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WordPress and GPL – the Definitive Guide

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You may already hear about GPL and what it stands for, however, most likely you’re not fully aware of how it affects the WordPress platform and community.

In this article, we will dive deep and talk about WordPress and GPL.

Here are some of the subjects we will cover:

What is GPL

The GNU General Public License, often shortened to GNU GPL (or simply GPL), is the most commonly used free software license.

One of the basic tenets of the GPL is that anyone who acquires the software must make it available to anyone else under the same licensing agreement.

The GPL was created by Richard Stallman, a free software movement activist, and programmer.

Richard Stallman WordPress GPL

Richard Stallman created the GPL in order to protect GNU software from being made proprietary. The four main core beliefs of the GPL are:

  1. You can run the program for any purpose.
  2. You have the freedom to study how the program works and functions.
  3. You have the right to redistribute copies to others.
  4. You are allowed to improve and modify the program or software and release your improvements to the public so the whole community benefits.

GPL is designed to ensure that every user of a program gets the essential freedoms—to run it, to study and change the source code, to redistribute copies, and to publish modified versions

Richard Stallman

WordPress and GPL

Many software is published under the GPL, including WordPress.

As mentioned above, WordPress benefits a lot from the GPL license. If WordPress wasn’t released under the GPL, it wouldn’t be the most popular CMS software today.

Thanks to the GPL, WordPress files were released to the public. As a result, developers from around the world started to study the code, modify it, and improve it.

A big, vibrant community started to form around WordPress. That created hype and caused more people to join and try the software.

Today, over 36% of the world’s websites were built using WordPress. It is an unbelievable number that is made possible only thanks to the fact the WordPress was released under the GPL.

WordPress is by far the most commonly used and most popular CMS (Content Management System) platform and has over 60% market share.

Top 5 Most Used CMS Platforms

Even though all the other CMS platforms were created around the same time that WordPress was created, they’re not being under the GPL held them back and let WordPress open up a big gap in usage and popularity.

Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress, is one of the biggest promoters of the GPL in the world. He stated multiple times before that ‘If WordPress were a country, our Bill of Rights would be the GPL because it protects our core freedoms.

matt-mullenweg WordPress creator

Matt himself knows and believes that in order for the software to thrive, it must be released under the GPL. That is why they protect their Bill of Rights and live by it.

Much of WordPress’ competition that was not published under the GPL simply vanished and died over the years. They didn’t have enough users to keep their heads above water.

Eventually, the users who used their platform just left them and moved to a more evolved software like WordPress. This was due to other developers improving it thanks to the GPL.

GPL and Ethics

Some developers may look at the GPL as a double-edged sword.

On one hand, thanks to the GPL, they can reach millions of customers around the world. As we talked about above, WordPress is the most popular system thanks to the GPL.

But, on the other hand, everyone can redistribute copies of the plugins and themes because that is legal under the GPL license.

GPL Ethics

We believe, obviously, that redistributing the plugins and themes can benefit the developers a lot.

Think about it, if a developer sells his plugins for hundreds of dollars, it will be almost impossible for a beginner site owner to afford and purchase the plugin.

As a result, the website’s owner won’t be able to scale up and reach the full potential of his business.

If the website’s owner was able to purchase the desired plugin from us for a small fee, there is a better chance for him to scale up his business, make more money, talk about the plugin, spread the word to his partners and customers, and even purchase a license from the original developer to get help or support.

We honestly believe, like the WordPress and GPL founders, that when more people use a plugin or theme, whether purchased from the original developer or from us, it will benefit the original developer in the long term.

Is GPL Safe?

The short answer is yes, the longer answer will be: it depends. Let me explain.

Similar to us, there are many WordPress plugins and themes redistributing websites.

Many of those sites download the plugins and themes to their own computer first, modify the products (usually with ads) and upload them to their own websites to sell. They do it to get a quick buck with ads.

Unlike them, we do it differently. Our programmers developed a smart bridge mechanism that connects our website servers to the original developers’ websites.

Every time a new plugin or theme version is released, the bridge we developed automatically transfers the plugin or the theme, from the original developer straight to our website.

We DO NOT change or modify the products in any way, shape, or form. It’s going straight from the original developer to our website. The plugins and themes that you’re downloading from us are exactly identical to the one from the original developer.

It is one of our core believes not to change or modify the files whatsoever.

Original developer to pluginsforwp to you


This article taught you everything about WordPress and GPL.

GPL is a great software license that benefits WordPress immensely. It helped WP to develop and become the most popular CMS platform of all time with millions of users around the world.

If you have any comments or questions please let us know in the comment box down below.

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PluginsForWP is a website specializing in redistributing WordPress plugins and themes with a variety of knowledge about WordPress, internet marketing, and blogging.

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