WordPress.org bans Themeforest members from participating in official WordCamp gatherings

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Typps says

WordPress.org is not a marketplace for stock themes. And no, “commercial” page is a bad comparison.

Are you saying you cannot upload your theme to the wordpress.org repository ? Sure you can. Regarding commerce, this is what they say:

Commercial versions of free Themes (i.e. “freemium” or “up-sell” Themes) are required to be released under GPL-compatible licenses Commercial versions of free Themes must not lock core WordPress features behind the commercial paywall Up-sell Themes may be subjected to more rigorous or additional Theme-Review requirements, at the discretion of the Theme Review Team
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hexahedron says

Are you saying you cannot upload your theme to the wordpress.org repository ? Sure you can. Regarding commerce, this is what they say:
Commercial versions of free Themes (i.e. “freemium” or “up-sell” Themes) are required to be released under GPL-compatible licenses Commercial versions of free Themes must not lock core WordPress features behind the commercial paywall Up-sell Themes may be subjected to more rigorous or additional Theme-Review requirements, at the discretion of the Theme Review Team

What I was saying is WordPress.org repository is not a platform where you can sell stock themes. Sure, you can go the freemium model but that’s not really like ThemeForest, is it? You’d be using the repository as a marketing tool only.


Going to have to disagree. Selling a “token” that can be used on another site for whatever purpose is not distribution. Obviously this wouldn’t happen but I’m just trying to illustrate the hypocrisy.

But that token does what? If some custom functionality is locked outside the theme that can only be accessed via API key, then I agree, it’s not distribution and GPL doesn’t apply (to that custom functionality) because you didn’t give the source code. If the token is an access to downloading the source code, that’s distribution.

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Typps says

What I was saying is WordPress.org repository is not a platform where you can sell stock themes. Sure, you can go the freemium model but that’s not really like ThemeForest, is it? You’d be using the repository as a marketing tool only.

Ah true, it’s not the same indeed.

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CodingJack says

If the token is an access to downloading the source code, that’s distribution.

Not exactly. But it’s a silly topic to debate :P Here are my arguments:

  • Jake shouldn’t be penalized for making an honest living.
  • If WordPress wants to enforce its own view of GPL that’s their choice. But they should lead by example with regards to WordPress.com

I also don’t think it would be a bad idea for Envato to add a “100% GPL” licensing option. Personally I’m happy with the split-licensing, but there’s no no harm in letting authors choose their own path.

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organicbee says


If the token is an access to downloading the source code, that’s distribution.

Not exactly. But it’s a silly topic to debate :P Here are my arguments:

  • Jake shouldn’t be penalized for making an honest living.
  • If WordPress wants to enforce it’s own view of GPL that’s their choice. But they should lead by example with regards to WordPress.com

Part of my problem with this issue(even though Jake wasnt singled out) is they havent fully enforced their own polices on others who violate the same rules they used for banning Jake, maybe it just a time will tell and Jake was the first.

using WordPress.com isn’t subject to GPL as its a service and the code isnt being distributed. Think of custom client sites the code/images/etc arent being distributed though it fall under(Work for Hire)

Oh and wordpress.com isnt ran by the WordPress Foundation its ran by Automattic though those two entities are so closely related it seams they are the same but they are different (I made that same mismenteripitation)

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Japh Envato team says

using WordPress.com isn’t subject to GPL as its a service and the code isnt being distributed. Think of custom client sites the code/images/etc arent being distributed though it fall under(Work for Hire)

Just to clarify the point I think others are trying to make on this:

The CSS and artwork of a theme are also not subject to the GPL, but apparently applying a different license to them violates the spirit of the GPL. I believe people here are trying to say that by WordPress.com not distributing their themes as 100% GPL (or at all), they are violating the same “spirit” of the GPL. The “chain of innovation”, as Caldazar puts it, is stopped.

Correct me if I’m wrong there.


