Support » Themes and Templates » Copyrights, CC, GNU GPL – Infringements

  • Hi all!

    This is both a notice, and a question for other WP theme designers.

    I designed the News Print Theme which you can find on it’s own page in my blog. I clearly state this:

    Except where otherwise noted, this software is:

    • Copyright Richard Dows
    • Licensed under the terms of the CC/GNU GPL
    • Provided as is, with NO WARRANTY whatsoever

    In a nutshell, the GPL means that:

    • You may freely use the works for any purpose, including commercial ones
    • You may freely make derivative works provided that you leave the proper attribution and copyright notices
    • You may freely distribute the works and derivative works provided that you make the source code readily available under the same terms

    Now I culled this from others’ theme pages, and it seemed fairly straightforward. My question is – are there better ways of licensing? Should I put something more to make sure that people understand that my copyright should not be removed?

    The reason I put this forward is because the blog/domain has infringed my copyright, removing both my name, and the link to my site/blog. See for yourself, they claim the copyright is theirs. In fact they even changed the “Powered by WordPress”, changing the WordPress link to their own domain (again).

    I have written CC regarding this, and received a reply, that essentially CC doesn’t cover it because I haven’t written it correctly on that page. Clearly I need to alter my page.

    I have written about the infringer incidentally, so hopefully I will see his domain closed down, or him removing my theme, or restoring my copyright.

    So beware, this might happen to you. And if it has, what did you do, and how can I make my own copyright more airtight? Should I stop offering my themes for free, and charge people?

    Thank you,
    Richard Dows

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 19 total)
  • You put in many hours creating this theme so that you could offer it to others for free. It’s a shame that it isn’t enough for someone to get a free theme, they have to remove credit where credit is due. It’s not like leaving in the small link back to you or the “powered by wordpress” is going to mess up the look of their blog. It’s just sad when this happens. It seems like you’ve taken the right steps though.. good luck.

    Not that this makes a difference, because what they’ve done is still wrong… however if you view the source code and then the stylesheet, your credit is still in there, including a link to your site and all.

    Have you tried writing to the owners of the site? Maybe they sincerely don’t know/didn’t read the license…

    I have a hard time assuming that people have the worst intentions, when in fact, it might simply be ignorance. Not as in stupidity, but just “not knowing” better.

    I always try to figure out why things happen, and take baby steps to correct it, rather than jump to conclusions… makes for a much less stressful life.




    view the css:


    * Theme Name: News Print

    * Theme URI:
    * Description: Four column news theme, reminiscent of print news.
    * Author: Richard Dows
    * Author URI:

    am i missing something or does that not qualify as proper attribution and copyright notice?

    as for the wp link/image. theres absolutely nothing that says you have to keep that intact or not change it.

    also, what exactly makes you think that they are laying claim via copyright to the theme? Because they have a copyright on the bottem of the page??

    Did it ever occur to you that they are copyrighting their content, NOT unlike a million other sites out there?

    My take: they left your info intact the CSS. Youre making much ado about nothing.

    I have to say I disagree a bit with that. What if someone wants a theme designed, they see this other blog and want one designed by whoever designed that one… but don’t know anything about looking at the css or even what a css file is? I’ve gotten a lot of paying work because my name and a link to me was on a design.

    Ladydelaluna, yes I have tried. The email they list at bounces. And as I wrote, I do make it clear that the copyright notices, which are in the footer.php should not be changed.

    Copyrighting their content is fine, “whoami”. But when you consider that they removed the “Powered by WordPress” line too and replaced it with “Powered by News Technology”, where “News Technology” is their domain name, I’d say they are going beyond copyrighting their content, don’t you think?

    And then right after it on the same line “Copyright 2006 by …” changing it to their domain name, I think that also goes beyond copyrighting their content.




    This post was edited.

    Also, what’s wrong with two copyrights? One for content, one for design?




    “And then right after it on the same line “Copyright 2006 by …” changing it to their domain name”

    You think?

    Where is this copyright notice within your footer? I just downloaded the theme and see no copyright in it. You have a link there. They removed it. Yuu didnt ask that he be kept there.

