What are the laws concerning developing WordPress sites using other developers' plugins and then selling the sites?


Please read through the following:

You can't can sell it as software or development, although and/or you can also charge for maintanance and install.

Anyway, you should at least donate to the plugin developers, if you make money with their work somehow.

EDIT I'm am sorry for my previous lines: I have to admit that GPL code can be sold, even if it's not your code, althought I still recommend donating.

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    Agreed on the donate to plugin authors :) If you charge your client for some functionality and you use a plugin to achieve that then a donation should be given to that plugin author. – Scott Apr 14 '11 at 8:53
  • +1 on links but I am not sure about conclusion you made. GPL stuff most definitely can be sold as software and I don't think there are any issues with paid development work on GPL-licensed code. – Rarst Apr 14 '11 at 15:50
  • Yes, GPL stuff can be sold. – Ashish Kumar - Ashfame Apr 14 '11 at 16:49

Under GPL you CAN resell the software.

You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee. GPLv2 Section 1

The main restriction is if you do sell (or give away) you must:
1) allow others to resell your works
2) provide them with the original and modified source under GPL.
3) Don't claim ownership/copyright of the original code and clearly start where (if anywhere) you modified it

Note that although WordPress.org requires all plugins in the WordPress.org repo to be GPL that doesn't mean it's true for plugins found outside of WordPress.org. It is YOUR responsibility to know the license. The biggest example is a lot of themes will license there PHP template files as GPL but not the CSS, JS, or Image files. Also some plugins will be GPL compatible but not GPL

WordPress.com uses plugins made by others to enhance the site and make a profit. Nothing says you can't make money just that if you distribute the code at all you have to allow others to do the same. Part of CNN.com runs WordPress has made and modified code that will never see because they don't redistribute it. Because the plugin authors have redistribute their code that changes everything.

Really it also comes down to ethics. In most cases credit/donations are nice. I also think it depends if you block the end-user from the source or allow them to see that it's WordPress and which plugins are used or are trying to create a closed source system.

I'm not a lawyer I suggest that you talk to one before starting a business reselling GPL Code. My advice is purely from my own knowledge and understanding.

I also encourage you to read the links that @cadeyrn posted although they link to GPLv3 and WordPress is under GPLv2

  • What you highlighted is the same what I said: don't charge for the coding, but you can charge for service. This is the very basic approach of Free Software. – petermolnar Apr 14 '11 at 9:41
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    @cadeyrn, I don't want to get into a GPL debate but my point was you CAN charge for the coding. Look at sites such as WooThemes and StudioPress. The only way to get their themes are to either pay for them or get them from someone who has already bought them. Yet they are 100% GPL. That IS charging for the code. GPL is Free as in Freedom not Free as in price. – Brooke. Apr 14 '11 at 19:41
  • You can charge for coding on any of YOUR developement, but I still doubt you can charge for an external GPL code that is written by someone else, this is what I meant in the first place, sorry for the misunderstanding. – petermolnar Apr 19 '11 at 6:00
  • @cadeyrn you TOTALLY can charge for someone elses code under GPL. That's why a lot of people are worried about going GPL. In reality most people are going to go to the main original source anyway. – Brooke. Apr 19 '11 at 6:21
  • I'm sorry, you are (and were) right, I don't know, which license I messed GPL up with, it really could be sold in any format. Sorry once again. – petermolnar Apr 19 '11 at 7:23

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