open is as open does

Here we have a guy taking his crusade against Litespeed to the .org forums. (Litespeed is the server software the official WP sites use instead of Apache; it’s recommended on their requirements page and Codex.)

LiteSpeed is not only a commercial product, but it’s closed source and most likely includes code from LightTPD and / or NGINX which are free. WordPress is already benefitting this commercial venture being the posterboy for LiteSpeed, which has very expensive licensing (they charge $250 PER CORE in your server, a dual opteron 280 would cost you $1,000) and they also delve in censorship with a policy that bans its use for legal adult content (I wonder how come WordPress.com runs LiteSpeed, when it’s chock full of adult content to the point of being banned in Turkey?).

Couple of points:

  • I don’t know how many people are running around with the misapprehension that wordpress.com is blocked in Turkey because of adult content, but that really can’t be good for the brand.
  • Yes, in an ideal world WP would use only free open source software, but in the real world Automattic are a business and they have to go with what works best. If the free open source tools won’t cut it, then they can’t use them. Some of us wish they had taken this more pragmatic approach years ago when it came to picking forum software. Or wordpress.com themes. Still, better late than never.
  • Of course, not being GPL means you can dictate who gets to use your code :

    You can not use the SOFTWARE for a Warez site or a Porn site. This includes sexual content, or direct links to adult content elsewhere. This is also true for sites that promote any illegal activity.

    Um, you think nobody on wordpress.com ever posts ‘sexual content’ or links to porn sites? Why do we have a ‘mature’ tag then? Oh, right, it’s to keep the adult content hidden from Club Penguiners, Christians and LITESPEED!

  • Clearly, this is bonkers. So yeah, can we please work on getting the free open source tools to cut it, because then you can go around being smug about only using OS stuff and you won’t have to pretend you don’t know about their loopy licencing requirements. Because if you’re profiting from someone else’s work it’s good manners to respect their wishes, whether those wishes are that you refrain from removing their credit link, or refrain from linking to porn sites, or refrain from using their code when they’ve specifically asked you not to. I know that the licensing requirements of third parties are of little concern to Automattic since if you’re not using GPL you are evil and deserve to be screwed (and if you are using GPL, you have already issued them with permission to screw you), but I can’t help thinking that one day this cavalier attitude towards other people’s terms of use is going to end up backfiring.

[kudos for this story goes to adam. I don’t spend anything like enough time in the .org forums to pick these things up myself.]

7 Comments »

  1. I would guess that such a license in unenforceable in most countries.

    About using Lighttpd code, that would actually be okay; Lighttpd is BSD license. There are also commercial packages which use Apache source perfectly legally.

  2. neither do I, actually. I was reveling in the greatness of super-cache, and saw the thread linked on the plugin page.😉

  3. Kissing Bandit said

    I especially love their comparison of porn/adult content to smoking cigarettes.

    Internet pornography greatly deteriorates human moral values, which is a very serious problem. We believe it is harmful to people of all ages, not only those under 18. People are talking recently about having stricter laws to abandon smoking in public including side walks. While porn sites can make people addictive, mentally ill, is much worse and serious than smoking and second-hand smoking.

    Last time I checked, more people died of lung cancer and complications from smoking than masturbation.

    Maybe those LightSpeed folks should step off their high horses long enough to realize that there is a clear distinction between pornography and adult content, plus pornography is a legal and regulated business (at least in the US).

    But, then again, their “moral” code is probably right in line with Automattic’s — free speech and ethics be damned.

    -KB

  4. Kissing Bandit said

    *gah* – Wank, mind fixing my blockquote for me? Haven’t had my evening coffee yet.

    And happy Thanksgiving if you observe it.

    -KB

  5. Yes, the licence is probably unenforcable. Yes, it’s slightly dotty. But, whether or not you agree with their moral stance (and from a feminist standpoint I have a lot of sympathy with their desire not to help out porn barons, however impractical it may be), it is their moral stance, and if you can’t respect it then you should think carefully about whether it’s ethically justifiable to use their software in contravention of their wishes.

    Matt is always on about how important it is to run your business in a manner compatible with sleeping well at night; well, these people aren’t comfortable with taking money from sites that host adult content. At the very least I would hope he’s talked the policy on mature sites through with them.

  6. Kissing Bandit said

    …if you can’t respect [their license agreement] then you should think carefully about whether it’s ethically justifiable to use their software in contravention of their wishes.

    Precisely. And I’m sure Matt believes that he is using it in accordance with their wishes despite having mature (i.e. adult) content on WP.com; but, I’m curious to see what LightSpeed has to say about it — did they give their blessings because it’s Matt Mullenweg running it or did they ask him to remove the mature content from WP.com first?

    On a side note, I’m not particularly fond of porn myself, but I do recognize that it’s a regulated and legitimate business. When people cross the line of limiting adult content, they run the risk of also excluding fine artists who may also happen to do nudes.

    -KB

  7. Ray said

    One thing I do wonder – the quoted post states several times that Lightspeed probably uses GPL code. Why has no one called them on it? The GPL works with copyright laws and copyrighted code is protected.

    And, why on earth would a supposedly “free” (in all senses of the word) program want to be hindered by Lightspeed which wants to dictate what you can use it for? I use .org so I’m not affected by Lightspeed’s demands but if I wasn’t and (not that I do) I wanted to run a porn site, I’d want to do so without worrying that my site would be pulled (fnaar fnaar).

    And does multiple uses of the word “porn” in your comments push up your Google ranking? 🙂

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