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LeadPages forked Bloom and released it as a free plugin

twitter.com | Aug. 25, 2015 | 1 min read

Looks like @LeadPages took our plugin, replaced our logo in their "fork" and put it up for free on wordpress.org :(

22 votes   Flag
Ryan Love

Looks like it's no longer in the wp plugins repository - wordpress.org/plugins/rapidology-by-leadpages

Maybe they've had a change of heart.

Because I can't actually look at the plugin it's hard to say what they've changed, but looking at the video on www.rapidology.com/ (which is their plugin page), it looks 100% identical to bloom.

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Appreplica

Isn't this copyright infringement? Your plugin is not a free open source plugin so it would appear this is theft of your intellectual property.

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Ryan Love

They release everything under GPL - "Our WordPress themes and plugins are released under the GNU Public License version 2.0." See - www.elegantthemes.com/terms.html

To understand the GPL better see - ivycat.com/a-newbies-guide-to-the-gpl-and-wordpress-licensing/ and wpandlegalstuff.com/understanding-gpl-licensing-wordpress/

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Nick Roach

You can find the plugin here: www.rapidology.com/ and watch their video that talks about the cool features in the plugin that they have "never seen anywhere else." Actually, you can see them all in Bloom since it's a direct replica.
The extent of their fork was simply to replace our Bloom logo with their own, and then add additional links inside of each opt-in form. This "fork" is then being used as method to grow their email list and up-sell their competing SaaS product at www.leadpages.net.

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Ahmad Awais

I agree. That's wrong!
Nick, how did it get removed from W.org repo? A lot of people are arguing about it being right or wrong. I'd love to hear the reason from moderators of W.org, based on which they decided to delete it from the Repo (if that's what happened).

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Ahmad Awais

You fork the code and make something better out of it. You don’t fork code to give it for free to collect emails, and to place your SaaS along in the pricing table to sell that with it.

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Vova Feldman

It really sucks! BUT, we all willingly playing under the GPL rules, so there's nothing illegal in what they've done.

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Vladimir Prelovac

We faced the same problem when not one but couple of companies forked the ManageWP plugin and actually created successful competing businesses. What I think about is irrelevant as long as it is legal under GPL which it is. You dont need to be friends with them though, and nothing prevents you from investing in things they cant copy like care for your customers or supporting the WordPress community.

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Oli

If you don't want people to fork your code / create competing products then don't release your product under the GPL as that is exactly what you are allowing people to do.

Its fine to "just change a logo" and release the code as is, as long as all the correct requirements of the license are followed. It's fine to take a paid product and release it for free. It's not "unethical" or "immoral", by choosing the GPL you are saying it is fine for people to do just that.

You can't gain all the benefits of the WordPress community and the GPL and then complain when someone exercises these rights.

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Ryan Love

I agree 100% with what you're saying Oli, if you release under GPL you can have no complaints if this is what happens. It's what the GPL licence is all about.

But...

What happens if you don't release under GPL?

From my perspective (and I'm admittedly a newb), you have to look at what Chris Pearson and thesis has done and see the reaction to him and his product. Is that not what awaits you if you release under anything other then GPL?

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Nemanja Aleksic

"What happens if you don't release under GPL?"

The original code is still owned by Elegant Themes, and remains GPL unless Elegant Themes explicitely states otherwise.

LeadPages can licence their own modifications and upgrades to the code. In that case they get kicked off the WordPress repo.

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Ryan Love

Thanks Nemanja,

I was thinking more about the fact that, with WordPress, is seems you have two scenarios.

Scenario 1 – you release under GLP to “embrace” WordPress and the community.

But you have to accept that if you create a plugin/theme such as bloom, spend hundreds of developer hours to get something created on your dime, continually develop it to fix bugs/add new features and then have someone such as lead pages come along and “folk it”, with minimal/or no changes.

Scenario 2 – You choose to release under something other then GPL. You’re now the black sheep of the family. You get shunned by the WordPress community and seen as a monster...

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Nemanja Aleksic

I wouldn't go as far as calling someone a monster, but Matt has adopted a fundamentalist approach in the whole GPL debate, and his views carry a lot of weight.

Scenario 1 is actually not that bad - it helps you adapt and evolve your service, e.g. Elegant Themes can introduce a free version of their plugin with the exact same changes LeadPages made. This way they got free development, and since they are much larger, their free version will get much more exposure than LeadPages.

But like Oli said in his reply, WordPress is GPL - deal with it /shades

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Oli

"But you have to accept that if you create a plugin/theme such as bloom, spend hundreds of developer hours to get something created on your dime, continually develop it to fix bugs/add new features and then have someone such as lead pages come along and “folk it”, with minimal/or no changes. "

Then don't release it under the GPL if you don't want someone to fork it,
by doing so you are saying its fine for anyone to use your code, regardless of how many hours / money you spent on it.

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Kevin Muldoon

But Oli, what happens if everyone starts doing that?

What happens if I release all of your themes for free through my website? Then release all the premium plugins and themes of all major WordPress developers in a marketplace? No charge, no BS. Everything would be free.

The whole WordPress community would be damaged because of it.

Technically, what they did was 100% legal within the GPL, but it doesn't change the fact it's a shitty move.

It's ok saying companies should not release products under the GPL, but every WordPress product has to be GPL anyways seeing as it is built upon a WordPress platform.

It just doesn't sit right with me. It's not like they have forked the plugin. All they have done is rebranded it.

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Oli

WordPress is GPL - if you want to release WordPress products you must embrace it, if not - there are plenty of other CMSs and business ideas you can choose to do instead.

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Ryan Love

Oli, I would say that by creating an add on to WordPress, such as bloom, you HAVE embraced WordPress.

You've enhanced what people can now do with WordPress, yes at a cost, but a whole lot cheaper then having to get a developer create a feature just for you.

But like I say, still a newb, so still figuring a lot of this out in my own head!

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Oli

I meant embrace the GPL :)

This is a great site for all things related to WordPress and the GPL :
wpandlegalstuff.com/category/gpl/

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David McCan

If the fork contains the original copyright notice and has taken care not to violate trademarks, then it is legal and ethical. Does it? Perhaps not, since it was pulled from the WP repo.

Elegant Themes provides excellent customer service and regular updates, which is what you are paying for as a member. Being a member also supports their periodic innovations.

Forking sometimes feels scummy because people do it in secret and are not upfront about the fact that it is a fork.

Another approach that Leadpages could have taken would have been to pursue a partnership with Elegant to supply the plugin for its' customers. Bloom is a well crafted, extensive plugin, with a road map of fixes and features upcoming. Leadpages has bitten off a big chunk to keep it up to date and add features, but if they have acted in accordance with the GPL then it is legal and ethical.

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