On last 3.5.1 update there is already a “don’t buy non-GPL themes” notice for the users (not sure if it’s been there since forever, but I just noticed).

The paragraph you’re referring to was actually added to WordPress core on 12th May 2011. Which, incidentally, is also around the time Envato was no longer allowed to sponsor WordCamps.

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Caldazar says

The CSS and artwork of a theme are also not subject to the GPL, but apparently applying a different license to them violates the spirit of the GPL. I believe people here are trying to say that by WordPress.com not distributing their themes as 100% GPL (or at all), they are violating the same “spirit” of the GPL. The “chain of innovation”, as Caldazar puts it, is stopped.
Usually you won’t get a GPL-dispute because of artwork (or fonts for example) as they aren’t really source code. These guys are coding enthusiasts and their argument is “It’s made to work with Wordpress, so it’s Wordpress”

The counter-argument, which seems to be the legally valid one is “Does it in theory work standalone, without wordpress?” CSS & JS stuff does, so it’s not wordpress and does not fall under Mullenweg’s copyright.

But I get the feeling this guy’s about something else anyways: Envato not letting the authors and copyright holders choose their licence as they see fit. I think the term he used was that being ‘evil’. And he mentioned that Envato at least allowing authors to go full GPL might be the compromise he was willing to settle the dispute. (As some may know, this happens to be the deal-breaker for me also.)

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Typps says

But I get the feeling this guy’s about something else anyways: Envato not letting the authors and copyright holders choose their licence as they see fit. I think the term he used was that being ‘evil’. And he mentioned that Envato at least allowing authors to go full GPL might be the compromise he was willing to settle the dispute. (As some may know, this happens to be the deal-breaker for me also.)

For what it’s worth, after having followed this thread, I too see the usefulness of having GPL as opt-in. If i had seemed contrary, it is because I got carried away with the points I was trying to make, not that it is of importance now, but I think it is fair I clarify my stance on this :P

Great thread BTW, many mixed feelings and so many points of view!

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VF says

But I get the feeling this guy’s about something else anyways: Envato not letting the authors and copyright holders choose their licence as they see fit. I think the term he used was that being ‘evil’. And he mentioned that Envato at least allowing authors to go full GPL might be the compromise he was willing to settle the dispute. (As some may know, this happens to be the deal-breaker for me also.)

This seems to be the actual reason while looking matt’s comments on various blogs. Even as an author benefiting a lot from here, personally I am pleased to see this mild+harmless restriction happens to Envato (even as largest WP theme marketplace). The reason is we always go in-depth practices and finding ways to expand commercial aspects but without caring much about freedom/choice of usage/users.

For example (forget about GPL, WP), we don’t have Opt-in out option for both Regular and Extended License for individual items or category or even marketplace – this basically ties hands of author for no particular reason – while this choice has no harm for anyone on certain marketplaces. Another example is certain useful license types (Developer License or anything equivalent on CC) not considered as valuable for buyers. I don’t mean adding these choices will make everything perfect (commercially) but by not having these kind of choices we obviously need to expect reduced stability with future developments.

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Caldazar says

If i had seemed contrary, it is because I got carried away with the points I was trying to make,
After all, that’s half of the fun, isn’t it? I have no problems with proprietary software either. It’s just that I, being part of the FOSS world for some years now, got sick and tired of this model being depicted as some wacky freetard communist ideology. So we had the same approach to this discussion, just from different sides of the fence. Nice, that we all managed to tone it down a bit.
For example (forget about GPL, WP), we don’t have Opt-in out option for both Regular and Extended License for individual items or category or even marketplace – this basically ties hands of author for no particular reason – while this choice has no harm for anyone on certain marketplaces.
That’s my main issue with the states of things here also. Not only that ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t work with such a multitude of different software types, sometimes even a single project has to change the licence over time when the requirements ( e.g.of the development process) change.

For this reason I find it quite important that the copyright holder is the master of the licence decision – whatever he chooses in the end.

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