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On a themes site they stipulate, in the terms and conditions, that their themes inherit the GNU general public license from WordPress. I believe that this means that they can be copied and modified.

However the themes are being sold. Shouldn't they be free? Could someone enlighten me.

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The GPL absolutely does not preclude selling code, for cost. In fact, the terms of the license explicitly allow for selling of code.

The GPL merely allows the end user, whether he received the GPL-licensed code for free or for cost, to use the code however he likes, to redistribute the code, to modify the code, and to redistribute the modified code - provided that any such-distributed code be licensed under the same license.

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Thank you. That cleared up my misunderstanding –  Stack 101 Jun 14 '11 at 23:56
    
If a user was to purchase a theme would he therefore be able to redistribute it freely, defeating the seller's intention? –  Stack 101 Jun 15 '11 at 0:02
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Stack 101: Yes, however you would have to wonder about the motivations of such a person, to spend his own money on software and to then give it away for free. –  Otto Jun 15 '11 at 1:05
    
@stack the PHP code is GPL'd - however, it's possible that the CSS and any images are not. Therefore, the theme might not be redistributable as a single package –  anu Jun 15 '11 at 10:13
    
So, I could take an HTML theme that was available for free as open-source GPLed software, modify it to my heart's content, convert it to WP, and promptly sell it somewhere, provided I included the same license? –  Amanda Feb 16 '12 at 8:22

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