Theme Standards

There was some confusion on WP Daily the other day about Obox, ThemeForest, GPL, and It was disappointing to read since we’ve always been very open about our standards for WordPress theme licensing; 100% GPL for every thing, every time. It’s pretty easy to understand and it’s the only way to really have an open source theme that protects user freedoms. As I posted about recently, what’s been difficult to understand has been Envato’s license. Unfortunately, and just as disappointing, Obox has been caught up in this. Obox sells their themes on ThemeForest and have been trying to sell their themes in the only really correct way — with a GPL compatible license for everything. Since it looks like this won’t be corrected right away, as of yesterday we’ve removed Obox themes from our Premium Theme Marketplace.

Obox is a terrific company and I hope this is temporary. We’ve had a great relationship that should continue. That relationship — and the one we have with all of our Premium Theme partners — is a good example of our team goals. If you’ve never read our Theme Team goals I’d like to point out a couple of them.

We will teach WordPress developers to become the best theme developers in the world. If you’re a WordPress theme developer—commercial or 100% free—we want to help you be the best.

We will ensure all our improvements make it back to the open source community.

We’re very serious about these goals and very proud of how these work out with our Premium Theme partners. The reviews we’ve done of the themes in our marketplace have been referred to as “Epic” more than once and I understand that they’ve become somewhat legendary. We love hearing that. A considerable investment of time is put into every theme review and every premium theme launch on Our hope is not just that our partners benefit from this investment but that the whole WordPress community benefits.

So, as I’ve said this is disappointing. One day — hopefully soon if Envato can correct their licensing problem right away — we’ll have Obox back. That won’t be just a benefit for us, Obox, or Envato. It’ll be a boon to the whole WordPress community.

8 thoughts on “Theme Standards”

    1. Oh, and personally, as I mentioned on our post over at WP Daily… it really is sad. The value that has brought to our product line has been great. I know this will impact them as a business, even if it’s in the short run. Too bad. Running a business is so freakin’ tough to deal with stuff like this…!

  1. Obox are kings. Great quality and innovative design. Envato should allow theme developers to choose their license upon upload.

      1. Absolutely. Versatility is so important in the software industry from features down to license agreements. The exception is the rule and one needs to cater for all scenarios.

  2. “…in the only really correct way — with a GPL compatible license for everything…”

    I’m a big fan of the open-source philosophy when it comes to software. I use Ubuntu/Android, I use open-source software whenever possible, and I (am learning to) develop WordPress plugins.

    But there’s an attitude among many in the open-source community, exemplified by the above quote, that I don’t really understand, and that is the attitude that anything less than 100% free is unacceptable, or that developers shouldn’t get a choice of whether to be closed or open.

    There are some cases where closed-source development creates superior software. Look at LMMS, the only FOSS alternative to music sequencers like Garage Band – nowhere near as good. Or look at FOSS animation software, as opposed to Adobe’s Flash – slim pickings.

    I don’t agree with Envato’s license, but it’s their choice, and it feels to me like Automattic is trying to strong-arm them into a philosophy that they didn’t freely choose. Is there something I don’t know here?

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