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Can I re-use premium themes on multiple domains if I changed the theme? (20 posts)

  1. TomJohnson
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    I recently bought a premium theme that has a single-domain license, meaning if I want to use it on multiple domains, I would need to pay more. However, after putting the theme on a domain, I've hacked out a significant part of the theme's guts, since the scripting options weren't working. I also made other modifications to the stylesheet and other files. I now want to put this modified version of the premium theme on some other domains. Since I've significantly changed the theme, am I still obligated to honor the one-domain-per-license rule? Or can I now use the theme freely on as many domains as I want without paying the original author more money? Thanks,

    Tom

  2. t31os
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    It's not a question of ... Can you..

    More a question of ... Should you.

    I think you know the answer already.

  3. TomJohnson
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Actually, I'm not sure whether it's ethical or not. I thought WordPress' licenses allowed this.

  4. t31os
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    From what i've read and listened to on interviews it's pretty much open to individual interpretation.

    I have to say i agree with the code being bound to GPL, but at the same time i do respect the theme authors enough to not going ripping their code, and thats purely because i've been there and done it, at an amateur level.

    In reality it's anybodies guess and which will hold up in court if it came to it.

    In my opinion is the GPL applies, but that's my opinion.

    Again this is my opinion, but if i was using a theme with a encoded footer or forced links, then i'd proberly just use the design out of spite....

    I see it this way, if someone creates work of value, the quality will speak for itself, and people will naturally recommend you. If you have that you don't need forced links and terms of use. If you produce quality stuff, then people will come... The market dictates the value not the creator in my opinion.

    I'm not suggesting you should or should not use it, that's down to you and whether you think it's exceptable.

    There's no correct answer in my eyes... just subject to opinion.

  5. s_ha_dum
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    I'm pretty sure the WP license allows you to edit and redistribute any piece of code that depends upon WP code. The same goes with plugins. The license also makes the code obfuscation is some of the themes I've seen pretty questionable.

    The question really is, should you? If you've edited one or two lines of code, pay the author for another copy. If, as you say, you've hacked it up pretty good, maybe you have claim to it. You should have gotten a WP license when you downloaded WP. It seems pretty clear to me but I won't be arguing with lawyers either.

  6. From what i've read and listened to on interviews it's pretty much open to individual interpretation.

    Actually, I'm not sure whether it's ethical or not. I thought WordPress' licenses allowed this.

    No, it's not open to interpretation and it's not a GPL issue. When you purchased that theme you knew what you were getting into; what ethical dilemma do you think exists?

    WordPress.ORG's software is GPL'ed. That premium theme is not; it's got a license which has terms.

    If you modified it to your hearts content, you are still modifying someone else's work. You need to adhere to the terms of using that theme. If you don't like it then don't use it. Or get permission from the author, which sounds like $$$.

    If you can modify a theme then start with a GPL'ed theme. It's just lots easier and you are free to do what you like within limits of distributing the work.

    if I want to use it on multiple domains, I would need to pay more.

    As t31os pointed out you already know the answer. Don't look to a public forum to rationalize what you want to do.

  7. s_ha_dum
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    This thread, I think, bears on the discussion here.

  8. t31os
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Like i said, i've done a bit of reading and listening to interviews regarding this issue, and it's apples and oranges if you ask me..

    In most cases the theme is useless without WP, if it relies on WP to function, is it not bound to the license of the software it relies upon to function?

    Matt explained it very well in an interview he attended, much better then i can... but i can't remember the particular site i listened to it on...

    If a theme contains for example wp_list_pages(); , which we know is a WP function, is the theme being sold not selling code that partly belongs to WordPress which is GPL?

    Please feel free to explain it to me in detail, as i still believe it's totally open to interpretation.

  9. It's easy and not really up to interpretation. That's why we have licenses, to eliminate the interpretation part.

    <begin looong reply>

    The WordPress.ORG software is free to use and licensed under the GPL. The GPL has a restriction: if you use GPL'ed code and distribute it then the source code must be available.

    Example: if I took WordPress as in the http://wordpress.org/latest.zip and I modified it and just used it, that's allowed. That's also a trivial case which I'm just including to be complete.

    Now I modify the WordPress.ORG softwate and distribute it. My changes are all there and anyone can read them. I'm still within the GPL since I anyone can read what I've modified just by looking at the PHP files (source code).

    Now I take the whole WordPress.ORG PHP files and run all my changes through a tool to obfuscate and encrypt the whole code and I distribute that unreadable code. That would be bad.

    When I distributed that obfuscated code without making the source available, I have just violated the GPL license that WordPress is distributed on.

    Now about those premium themes and plugins.

    Let's say I wrote a kick-ass plugin and theme. That's not GPL'ed code. It could be, but it does not have to be. Just using WordPress functions does not make my code GPL. Neither does having a functional dependency on WordPress code make my code GPL'ed.

    It would be nice if I did GPL it but it does not have to be since I am not distributing WordPress.ORG software. Using function calls from the codex is not distributing the GPL'ed software.

    I wrote it all myself and I can dictate any thing I want with my code. Don't like my terms? Then don't use my code. But feel free to do what you want with the code that came from WordPress.ORG within the terms of the GPL.

    This also applies to themes with evil footer crap. They can and will do what they like with the code they have written. The solution is to stop using code that you don't like.

    </begin looong reply>

    Hope that clears it up. Let's not mix up what software developers should do with what they must do.

  10. t31os
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    So even though a theme includes what is essentially GPL code, a function... it can be changed to another license...

    A WP function is a WordPress function, how can you suddenly just change the license when that function is licensed under the GPL, 'As part of the wordpress software'...

    Whether it be in part or whole, are you saying that if i take small pieces out of WordPress, the GPL no longer applies, but if i take it as a whole, then it does...

