What is the verdict on this type of thing? I got a message...
Hey Chris. Is the Fordson theme free? Can I use, edit or redistribute it or even sell it?
Sorry if I'm asking the obvious. But I don't think I've read something that makes it clear.
I'm hoping that this is just a copyright message, but I'd hate to think our hard work in building and supporting the Moodle community could be taken and monetized? It would make me think twice about sharing here.
Just wondering how much we should share and how much effort into supporting the community should be given if others can take and sell our work.
In my mind, it's one thing to take and make better to share but another to take and make money.
Open source software is just that...open...open for anyone to pretty much do anything with it. There are different open source licenses though which affect what people can do with the software...you might look into that.
Some thoughts - why would people buy it as is when it is available freely? But, if someone takes the code and makes changes, can they ethically charge for that work? I would say yes.
I hope that you won't stop all the great work that you have been doing and sharing because people might benefit monetarily from it. That would be like Martin shutting down Moodle because people make money from it (which countless do in one way or another without giving back in some way or another...)
I completely agree! I'm stunned that someone could even ask the question.
From my point of view it's ok to use, edit and redistribute (that's what open source is about) but NOT to sell.
But if I clearly understand GNU GPL Licence, people are allowed to redistribute for a fee, but with the same licence, that is ... people paying for the copy can use it, modify it and distribute it for free
So... who would buy Fordson (for example) from a seller if they can get it from moodle plugin repository for free?
PS: anyway you are doing great work for the community
Why are you stunned? LOL! If you clearly understand the GNU GPL License? By the way, Not sure why I added that at the end of question. Maybe I wanted to know if it comes under the GPL.
There could be a misunderstanding here. It sounds like you want to take someone else's work they provide for free and pretend it's your own work and then sell it to other people. (and then in future you might want to ask the person who completed the work for help... without paying them...) and without telling your clients they can download these plugins/themes for free.
While this might be theoretically possible to do under the GPL, it's not very polite (to your clients or to the original developer)
But I suspect that isn't actually what you were really trying to do.
For example - We sell Moodle services to our clients (I work for a Moodle Partner) and some of those clients use themes like Chris's but we don't try to pass that off as our own work. Any work we do on plugins for our clients we will always try to submit upstream to the original developer so that everyone can benefit.
The bigger thing you will have to be careful with is that the word "Moodle" is trademarked. You cannot use that word to advertise commercial services - eg publicly selling Moodle services/theming/hosting etc. Unless you are a Moodle Partner.
More info on Moodle trademarks is here:
There could be. It may sound like it. But, no! Why would I lie or falsify something? What I'm working on is not my idea or project. I'm merely just working on it. As far as I know right now, I started working on it without a deal. So, I don't know if I'm getting paid or owning part of it or nothing at all. If I can save time putting together open source things rather than starting from scratch, why not?
I've notified the person that I'll try to change the design or use a ready theme and change bits of it and I think they're already aware of the open source moodle.
Anything still misunderstood?
It's a lot of work to develop a plugin and answer all the questions that come up and various ways in which people decide to implement Moodle.
I guess it just rubbed me the wrong way to be asked if I can steal what you've produced to make money. People have to put a roof over your head, but make money selling a service or hosting Moodle and using the free plugins.
So is there nothing to stop someone from taking the plugins and selling them after a modification or two?
That's not what I asked. Chris! Don't be rubbed the wrong way.
I'm the one who sent him this message
"Hey Chris. Is the Fordson theme free? Can I use, edit or redistribute it or even sell it?
Sorry if I'm asking the obvious. But I don't think I've read something that makes it clear."
My intention wasn't to sell the theme itself. But, maybe use it or part of it on a moodle based platform that might be commercial. What if the platform is sold with the theme or part of it on?
By the way, Here's a quote from the GPL v3 "Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you
have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for
them if you wish)"
Dear Feva and Chris,
Ok, firstly I'm not a lawyer but a software engineer, so this is my 'understanding'.
GPLv3 allows you to sell https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#DoesTheGPLAllowMoney.
Because of the way that Moodle is licensed with GPLv3 and with themes being a 'plugin' then https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLPlugins applies. And thus the theme must be also GPLv3.
But... there is a bit of a grey area when it comes to CSS and the artistic elements of a theme which are not really 'code' and thus GPLv3 does not cover them. This is how certain sites can 'sell' themes and impose certain restrictions upon them, some elements must be GPLv3 and you can reuse them, but the rest has the restrictions. But I understand that by publishing a theme on Moodle.org, no such restrictive licensing is used on those elements.
Thus therefore any commercial site selling Moodle with Fordson could do so but then the person receiving it could then make it available for free if they chose to do so. Clearly if there are other plugins on the site, then their licenses would also need to be checked.
As another example, the toggle icons in the Collapsed Topics course format could be restricted via a copyright and not GPLv3. However as I created them myself then I have chosen to make them freely available.
This has all been discussed before in posts on this forum and the developers forum too (I believe), you'll just need to search for them.
Thanks, rated useful!
Sorry but you're wrong. The trademark covers the word 'Moodle'. Thus if you wanted to, you could copy and sell 'Fordson' you just could not use the word 'Moodle' in any advertising etc. unless you were a Moodle Partner. Or not unless Chris trademarked the word 'Fordson', then you'd have to rename the theme to be able to advertise.
So if you could not then Moodle HQ would be in violation of GPLv3 which permits commercial use of the code and anybody imposing a more restrictive licence / use on what you get -> www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#DoesTheGPLAllowMoney. So the trademark would in effect remove the 'selling' right, so it can't do that but it can impose other restrictions that fall outside what GPLv3 covers in terms of elements.
I at least this is my interpretation of the trademark based upon years of experience and past questions to MHQ.
Note: Even though I'm a Software Engineer and more than a Coder, I'm not a Lawyer!
just my opinion ....
It might be legal but its very uncool to sell someone else's work as your own. Or to make minor changes, rename it and pass it off as yours.
I have been shocked twice in the last 6 months or so to see established companies in the Moodl'verse doing this.
However its ok to ask the author if you can use their work in a commercial project. They can respond just how they want to. So I think Feva was doing the right thing.
I also think its ok to include it as part of a hosted solution. Its a pretty good deal for a solution provider to get free Moodle, free themes, free plugins and yet charge. But basically its this that makes Moodle so affordable and still provides a revenue stream back to HQ. And even when the software is free, there is a lot of work to be done selling, supporting, maintaining.
But there is no established way in Moodle to provide such a revenue stream back to the plugin developer. Ideally the end user could be contributing in some way, especially if they are paying for it. So I do not think its unreasonable to state that when sold as part of a commercial package you would request a contribution e.g $50 . Somehow I doubt thats your motivation though.
Not just uncool, isn't it borderline lying and unethical? Why would someone do that?
The short answer to the question
" Can I use, edit or redistribute it or even sell it? "
Is yes, but you cannot deprive the buyer of the rights to do those things.
I write Moodle plugins in my non employed time which I and I fervently hope that other people get use out of them both for education and as part of money making services. I don't expect any money from that.