I am theme developer and I want to make a "demo" website, where people to which I give password will have access to nearly all theme functions (except theme editor) -> they won't have full admin rights. They will use it only to evaluate theme. Problem is that, I don't want to them to have the right to a have copy -> to not distribute theme to them.

My question is whether using customizer and theme options counts as redistribution, therefore use of GPL which force me to give them the source code which I don't want to.

  • Anything you'll get here won't be more than speculation. If you really want an answer you'll have to talk to a lawyer.
    – kraftner
    Mar 3, 2016 at 9:33

1 Answer 1


In my understanding (and I'm not a lawyer, etc etc), this would not count as distribution.

I make this distinction mainly based on the fact that a separate GPL-flavoured license actually exists where this would count as distribution - the GNU Affero General Public License.

GitHub's choosealicense.com states:

GNU AGPLv3 is distinguished from GNU GPLv3 in that hosted services using the code are considered distribution and trigger the copyleft requirements.


Therefore, as long as you're using the GPL and not AGPL, I believe what you're doing wouldn't count as distribution.

Remember though that once you sell your theme under the GPL, the buyer can do whatever they like with it - including posting the source code online for free.

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