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cforms II does not use a GPL compatible license

I helped a friend of mine set up a web site for her small business. She asked me if I could install some sort of contact form for it, so she wouldn’t have to rely in people getting her email address right. Sure, she could use a mailto: link, but even then some people manage to mangle her email address in the process. She wanted something where people could simply type what they wanted, hit send, and she could be sure it got to her.

Since her site was built using WordPress, the first place I headed was the WordPress plugin repository. The handy-dandy integration between WordPress 2.7 and the repository makes such things simple. By far the most popular contact form plugin is cforms II (no link). So I installed and configured. Voila! A little complex but it wasn’t too hard to work with.

Testing it out, I noticed a link at the bottom of the contact form. It pointed to Oliver Seidel’s web site. He’s the developer for cforms II. I didn’t like the placement for the link (my friend has a credits page where I would put it). So I immediately Googled how to do this. Lo’ and behold Mr. Seidel has deliberately made it difficult to remove the link. That’s fine. His software… sort of.

See, here’s the thing: All plugins on are supposed to use GPL-compatible licenses. That means that users get the source code, and they can do nearly whatever they want with it. Turns out that Mr. Seidel never actually included a license in the download (so far as I can tell). And on at least one page on his site, Mr. Seidel claims the license for cforms II is not open source or GPL compatible. Specifically, he says that users may not modify or redistribute the plugin or it’s source. That’s not GPL.

This plugin is so popular, and the credit line issue is so prominent, that the folks at Automattic (who run can’t have missed it. Supposedly they check the license for every plugin to verify it is GPL compatible. They’ve booted hundreds of themes from the repository for lesser offenses. But the popular cforms II remains. Does Automattic not want to lose a popular plugin from their repository?

When uploading plugins to the repository, plugin authors assert that their plugin is GPL compatibly licensed. Did Mr. Seidel lie? Or did he just not read it very thoroughly? Regardless, if he’s not going to license it under a compatible license, he should voluntarily pull cforms II from the repository. He should not take advantage of the multiple benefits of the repository (easy installation, high prominence, etc.) if he doesn’t want to play by the rules.

Insult contest winner(s)!

I hereby announce the winners for my Insult King Rat contest. Here’s your prize, links to your site from this post without rel=”nofollow” added.

Christopher Mendes gets first link for saying he would bescumber me if I was already fimicolous. Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I suspect he typo-ed his entry by omitting the word not.

And I’ll give eliZZZa a link for saying I’m driven by larmoyance. My friends and I weren’t quite sure what she meant by that, as the definitions of larmoyant didn’t quite work in context. We think she meant to say I was a crybaby, but we are just guessing.

Anyway, here’s hoping you get some traffic for your efforts. Though it did seem like people weren’t even trying.

133 thoughts on “cforms II does not use a GPL compatible license”

  1. King Rat,

    You are exactly what you claim to be: a RAT. I hope you feel fine with what you just did. Your selfish attitude just eliminated an amazing plugin for thousands and thousands of people- people who wouldn’t know to look for Cforms II on Google. I think you should issue an apology, not just to Mr Seidel, but to the entire WordPress community. If people really wanted the credit gone, Googling it is easy- and I found how to do it in 2 minutes, in under 2 steps.

    Look, sometimes doing the “right” thing isn’t so “right” after all. Go to hell dude, seriously.

  2. Mr. Rat,

    Congratulations for being such a fine observer! But I wonder, since you know it all, how come you didn’t know about this plugin until now? And why don’t you build a better plugin to be used on your friend’s website?

    It’s one of the best plugin for WordPress, well appreciated by users all over the world (check out reviews and ratings). I didn’t mind keeping Oliver’s credit because he deserves it and I feel proud using his work.

    One last thing: you should have contacted Oliver first and asked him about the GPL compatibility. Anyway, there is a job for you: a hunter of non-GPL plugins on

  3. Happy now? You pathetic man – instead of bitching about other people’s work, why not make something yourself or GET A LIFE!

    BECAUSE OF YOU a fantastic plugin has gone. I hope you’re really happy and have achieved your mission.

    Your name is mud on WordPress now.

  4. I thought that Gordon Brown was the biggest waste of space on the planet – now I found there is someone who is even more of a moron than him. From you comments and attitude I can only assume you are some low level civil servant working in some obscure office pushing bits of paper around, or perhaps in health and safety ( god help us all). I hope you enjoy your ten minutes of fame – you are pathetic

  5. It is true you seem to be correct in all your post says. However, I wonder if you should have wrote to the plugin authors to get their take first.
    Don’t get me wrong, It also seems true the author of the plugin may have over reacted.
    In total – an issue was raised and a resolution decided. it is somewhat unfortunate the way this worked out.

  6. well from my part i say thank u for pointing this out to the guys at WP. this plugin is starting to be a pain in the ass in first place. 2nd of all i hate it when ppl force me to credit them their way. i have my own ways.

    and from my part i don’t really need the complixity in cForm|| ill just find another one or better build my own.

    again thx man for standing for us the GPL and open source ppl.

  7. Its really bad. I’m working on some open source php platforms from quite a some time and cforms is one of the most impressive plugin. What if it was not under GPL licence ?, atleast its provided for free of cost. And I will say lot of people would’ve been benefited from it. There is no genuine plugin for Contact form on WordPress. Moreover, the Author deserve this much credit for the labor he put in for coding. I really appreciate his work.

    Hope, Somehow it comes back on WordPress community.