    A grep of ALL of your files shows ONE, JUST ONE, copyright notice, and it exists in tact on the site in question.




    From your readme..
    “Please do not remove any of the credits or
    footer information – this theme is released on the condition that they remain.”

    Is that legally binding? Im not too sure.

    I’m starting to think you’re the owner of the site in question.




    msralls, how incredibly uninformed of you to suggest that. However, a browse of history of my posts would indicate that I have no affiliation, whatsoever, with that site.

    I just disagree with the suggestion that something was done that constitutes calling someone a thief. And according to the the original post, Im not alone, as the Creative Commons people apparantly disagree also.

    Lastly, I question whether or not you can “enforce” the above statement from the enclosed readme.

    I might have to agree with whooami on this one. Let me preface this with: I don’t think it was nice of them to go against your requested licensing ‘requirements’. I think that sucks. But let me go through some general analysis of this all…

    First, the theme doesn’t ship with either a GPL or CC license, which it should. That doesn’t mean that it should be assumed to be otherwise of course.

    Second, unless you go out of your way to specify it, there’s probably open-license to create derivative works. You’d need to pick a CC license that avoids that.

    Third, I find there’s a huge gray area in USE versus DISTRIBUTION. They aren’t re-distributing your theme as their own, are they? They are using it, showing the results, but that is different.

    Fourth, I think they are (without input) copyrighting their content. They could make it clearer, as could you, by having a HTML comment block at the top that specifies the copyright of the theme. But again, there’s no other license or document to refer to at the moment. The fact they haven’t re-named the CSS, or butchered its details, makes clear they aren’t going out of their way to claim it as their own for redistribution (not viewing/use, distribution…).

    Fifth, don’t use the word ‘please’ and think it’s a legally binding term. Your newer zip obviously has that changed… 😉

    Lastly, the GPL and CC haven’t really undergone heavy court battles, legal proceedings, to validate just where lines are drawn, level of scrutiny, etc. There are ‘ideas’ of how things should be handled, but even the GPL isn’t clear, or appropriate, for many types of ‘content’. It also is not clear when it comes to things like ‘themes’ and visual layouts exactly how it applies.

    Now, all that said, feel free to ping them and ask them to please add back a link to you, the original creator, as that was one small thing you wanted as part of the ‘license’ — or alternately, they can stop using the theme and find another or build their own.

    You likely want to use a particular CC license, as they get more particular, and you can pick and choose how some things apply.

    And note that when you give something away for free, without warranty, it is really hard to ‘enforce’ anything more than your Copyright. That is, you could certainly go after them if they had removed your marks and were re-packaging and distributing your theme as their own (though, you couldn’t go after them if they redistributed a modified version, with their attribution AND your attribution, under the GPL…).

    Hairy stuff, this ‘free licensing’…


    I might as well stick my nose in here, I’ve posted a few things on the forums about “terms of use” and “copyrights” stuff. First I should mention that I am assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that the author of this theme in question is American. I only make note of this, as myself being Canadian, I think some views of the ‘intellectual property’ topic held by Americans (be it mostly corporate America, but also content-creators such as the theme designer) seem very out of sync with what many people see as ‘rational’ or ‘reasonable’.

    Very few ideas are truly original – including your own website (which lacks the customary copyright © expression in the footer) nearly everything is based on an idea or a design or what have you from someone else. If you would be so audacious to claim that your “infringed? template is 100%, uninspired originality, I think I’d have little choice but to smile and nod and dismiss any credibility or weight you may carry. Of course it’s likely you’ll reply asking me to provide links to similar designs etc and if I can’t I don’t know what I’m talking about, which I won’t do, but just to satisfy some of what may come, I suspect that you are not the “inventor? the colour red nor the designer of the Union Jack as is on your own site, those all came from somewhere else, another design, another idea, you did develop it into something, but you can not claim that it is your property. Now don’t take offence to this, I am not personally attacking you (if you look at some of my other posts, I can get rather mean, but that is not the case here), but am pointing out just some simple examples of why things which we may claim ownership over, haven’t materialized from thin air.

