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I read that all themes on the wordpress.org site are GPL compatible. So can I download the theme, edit it and use it? Can I remove the links that point to the theme developer's website? Does the GPL license allow this?

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Yes. Use it. Edit it however you like. Redistribute it, modified or unmodified. Sell it. The GPL explicitly allows all of these things, provided that any such distribution is done also under GPL.

While the GPL requires inline-documented author attribution and copyright/license information must remain intact, there is absolutely nothing wrong with removing public-facing "credit links". Anyone implying otherwise is acting contrary to the Free Software philosophy from which the GPL itself is derived.

If a developer wishes to compel users to retain a public-facing credit link, then the developer should release his work under a license other than GPL. But to release a work under GPL and then attempt, through appeals to moral propriety, to restrict the very rights granted by that license, is an act that is itself morally repugnant.

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It is entirely legally possible to do so; check the wikipedia article on GPL, and if you are really boring read the GPL license in a few of the themes you want to use. But it is very morally questionable to take someone's work without giving them credit for it.

The usual solution that satisfies both moral and legal requirements is to give the theme developer a donation for their theme and then modify as you will.

Oh and if you like a theme, email the creator and tell them. Nobody minds a compliment!

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It's a copyright license. There are no moral implications. Front-end attribution links are not required, but rather only the inline code attribution and copyright/license notices. To the contrary: implying moral implications to coerce someone to leave a public-facing "credit link" is contrary to the very Free Software philosophy from which the GPL itself was inspired. –  Chip Bennett May 21 '11 at 15:29
    
While attribution links and donations are appreciated by theme developers, there are NO MORAL REQUIREMENTS what-so-ever. –  mfields May 21 '11 at 16:02
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GPL license Does allow to remove credit links, but that is just not cool, it a small appreciation to the hard word of the theme developer/designer and if you do remove then please consider a donation to that theme developer/designer.

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You can remove credit links (although it's a fairly scummy thing to do), but you cannot remove the GPL licence text in the source code.

Also, unless specifically excepted, you cannot do the same for CSS files and any included images.

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