WordPress and GPL: Top 5 GPL License Questions Answered

Top 5 GPL License Questions Answered

What Is GPL?

GPL(General Public License) also known as GNU GPL, is the most used free software license. It was created by Richard Stallman for the GNU Project (Free Software Foundation). It allows the software to be freely used, modified, and redistributed by anyone. WordPress also Comes With the GPL license, which means that WordPress is open-source software that can be used, modified, and extended by anyone.

GPL provides the core basic values that the project believes in.

  • Anyone can download and run the software
  • Anyone can modify/edit it
  • Anyone can redistribute free copies of the software
  • Anyone can distribute modified versions of the software.

You may already hear about GPL and what it stands for; however, most likely, you’re not fully aware of how it affects the WordPress platform and community.

WordPress and GPL

WordPress and thousands of other software are also under the GPL license.

As mentioned above, WordPress benefits a lot from the GPL license. That is one of the main reasons WordPress is the most popular CMS software today.

Thanks to the GPL, the public can access all WordPress files. As a result, developers worldwide started studying the code, modifying it, and improving it.

A big, vibrant community started to form around WordPress. As a result, it created hype and caused more people to join and try the software.

Over 36% of the world’s websites use WordPress as their CMS platform. It is an unbelievable number only possible thanks to WordPress is GPL.

Moreover, WordPress is the most popular CMS (Content Management System) platform and has over 70% market share.

Even though all the other CMS platforms were created around the same time as WordPress, not being under the GPL held them back and let WordPress open up a significant gap in usage and popularity.

Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress, is one of the world’s most prominent promoters of GPL. He repeatedly stated, ‘If WordPress were a country, our Bill of Rights would be the GPL because it protects our core freedoms.’


Matt himself knows and believes that for the software to thrive, you should release it under the GPL. That is why they protect their Bill of Rights and live by it.

Many of WordPress’ competitors that are not GPL vanished and died over the years. That happened because they didn’t have enough users to keep their heads above water.

Eventually, the users who used their platform left them and moved to a more evolved software like WordPress. This was due to other developers improving it thanks to the GPL.

This article teaches what GPL is and how WordPress benefits from it.

GPL is an excellent software license that benefits WordPress immensely. Therefore, it helped WP develop and become the most popular CMS platform of all time, with millions of users worldwide.

Now, It is time to answer the Top 5 GPL License Questions.

Top 5 GPL License Questions Answered

1. What is copyleft?

Copyright is a law that restricts the right to use, modify, and share creative works without the permission of the owner. When an author releases a program under a copyleft license, he makes a claim on the copyright of the work and issues a statement that other people have the right to use, modify, and share the work as long as the reciprocity obligation is maintained.

This means that any software that is written based on any GPL  must be released as open-source. If any software that uses any GPL open source component. that means it has to required release its full source code and all of the rights to modify and distribute the entire code.

2. Can you sell GPL Products?

Yes, the GPL license allows selling the original as well as the modified products. However, free software is referred to as free in terms of freedom to use not in terms of price. As Richard Stallman explained, free software means free as in “free speech,” not free as in “free beer.”

3. Is GPL safe?

Yes. GPL doesn’t have anything to do with the Source code. It’s just a license that governs its usage and distribution.

4. Does the GPL license require the author to release the modified source code?

Under the GPL License, it requires you to release the modified source code only if you release the modified program. If you have modified a program’s code for personal use, then there is no need to release it.

5. What is the difference between GPLv2 & GPLv3?

It is always been some confusion regarding the difference between GPLv2 & GPLv3. The FSF tried to add more clarity to GPLv3 as to when the reciprocity obligation is triggered. The FSF even wrote a new GPL license, the Affero license, to the “ASP loophole”.

In addition, the FSF decided to improve the compatibility of the GPLv3 with other licenses. To combine two codes into a larger work, both the applications must permit it. If those rights are imparted by both the programs’ licenses, they are compatible. By making the GPLv3 more compatible, the FSF increased development options.

The third difference between the two versions is that the GPLv3 was written in an effort to increase usage globally. The language used in GPLv3 to describe the license rights were modified to ensure that international laws will interpret it as the FSF intended, unlike the language used in GPLv2, which is considered very US-centric. GPLv3 also permits developers to add local disclaimers, which also helps to grow its usage outside the US.

GPL license terms and conditions?

  • It doesn’t allow to claim patents or copyright on the product. moreover, it requires to display a copyright notice, disclaimer of warranty, intact GPL notices, and a copy of the GPL.
  • You are not allowed to change the license or add some additional terms & conditions.
  • you are bound to release the source code and all of the rights to modify and distribute the entire code.

The owner of this Site is not a lawyer. That means you should not interpret this as legal advice of any kind. Information is provided on an as-is basis.

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