I just started to setup my WordPress worklow with Composer. After hours of research I found a Github User, that is hosting "some" Premium Plugins on his Account.

My Question's are:

  • It is allowed?
  • Can I use this Repos for my Composer Setup?
  • Should I use this?
  • Why nobody notice that?

1 Answer 1


WordPress is licensed under GPL, which according to WordPress means that all WP plugins must also be licensed to be GPL compatible. There is debate about that, but almost all of the plugins in that person's GitHub account are explicitly licensed under GPL.

Under GPL it is technically legal to redistribute (including selling) the actual code of any plugin - premium or not. There are plenty of sites that do this.

From the GPL FAQs:

If I distribute GPL'd software for a fee, am I required to also make it available to the public without a charge? (#DoesTheGPLRequireAvailabilityToPublic)

No. However, if someone pays your fee and gets a copy, the GPL gives them the freedom to release it to the public, with or without a fee. For example, someone could pay your fee, and then put her copy on a web site for the general public.

Challenges to this practice usually stem around the use of the plugin author's branding/trademarks/images, which are not covered under GPL. I could technically sell WooCommerce's premium plugins' code, but I would need to remove all references to WooCommerce's trademarks and branding.

So to answer your questions:

It is allowed?

Technically, yes.

Can I use this Repos for my Composer Setup?

Technically, yes.

Should I use this?

Morally, this is a gray area. I like quality plugins, so I prefer to ensure plugin authors are getting the compensation they request for the plugins I use.

Why nobody notice that?

People do notice, but it's hard to do anything about it.

  • WordPress has four different licenses, and none of them is binding a plugin author.
    – fuxia
    Feb 9, 2017 at 19:07
  • @toscho "Part of this license outlines requirements for derivative works, such as plugins or themes. Derivatives of WordPress code inherit the GPL license." wordpress.org/about/license "The GPL says that the whole combined program has to be released under the GPL. So your module has to be available for use under the GPL." gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/…
    – pants
    Feb 9, 2017 at 22:11
  • 1
    This has been discussed to death. Plugins are not derivatives, at least if they are communicating with WP per API. I have plugins that run under completely different frameworks, not just WP. An exception are child classes of WP classes.
    – fuxia
    Feb 9, 2017 at 22:13
  • @toscho "There is some legal grey area regarding what is considered a derivative work, but we feel strongly that plugins and themes are derivative work and thus inherit the GPL license. If you disagree, you might want to consider a non-GPL platform such as Serendipity (BSD license) or Habari (Apache license) instead." wordpress.org/about/license Maybe you are right, but WordPress's license page is not vague about their stance.
    – pants
    Feb 9, 2017 at 22:17
  • 1
    These are statements made by the WordPress trademark holders. Hardly an objective source. My point is: Please don't tell other people that someones "feelings" are equivalent to facts. :)
    – fuxia
    Feb 9, 2017 at 22:26

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