  8. Mr Rat, who the heck cares about a “credit” at the bottom! CformsII is an amazing tool, and the author deserves credit for it. Could you build a better plugin??? I couldn’t run my business without CformsII and if there was a way to donate I would. But the author was not accepting donations for his work. The least we can do is allow a “credit” at the bottom of the form.

    This is complete bull. I hope the author reconsiders and puts it back on wordpress.

  9. I for one commend you. I rely on the repository because I know everything there is (supposed to be) GPL compatible. I’ve had moving the cForms credit link on my todo list for awhile, but if I’m not licensed to do that then I’ll just uninstall it.
    For those of you who seem to think cForms is now gone, it isn’t… it just isn’t on the site any more.
    For those of you who think the GPL somehow removes a persons right to claim credit for their work, you are mistaken. The GPL protects the copyright and authorship status of your work, it simply allows for others to adapt the work to their needs so long as they give credit to the original. If they choose to distribute the derivative work they are also required to do so under a GPL compatible license. The GPL is designed to protect an author’s rights and to not infringe on the moral rights of licensees.
    GPL = Free as in speech & free as in beer
    cForms = Free as in beer, but not as in speech

  10. I know rats like you, they don’t have own ideas, they live their meager publicity on the creativity of others (whether the latter do it under any Commons or not)… Rats like you are driven by envy, jealousy and larmoyance. Rats like you deserve – to continue their boringboringboring life…

  11. You know people, do not confuse WHAT someone says with WHO said it, HOW or even WHY they are saying it.

    I have no freaking clue who this Kingrat is, and to be honest I find his (or her) choice of username “interesting”, nor do I agree with how this issue was handled, but that doesn’t make what he/she said less valid.

    You might not like the rules of and maybe even for good reason but the fact remains that there are certain rules and that everyone has to follow them, no matter who that person is or how good their product is.

    Someone over at asked who this Kingrat thinks he is and what gave him the right to act as a Netpolice?
    Well, Democracy and the freedom of speech that’s what.
    I believe it was Voltaire who said “I hate your opinion but I’m willing to die for your right to express it.”

    I certainly understand the reasons why the developer of Cforms want to take credit for his hard and brilliant work but the fact remain. If he wants to keep on playing with all the other kids in the sandbox… errrr… on the site, then he needs to adhere to the rules like every one else.

    If I was him I would simply work around the problem by having a feature crippled version of Cforms on the site and keep Cforms in all it’s glory, with credit links and all, on his own site.
    That way he would be able to retain the exposure you get from being on the site but still get exposure where it really matters. On every site that needs a more complex form.

    All that being said, I just want to tell Kingrat to get a life. Seriously.

  12. Thank you for this post! It’s not at all sound to benefit from the repository if the rules are not played by. It gets in the way of some pages design to have a credit link right there in the middle. If the cforms author wants it there, he needs to keep it off of the repository. Rules apply to everyone. I use cformsII, but I plan to find a different one right away.

  13. To be hornest: you get the source of cforms everytime you download & install it. Sure a copy the GPL inside of the package is a need. But to have the writers credits in its Software is quiet ok, i mean you could remove it anytime because you got the source. Or am i wrong?

    To write a whole post about this issue instead of writing a small mail about the missing issue to “Mr. Seidel” is quiet senseless
    Plus: instead of writing this post on wikileaks which would be more free minded instead of having this post on your own blog, so you get enough klicks for you ego is actually dumb. (i see you probably use the wordpress stats…)

  14. Have you thought about how many websites rely on using this plugin for their everyday business dealings? Perhaps the next time you decide to go on a tirade like this you should research that first. A simple “display:none;” hides the credit from the plugin, and we get on with our lives. Instead you just ruined the chances for all of my clients to continue benefitting from this plugin’s many great features.

    You could have handled this better by simply contacting Oliver and working out a way for him to make the credit link removable. There’s a way to handle these kinds of situations and produce a positive outcome, but what you did just earned you zero respect in the wordpress community. Have a nice day.

  15. After all it is the RIGHT of the owner/maker of the plugin to have some credits with his/her work. After all he made the plugin FOR FREE to everybody, and The simplest thing that we can do as a sign of gratitude for him is to leave his can I say, his little credits/linkback alone. In my opinion, WordPress should not implement that rule anymore… It’s like NOT giviing some thanks to those developers of WP’s plugins. I believe WordPress will not be as good and as nice as it is now without these good plugins that men made for them.

    Though we, people who still appreciate Oliver’s work don’t really care if this plugin was taken ourt of the WP’s website, anyway we can still get the plugin and the updates on his website.

    I know that you have a good purpose of putting this up to your site because this is about WP’s rules. But for me, this rule is quite unfair to some of our great great plugin developers.

  16. I think it’s a bit childish for both sides.

    Word for “defender”: No doubt, the plugin is awesome! It is really stands out.

    Word for “accuser”: If you do not like that something is not GPL – nobody is forcing you to use it. Just ignore it.

    Word for “liason”: It is an interesting issue, when something is non-GPL is using benefits of simple distribution (at the same time being available for free). I personally really appreciate the claim by the author “Not to beg for donations”. This shows a lot.

    Why I said in the beginning “it is childish”? Because, basically single post killed the project. Now author is doubting that he is going to continue development (after so much time spent on the project). Do not forget all the Google ratings for ..

    Well, what’s done is done. Only time will tell.

  17. Is there anybody who ordered you to use this great plugin? If you don’t want to use it, stay calm go to your bed and just cry a bit… It’s really amazing what people are living on earth……….

  18. Wow, what’s everyones problem with this post?
    Does the plugin have to have a GPL compatible license to be hosted on yes/no.
    Does this plugin have a GPL compatible license? yes/no.
    When did it become a lynching offence to point out somebody not adhering to the rules?

