WordPress and Premium Themes. In support of Matt’s decision.

If you’re into WordPress, you may have heard about the close to 300 themes removed from WordPress.org repository. Matt left a comment on Inquisitr about the (non)gpl themes:

There were actually closer to 300 themes removed, and it seems like less than 2% may have been a mistake. These are themes that never complied with the guidelines in the first place, they had just gotten in due to some lax review and we were correcting that. “Link crime” themes were maybe 5 of the 300 that were removed.
What does “with the same loss of custom for theme creators” mean?
All we’re doing is choosing to host and promote things that follow the license that WordPress itself is under, namely the GPL. It is not ambiguous that the GPL gives you certain freedoms and when plugin or theme developers try to take these freedoms away from users we just don’t want to promote them on our site. They can do whatever the heck they like, but they’re not entitled to be promoted on WordPress.org. Users get confused when WP is completely open source and then they start using a theme they downloaded that requires they link to a refinancing or SEO site.

I have to say that I completely understand Matt’s position. First of all, if you want to create a premium theme, go ahead. If you want to create a FULL GPL compliant theme, go ahead. If you want to host the full GPL compliant theme in WordPress.org, go ahead. BUT. You can’t promote your non GPL premium theme business through WordPress.org, no sir. I believe that WordPress.org should always be a place for GPL only things. I believe that a premium theme market can exist. I believe in love surviving death into eternity (wait, that was a Savage Garden lyric). The issue can be solved in a simple way. If you, the author, release a full GPL compliant theme and want to upload it to WordPress.org place a link to your personal site, not your business site. You don’t have to give support. Just offer it in GPL without promoting your business site, which, at best, is a banner.

For example, Brian Gardner still has its Revolution Code Blue theme on WordPress repository. Furthermore, he found another way to market their themes: by offering the GPL (ok, there’s no license on the downloaded zip) for free, and offering paid support. In this way, the theme is not subject to any payment. The support, which is an entirely different product, is.

Come on, I understand that premium authors are all angry. They’re losing income traffic. But, users, don’t get confused. WordPress and every Automattic release has been free. They’ve not played against their own rules. As Alister Cameron says in its post Matt Mullenweg, WordPress, GPL and why I think he really gets it:

Akismet is a service and the plugin bit is free. Gravatar is free. All their plugins are free. Heck… if Automattic had ever screwed with the GPL you’d better believe we’d be up to our necks in controversy.

Automattic has been always straight, and Matt always claimed that it will remain like that, and that’s a strong argument. Automattic could never came up and say “We’re now charging the use of WordPress”. I mean, they could, but they would lose all credibility. Automattic remains true to itself. You’ve gotta praise that.

5 thoughts on “WordPress and Premium Themes. In support of Matt’s decision.”

  1. Hi!
    I like your WP theme, can you share it with me ? Or help me to design a beatiful theme like it?


    1. TAEL, this is my very own personal theme. Neither you or anyone else is allowed to use it somewhere else. You can get a lot of free quality themes at sites like WooThemes, Revolution Themes or Smashing Magazine to name only a few.
      Please respect the hard work I’ve put into it. Besides, it still has some serious bugs LOL 😛
      I can’t help you design something like this, but you can hire me to design something alike. Please check my Work section for more samples of my designs.

  2. I agree with you Elliot, WordPress.org is only for GPL things!

    I love premium authors, and I understand that they want to promote there products in every posible way, but dont promote it at WordPress.org,WordPress users don’t like it, and WordPress itself can’t appreciate it..

    My point, without the WordPress users there would’nt be any market for them..

    Btw, Elliot I love you’re WordPress theme.. Actualy, i put it on my new gallery, nothing special but it must be nice to know that the very tiny country Holland knows who you are! It can be viewed and rated at: http://gallery.bbites.nl/

    Keep posting Elliot, I’ll keep reading!

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