I write letters

Dear Smartypants-Who-Embeds-Encrypted-Sponsor-Links-In-Code-Web-Designer,

This is what I found in the footer file of a theme of yours that I was hacking/tweaking for my own web development purposes today:

WARNING: This file is protected by copyright law. To reverse engineer or decode this file is strictly prohibited.

Followed by several hundred characters of encrypted alphabet soup.

I don’t think so, SWEEPLICWD – you released this theme under a GNU General Public License, so I can modify it to Alpha Centauri and back – it says so right there in the conditions of the GPL. If I make copies for distribution to others I have to note that I have modified it on this date and provide them with a link to the GPL, but otherwise I am free as a bird as to what I change/insert in the footer file, or any other file, of your OPEN SOURCE theme.

I only hacked your theme at all because I liked the central graphic concept and thought that it could be nicely customised for a personal website for a friend. I have left a proper design credit in the footer linking back to you as designer because I, unlike you, do have ethics.

Also, your footer code claiming your theme was XHTML-compliant? Well – it is now. I also corrected your spelling of several key terms.


Categories: ethics & philosophy

Tags: , ,

5 replies

  1. That’s pretty damn funny. Thanks for the afternoon happiness.
    Grendel’s last blog post..Pandan

  2. It’s as if sie just inserted the snippet in the stylesheet saying that it was released under a GPL as if that was meaningless that got me. Words have meaning? – who knew?
    Of course, there will be some people who download it from one of the many “free” WordPress themes farms that won’t know any better and will be afraid to modify it and will thus provide linkjuice to hir sponsors. Arse. I’m seriously thinking of taking the graphics and using them for one of the serious open source framework themes and releasing a Reloaded version.

  3. That would indeed be poetically just.

  4. People are so sadly ignorant of copyright law that I’m willing to bet that designer didn’t have any idea why those things were contradictory. We need so much public education in this area, particularly around all the licensing schemes and what they really mean when you use one.

  5. The illusion (if there is one) comes, on the contrary, from the impersonality of the work. It is a principle of mine that a writer must not be his own theme. The artist in his work must be like God in his creation — invisible and all-powerful: he must be everywhere felt, but never seen.
    But remember:
    “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy,”

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