  19. Quite frankly I’m pissed off at both of you. Mr. Seidel for removing his plugin and overreacting and you for not even getting your facts right.

    I agree on the GPL issue, but not on your approach calling it out. This could have been handled differently.

    The credit line is ok for my personal site, but for commercial site I don’t want it. And guess what??
    There are options to remove the credit line, even ones ‘sanctioned’ by Mr. Seidel…perhaps you should have read his note re: credit line that comes with every cforms zip file.

    The above two things are hardly connected people, don’t confuse things!

  20. Well, I’ve used cforms and I like. Maybe it can’t do everything I want it to, but then I didn’t pay anyone to develop it either and they aren’t selling advertising in my website everytime I use it (unlike Google tools).
    So I see options for everyone.
    1. If you don’t like cforms at all, then don’t use the software and don’t worry about it.
    2. If you like cforms and want to keep using it and want it to keep being updated then keep using it, leave their subtle credit link where it is and make a donation to the developer (yes, they do accept donations: go to: and click the link to donations)
    3. If you don’t like the way does business then let them know. For example if you think there should be a section of paid plugins without GPL, then tell WordPress. You know not everyone can work for free, nor does everyone want to let others mess with their code. It’s a choice, not a requirement to open up software. And also it’s a choice for WordPress to promote some plugins and not others. If WordPress doesn’t want to promote everyone’s plugins, then fine, but please don’t try to prevent cforms from continuing to make a plugin that works with WordPress.

  21. If Mr. Seidel doesn’t want to follow the established guidelines of writing WordPress plugins, that’s on him. And just because someone caught his cheap shot, doesn’t mean they are a rat.

    I’ve used this plugin for well over 15 versions now, and I’ll likely stop using it after seeing this.

    The GPL compatibility is there for a reason, a reason that Automattic is obviously standing behind as they’ve pulled the plugin.

    A question: What if you tried to alter this plugin like you do every other plugin you use? You thought it was okay, but you could be sued for it, especially if your blog makes any money from ads or whatever.

    Nice Call F**k cFormsII.

  22. whew, well this is all very over the top… I think there is a point about altering the plugin and opening yourself to being sued with a GPL…

    I really love cFormsll. I had it almost every WordPress site I build, and trust me that’s many. It’s like adding Google Analytics. Fundemental.

    At the same time, I’m slightly annoyed with Mr. Seidel – why to such great effort to build a truly remarkable plugin, and then simply back down by removing it. Just add the licence… most people will continue to credit him! I would.

    Really irksome, altogether – and a lot of really nit-picking on the part of all concerned. Very disappointing.

  23. Do not let any comment make you think twice of your decision to write about this. It was great, and you should feel that way too.

  24. No he isn’t just right. There was nothing concilliatory in the post, just pure vindictiveness. As one poster has said, it would have been better and showing a greater deal of respect to contact the author of the plugin direct and at least then allow option for discussion. As it is, your callous handling of the situation has caused a most undesirable effect.

    Yes GPL is desirable and necessary, something I have been promoting for years, but it is far better to persuade coders to adopt it than to blanket hound non-adopters out of the scene. Instead of a potential gain – we all lose.

    I’d be more impressed if you got off your sorry Ass and wrote something equally as accomplished and well used by the community instead of finding a cheap and easy pathway to notoriety. Ah… you can’t can you!

    Oliver – please reconsider and try talking to the WP folks, CF has always been an excellent and most useful addition to so many WP installs, it would be a shame to see it disappear – and I would imagine other plugins (and there must be many) that have – as of the moment – not retained th GPL.

  25. It is amazing that people will complain so much about someone offering his work for free.

    This is also the downside of the Internet — that a few morons can ruin something wonderful for everyone else.

    All you did is complain about a gift that Mr. Seidel was continually giving to the WordPress community. And, what pray tell, have YOU done? Oh, that’s right… you run a blog. Well, that gives you reason to be on a high horse.

    If you really have a problem with someone like Mr. Seidel, address to him privately & directly — don’t bash someone publicly because you’re too dumb to have a proper conversation one-on-one.

    At least you can enjoy the attention you’re getting for being such an idiot.

    Here are your 15 minutes of fame, champ!

  26. A few points though based on the comments I’ve received, after which I’ll let this little drama storm run its course without me:

    • cforms II appears to be a great plugin.
    • For my friend’s site that I set up, I left the credit in place as is. I’m not going to violate the terms of Mr. Seidel’s license by modifying the code. It also seemed like too much effort for what I was getting paid by my friend ($0) to request to be able to put it somewhere else. It just didn’t matter that much.
    • Shortsighted, right, or wrong, I didn’t contact Mr. Seidel because his post (linked to in the post) said he didn’t respond to questions about open source. I saw no point. Maybe that was wrong. Too late now.
    • Feel free to excoriate me here in the comments if you want. I’ve dealt with worse. In the last month even.
  27. Either the plugin is GPL or it’s not… that’s the issue. If the WP Plugin Repository REQUIRES themes and plugins to be GPL compliant and they aren’t there’s no debate; they should be removed.

    I can understand why people are pissed, but seriously… this all is for the betterment/benefit of the WordPress community. If this policy isn’t enforced, people can and will abuse it.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out George. That’s a bug in the Carrington theme code. Unfortunately, Carrington works a bit differently than the themes I’m used to, so I won’t be able to fix it until tonight at the earliest, by which time this little comment storm may be over.

      (For those wanting to follow the comments ripping me without having to refresh, use the link George Hari suggested.)

