I know this has been discussed elsewhere before but still it is not clear to me.

I am currently investigating how to publish a freemium plugin:

The free edition is a fully functional plugin, that I intend to host at wordpress.org and license under GPLv3. All of the code and assets is my own work except for a library I include which is distributed under the Apache License 2. (I read somewhere that GPLv2 is not compatible with Apache 2, hence GPLv3 it is.)

The premium edition of my plugin includes all the code from the free plugin, plus some extra features. I would like to not have to split my plugin into two unless I absolutely have to.

I have read the wordpress.org guidelines and "upselling" is clearly allowed. However I do not understand what the license of my premium edition of the plugin would have to be.

More specifically:

  • Does the premium version need to be dual-licensed? i.e. GPL + something proprietary?

  • Does that mean that users who buy the premium edition will have the right to redistribute my premium code? And if so, do I need to worry about this in practice, or is software piracy rare in the WordPress world, as others have suggested?

1 Answer 1


Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

The issue here is the Apache license. You are free to distribute your own work under as many license varients as you want. After all you retain copyright. But if you include other peoples work in the distribution, every license varient you distribute under needs to be compatible.

However, the Apache license is actually pretty permissive and allows you to distribute its code within commercial products. So long as the Apache licensed part of the code is still marked as Apache licensed, you are free to use it in commercial and proprietary systems.

  • Thanks for the reply. You say the main issue here is the Apache license. As you say, is is pretty permissive and compatible with commercial products. I am more worried about GPL, a requirement of wordpress.org. Do you think I can I release the free edition under GPL and the premium edition under another license? I know that other people are using the freemium business model with wordpress.org, I'm just not sure how they license their premium plugins.
    – alexg
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 10:15
  • 1
    Are you using any third party GPL code? You didn't mention any in your question. If the only GPL code is your own you don't need to worry as you retain copyright. The GPL means you've licenced OTHERS to use the code provided THEY adhere to the licence. You can still do with your own code what you want.
    – ToniWidmo
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 10:19
  • 1
    Thanks again. I do not use any third-party code, except for the Google WebFont loader which is Apache 2. If I understand you correctly, I can license my free plugin under GPL3 and my Premium plugin under a different license as long as it is Apache-compatible, even though it includes code from the free plugin?
    – alexg
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 10:32
  • Sorry for being so persistent, you've probably already answered me, just making sure :-)
    – alexg
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 10:40
  • 1
    Yep. Think of it another way. You're the copyright holder. Its up to you to enforce your GPL licence. I presume you have no plans to sue yourself? ;-)
    – ToniWidmo
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 10:48

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