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Wix gets caught “stealing” GPL code from WordPress

Last Friday, Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg—the founding developer of the WordPress open supply blogging and content material control platform—published an open letter on his private weblog accusing the builders of the running a blog web site Wix of essentially stealing WordPress code for a new cell application:

If I had been being charitable, I’d say, “The app’s editor is based on the WordPress mobile app’s editor.” If I have been being sincere, I’d say that Wix copied WordPress with out attribution, credit, or following the license. The custom icons, the class names, even the insects. You can see the forked repositories on GitHub entire with authentic commits from Alex and Maxime,  developers on Automattic’s mobile team. Wix has always borrowed liberally from WordPress—along with their business enterprise name, which was Wixpress Ltd.—but this blatant and code theft is past some thing I’ve seen before from a competitor.

WordPress’ code is open source, however, it’s miles published under the GNU Public License (GPL). And the manner that Wix used the code, Mullenweg said, is in violation of the GPL. Wix’s new mobile app, he said, reused WordPress’ textual content editor without credit. And the Wix utility turned into closed and proprietary—not posted under the same GPL license.

Wix CEO and co-founder Avishai Abrahami fired again, writing in an open response to Mullenweg, “Wow, dude I did not even recognize we have been fighting.” Abraham pointed to 224 initiatives that Wix had open sourced on GitHub, and he admitted that Wix had used the textual content editor code—making some adjustments and sharing the code thru GitHub:
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Sure, we did use the WordPress open source library for a minor part of the utility (this is the concept of open supply proper?), and the entirety we advanced there or modified, we submitted again as open source, see here on this hyperlink – you ought to test it out, quite cool way of the use of it on mobile native. I really think you men can use it along with your app (and it’s far open source so that you are welcome to use it without spending a dime). And, by the manner, the element that we used was in reality advanced through every other and changed with the aid of you.

Abraham becomes alluding to the use within the WordPress textual content editor of code in the beginning published as open source under the extra permissive MIT public license, as Wix developer Tal Kol stated explicitly in a followup submit on Medium. Kol stated that the code was developed in an try to collaborate with WordPress engineers—porting the Automattic, GPL-licensed editor to the React native JavaScript platform for mobile apps. After a prototype become ready in June, Kol defined, he tweeted a link to the code to Automattic’s engineering group but failed to get a reaction until October 28, when Mullenweg referred to as Wix out for a GPL violation.

The problem for Wix is that whilst it may very well have open-sourced the aspect it constructed the usage of WordPress’ editor—which Kol says became, in turn, constructed the use of any other editor certified beneath the extra permissive MIT open supply license—the agency then posted the element as part of commercially certified software program. That movement violates both the spirit and the letter of the GNU Public License, which requires some thing built with GPL-licensed code to be distributed with the equal GPL license. by way of adding the GPL-licensed editor module code to its personal software, Wix basically located its complete cellular utility underneath the scope of the GPL license Icas Network.

“I suppose from what I recognize, it’s a quite conventional GPL violation,” stated Matt Jacobs, VP and preferred recommend at Black Duck software program, a agency that is centered on helping developers get insight into whether or not code underneath GPL license or different open supply licenses has been incorporated into their code. “To date, it appears to observe a quite normal line of development.” whilst agencies include GPL-certified code into their programs, Jacobs explained, they take on some of duties as a result. “One of those obligations is that in case you’re going to embed GPL stuff to your code and bring a spin rip scam product, you’re going to must make that rip-off compliant with GPL—either via transport the code with it or presenting the code on request.”

Abraham’s response that Wix has posted lots of its code as open supply doesn’t change that truth. “Wix [is] releasing code over right here and pronouncing, ‘that makes us accurate men,’” Jacobs explained. “However the GPL, and the community doesn’t say in case you release sufficient other code, you’re compliant. They’re dancing around the primary problem.”

This isn’t always an extraordinary occurrence. One of the reasons why many organizations have prevented GPL-certified software program is the worry of contaminating their intellectual assets with GPL-certified code. however having said that Jacobs told Ars, “Many, many companies are doing this whether or not they understand it or not.”

Kol, Abraham, and Wix might also now be absorbing that lesson. “I know some builders are fearful of the use of GPL, reputedly for a quite precise motive,” Kol wrote. Noting that WordPress’ GPL-certified editor become based on the MIT-licensed ZSSRichTextEditor, he stated, “Looking back, it would have been easier to apply it at once.”