  28. Man, you are sad.

    GPL is still far away from being perfect.

    Credits to original author(s) is something commonly done by any developer (even if it’s not requested), who doesn’t need their ego to be hyper inflated, making people think they’ve done it all by themselves, when they really just changed a few lines of code, instead making people pay quite a lot of money for something they never created.

    Mr. Seidel IS NOT complaining about the distribution of Cforms, nor about the commercial use, he just thinks it’s a bit unfair not being the least mentioned by the people making money over something they didn’t create, as the GPL license (ridiculously) allows them to do so.
    He would just like a little tiny line saying, “original author….further mods by….”

    THAT’S ALL. Is that so much to ask?? REALLY??
    Does that infringe the GPL or it’s just something that any honest person would do?!

    CFORMS IS COMPATIBLE WITH GPL LICENSE, just not with ungrateful RATS.

    If the modified work is good, why would another developer hide the origin of the work? Obviously because what they’ve done isn’t good enough to sell.

    GPL isn’t the perfect license and WordPress shouldn’t worship it, or at least provide additional options for developers.

    Work thousands of hours on something, get 0 money for it, and see your work sold by someone else, who didn’t do absolutely nothing but replacing your name with theirs, without the least credit to you, and tell me if you like it.

    Enough said. You are a pathetic person.
    Go find something serious to do, instead of whining about someone who actually did something useful, unlike you.

  29. I agree with Chris. True enough, the cForms II plug-in is great. Personally, I use it on my blog for a simple contact form. But a plug-in being great doesn’t allow it to bend the rules. Plug-ins that are hosted on the WordPress Repo are GPL for a reason. They allow others to pick up from where someone has stopped. They also allow others apart from the original contributor to improve on the plug-ins. It is not wrong for the author not to GPL cForms II. But it should not be on the WP repo if that’s the case.

  30. Wow, the ignorance of some people.

    All you had to do was read a little further and you could have removed the link. Instead, you wasted even more time and now the credit IS gone, all-be-it, along with the plugin also.

    I’m not one to say bad things about people I don’t know, so I won’t call you an idiot like I really want to.

    I’ll continue to use it and AND LEAVE THE CREDIT!!!!

    I mean come-on people how much would something like this cost if you had to buy it? He’s giving it to us for FREE, the least we can do is to leave the credit.


    Or, perhaps some of you freaks are simply overreacting. Lives: It’s what you should get…

  32. While I would like all to be GPL, not all developers wish to release it like that. If they choose not to release it under GPL – why deprive the community of it?????? I use this on many sites and would hate to see it go.

  33. He worked around 3000 hours in the development of cforms, and you is screaming like a girl because of one little link?

    Do you need a form without a link? Okay, so, DEVELOPE IT.

  34. I agree.

    I think that forcing people to credit you or buy you stuff goes against the whole ethos of open source development.

    There are plenty of places to sell plugins if that’s what you want to do. But if you’re in the WordPress open-source project, then don’t take advantage of people to promote yourself or make money.

    None of us want a WordPress that’s covered in credit lines or which charges. We want a free, great, professional-looking tool.

    It’s a great plugin, but donations is how this kind of thing works.

    It’s pretty obvious that Oliver still doesn’t seem to get what he’s doing wrong by the way he is trying to blame this poster for this problem.

  35. People are saying that Oliver deserves credit. Maybe he does. So do all the people who contribute to WordPress, but that’s not how it works.

    In an Open-source project you don’t get personal glory, nor do you charge. Even the wordpress tag is easily removed from WordPress sites. There are very good reasons for this.

    Imagine if everyone did as Oliver did and you had a credit under every plugin on your page? Or if you had to buy something for everyone who’s plugin you used? WordPress would be a thing of the past. Or it would be paid-for software like many other CMS products on the market.

    If you want to sell your software that’s absolutely fine. If you want to give it away for free and ask people to credit you that’s fine too (although usually credit is in the source code, not in the middle of that page). Nobody is stopping Oliver from still offering this plugin from his own site and charging what he likes or asking for credit. I think it’s rather telling that rather than do this, he’s decided to withdraw it to teach everyone a lesson. Blackmail seems to be his bag.

    But with open-source, people are invited to show their appreciation through donations and you donate your work to the general pot for people to do with as they choose. That’s how it works and how it becomes better and better.

    Blackmail seems to be his thing: either credit me or pay me, either allow me to abuse the system or I’ll withdraw the product. I was prepared to think the best of Oliver until I came across this post, but now I’m thinking less well of him.

    Let’s just hope he never makes use of other people’s freely given efforts by having a WordPress site for example.

  36. From (it will answer a few questions):
    “Credit Line / Do I have to pay for your plugin now?
    No. You can use it as is for free and it will always be at 0-costs, even in a commercial context. If you need/want to get rid of the credit line beneath the forms you can! See the link-love note that comes with cforms (____LINK_LOVE_CREDITS.txt) Even when you simply remove the link love without adding a key, you can still use 100% of the plugin’s functionality in nonAjax mode. Still a good deal, I think.

    “GPL / Open Source
    I’ve roughly spend 3000 hours on cforms and quite frankly never thought it would get to where it is today, I’m not a programmer by trade. I never had any issues with individual users adjusting my code to meet their requirements, in fact I encourage several by providing hints & tips in the cforms forum. What I do have an issue with are users taking the cforms code, modifying it, repackaging it and selling it as their effort to make profit. I do not approve of that and if that makes cforms non compliant to GPL and what not then that’s what it is.”

