Please upgrade here. These earlier versions are no longer being updated and have security issues.
HackerOne users: Testing against this community violates our program's Terms of Service and will result in your bounty being denied.

Two questions about publishing a plugin

businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP
edited July 2012 in Vanilla 2.0 - 2.8

Hi all,
As I mentioned in another thread, I'm going to publish some plugins I've written. One of them was commissioned by a customer, who is the actual owner of all the rights for such plugin. However, he might be interested in releasing it as Open Source under GPL licence.

He asked me two questions:
- Would he still retain the IP rights of the plugin? He doesn't mind that others use it, he just wants to make sure that he can keep using it as he likes.
- Would it be allowed to write "plugin sponsored by " in the plugin's description? Since he paid for it, he'd like to get some credit, if possible.

Thanks in advance for the answers.


  • Options
    ToddTodd Chief Product Officer Vanilla Staff
    edited July 2012

    The issues at play here are ownership of copyright and GPLv2 licensing.

    Ownership of copyright.

    By your contract your client owns the copyright so the plugin is his and he determines the rules under which the plugin is copied (copy-right see?). He still owns this copyright even if the plugin is GPL'd.

    GPLv2 licensing.

    I'm just referring to GPL version 2 here because that's what I'm familiar with. When you license a plugin under GPL 2 it basically means that.

    1. Anyone can use that plugin for their purposes.

    2. Anyone can modify that plugin.

    3. The modifications to the plugin must be GPL too.

    4. The version of the plugin that was GPL'd will always be GPL. You can't take it back and make everyone an illegal user of the plugin.

    Here are some things you may not know though.

    1. If I modify your plugin then I own the copyright on those modifications even though they are also GPL. The original copyright holder does not own those modifications. What this means is if you want to make sure you entirely own your plugin then don't incorporate community changes back into it. Once you do that the plugin is owned by a heard of GPL kittens.

    2. Since you own the copyright of the plugin you could release the exact same plugin under another license. Why would you want to do this? Maybe you want to charge for support or make some enhancements to the non-GPL version of your plugin.

    What do we do at Vanilla?

    When we accept modifications to our source code we require people to sign a contributors agreement that gives us joint ownership to those modifications. It is important to us to retain the copyright on our core product, but the open source community still benefits from code and are protected by the GPL.

    I'd say that having a sponsor mentioned in a plugin's description is totally okay.

    Obligatory Disclaimer

    Hey, I'm not a lawyer so please don't take this as professional legal advice etc. etc.

  • Options
    businessdadbusinessdad Stealth contributor MVP

    @Todd Thanks for the detailed explanation. I admit I'm not very familiar with software licences, I'm one of the many who stops reading them after one paragraph... In fact, even if I wanted to distribute something under commercial licence, I wouldn't have a clue of how to properly write one (nor I want to feed lawyers, unless the software is a goldmine).

    I'll inform my customer about the news, I think the GPL would be a good choice.

Sign In or Register to comment.