WordPress-in-the-Name Issues

The inevitable has happened, WordPress has gotten too big for its supporters’ boots. Copyright issues have always (respectfully) existed, but now it’s witch-hunt time. As always, these things are rarely directly-sponsored by the actual copyright holders but rather by a gang of loyal zealots errr fans. They tend to cause unwarranted panic and anger, and normally carry things far overboard — certainly more than their creators intended.

This time it’s WordPress bloggers on the rampage, and by the looks of it, they’e making a far bigger deal out of things than they need to. According to Lorelle, at the moment just anyone that has the term “WordPress” in their domain name (not title) needs to get rid of it. Immediately.

But the WordPress Trademark Domain specifications are very vague and missing quite a big deal of stuff:

For various reasons related to our WordPress trademark, we ask if you’re going to start a site about WordPress or related to it that you not use “WordPress” in the domain name. We’re not lawyers, but very good ones tell us we have to do this to preserve our trademark.

So says Automattic. Notice that (unlike Lorelle’s post), it makes no mention about existing sites and domain names, and brings absoloutely no mention of using it in the names of sites or blogs. And a good thing that is to, or sites like Dr. Dave’s excellent WordPress Plugin Database is not in violation of Automattic’s policies, nor are any of the dozens of other plugin/theme repos for WordPress. That’s just not the way it works.

Even the “bitchy” Mozilla Foundation (yes, the one currently in the news for refusing to allow people to ship distros with their Mozilla/Firefox logos) doesn’t mind the hundreds of “Firefox ________” websites (where the blank is any good thing of your choice) though they do complain about software with the term “Firefox” in the name, even if it is a plugin or Firefox-related download (that’s part of the IceWeasel split – look it up). Thank God Automattic doesn’t do that, or else thousands of plugins would need a name change.

It’s that simple: if what you’re doing is benefiting the WordPress community, doesn’t claim to own the Automattic copyright, and you haven’t been contacted by Homeland Security about the confiscation of your domain due to national security, you probably don’t have to worry. If you blog about WordPress (Lorelle on WordPress?) why should you need to change your name? I mean, blogging on WordPress is what you do, no one’s contacted any of the Google Blogs or Forums about trademark issues – because that’s not false advertising, copyright-theft or one of the million other things one can do wrong. And there is no reason why the fun-loving GPL’d WordPress should be any different. Certainly, they’d be within their “right” to do so… but then again, definitely in the wrong too.

4 thoughts on “WordPress-in-the-Name Issues

  1. You’re welcome Matt.

    I mean, Automattic’s never been bitchy about these things, it’s not owned by the RIAA, and at the same time, blatant copyright theft just isn’t cool… Like splogging kinda – with proper citing of sources and backlinks, it’s quite helpful. It’s only when they start claiming your content as their own and unlawfuly making money off your efforts that it goes from help to pain-in-the-back in record time.

    Copyright laws on open source are rarely there to sap you of the good stuff, you just have to look at them carefully IMO.

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