    Can you people chill out? cforms is a great plugin, but if it does not obey the rules at, it should not be allowed there. The author gets all rebellious with King Rat’s post and includes a link on his update feed saying this is why he is shopping work on the plugin. It’s easy: He could either change the license or remove it from I think he overreacted by removing it from and stopping development. Seriously, who cares if other people are making money by selling something that is free? If the developer is so concerned with money, just put up a donation button (I would donate). The most obvious point is that the plugin gained success via while breaking their rules.

    To sum it all up: Everybody here is getting mad at King Rat for pointing out the obvious (which I have over-looked for years) when it’s the developer’s choice to stop development and close down the cform forums.

  37. Ah, another flame war. As the cforms author is recognizing his time is worth something, maybe its time he stepped up and started charging for a pro version, while offering a GPL-compatible cforms lite version on the plugins directory to generate interest. The lite version would of course advertise more features available in the pro version for a small licensing fee/donation.

    I understand why the author wants to keep it free and avoid extra work involved with two versions, but with his current stance, he’s off the open source tidal wave. With 3000 hours put into the plugin, surely there’s time to setup 2 versions and earn some money for all his hard work.

    Its too bad it came to this. cforms was really popular but I expect it will fade out now as people can’t find it in the plugin directory built into WordPress 2.7. I wish there was a plugin directory for non-GPL plugins – paid and free.

  38. I’ve used cForms II on both personal and business sites and I can say the code is GPL because 1) Oliver gives the full code to you (duh!) and 2) I’ve modified it as needed without problems. The thing with modifying it is that you need to be good (real good) or you’ll break it.

    As for the link he includes, there are hundreds of WP plugins that ask for donations or some link love. So what? You want it gone then 1 minute with some CSS and you’re done. I’ve done it myself (on a business site) and later I bought Oliver something from his shopping list as a thanks for his hard work and tireless support of cForms.

    Basically, everything you’re whining about is really a non-issue to someone that knows what they’re doing our would take the time to look. Oliver himself will tell you how to hide the link. He’s never made a secret of it. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for hundreds (or more) hours of work he’s put in building it and supporting it.

    Anyway, thanks for screwing a whole bunch of people of a great free, open-source product because you were too lazy to find a solution.

  39. One can live life many ways. Having principles and sticking by them is one. As much as I hate a post like this and a situation like this, beneath it all is a principle, the principle that WordPress and the community built around it is open-source. People can argue, debate, diss, cuss and fuss til world’s end, once you remove the fluff, what remains is that if you adhere to a principle of open-source, then this plugin didn’t belong. How good, handy, popular, brilliant it is/was is irrelevant. Sure, sticking to principles isn’t always practical or easy, it may even require that you work at it, but personally, I must say I find it more gratifying at the end of the day.

  40. King Rat,

    FYI, the file containing the rights restrictions: “____LINK_LOVE_CREDITS.txt” did not appear until version 9 (as far as I can tell). That is likely the reason it was originally included on

  41. Yes you can remove the credit line with alot of effort. But removing it through CSS breaks the AJAX functionality, for no other reason than to punish you it seems.

    I don’t think there should be two Extensions repositories for WordPress: 1 for licensed ones, and one for the others because then the commercial companies will get in on the act and open-source will go down the drain.

    To the developer: I hope you reconsider, get yourself the correct license, explain how to remove the credits in your documentation and get a donate button. I expect you’ll have alot of people showing their gratitude.

  42. Jesus H. christ. You couldn’t just code your own plugin or find some other solution to ratting out the cforms plugin. Thanks, but no thanks for ruining a good thing. Hope you’re happy now.

  43. Agg, I just typed a pretty long post and thanks to Safari crashing it’s lost. I’ll try to retype it all now.

    This is an interesting topic to me, since I was just recently contacted about the license for one of my WordPress plugins. Essentially, someone has added 2 features to the plugin and now wishes to sell the plugin on his web site. What makes his situation even more sticky is that he’s developed this code for a client. I told him that what someone else pays him to develop is between his client and him. I also told him that if he wants to distribute the source he must make it freely available and that he should also explain to the client that is paying him that if they also want to distribute the source it must me made freely available.

    I don’t have a problem with someone taking an open source project, making their own branch and making the source available for free. If the application is in a compilable language, I don’t have a problem with the developer compiling versions and selling the binary versions for profit, as the act of compiling is a convenience for those who don’t have the means to do it themselves. I also don’t have a problem with someone giving the source code away for free with an option to pay for a service such as installation labor or phone technical support.

    But I disagree that the GPL allows others to sell or charge a fee for access to derived or improved versions of the source code from a GPL project. My interpretation is either you keep it to yourself or you make it (the source code) freely available.

    If you don’t agree with my thinking, take this example. Say for instance someone copies WordPress, calls it Secure WordPress, fixes a very complicated security bug and then makes his version available for 1 million dollars. Of course, once the first copy is sold, the new owner can then make his/her copy of the code freely available. In essence, one developer could put the open source community under hostage. I guarantee the GPL license was not intended to allow something like this example to occur.

    I have a friend that has told me that they can sell the source code for what ever price because PHP is not a compiled language. I disagree on that assessment of the GPL license. I would love to hear a license/copyright lawyer reply to this thread and answer the question: what part of the PHP source code is considered as source that is freely available vs. what source can be sold at what ever price.

    I will be disappointed if a lawyer confirms that anyone can sell the source code of a GPL project but it will not make me change the license for my WordPress plugin projects nor encourage me to remove the project from I think though that allowing such a thing will set a precedence that could lead to other issues down the road.

