It takes a sizeable pair of potatoes to use code from a massively huge project such as WordPress in your own project and fail to give proper attribution, or follow the terms of the project’s licenses. Yet, according to Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg, this is precisely what Wix has done with its mobile app.
Mullenweg described his sense of “déjà vu” upon downloading and using the Wix app in a blog post yesterday:
If I were being charitable, I’d say, “The app’s editor is based on the WordPress mobile app’s editor.” If I were being honest, I’d say that Wix copied WordPress without attribution, credit, or following the license. The custom icons, the class names, even the bugs. You can see the forked repositories on GitHub complete with original commits from Alex and Maxime, two developers on Automattic’s mobile team.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with Wix using WordPress’ source, as long as it’s done in line with the GNU General Public License. However, as far as Mullenweg is concerned, this is not the case. At all:
This explicitly contravenes the GPL, which requires attribution and a corresponding GPL license on whatever you release publicly built on top of GPL code. The GPL is what has allowed WordPress to flourish, and that let us create this code. Your app’s editor is built with stolen code, so your whole app is now in violation of the license.
VentureBeat’s Ken Yeung hit up Wix for comment, but has yet to hear anything and it’s likely we won’t until the company has its ducks in a row — legal or otherwise.
Looking at Wix’s GitHub account, it doesn’t look at it has a problem open-sourcing its work, with many of its projects coming under the MIT license. Maybe it’s just a misunderstanding or a mistake, rather than something sinister. We won’t know until Wix steps up.