Support » Themes and Templates » theme/template licence question

  • Apologies if this isn’t the correct place for this sort of query, but I couldn’t see an alternative.

    If I use a template or theme developed by someone else and make changes (as allowed under gnu or CC licensing), at what point does it ‘become mine’?
    For example, if I change the background colour scheme and some graphics (say the main header picture), is that enough of a change for it to be a new theme?

    I’m asking primarily so that I can change the credit to me (or even remove it entirely). To be fair, I do tend to leave a ‘based on …’ message within the theme files.


Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • This is a gray area as a lot of WordPress themes are based very heavily on the work of other designers. If all you are doing is changing the background color and the header image, it’s still the same theme, and the credit still belongs to the person who originally created it. There are way too many sites out there claiming to use original themes, but the underlying design of the “donor theme” is still instantly recognizable. I think it’s best to let your conscience be your guide. When you’ve got as much work in it as the person who created it, and the original design is no longer apparent, then you can think about calling it your own. It might also be a nice idea to contact the original theme designer to get their thoughts. That’s my opinion, and I would be very curious to hear what other folks have to say on the subject.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I think you offer a reasonable compromise and a good guide to the effort implied in a theme becoming one’s own. As you suggest, it may come down to the original designer still seeing it as their design despite changes in the most obvious (from a user perspective) aspects. If a designer has invested heavily in the graphics, that’s the design. If it’s in clever layout tricks and features (as opposed the ‘mere’ appearance) then that’s the design.

    Sorry about the bump, but I think this is a very important topic, and I am interested in hearing what other folks have to say.


    If you’ve downloaded a theme on which to base your design, or to use as a jumping off point, there’s usually a license document in the distro files, but contacting the theme’s designer to get their thoughts is the polite thing to do.

    I’m a theme designer myself, and usually if someone contacts me and tells me they’ve modified my theme, especially if they’ve modified it beyond recognition, I tell them to go for it. I enjoy creating themes when I have time (and unfortunately, I haven’t had time in over a year), but I do see a lot of our themes in my WP Dashboard as backlinks (which is a small reason for releasing themes). I love seeing what people have done to our themes to make them unique. There’s a lot of creativity out there; it never ceases to amaze me.

    Now some theme designers are more sensitive about this than others. I think the happy middle ground is as the OP suggested, [theme] by [theme designer] modified by [your name here]. I think that keeps everyone happy and also lets people find the original theme, on which your theme was based, if they so desire.

    What if the theme did not come with a license? Is crediting the original author in the css enough? When can you pull their spam links in the footer?

    I don’t think I have ever completely removed credit from a theme but I have pulled footer links.

    What if you mod a theme for someone but it is only cosmetic, background, header, some colors. Can you add your link to the footer? Like greentheme designed by original designer, modded by wpmods.

    Is that acceptable? Would like to see this dialog furthered.

Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
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