    As for the topic at hand, I would ask that the CFormsII project purge itself of all source code that was copied from other incompatible licensed source code. I just took a quick look, the fonts are most likely GPL, but the phpmailer class should be acceptable to use since it uses the Lesser of the GPL license. I see some other source code from other open source developers including the BUTTONSNAP class library by Owen Winkler. I would highly recommend Mr. Seidel contact Owen and other developers he’s used source code from to make sure they are ok with his custom license.

    As for CFormsII and Mr. Seidel, I wish him the best of luck. I’ll continue to use his plugin so as long as his license allows me to use it for free. I also applaud the removal of CFormsII from since the plugin is not GPL compatible. If you don’t want to play by the rules, then go play on another field.

  44. If you don’t agree with my thinking, take this example. Say for instance someone copies WordPress, calls it Secure WordPress, fixes a very complicated security bug and then makes his version available for 1 million dollars. Of course, once the first copy is sold, the new owner can then make his/her copy of the code freely available. In essence, one developer could put the open source community under hostage. I guarantee the GPL license was not intended to allow something like this example to occur.

    Nothing in the GPL prevents this. I can sell GPL code all I want, so long as I meet the various terms. I can even sell it for $1 million. I can sell it and only release the source code to the people I sell it to. The people who buy can release it if they want.

    Granted, this makes it kind of pointless to sell for a lot, or to release only to those who bought the binaries.

    Selling GPL software is absolutely fine. Red Hat makes a business of it.

  45. The license uses the term “Free as in beer” and that means that the source should be free as in money as far as I understand. I’ve argued with fellow programmers about this though and the term “free as in beer” seems to have different meanings to different folks. Frankly, it is not clear. Your opinion is about as right as my opinion until we get a lawyer to reply with his/her legal interpretation.

  46. I will say that you are right though. As far as GPL, if it is not exact then Automattic did the right thing in removing this very awesome plugin! it’s is just a little sad, as it may be the end of the plugin as everyone knows it.

  47. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but the difference here is what is considered software and what is considered source code. You can get your interpretation for “software” here: But PHP plugins are also source code (not compiled software), and if you look at the details of the GPL license the source code is to be made freely available to those who wish to access it. The question is, can someone charge for the source code and also provide the source code for free. I say no because otherwise it is a contradiction. Again we need a lawyer to weigh in.

  48. Weird. I downloaded cForms the other day and never noticed the lack of a GPL license in place.

    Thanks for mentioning this rather major over sight. I was intending to recommend the plugin to my users as it looked very good. Oh well … hopefully the developer either switches to GPL now or someone makes something with similar functionality.

  49. GPL oder nicht. Ehre wem Ehre gebührt. Ich kenne kaum andere Plugin’s welche diese Leistungen bringen. Ich werde es auf jeden Fall nicht aufgeben. Im Gegenteil – Verkünde das Wort! Ich kann leider nicht verneinen, dass ich stinksauer bin. Dieses Verhalten und die negative Reaktionen gegen Cform und Oliver Seidel sind eine Schande. Mir kommen da immer die stinkenden Abmahnungsanwälte in den Sinn, welche das Web nach kleinen Fehlern durchstöbern und dann z.B. Shop und Blog Betreiber gnadenlos in die Pfanne hauen. Das ist das Resultat, wenn gesunder Menschenverstand abgeschalten wird und nur noch die Gesetzeszeile ihr Recht findet. Ich bleibe Oliver treu und möchte mich an dieser Stelle noch einmal ganz herzlichst bei ihm bedanken. Auch fuer den Support den er mit immer gegeben hat.

  50. Definitely the most entertaining (and sometimes disturbing) comments I’ve read in ages. Some of you people sound like ignorant, crazed villagers with torches chasing the Frankenstein monster. :-D

  51. Here are my thoughts.

    While I would have handled it differently I think you are perfectly right for bringing this to the attention of WordPress. Oliver could have easily brought justifiable lawsuits against anyone who removed the link or modified the code as it is not released under the GPL license.

    For all those who keep hating please remember that the plugin is still available. You just can’t find it under WordPress. As I said before I would have handled it differently but I cannot fault you for what you did.

  52. I wrote the Butonsnap library that cforms uses, presumably to add buttons to the WYSIWYG editor. I haven’t looked at the cforms code running, but I did review the code moments ago and noticed that my library is distributed with the latest version.

    To comply with WordPress licensing, my library must be GPL-licensed, since it makes use of WordPress functions without which my library would not work.

    Since the cforms plugin uses my library it must by extension be GPL-licensed to comply with its licensing terms. Alternatively, the author can choose to remove my library from his distribution, although I assume that he is also hooking into WordPress, which would impose the same licensing restrictions on his code as mine, whether he’s hosted on the site or not.

    That is to say, the plugin site simply enforces a pre-existing requirement. If your plugin is not compliant with that license, it is not legal. Having your plugin removed from the repository is WordPress’ nice way of not suing you.

    For someone who finds it so offensive that people would use his code and not link back without payment, I find it strange that I have not received a single penny from the inclusion of my Buttonsnap library with his plugin. I don’t know how many man-hours of work the author has put into cforms, but I know that I devoted a significant portion of my life to WordPress core and plugin development for which I’ve received no compensation whatsoever.

    My suggestion, having looked over the code in cforms, is for someone to write something better or improve one of the existing, compliant plugins, release it as true GPL, and then ask for donations. People will appreciate you doing something for the community instead of for yourself, which is how the GPL is supposed to work.