    Maybe i'm confused but that certainly seems to be what you're saying..

    Small pieces, ie. a function here and there, is fine, but as a whole package the GPL kicks in?

  11. So even though a theme includes what is essentially GPL code, a function... it can be changed to another license...

    Whether it be in part or whole, are you saying that if i take small pieces out of WordPress, the GPL no longer applies, but if i take it as a whole, then it does...

    That's not what I said, re-read it. No one is talking about re-licensing anything.

    The GPL covers the distribution of the software. It does not cover using of referencing the functions. If I use a WordPress function in my theme or plugin, I am not changing anyone else license. And I am free to license any code I write as I see fit.

    You are trying to enforce another piece of code's license on someone else by virtue of that someone else writing code that uses an API in WordPress. It just doesn't work that way.

    Maybe i'm confused but that certainly seems to be what you're saying..

    Let's call it a misunderstanding. The GPL covers the distribution of the software and not the use of it. I can reference and use WordPress functions. If I copied those actual functions from the PHP files into my software then I would have to GPL my software.

    Just using the functions does not re-licence anything.

  12. t31os
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Ah... i get you now mate...

    Just a matter of wording it differently.

    I wasn't questioning for the sake of it, i'm generally curious about the workings of the license.

    I'm not sure i agree with it, but that's a seperate issue and not relevant to the fact.

    We can leave it there, happy faces all round ... :-)

  13. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Let's say I wrote a kick-ass plugin and theme. That's not GPL'ed code. It could be, but it does not have to be. Just using WordPress functions does not make my code GPL. Neither does having a functional dependency on WordPress code make my code GPL'ed.

    This is the part that's open to interpretation.

    It can be argued that a theme (and most plugins, but not necessarily all) are derivative works of WordPress, and are thus subject to the GPL's terms. Thus, distributing a theme under a license not compatible with the GPL is a violation of the GPL.

    You are trying to enforce another piece of code's license on someone else by virtue of that someone else writing code that uses an API in WordPress. It just doesn't work that way.

    Yes, in fact, it does. I invite you to investigate the meaning of the term "derivative works", and to ask yourself a simple question: If the theme is an independent work, why can it not be used without WordPress?

    The GPL covers the distribution of the software and not the use of it.

    If you're a theme author and you distribute a derivative work of WordPress (your theme), well...

    However, I will state just because a theme author chooses to violate the GPL does not give any additional rights to the theme's users. A theme is not licensed under the GPL just by virtue of being a WordPress theme, a copyright holder must choose his own licensing scheme. The fact that he chooses an illegal one means nothing to the end-user.

  14. Group hug! Glad we're on the same page now :)

  15. t31os
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    At last a forum where sensible discussion can be had without making it personal..

    I think what Otto is saying is where i got my wires crossed. Getting old now, so hard to keep track of everything i read and hear... (i'm sure some will appreciate that..)

  16. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 5 years ago #

    In the long run, the whole issue can be easily avoided. Just don't use non-GPL'd themes.

    Stick to the themes directory: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/

    All themes there are free (as in speech) and have been checked over for compatibility, quality, and are free of malware or spam links (which most "premium" theme sites I've seen have lots of).

  17. figaro
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    It can be argued that a theme (and most plugins, but not necessarily all) are derivative works of WordPress, and are thus subject to the GPL's terms. Thus, distributing a theme under a license not compatible with the GPL is a violation of the GPL.

    Having worked with a lot of different GPL software in the past, I tend to agree with this interpretation. However, like you point out, that doesn't stop anyone from slapping a license on something and calling it proprietary regardless of what it's based on. Then the question is simple: Is a user willing to chance finding themselves in a lawsuit, go to court, (as unlikely as it may be), and try to make the case that the proprietary license is invalid because of GPL?

    Most people don't need that headache and will just find something that is clearly GPL...or pay the license fee.

  18. Otto,

    GPL discussions can get real fun real quick.

    It's an old discussion and partly why we have the LGPL. The derivative works issue has been around and this is partly why this same discussion gets so heated up on Linux threads.

    While it can be interpreted and argued either way, at some point the developer must make the call. I don't know if I'll ever agree that the developers are choosing illegal licenses, but it would be hard to change someone elses mind either way.

    Moving on to solving tangible problems like "What does headers already sent mean"... :)

  19. t31os
    Member
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Stepping back a little i guess what i said before does ring true, and it is really open to interpretation.

    You can be sat at either side of the fence, it depends how you feel about it.

    I don't think this needs to get heated, and i don't think anyone in particular is correct, it's just totally open to opinion, and noone's opinion holds more value then the next guy's... regardless of how important or correct some people would have you believe there opinion is, and this applies to anyone... Even me... :)

    This is what got me reading in the first place, the whole debate.... :) love it!! :)

  20. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 5 years ago #

    Having worked with a lot of different GPL software in the past, I tend to agree with this interpretation. However, like you point out, that doesn't stop anyone from slapping a license on something and calling it proprietary regardless of what it's based on. Then the question is simple: Is a user willing to chance finding themselves in a lawsuit, go to court, (as unlikely as it may be), and try to make the case that the proprietary license is invalid because of GPL?

    And even if they successfully argue that, it's a lose-lose for the end-user. The theme is still copyrighted by the theme author, so if the end-user successfully invalidates the license, then he's shot himself in the foot, as without that license the end-user has no rights to the theme at all.

    Here's my list of avoids when it comes to themes. Don't use a theme if:
    - It uses a license that is not GPL-compatible.
    - It has any "encrypted" code in it. Check the footer.php file, this is most common.
    - It comes from any site other than wordpress.org with the word "wordpress" in the domain name (they're violating a trademark here).

    That's just my rules of thumb, of course.

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