Theme Licencing Reminder

The wordpress.org Theme Directory contains only themes which are considered 100% GPL or GPL compatible. This includes the code and all of the bundled assets of a theme.

In Theme Reviews I see 3 different types of licence issue pop up in many themes.

  • Missing licence declarations.
  • Images or assets used under a non-compatible licence for the GPL.
  • Assets or other code not documented or attribution removed.

Missing Licence or Copyrights Declarations

Themes should have a licence declaration in the header of the style.css file as well as a licence and copyrights declaration inside of their readme.

The preferred copyrights statement uses the following format (where Fred is the theme name and Joe Smith as the author):

Fred WordPress Theme, Copyright 2019 Joe Smith. Fred is distributed under the terms of the GNU GPL

In addition to that you should include a licence declaration in the file header comment of each source file of the theme.

Images and Other Assets

Image issues have been touched on recently in the post about Pixabay images and in other posts in the past. Issues with licencing based on the Theme Review Team policy about them have been common recently so to clarify:

All of the images used in a theme for the .org directory should be shared under a GPL compatible licence – one such licence suitable for images is CC0. Other licences may be appropriate too.

Licences which limit the distribution of an image, or it’s use in other ways not covered by the GPL, are not accepted. This is because adding such limitations is not in the spirit of the GPL or in line with the 4 core freedoms of open source software which WordPress follows as part of it’s core philosophy.

Other assets, such as CSS or fonts, should also be shared under a GPL compatible licence. We have a list of some GPL compatible font licences.

Missing Information about Third-Party Assets

Any code used from a 3rd party resource should have a declaration of it’s use (in a ==Resources== section of your readme is ideal).

The licence you use the resource under must be GPL compatible and you must not remove the original authors copyrights notice. You also must clearly state if you modified the source.