Last Friday, Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg—the founding developer of the WordPress open source blogging and content management platform—posted an open letter on his personal blog accusing the developers of the blogging site Wix of essentially stealing WordPress code for a new mobile application:
If I were being charitable, I’d say, “The app’s editor is based on the WordPress mobile app’s editor.” If I were being honest, I’d say that Wix copied WordPress without attribution, credit, or following the license. The custom icons, the class names, even the bugs. You can see the forked repositories on GitHub complete with original commits from Alex and Maxime, two developers on Automattic’s mobile team. Wix has always borrowed liberally from WordPress—including their company name, which used to be Wixpress Ltd.—but this blatant rip-off and code theft is beyond anything I’ve seen before from a competitor.
WordPress’ code is open source, but it is published under the GNU Public License (GPL). And the way that Wix used the code, Mullenweg said, is in violation of the GPL. Wix’s new mobile app, he said, reused WordPress’ text editor without credit. And the Wix application was closed and proprietary—not published under the same GPL license.
Wix CEO and co-founder Avishai Abrahami fired back, writing in an open response to Mullenweg, “Wow, dude I did not even know we were fighting.” Abrahami pointed to 224 projects that Wix had open sourced on GitHub, and he admitted that Wix had used the text editor code—making some modifications and sharing the code via GitHub: