WordPress License Clarified

January 16th, 2011
WordPress, WordPress News

The WordPress developers have just clarified its license as “GPL version 2 or later,” putting an end to some frequent confusion.

WordPress contains libraries which are licensed under the GPL “version 2 or any later version,” which obviously excludes version 1 of the GPL. Here is the reality: the GPL version 1 is effectively irrelevant. It hasn’t been a commonly used license since before Matt Mullenweg was in third grade! Clarifying WordPress as being licensed under the GPL “version 2 or later” resolves these niggling library licensing concerns or ambiguities, and clarifies where WordPress stands.

As with any licensing discussion, the post has generated some interesting comments, which makes for some entertaining (if not educational) weekend reading.




  1. J.D.MN says:

    Stating “licensed under GPL” (sans version) implies the current version. Unless rights are radically different under various versions, or the software has non-GPL issues, the GPL version number is not significant enough to cause real confusion. This seems much ado about nothing… as is “snow in Paris”.

  2. Ryan (55 comments.) says:

    Mark Jaquith has a stunning knack of dealing with situations in a helpful and non-confrontational manner. I have a vision in my head of other people posting exactly the same thing, but all hell breaking loose in the comments.

    I had no idea it was possible to switch between license versions like that so easily. That’s good to know for future use.

  3. paul (2 comments.) says:

    is wordpress an open source

    • James Huff (109 comments.) says:

      Yep, 100% open source, “GPL version 2 or later.”

      • Malte says:

        Precisely spoken, that is not entirely correct.

        WordPress 3.0.5 / 3.1 _will_ be “GPL version 2 or later”.

        Every other WordPress version until today incl. the current 3.0.4 one is licensed under GPL not version restricted.

        But be warned that the package might be violating other persons licenses, copyright and other rights. So better check twice.

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