What is GPL and is safe to use and legal?


You may have heard of the GPL (General public License) applying to WordPress and any third party theme or plugin operating in the WordPress eco-system. 

GPL or General Public License is a software license, which gives users complete freedom to use, share, and edit the software. It’s one of the most common licenses used in open-source software, including WordPress.

WordPress licensed its software as GPL to ensure that the software should widely available to all, and encourage free development of WordPress code.  If WordPress had chosen other, paid type of license, it’s unlikely that the number of themes and plugins and the development community would be anywhere near down as compared today, as each developer would be required to buy a license before developing any kind of WordPress tool.

The GPL is the most commonly used free software license. This license allows the software to be freely used and redistributed by anyone. As WordPress is also released under the GPL license, which means that WordPress is open-source software to use and tools which are develop under it should inherit the same license. There are many websites from where you get the GPL Plugins and Themes like WordPress Soft, DX Themes, wpnulledplugins and many more.

WordPress considers the GPL license to be equivalent to the bill of rights. To give you more understanding, WordPress is itself Licensed under GPL and the tools who use it from GPL sites are safe from Legal perspective, because of inheriting GPL license. 

These free software license holds freedoms as:

  • Anyone can download the plugin or theme and run the GPL software
  • Anyone can modify it
  • Anyone can redistribute free copies of the GPL software
  • Anyone can distribute modified versions of the GPL software.

Then why are we paying for third-party developers who develop plugins and themes like WooCommerce, Yithemes, Yoast, Elegant Themes etc. it’s because

  • We pay for the updates for a specific amount of time
  • We pay to get support on our questions for a specific period
  • We pay to get fixes for the bugs

I’m going to share with you little bit about my opinion here of using the plugins and themes from GPL sites, and while I think “GPL license” is good to use and also safe. 

I personally like GPL software because I can read the code, I can learn from it and I can adjust it if my requirements are special. You also find it more worthy when you use it once.

The primary aspect of the GPL is that it uses something known as copyleft. Copyleft is the word of copyright, but the concept is similar. Basically, it is a copyright law to protect and modify the versions of work and it requires the same protections to be applied to those version.

For this reason, any work which is based on WordPress inherits the GPL license. Sometimes it caused some controversy for some companies and for the individual users who tried to sell WordPress Themes and Plugins under non-compliant licenses. However, there is some strong sentiment among the community to protect the WordPress bill of rights.

Is Plugin or Theme from GPL sites safe to use?

Yes they are safe if you are Pro expert in WordPress in identifying how code is running and are able to identify GPL theme/plugin distributed by GPL or nulled sites modified with malicious code or not you are safe from using them on your sites. To give you more understanding.

So don’t use them if an offer seems too good to be true i.e if someone is selling super cheap or free. Always use trusted sources and websites like WordPress Soft, DX Themes and WP Nulled Plugins. These are a few reputed sites that I know of that provides original and genuine gpl products.