WordPress’ “GPL” and Theme Mess

So if you follow WordPress news at all, you may have heard about a crazy thing happening right now where Automattic removed around two hundred themes from WordPress.org’s theme directory. Many of these themes were removed as they didn’t fit with Matt’s vision of the GPL. Some themes were released freely, under the GPL but were really a promotion and marketing effort for companies looking to sell themes. I didn’t have any problem with this, but it seems that Automattic does, and themes that linked back to companies that sell themes that aren’t under the GPL were removed to “protect” WordPress users.

I think this is ridiculous. I, for one, am glad that I use custom themes, and Thesis, a great premium theme. I wish that Thesis was able to be part of the WordPress theme directory to take advantage of the update and upgrade system now in WordPress core, but since Matt doesn’t agree with their business model, he punishes them directly.

Matt blames theme creators for not thinking creatively when it comes to building a business around theme development, but if he keeps cutting off their arms when they try to find ways to build a business, eventually, they will give up and move on to something that gives them a better return on investment regarding their time.

Maybe this issue will become the seed of a new mass exodus to another publishing platform? Do I hear Habari waiting in the wings? I’ve been told numerous times that Habari will let theme developers easily build a business around their themes for that platform.

This all wouldn’t bother me so much, except that Automattic is making huge boatloads of money off of WordPress and that is in large part thanks to all of the community support the platform gets.

More Reading:
Automattic putting the boot to premium theme developers
WordPress.org Pull 200 GPL Themes
200 Themes Removed From WordPress.org – Matt Explains Why
More Hypocrisy from Mullenweg and WordPress with new themes jihad