    I do believe in copyright and creators rights, but not in draconian, culturally repressive ways. You can not seriously accuse these people of being malicious, as they’ve managed to make modifications to the template, logic would say they would also have the ability to delete the accreditation text in the style sheet, which they seem not to have done. I suspect you are disconcerted about this not because you truly feel that you have been the victim of thievery, but that you have been denied credit – where credit may be due and that is not a respectable thing to do. But throwing a tantrum and emailing their host and posting here about how you’ve been wronged is going to have quite the opposite effect, whatever your themes look like (I haven’t looked at them, so I can’t say), some people may see this and want to use one of them, but perhaps they may give it some second thought, you are coming off a bit like one who would enjoy seeing the “copyright gestapo? running amuck.

    Your credit is intact in the places where it was put (with the exception of the footer), but it seems there was no copyright mark to begin with and just because you made it, many people (certainly outside of America) would assume that there is no copyright on it, since that clear mark is missing. Copyright is an asserted right and its not completely clear you’ve asserted it, which is basically what the CC told you. Also, maybe consider they may live in a country with different ideas of copyright or how things should be attributed.

    I’m not making excuses for them, but be reasonable about things, making a huge fuss over things which are hardly iron clad and clear isn’t going to get you the kind of recognition that well-designed themes would. All of us have and will be victims and all of us have and will be victimized.

    Ideas, designs and culture, especially things for the internet and blogs are meant to be shared, unless we want to cripple and censor our culture, our imagination and our ideas, we have to take the good with the bad.

    Copyright © Michael Niziol 2006. No Rights Reserved. 🙂

    Friends in the bushes of copyright, intellectual property and hard to read licences!

    Of course a copyright notice in the footer of a web site or a blog refers to that sites content and nothing else!

    The theme in question is free to use as the navigational and visual framework for that content. I do think that credit to the theme author should be given. That’s polite and civil.

    Not all themes are born equal. The one I use is Regulus 2 by Ben Gillbanks at Binary Moon, and although I have changed it considerably, it’s clearly recognizable. It automatically inserts a copyright notice in the footer:
    © 2005 NameOfBlog | Regulus by Binary Moon | …

    I think this is excellent credit to the theme author and normal behaviour. If I made a theme I’d be happy with that kind of treatment, but the standard author and address notices in the stylesheet would do.

    We are working in a community having the luck of standing on the shoulder s of the giants that created a great blogging software, and I’m happy if I can give something back.

    This whole issue is and can be quite saddening. But, you have to remember that the software, support, themes and what not are “free” persay.

    Unless of course you are making customized themes yourself and selling them. And you have your own copyright’s and “rules” for how the customer or whatever uses your themes.

    There really isn’t much you can do, except maybe buy a box of tissues and go to town. At the same time, NOT everyone removes the credits and what not in the footer.php file. =)

    I have noticed alot of websites using other people’s themes and what not, and yet all the theme maker’s credits were given and or left alone. Most usually just add an additional link or copyright information section so their info is displayed there as well.

    It’s kind of like what I did with the Andreas08 template, which was converted into a WP theme by various peoples, and yet revamped by me then later… Example of how I did it in the footer here:

    Has everyone covered in one spot. =) As well as the information in the ReadMe file and CSS file header. Now the only problem I’d have is, giving Credit due to all those other how many peoples that helped with this Revamping lol!

    I could add everyone’s name and their links in the ReadMe file I suppose…but how many people actually read that “extra” stuff in the ReadMe anyways lol?

    I dunno yet, this whole issue still has me up in the air about releasing this A08r theme.. Too much of my time and other people’s time has gone into it… I’d suppose I’d get upset too then, if I released it and someone just took the original Template Maker’s credits out of the footer, as well as mine..

    It’s not like they spent the past how many weeks trying to get it all looking the same in both browsers, IE and FF. But then again, if they happen to need support sometime and I figured out who it was that did remove it…I would just refuse support to them..maybe.

    Either way, in all cases this sucks in general. I guess there really isn’t too much you can do about it all. Maybe I’ll just release that theme to those that want it, and I’ll send them an email for the download link. Rather then making a full blown public release of it.. =) Might be a better idea. I dunno, maybe I just won’t release it at all.. Just my thoughts… =)


Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 19 total)
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