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I'm having a few issues understanding how sites like gpldl.com can call themselves legal. This site appears to purchase paid plugins from various developers like

  • WooThemes
  • iThemes
  • Gravity Forms
  • WPML
  • WPMU DEV
  • Elmastudio
  • Elegant Themes

Sites like gpldl.com state that since their plugins/themes are licensed under GNU General Public License, they can then share them with members of their site for free.

Are sites like these actually legal to use? Can I download plugins and themes from this site and use them on a commercial project?

3 Answers 3

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They are GPL licensed. Each WordPress file contains either a licence.txt or readme.txt file that clearly states they are GPLv2 or higher. As such they are free to redistribute the files as they wish.

Disclaimer: We also own a website that distributes GPL licenced WordPress software at https://www.gplvault.com and only accept files that are 100% GPL. The thing to watch out for is that none of the files carry a so called split licence where the PHP and HTML is GPL and the Images and CSS are non-GPL.

3

There's two possibilities here.

1. The themes are actually under the GPL

If this is actually the case, then you can use the projects/plugins/themes commercially, as long as you follow the rest of the terms of the licence.

2. The themes aren't under the GPL

Then no. The media was licensed wrongfully. All a copyright holder needs to do is tell you, and boom. You can't use the media anymore. That can seriously cause you problems: you would then have to remove anything and everything that used that media, so it can disappear without a trace.

The decision to choose whether the items are properly licensed is yours.


As a side note, you can ask open source licensing questions as Open Source SE (disclaimer: I'm a moderator there) as well.

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  • I know for a fact that they are, their readme specifically specifies that, are there any other terms in GPL that could prevent me from using that theme/plugin in a commercial environment? Would you recommend I move this question to Open Source SE?
    – Tom
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 0:04
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    @Tom Nope. You just need to make sure that you understand and follow the other terms of the GPL. I'm making it clear though - they are pretty restrictive and long. It's a strong copyleft licence.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 0:04
  • @Tom Your question is fine here, but open source is kind of like a dedicated site for open source licenses and the like, so it's always good to get a second opinion :)
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 0:06
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    Just because their readme specifically tells you it is GPL licensed doesn't mean it is. if someone copies my (non-GPL) works without permission and slaps a GPL license on it, that doesn't make it GPL licensed.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 8:31
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    @gnasher729 Which is why I included a section if the themes aren't actually under the GPL.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 12:02
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With GPL licensed software, here’s the rules:

  1. You can charge any amount for the software. Nobody can force you to sell the software at all, or cheaply.

  2. You can charge a reasonable amount for providing the source code, basically if I want the source code I’ll have to pay for your effort to produce it for me.

  3. You are not allowed to charge for the GPL license.

Obviously if you sold the software once for a million dollar, I can ask you for the source code say for $20, build the software and sell it for half a million. So your ability to sell it at a very high price is practically limited.

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