Why Wix’s response to WordPress re GPL license is weak

Wix WordPress GPL issue

Wix should have provided GPL attribution

Matt said Wix should have provided proper attribution to WordPress for the code used in the mobile app. Abrahami does not address this. Yes, Wix has released over 200 Open Source projects on Github, but doing a good thing doesn’t reconcile doing a not-good thing. If the license says they need to provide attribution, they should address that specific issue for this specific piece of software.

GPL means public release of software

Matt states that if a piece of software includes any components from other GPL software, that makes the whole new piece of software GPL and it should therefore be made public if distributed (which the mobile app was). This is indeed the case, and it is not addressed in Abrahami’s response. Releasing partial components on Github is not enough.

Wix WAS called Wixpress in the past

Matt refers to Wix having ripped off WordPress’ brand by calling themselves Wixpress. I did a quick Google search for “Wixpress Ltd.” and lo and behold, Wix started out as Wixpress. Press releases were filed under the Wixpress name, and the official company name listed in the filing on the stock exchange is Wixpress Ltd. It is noted in the document that they changed their business name in the US (and after checking the Israeli business registry, it was also changed here), and are now called Wix.com Ltd. Their Brazilian subsidiary is still referred to as Wixpress in the filing. None of us know them as Wixpress, so they seem to have smartly shifted away from that brand early on. In fact, while they initially filed for a trademark for this name, they abandoned it in 2010 which indicates they weren’t invested in that name. But the bottom line is, Wixpress is part of their legacy. Why did Abrahami deny that when we all know how to use Google? A more straightforward response would have been “Yeah, in the beginning we made a mistake with our brand, and if you ask anyone what Wixpress is, they probably won’t know since we abandoned that early on in favor of Wix.com”

The tone of Wix’s response is…unsettling

There’s something about Abrahami’s tone in his email that irks me.

Bottom line: lessons to be learned

  • If you are a commercial company, think a bajillion times before using Open Source code in your proprietary software. Licensing is not only an ethical issue, but can also cause problems down the line if unreported and discovered during due diligence. Here’s a good article on this subject:
  • Make sure you have people on your team who understand the nuances of other cultures. What’s interesting is that many of my Israeli Facebook hi-tech friends are commending Abrahami on his post. As a grew-up-in-Canada person, I’m cringing when I read it, and I’m not the only one. If you are a non-American company, make sure you have an Anglo on your PR team who has a better grasp of what kinds of tones and intonations work well outside of Israel. We Israelis have a very direct way of communicating, and while that can be great at times, it’s definitely not always great.

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CEO Strattic — a static and headless hosting and publishing platform for fast, secure and scalable sites. https://www.strattic.com

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