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the rise of pay-only bbPress themes

  • _ck_


    Don’t get me wrong, I am not against paid, premium themes for bbPress.

    There are now a handful out there, which is a good sign.

    But I want to point out something to a couple of the authors which I will not name at this time.

    You should not start with an existing free theme that is GPL and modify it if you are going to sell it. (added: without making it GPL)

    (edit: changed “cannot” to “should not”, moral vs legal)

    GPL requires you to disclose the source if you are going to distribute derivative works. This means, for example, if you start with the kakumei theme and improve it, you cannot sell it to others. You can give it away and maybe charge for support, but in itself has to be free.

    (But on the other hand, this does NOT mean you have to give away your work if you modify a theme for your own site. GPL cover that, it says if you don’t distribute, you don’t have to make source available.)

    TL;DR If you are going to sell a theme, start from scratch, not another free theme or you’ll get in trouble eventually.

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • word .. i agree

    Ryan Hellyer


    You are totally incorrect.

    There is nothing in the GPL license which prohibits you from selling GPL licensed themes. even has a page dedicated to promoting the sale of various GPL themes …



    This is one of the most important thing of GPL (the famous “free as in freedom” and not “free as in free beer”.)



    @ Ryan & Zaerl

    This is more about morals then rights. It’s not fair that someone else earns on your hard work.



    It was just a correction. It’s fair to sell GPL software. If you, the developer, choose a copyleft-like license as the GPL you know what other people can do with your code (and what they can’t.) Basically speaking you put your work in the public domain with the only difference that others can use and distribute your software under the terms and condition of the GPL. If you don’t want other people to make money with your work than you can choose a more restrictive license like the Creative Commons Non-Commercial.

    If someone takes your GPL work then modifies and sells it, that is not against the terms of the GPL provided they distribute it under the same GPL licence. That means that anyone who has the modified source code (and every purchaser should have it) can redistribute it for free again (under the GPL license).

    If they are distributing the themes under a different license, then they are breaking the terms of the GPL.

    If they are compiling or obfuscating any part of the program and not making the source code available to those they have distributed it to, then they are breaking the GPL.



    Wow, Hi Sam ! Nice to see you here!

    You pretty much said what I meant, but to try to make it in plain english, what I am saying is if you start with a GPL theme, you have to disclose your source, *forever*.

    No-one should expect to start with a GPL theme, modify it, and not give out the source if they distribute it further, it’s against the terms.

    @ryanhellyer, I did not say/mean you can’t make your own themes GPL licensed and sell them.

    Hi _ck_!

    You might be interested in this…




    Great to see progress there!

    Are you back contributing to bbPress? As volunteer or back with Automattic?

    With the recount, the sad part is, similar issues exist elsewhere in bbPress.

    For example the Bozo plugin attempts to do it’s own recount by first sucking in the entire user id table and then processing them one query at the time. Good luck with that on a large forum! At least the bozo plugin is external now however.

    I figured out a workaround for the hyperactive bozo feature by disabling it’s tie to akismet with it’s too many false positives.

    instead of checking post status which is not trustworthy

    if ( 1 < $bb_post->post_status ) (around line 195)

    directly check if the user is a bozo for this topic (or a bozo overall)

    if (bb_current_user_is_bozo( $bb_post->topic_id ) )

    This prevents akismet from automatically making users into bozos by it’s setting status=2. Instead a user has to be manually set as a bozo for a topic or overall.

    Makes the bozo plugin actually useful as akismet’s reliability (radically) decreases.

    But since bozo alters queries and prevents them from properly using indexes it’s not a good idea on larger forums anyway.

    That patch was just a little challenge for myself.

    I keep tabs on bbPress, but can’t really give it much time.

    I never thought the bozo feature was very elegant.



    Thank you Sam. :D

    Ryan Hellyer


    I did not say/mean you can’t make your own themes GPL licensed and sell them

    You said you can’t start with someone elses GPL theme and work from that, which is not correct.

    You cannot start with an existing free theme that is GPL and modify it if you are going to sell it.


    If you are going to sell a theme, start from scratch, not another free theme or you’ll get in trouble eventually.



    This is coming up pretty high for various google searches, and is extreme misinformation. If you meant something other than what you said, you should probably edit the original topic.

    What you said, however, is wrong.



    Here is what (the highly respected) Mark Jaquith has to say about the very similar problem over on the WordPress side:

    Why WordPress Themes are Derivative of WordPress

    And I guess the way I stated this whole thing was wrong to begin with, what I meant instead was that if you sell premium themes to remember they also have to be GPL – IF you start with another theme that is GPL.

    You can’t make a premium theme that uses GPL code from another theme or bbPress/WordPress itself and sell it without making it GPL.

    (now I think I finally said it correctly)

    I guess the sad conclusion to all this is how bbPress standalone now has some really nice premium themes but is ending standalone development.

    Ryan Hellyer


    I suspect there will be a mad rush of people porting those over to the new plugin. I’d expect a few phpBB themes to make their way over too I’d suspect.

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
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