What the GPL means for you

WordPress as a software, the code that helps you publish your content, is free.

WordPress uses a license called the General Public License (GPL).

This license allows you to make changes to WordPress.
It also allows you to share and even sell the code and the changes you have made.

GPL in practice

When you select or purchase a theme that is compatible with the General Public License, this means that:

  • You are allowed to install the theme on as many websites as you need.
  • You are allowed to make changes to the theme without asking. Common examples:
    • Remove credit links
    • Change images
    • Change colors
    • Change fonts
  • You are allowed to share the theme
  • You are allowed to sell the theme
  • You are allowed to take parts of the theme and use it for something else. For example:
    • Take an image from a theme and print it
    • Take a script from a theme and add it to another website

If you release the code or parts of the theme, the license needs to be kept.

This is all part of what makes WordPress so amazing.
With WordPress, you can own your content, and you are free to make any changes that you need.

The importance of selecting a theme with the correct license

When you select a theme, whether the theme is free or purchased, make sure that:

  1. The license information is included.
    • Some websites intentionally hide the license from you because frankly, they are doing something shady. They do not want you to know that you are not allowed to make changes to the theme or share it.
  2. The license is compatible with the General Public License
    • Many theme shops have their own licenses that limits what you can do with the theme. My advice to you is to only buy themes that are licensed under GPL or MIT.
    • Some themes can only be installed on one domain, and this can even be problematic for you if you need to move your website.
    • Other licenses does not allow you to remove the footer credit link which advertises the theme author.
  3. Even if the license is compatible with the GPL, read the terms carefully.
    • Some theme shops and market places will tell you that the themes are compatible, but they add other hidden limitations. For example, they might tell you that you can not redistribute the theme. This is actually a violation of the license.
    • Other theme authors will tell you that the code is compatible, but that you cannot use the images that are included.

If you are looking for the terms for my themes, you can find them here.