Another Company Goes 100% GPL

spectaculalogoSpectacu.la, a premium WordPress theme company has announced on their corporate blog today that they have decided to abide by the GPL 100%. You may remember Spectacu.la from a few months ago as it was Dave Coveney who spoke out against 200 themes being removed from the theme repository, one of which was produced by his company. Of course, this lead to many more people jumping on the bandwagon to discuss the GPL and the end result is that now, no theme whatsoever that goes against the license will be hosted on the repository.

James Whitehead who published the post on the corporate blog discusses why they had to change their model.

On the upside, GPL can lead to a larger market share. It’s also very tolerant of SaaS. Consequently we have two plans. One is to run this as a paid WordPress and Spectacu.la theme forum, where you can get help and assistance, and the other is to run a WordPress service for a particular niche we’ve been eying up.

Peter Westwood congratulated the team for abiding 100% with the GPL via Twitter:

@davecoveney Congratulations. The right decision! #wordpress #gpl #payforsupportnotcodeabout

Also as part of the announcement, the company plans on giving two years of membership access to everyone who has joined from when they first launched up until the present. That is a pretty cool deal, especially for those who invested in them during their initial launch. Congrats to David and team for finding a way to stay within the confines of the GPL while still being able to keep the lights on.

5 Comments


  1. I’m not sure you can say that we’ve decided to abide by the GPL – that would suggest that we were in contravention of it before. There are many folk arguing on both sides of this.

    However, the view within the WordPress community is that a theme should be GPL. It’s not actually important whether the community is right or wrong – if we want to be a part of a community that feels strongly about something then it’s important for us to share those values. And that’s why we’ve decided to apply the GPL to our themes.

    I’m not convinced it’s going to bring us riches – it didn’t appear to work for Brian Gardner and although his themes are GPL now, they’re no longer freely available. This appears to have caused repercussions – I see that his work is no longer promoted by WordPress.org – so it’s clear that if you want the support of the community it’s important to make all your themes freely available and stick to a service based offering for the chargeable element. Whether that’s viable for smaller businesses, I don’t know. Guess we’ll find out :-)

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  2. @David Coveney – Hey David, the way I looked at it is that your themes were taking off the repository due to not complying with the license but now, your themes will certainly comply with the GPL at least in the way the repository wants you to. But I don;t want to go down that argument road again :P

    I’m glad to see you merge your business with the overall view of the community. As far as riches go, I imagine if having the themes for free and making income off of the services or support model does not work, maybe you’ll be forced to charge for the GPL material? You would still be in line with the license even if you charged for the theme, just as long as no restrictions were on it.

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  3. I doubt we’ll make much money, to be honest :-)

    The upside is that bandwidth costs are, in effect, subsidised by Automattic if all your themes are on their repository, which helps. Similarly, we’ll benefit from the point when theme installs are fully automatic from the back-end – I suspect that will only support the repository, just like the plugins system is today.

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  4. I’ll be interested to see how things go for you, David – I’m not really sure how I feel about the idea of entirely service based business, so I think I can see where you’re coming from. Regardless, I hope you do well, and I hope you’ll keep us all updated.

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