Have you ever taken the time to read over the ‘license.txt’ file that comes with your WordPress installation? No? Don’t worry, you probably aren’t alone. You must be familiar with software licenses correct? Ah, there we go, something you do know a little about. Most software you need to purchased in order to legally use or own. WordPress, however is slightly different. It’s built on the GNU General Public License which means you are able to give it to whomever you want…for free! Really, it’s right there in the license:
“You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program’s source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the absence
of any warranty; and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program.”
The codebase for WordPress is maintained by a group of coders who are not just developers, but users of WordPress. Even you could contribute to making WordPress better by identifying bugs in the Trac (core.trac.wordpress.org & requires a WordPress.org login). The same people who help identify bugs and issues with WordPress also are some of the same people who develop the plugins and themes you are using, myself included. Most of these plugins are free of charge and available for use under the same license as WordPress itself. You may find, however, that every now and then you will stumble upon a ‘Premium Theme’ or ‘Premium Plugin’. These are not free additions to WordPress typically and come in a wide variety of costs and functionality.
There are some open source fans that think paid content for a free platform is just not right, and there are others who welcome the idea of a paid addition to free products. I’ll give you some of the pros and cons of both of them.
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