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 wordpress.org 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 wordpress.org) 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.

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