone that just for them they don’t have to, surely I have violated my own licence and made a nonsense of it ?

    Blogging designs are taking off again - and it’s an area that needs very clearly sorting out.

    8 Podz
  9. I think acknowledgement of a person’s work is a show of appreciation but there are some circumstances where it is difficult or ‘it just doesn’t fit in with a persons design’. Discretion and sensitivity are vital elements at these times.

    I do think if you are not careful that you can end up thanking the whole world. Thank you to the developers for WP, no- thank you to the people who designed PHP, no - thank you to the inventor of the keyboard etc and etc….

    Of course giving credit where it is due is always the ‘nice’ way of doing things. It just needs to be sensible too.

    9 Shadow