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Thread: Wordpress Themes Footer Links Legal Issues

  1. #1
    Hellas's Avatar
    Hellas is offline Very Unusual Member
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    Wordpress Themes Footer Links Legal Issues

    I concluded that I or anyone have all rights to remove site links which are coded usually in footer.php of the Wordpress themes. My claims are based on this text bellow.

    I already mentioned that Software Freedom Law Center concluded that
    themes for Wordpress are derivative works of Wordpress, which means that php files of the themes need to comply with the GPL licence of the Wordpress. However images and css don't have requirements to comply with GPL since they are distinct works.

    Source:
    WordPress › Blog Themes are GPL, too

    In short:
    In conclusion, the WordPress themes supplied contain elements that are derivative of WordPress’s copyrighted code. These themes, being collections of distinct works (images, CSS files, PHP files), need not be GPL-licensed as a whole. Rather, the PHP files are subject to the requirements of the GPL while the images and CSS are not. Third-party developers of such themes may apply restrictive copyrights to these elements if they wish.
    Now if we proceed with above fact, this give us, the ordinary users, right to freely download theme and fix or change footer.php to our needs as footer.php is wordpress derivative work. That basically mean that owner of theme can only incorporate his logo in design which must be there, but all links inside the themes can be freely changed.

    And theme owner cant do anything against user who brake theme author imagined and not moral rule (it brake GPL licence).

    Since Pro WP theme clubs realized that, they mostly decided to go GPL, and with this fact you can download theme from many clubs for free somewhere from internet completely legally, since GPL licence give needed permisions to people to share theme files.

    Some of the clubs which are very well known and which went GPL for example are: Woo Themes, Revolution Themes, VIVO themes, and similar...
    Complete list can be seen here
    http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/commercial/

    Now from moral side my view is next:
    Its not my or ordinary user problem, to bother our heads why author of the some fictive theme did not read the GPL licence of the Wordpress and made his theme compliant to it. He could pick some other platform to earn money on it.
    Wordpress gave me freedom to do with the core theme files except images and css whatever I want. I know people will say, its not moral thing to do to change files without permissions, but its not my moral in question, its the theme owners.
    If something is under GPL all derivative works need to be under GPL too.

    I would like to hear your thoughts? Maybe I am wrong and I would really accept any constructive idea or fact what would force me to change my mind?

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    bogart (1 December, 2009), dmi (1 December, 2009), GeeOne (1 December, 2009), Kovich (1 December, 2009), MeetHere (1 December, 2009), Shenron (1 December, 2009), Sundance (1 December, 2009), TopDogger (2 December, 2009)

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    Snak3's Avatar
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    So in short, the theme designer cannot take any legal action if a theme user has removed the links from the footer.php?
    Am i right?

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    bogart's Avatar
    bogart is offline Super Moderator
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    I believe that there are two issues concerning a wordpress theme. First, the php code itself. From what I read, the php code is subject to the Wordpress GPL License. So it should be possible for someone to use the php coding without giving a footer link back. The second issue of the images and css are more complicated. The images and css are what give a wordpress theme its look and feel. So using the elements of style icluding css and images would require the backlink remain intact in the footer. However, in my opinion the user should keep the footer links intact when the are also using the layout which is also an element of style.

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    thats a nice post and this has been discussed before too in the wordpress.org site only when the theme directory was removed from wordpress.org...

    Free or paid themes with footer is not a new thing, this has been done in blogger/ plain html / joomla/ phpbb etc...

    there are no such laws regarding this , but many guys release such free/paid themes with footer under CC terms - for which i dont know much

    but we can respect the work of the designers by keeping the links live... there is no law regarding this - but they do threaten us sometimes if they catch

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    Quote Originally Posted by MeetHere View Post
    thats a nice post and this has been discussed before too in the wordpress.org site only when the theme directory was removed from wordpress.org...

    Free or paid themes with footer is not a new thing, this has been done in blogger/ plain html / joomla/ phpbb etc...

    there are no such laws regarding this , but many guys release such free/paid themes with footer under CC terms - for which i dont know much

    but we can respect the work of the designers by keeping the links live... there is no law regarding this - but they do threaten us sometimes if they catch
    I agree they deserve it

    G!

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    Lol if everyone take this concept seriously than where will theme sponsors go and many webmaster will be looking for new jobs again . We must respect others work and if you download free theme and editing it to give it new look than it is ok but you only removing footer links than you don't have any respect for other webmasters work and you don't want to credut others .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hellas View Post
    I concluded that I or anyone have all rights to remove site links which are coded usually in footer.php of the Wordpress themes. My claims are based on this text bellow.

    I already mentioned that Software Freedom Law Center concluded that
    themes for Wordpress are derivative works of Wordpress, which means that php files of the themes need to comply with the GPL licence of the Wordpress. However images and css don't have requirements to comply with GPL since they are distinct works.

    Source:
    WordPress › Blog Themes are GPL, too

    In short:


    Now if we proceed with above fact, this give us, the ordinary users, right to freely download theme and fix or change footer.php to our needs as footer.php is wordpress derivative work. That basically mean that owner of theme can only incorporate his logo in design which must be there, but all links inside the themes can be freely changed.

    And theme owner cant do anything against user who brake theme author imagined and not moral rule (it brake GPL licence).

    Since Pro WP theme clubs realized that, they mostly decided to go GPL, and with this fact you can download theme from many clubs for free somewhere from internet completely legally, since GPL licence give needed permisions to people to share theme files.

    Some of the clubs which are very well known and which went GPL for example are: Woo Themes, Revolution Themes, VIVO themes, and similar...
    Complete list can be seen here
    http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/commercial/

    Now from moral side my view is next:
    Its not my or ordinary user problem, to bother our heads why author of the some fictive theme did not read the GPL licence of the Wordpress and made his theme compliant to it. He could pick some other platform to earn money on it.
    Wordpress gave me freedom to do with the core theme files except images and css whatever I want. I know people will say, its not moral thing to do to change files without permissions, but its not my moral in question, its the theme owners.
    If something is under GPL all derivative works need to be under GPL too.

    I would like to hear your thoughts? Maybe I am wrong and I would really accept any constructive idea or fact what would force me to change my mind?
    Excellent post!
    Xbox 720 Next Generation Console - Video gamers check it out!

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    It is morally praiseworthy to keep the links intact.

    But it is not, however, legally obligatory, to keep the links intact.

  11. #9
    Hellas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kovich View Post
    It is morally praiseworthy to keep the links intact.
    But it is not, however, legally obligatory, to keep the links intact.
    Dont get me wrong. I agree that its morally when you have one link (and I have bunch of websites that can support my claim), but what in case where you have outrageous 4 or 5 footer links. Why should I feel bad when I don't need to feel bad. I am not doing anything wrong. Theme author does, when he purposely brake GPL rules and put some rules behind which legally don't stand and with which rules he lies his customers in order to get backlinks. That is hidden agenda, not honest business, since most people think that they cant touch his links.

  12. #10
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    If I saw 4 or 5 links, I would definitely remove them without feeling bad - that just shows that the guy who created the theme was greedy and wanted to try and take things overboard. But just one or two links? I can deal with that.

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