There has been a whole lot of talk in the WordPress Community in recent months about WordPress theme and plugin licensing and I bet your pretty pink boots if you’re making themes or sites for clients, it’s something you’ve barely given a thought about. Because most of the issues in the news have centered around distribution and don’t affect client work.
However, if you’re making things to distribute, you should think about it… because if you want to make some money out of your theme or your plugin and/or if you want a lot of people to know about your theme or plugin you have some decisions to make about just how you allow that software to be distributed or reused.
WordPress itself and the core of the whole story, is licensed under GPL (GNU Public License1). In short, this means that if you’re using WordPress you have the following four freedoms
the freedom to use the software for any purpose,
the freedom to change the software to suit your needs,
the freedom to share the software with your friends and neighbors, and
the freedom to share the changes you make.2
This is the essence of free software (free as in speech (libre) not to be confused with free as in beer, (gratis)3).