Comments on: Commercial Themes and the GPL We build High Quality, Good Looking Premium WordPress Themes that are Easy to Use and ready for just about anything. Tue, 28 Jun 2016 19:01:53 +0000 hourly 1 By: Richard Wing Thu, 01 Dec 2011 08:22:52 +0000 I agree Justin. Don’t apply the GPL to it.

By: Justin Tadlock Tue, 13 Oct 2009 01:59:28 +0000 Don’t release your theme under the GPL then. Don’t give me permission to do those things.

It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

By: Silver Firefly Sat, 20 Jun 2009 10:13:05 +0000 I think the move to GPL is going to make different pricing structures pop up for support levels etc. I’m thinking of one myself.

There’s no way prices will fall, not for support, unless theme authors undervalue their services (which they do from what I’ve seen).

I certainly won’t be making that mistake. Giving support costs me – in terms of time spent. My time doesn’t come cheap. Neither does my expertise. So at least for me, my prices won’t be falling. And I seriously believe that with the high quality themes I’ll be putting out (at the very least they’ll match the best on the market now – I have some great ideas for making my themes stand out from the rest!) folks will want to buy, and they’ll be fine with my price structures.

By: Nick Roach Fri, 19 Jun 2009 23:15:50 +0000 Actually I think the opposite will be the case. The problem right now is that most people don’t even understand what the GPL is. The idea of selling a digital product released under an open source license is yet to be realized by 90% of the people that buy them. I guarantee you if you talk to most of the people purchasing the new GPL’d woothemes that they don’t realize that what they are buying are not the themes themselves, but access to the community and the support that comes along with it. In a few months, when all of these themes, even better/modified versions of the themes, are available for free throughout the community, the concept will be better understood. When that happens customers will be much less likely to spend $125 for forum access, and even less likely as time progresses and other unrestricted communities emerge where people will inevitably help each other for free in a more “open source” environment. The fact that woothemes even has different purchasing options, such as single theme licenses vs club access, won’t make sense once the themes are more readily accessible. It also won’t make sense to hide the download links within their member’s area, as this will only decentralize themselves from their own product. I think eventually prices will have to lower as people become aware of what they are actually buying.

In this sense I think my pricing model will make the transition easier, if and when I do make it, which I probably will once my support system is more organized.

I am not sure if premium wordpress theme providers will survive, even with the “pay for support model.” It is more likely that their themes will serve as a popularity gainer/traffic driver to a more standard web development company that provides unique themes/theme customizations. Or maybe a tuts+ type site for wordpress theme customizations will emerge, that could be fun.

By: Carl Hancock Fri, 19 Jun 2009 21:25:41 +0000 You hit the nail on the head.

The stampede to go GPL is directly tied to Matt announcing would soon promote commercial themes as long as they were compatible with the GPL.

It’s a business decision. gets a ton of traffic so the referrals are valuable for not only sales but SEO juice. has an excellent Google page rank so being linked to from a site with a high PR also helps your SEO.

If WordPress continued to ignore the commercial theme market, GPL or non-GPL, you wouldn’t see the current rush to go GPL that is currently taking place.

By: Silver Firefly Fri, 19 Jun 2009 20:23:50 +0000 Yes, I would shun that guy and I would say some of his actions are unethical (from the view of being a theme author and a consumer).

The reason why?

If I created a theme from scratch including designing and coding, and I sell it on my website under the GPL, I expect my clients to realise that I have to make a living. I expect them to realise I put a lot of hard work and effort into creating that theme and making it available in order to put food on the table so to speak. Plus I have no respect for rippers as the guy will have ripped my theme (modified or not).

By: Leland Thu, 18 Jun 2009 20:28:53 +0000 @Justin Tadlock: You’re right. It was inaccurate of me to say “without permission.” What I meant to say was “without notification.”

I agree with you about the “fly-by-night” sites too. Names like StudioPress, iThemes, etc. are names people trust. Sure, you might be able to get them for free at, but who knows what dodgy code could be in one of those themes.

But when a respected developer, such as yourself, bought a commercial GPL theme, modified it, updated it, and released it to the community…I would say the results would be unpredictable at best.

Judging from some of the comments on Alex King’s post, I have a strong feeling something like that would likely have an overall negative reaction.

By: Justin Tadlock Thu, 18 Jun 2009 18:47:54 +0000 In your post you said that people could “redistribute code without permission of the original author.” I wanted to point out that people do have the permission of the original author to redistribute code if that author released the code under the GPL. By placing the GPL on a theme, the author is saying, “Here you go. Here’s your permission to do these things with this theme.”

I’ve hardly seen anyone honestly touch on the real issue. The issue isn’t about sleazy sites trying to make a quick buck or cut into the theme author’s profits by releasing the theme. That’s not the issue at all. We all know these fly-by-night sites suck, and no one’s questioning that. Somehow this is the scenario that keeps coming up in conversation.

I’m hearing a lot of Sure you can do it, but… and a lot of Yeah, it’s legal, but… coming from the community right now. I’m seeing a lot of people skirting around the real question.

Hypothetical scenario: Let’s suppose I, Justin Tadlock, saw a really cool theme for sale (under the GPL, of course). But, I wanted to change a few things around to suit my needs and update the code to make it better. Then, I released this modified version of the theme on my website. How would people react? Would I be shunned by the original theme author’s supporters? Would the theme author openly bash me? Would he say it was unethical?

By: Leland Thu, 18 Jun 2009 18:16:24 +0000 @Mijk: Agreed, although I think most people want to buy themes from the source for the support, updates, etc. Supporting the theme author (financially) is probably the “awesome side-effect” to most…not the other way around.

By: Leland Thu, 18 Jun 2009 18:15:47 +0000 @Mike Smith: Asked this on Twitter the other day, but I also wonder the motives behind commercial theme sellers going GPL. When Brian announced his RevolutionTwo project, I’m sure all the positive attention he got didn’t go unnoticed by other competing businesses.

Now with Matt asking for commercial GPL themes to link to in from, I’m thinking some just couldn’t resist that free promotion, as well as all the praise received from other “WordPress friendly” blogs.

In the end though, it doesn’t really matter why…just that they did it. I believe it’s better in the long run for the community as a whole.