WordPress Bill of Rights
Some people may feel that forking WordPress is in bad taste, an insult or just downright illegal. But this is not so. WordPress has no problems with people copying their CMS and making their own version. You are also then free to redistribute it as your own. In fact they actually encourage it.
This is an extract from their own page, explaining what they call their “Bill of Rights”:
WordPress is licensed under the General Public License (GPLv2 or later) which provides four core freedoms, consider this as the WordPress “bill of rights”:
- The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
- The freedom to redistribute.
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.
Part of those licensing requirements include licensing derivative works or things that link core WordPress functions (like themes, plugins, etc.) under the GPL as well, thereby passing on the freedom of use for these works as well.
Obviously there are those who will try to get around these ideals and restrict the freedom of their users by trying to find loopholes or somehow circumvent the intention of the WordPress licensing, which is to ensure freedom of use. We believe that the community as a whole will reward those who focus on supporting these licensing freedoms instead of trying to avoid them.
The most responsible use of WordPress community resources would therefore be put to best use by emphasizing high quality contributions that embrace the freedoms provided by the GPL.
The emphasis is on adhering to the GPL licensing system. In other words, all your code must be open for anyone to view. Once you start adding encrypted files, that hides file content, then you are deviating from the GPL system.
This is an extract of what Gary Pendergast, a WordPress core developer, said about ClassicPress. But it would apply to any fork:
There’s a new WordPress fork called ClassicPress that’s been making some waves recently. I genuinely applaud ClassicPress for exercising their fundamental rights under the GPL.
Forks are a fundamentally healthy aspect of Open Source software. As a member of the WordPress core team, I certainly hold no ill-feelings towards them, and I hope they’ll be open to working with us in the future. I hope we’ll be able to learn from their work, to improve WordPress for everyone.
It’s humbling and inspiring to build something that’s used by so many millions of sites, but at times it involves accepting that we can’t build the tool that will work for 100% of people, 100% of the time. Regardless of WordPress’ future popularity, there’ll always be a place for alternatives, whether that be forks like ClassicPress, different CMSes like Drupal or Joomla, or even different publishing concepts, like MediaWiki or Mastodon.
Ultimately, we all share the same goal: creating a free and open web, for everyone to enjoy. While ClassicPress has styled itself as a protest against Gutenberg for now, I hope they’ll find their voice for something, instead of just against something.
So yes, forking WordPress is totally okay and there does not need to be any animosity between them and any forks. WP has their idea of how their CMS should work and forks have theirs. Users are free to choose the one that suits them best. That is the whole point of the GPL licensing system.