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Headway Themes is now licensed under the GPLa uhm, no, wait. It isn't. Well, sorta.

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 20 July 2010.
Planet PHP

Grant Griffiths on split-licensing the PHP code of his themes under the GPL and the images/CSS/JS files under a proprietary license:

The split GPL license still allows us to retain enough teeth that we can bite someone in the butt if they violate our own license forAHeadway.

I fear that Grant hasn't quite thought this whole affair through. But let's take a look at the HeadwayAToS themselves:

All WordPress themes produced by Headway Themes are released under the GPL version 2.0 license (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html GNU/GPLv2). Specifically, the PHP code portions are distributed under the GPL version 2.0 license.

Are aoall themesa released under the GPL or the PHP portions? I think the intent of the author are fairly clear, but this language introduces contradiction in a legal document-not a good start. You've just given a prepared attorney a way to show that your language is ambiguous and a reasonable third party could interpret it in a way other than the one you claim is the correct one. And believe me, they'll latch on to this like the Shuttle on the Space Station.

The Headway Themes Proprietary Use License is a GPL compatible licensea

Who has decided that it's compatible? What happens if a court should decide that it isn't?

You are authorized to make any necessary modification(s) to Headway Themes to fit your purposes. You may not however redistribute or release modifications as GPL or otherwise.

Wait, what? You get to release under the GPL but I can't?ASorry, but the GPL says the exact opposite:

4. AYou may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program except as expressly provided under this License.

Incidentally, you also don't get to choose which pieces of the GPL your code is subject to:

7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License.

See how confusing things get? And that's without even counting the fact that a clever lawyer may well point out that the CSS, JS and image files are derivative of the theme because they cannot be used meaningfully outside of it (much like GPL proponents claim that the theme itself cannot be used meaningfully without the underlying WP code).

I hope that Grant got legal advicea uh-oh:

While I know Matt would rather we would have gone 100% GPL, we felt more comfortable with a split GPL license. AWe actually modeled our license which we have included in a revised TOS after what Jason has at Press75. ABelow, you will see the exact language we now have which according to Matt Mullenweg is ao100% legal.a

These people are playing with fire.