  53. Oh, and by the way…

    Yes, it would be perfectly fine to take someone else’s GPL code, improve it, and then sell it for $1million. The fool^H^H^H^Hperson who buys it, by virtue of the GPL license that that derivative code must have, would then be able to give it away for free.

    This is why premium themes are ridiculous. If a theme won’t work without WordPress code, then it must be licensed as GPL, since that’s a restriction of distributing code that uses WordPress functions. If it is licensed as GPL, then you can sell it, but upon receipt of the code, you are free to do with it as you please. This includes reselling it or giving it away for free, whether you’ve made changes or not.

    I’ve written a bit about the street performer model in my post, How to Make Money from WordPress Premium Themes and Not Be a Jackhole, which demonstrates exactly this $1million concept as a fair way to make money from GPL.

  54. It’s a real pity this was handled so badly. You’ve jeopardized the ongoing development of a brilliant plugin that comes free of charge and enhances thousands of websites.

    To what end? Have you improved anyone’s life, saved them money? helped in any way?

  55. Rat, you really did a great job on being the must hated person by all the WordPress self hosted sites community, wich in my thinking could be millions.
    Anyways, when this site is going to be defaced by some hAcKeRz?

    Good work… dumb ass!

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  57. Unfortunate as I love this plugin. I see the point, but it seems quite petty, evidently you have nothing better to do with your time, like put it into something productive such as a better development than cforms. Instead we are all loosing a great plugin that a lot of time was put into with no replacement. So congratulations on making your point.

  58. what’s the point of having rules if people don’t abide by them?

    thank you for doing the right thing and taking all the flak for it!

    Some of us understand why you did it. The people whining at you aren’t the open-source developers, just amateur free-loaders who don’t undertand what they’re saying.

  59. I am incorrect, I see the “not free as in beer” statement. My bad.

    I don’t wish to be classified as an amateur free-loader and I said whether I am correct or not I will still maintain my WordPress plugins as GPL. I do understand what I am saying and I’m not close minded to the other responses and thoughts on the topic.

    This sub topic is moot however, as Owen points out the first person who buys a copy can then re-distribute his/her copy for free. If someone did charge an unfair fee they will suffer the wrath of the open source community.

  60. Well it seems your post affected the author, he has changed the plugin to be completely compliant, check out his website now!

    I had no issue with the link love… but it will be nice to have it removed by default. I have not downloaded the 10.2 version yet, but I image thats what it includes.

  61. Seems Akismet has similar restrictive use for commercial sites, nonprofit sites, and sites that make money (are you fully in compliance with Akismet’s policies or are you likely to be sued by Automattic for violation?), you must pay for the use of Akismet. Some nonprofits I think – can get away without paying for the plugin, but all commercial sites must pay if they want to use it. Is that GPL? Should it be included in the core of WordPress. or made available from the WP Repository?

    For nonprofits, they must include a link that could be considered in violation of the IRS terms for nonprofits. I have a friend who I was helping build several nonprofit sites and he is on the board of two nonprofits — and he had to get an okay of the proposed wording to replace the stuff Akismet demands. The Akismet stuff, in terms of the GPL argument above, seems to not be GPL either.

    Should all of WP be looked at for compliance as GPL to ensure everyone is truly developing under GPL? Funny, but looking at the Akismet download package (, there is NO license in there, at all — GPL or other!

  62. The Akismet plugin can be GPL licensed while the Akismet service may be closed source. Stallman would still rail against using any service not under a person’s own control, but he’d acknowledge it’s still legal according to the GPL.

    1. The Akismet plugin fails the same tests that cforms ii does. No license file is included nor is any mention of the GPL made in the file. Also considering that Matt has restricted access by revoking keys, it also fails that test. But yet it’s also up on Hmm, funny that.

  63. I am a supporter of open source software and want to thank you for your post. I really don’t understand all those angry people. I am wondering how important freedom of speech for those people is. Can somebody comment on that? Nobody mentioned so far, but I removed the cforms II plugin as a result of this post. My compliments on your mature way of handling all the insults. I had to laugh out loud about your Truly Great Insults contest too!

  64. Are you so sell-involved that you need to make an additional post creating a contest to see who can best insult you? First you decide to point out someone I love is breaking the rules, then you make him angry and stop work on the cforms plugin. What’s next? F***ing communist, here is what I think of you: ‹^›

    If you were already so fimicolous, I would bescumber you.

  65. As has been mentioned a couple times already, cforms is now GPL compliant. I think this is the appropriate response (rather than stopping development) and I’m glad the author has made that decision. While I don’t feel that not using a GPL compliant license necessarily makes someone evil, the fact that they made the switch makes me feel better about them.

  66. I have to backup the poster here – the GPL licensing is there for a reason. If an author is not happy with it they mustn’t publish their plugins on Simple as that. I think the people that are complaining really do not understand the reasoning for the licensing in this way, but it is their for your protection and freedom.

  67. 1. Please explain to me Why dont scrutinize the plugins that get posted?? I have already had plugins I have tried and tested that have written, without my permission, links in my bookmarks to sites they push (Yes, my site is secure) – Why are those not removed. 2. Why are there plugins written for external services that enforce there link back or stupid one liner for public use – why are these plugins still posted on the repository?

    Yes, I support cforms, so what about the one line that is very low key under a submit button or wherever it may maybe placed, damn it just make it the same color as your background, its a two second job.

    I dont think the fact that it has moved will hinder it, I regularly search via Google for Plugins, so those looking for a plugin will not stick to wp repository, due to the fact there are hundreds if not thousands of plugins dated as far back 2004/5 that I have seen for last updates, supporting versions of wp no longer being used. The repository is a stagnant pond that needs to be sorted out. get your A into G and clean up properly, this little minor infringement, if that, is nothing comapred to whats still hosted.

    philip weiss you need to get out your apartment a little more, the fresh air will do you good.

