Licensing, -both easy and difficult

This is step 10 of our onboarding guide to becoming a reviewer

Always start the review by confirming the license information.

If you find that the theme is not 100% compatible with GPLGPL GPL is an acronym for GNU Public License. It is the standard license WordPress uses for Open Source licensing The GPL is a ‘copyleft’ license This means that derivative work can only be distributed under the same license terms. This is in distinction to permissive free software licenses, of which the BSD license and the MIT License are widely used examples., or if information is missing; then you can stop the review until the problems have been solved.

Checking the licensing does not require any WordPress- or coding knowledge, but basic knowledge of the license that WordPress uses, which is GNU General Public License v2, or later.

To make things more difficult; it is not enough if the submitted theme is compatible with GPL. All the authors themes needs be 100% compatible with GPL.

This is because The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. can not promote products that violates the WordPress license agreement.

  1. In your browser, open the official list of licenses that are compatible with GPL.
  2. In the theme folder, open style.css, readme.txt and license.txt, if it is included.

Top ↑

In the headerHeader The header of your site is typically the first thing people will experience. The masthead or header art located across the top of your page is part of the look and feel of your website. It can influence a visitor’s opinion about your content and you/ your organization’s brand. It may also look different on different screen sizes. of style.css, there needs to be a license declaration. Example:

License: GNU General Public License v2 or later
License URI:

If this information is missing, make a note about this that you can add to the review later.

Open readme.txt. If licence information for the theme is included, make sure it matches the license information in the stylesheet.

Open license.txt, if it is included. Make sure it matches the license information in the style sheet.
-For example, it should not say GPL v2 in one place, and GPL v3 in the other.

GPL can only be used on copyrighted products. Therefor, the theme needs to include a copyright statement. This statement can be included anywhere in the theme, but the most common places are in the files we have already opened.


Twenty Seventeen WordPress Theme, Copyright 2016

Top ↑

Other themes

If the theme author sells WordPress themes on their own website or elsewhere, those themes must also be 100% compatible with GPL.

You can check this by visiting the theme and author URI that are in the style.css file.

On this website, look for a terms and conditions page, or other type of license announcements. If you can not find the license information, ask the theme author.

GPL does not allow theme authors to limit the number of theme installations or domains, so you also want to look at their pricing pages: Even if the license information says GPL.

Theme Forest has a notice in the pricing information box of all themes that are compatible with GPL:

If the authors theme does not have this notice, then the author can opt-in for changing the license at Theme Forest. -Changing this may take some time, and the TracTrac Trac is the place where contributors create issues for bugs or feature requests much like GitHub. ticket can be closed meanwhile.

Last updated: