WordPress Pulls the Plug on Premium Themes


First the news got out that 200 themes were pulled out out of the WordPress.org Theme Directory. The action was done overnight with no prior warning to the theme authors affected, and this sparked some responses within the community, most notable from Justin Tadlock (Automattic putting the boot to premium theme developers) and Jeff Chandler (Why Were 200 WordPress Themes Removed?). Jeff also posted to the wp-hackers mailing list inquiring about this issue, which then generated some interesting discussions as well.

Then, Matt explained what had happened. On Inquisitr’s “More Hypocrisy from Mullenweg and WordPress with new themes jihad” (wow!) post, Matt also explained that there were close to 300 themes removed, most of them were actually themes that didn’t comply with the guidelines but went in anyway. Inquisitr wasn’t the only one getting unhappy about this: some others like David Peralty (WordPress’ “GPL” and Theme Mess) and that girl again (“here we go again“) weighed in their opinion as well.

Alister Cameron did a thoughtful article (“Matt Mullenweg, WordPress, GPL and why I think he really gets it.“) on the issue with another follow-up by Jeff Chandler (“More Thoughts On Premium Themes”). Another recommended reading was done by kristarella, “WordPress and the GNU General Public License”.

For those interested to know further, WP Weekly’s 2 hours of interview with Matt covered a lot about this. Also, WP Snippets did the community a great deal of service by transcribing the long interview (part one | part two | part three) with more part forthcoming as per this article.

What do you guys think? Was it smart for WordPress to do this? Sound off in the comments!

9 thoughts on “WordPress Pulls the Plug on Premium Themes

  1. The link to the inquisitr.com article appears to be broken.

    To be honest though, I find it very ironic that Matt’s once again promoting GPL but yet he and Automattic has been caught many times violating it and copyright themselves. Matt’s known for his “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude. This is just yet another example of it.

    My question for all of this is what to do with all of the non-GPL themes out there. Should we say that they’re automatically GPL’ed because Matt (and others) feel that no theme shouldn’t be licensed as such? My own hosted clients are discussing this as we’re trying to decide what themes should be added into our own hosted WP MultiUser installs.

  2. Pingback: WordPress and the GPL | WhatIThink

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  4. This is why habari is an interesting alternative that is worth exploring, it allows theme and plugin authors to choose their own license.

  5. My themes are some of those that had been removed from the WordPress theme directory. 25% of my traffic is from WordPress.org and it had dropped to zero overnight 🙁

  6. This is absolutely correct. These “WordPress Themes” often lack in a real-world-application anyway and focus should be to have support for themes and theme customization anyway since most themes in their default view will never be “just right” for a _serious_ web site or business site.

    I agree totally with Alister Cameron’s post about this subject.

  7. Hmmm, not sure why this is resending pings but…

    It got pointed out to Automattic (And I say Automattic because the trademark is still within Automattic’s hand, not the Foundation like they say it is) that material within wordpress is not GPL’ed. It’s ironic that it occurred and sad that they had to fight the developers over the issue.

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