  68. Just showing my support for KingRat. I hope you ignore the lobotomized morons…

    Once upon a time, a blog platform was born. It was named WordPress and released under GPL. A few versions later, WP supported plugins and a few plugin authors started writing plugins for it.

    Now, since WP was GPL, all plugins, which of course were based on WP code, had to obey GPL restrictions and also be released under GPL. This is not something someone can debate on. This IS A FACT which some people might like and some people might not like.

    If someone doesn’t like this fact, there is one very simple thing he can do. HE CAN JUST NOT CREATE PLUGINS FOR WP. HOW HARD IS THAT? HOW HARD IS NOT MAKING SOMETHING?

    Mr. Seidel knew that WP was GPL when he started working on cforms. If he doesn’t fuckin like it, he could choose knittinh instead.

    Creating and releasing cforms to the public and THEN compaining for GPL restrictions is just pathetic.

    But who are more pathetic, are the golems who panicked because they lost “their precious”…

  69. So it seems to me that this kind of youtube-style flame-war could be avoided if WordPress did a proper job of maintaining its repository and ensuring that people only submitted work that conformed to the license requirements.

    Who is responsible for doing that? I’m curious.

    And in any community we should ALL take responsibility for what goes on in it. And to me that includes making sure the code is licensed, that we keep the forum tidy and that we treat each other with RESPECT and professionalism.

    Is this how you all behave at work when you’re expected to work to good process?

    Childish nonsense. I hope everyone feels ashamed of themselves.

    Now go and close all your open forum threads and check some plugins in the repository.

  70. 10.2 is up and looks to be GPL, so hopefully this will be behind us and it will be back up at wordpress shortly. In honor of Oliver making it GPL I am heading off to send him some Paypal love. It won’t be much, but it will do more good than sitting here and bitching….

    I bet if every user sent him $0.10 I bet he won’t feel the need to have a link…..

  71. Has anyone downloaded the latest release of cforms yet – 10.2?

    I’m a little suspicious of it myself. Are there any hidden suprises or is it going to spy on us?

  72. Well it just seemed odd that the new version was released at exactly the same time as he said he was withdrawing it from WordPress and wouldn’t develop it anymore. And he posted a link to this url stating it as the reason why.

    I don’t mean spyware, I meant maybe he felt annoyed that people were all able to use it and he had no control over that, so in a fit of pique decided to include something that would enable him to either a) know where his plugin is being used on the web very easily, and b) maybe even be able to disable it in future if something similar pisses him off.

  73. Qu’est-ce que c’est, je le dis? Si elle est censée être GPL, il est GPL! Mais ceci est une occasion manquée par le personnel de WordPress pour faire connaître les questions de la licence GPL. Oliver est un formes Dieu. Les plaisanteries stupides sur King Rat est supposé faible caractère moral est une tour de Babel.

    Was ist das, ich sage? Wenn es sein soll GPL, dann ist es der GPL! Aber dies ist eine verpasste Gelegenheit von der WordPress Mitarbeiter zu Fragen der GPL veröffentlichen. Oliver ist eine Form Gottes. Die dumme Geplänkel über King Rat angeblichen niedrigen moralischen Charakter ist ein Turm von Babel.

    Шта је то, кажем? Ако је требало да буде ГПЛ, онда ГПЛ! Али ово је прилика које је изгубио Уордпресс особље са објављивањем питања ГПЛ. Оливер је Облици Божији. Тхе недотупаван подсмијевати о Кинг Рат је требало ниски морални лик је Тоуер оф Бабел.

    这是什么,我说什么?如果这是应该的GPL ,那么它的GPL !但是,这是一个失去的机会的WordPress的工作人员,宣传问题的GPL 。奥利弗是一个形式的上帝。愚蠢戏谑约国王大鼠理应低品德是一个通天塔。

    What is this, I say? If it’s supposed to be GPL, then it’s GPL! But this is a lost opportunity by the WordPress staff to publicize issues of GPL. Oliver is a Forms God. The silly banter about King Rat’s supposed low moral character is a Tower of Babel.

  74. Good job, GPL is a very important thing to us opensource developers. I havent got any experience with wordpress but if they are trying to help promoting open sharing they are doing well and it is great they actively remove non GPL conforming plugins.

  75. Well, thank you for making a lot of peoples life a lot HARDER over a technicality. A great example of putting principles over people.

  76. Has anyone even noticed that whether or not you remove, replace, hide, or just “not display” the “love link’, the script still touches his domain every time you use the form? He really doesn’t need the donations, he’s getting free hits by the thousands to his site every day. Perfect SEO. A little traffic goes along way when he has stuff to sell on his delicious days site. Genius. Pure genius!

  77. I’m so glad someone had the guts to point this out. Developing for WordPress requires to go with the GPL flow, it’s as simple as that.

    Problem is that the next best thing Gravity Forms, is also not compliant with GPL as it requires a Support License Key to be fully functional.

    So for everyone else, you might want to check out Contact Form 7. Way to go!

  78. this is gud righter.

    wut if wanted a non-removable link back to wordpress!!! that would annoy the heck out of ppl.

    wth cforms oh the developer did so much coding. well who coded firefox, who coded wordpress who coded wikipedia. open-source by definition open.

  79. It seems that current versions are GPL compatible. Now its just a matter re-entry to so we can auto-update again. manually updating for dozens of sites can be a pain.

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