Official word on WordPress theme licensing

July 3, 2009 | No Comments Yet

The great debate on the GPL (GNU Public License) and its pertinence to WordPress themes has been going on for months, but it seems the issue may be finally be laid to rest, thanks to the response of the Software Freedom Law Center on the matter.

Matt Mullenweg quotes the whole thing on the WordPress Development blog, but he has a a one-sentence summary for it too:

PHP in WordPress themes must be GPL, artwork and CSS may be but are not required.

Of course Matt points out that a WordPress theme would be pretty useless without graphics and CSS, and therefore now that they’ve launched the Commercial Themes Directory, they’re requiring 100% compatibility with the GPL. Meaning everything, including graphics and CSS, must have no restrictions on usage. Again, the GPL license does not require themes to be free of charge.

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Official WordPress Commercially Supported GPL Themes Directory launched

July 2, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Here’s the big lesson on the opening of the official WordPress Commercial Theme directory (also under WordPress Extend): it’s possible to make money off a commercial theme while still having a GPL license, which in turn, means you’re supporting the WordPress philosophy of making everything accessible to everyone.

While our directory is full of fantastic themes, sometimes people want to use something that they know has support behind it, and don’t mind paying for that. Contrary to popular belief, GPL doesn’t say that everything must be zero-cost, just that when you receive the software or theme that it not restrict your freedoms in how you use it.

So now that’s all cleared up, time to submit your premium theme—although I think we should stop using the term for good and use commercial instead, especially since there are a number of the “premium” themes that are free. Here’s the list of guidelines for the theme directory:

  • Distribute 100% GPL themes, including artwork and CSS.
  • Have professional support options, and optionally customization.
  • Your site should be complete, well-designed, up to date, and professional looking.
  • Include a haiku about yourself to be included.

A haiku? Now there’s a requirement you don’t see everyday.

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