Open-source software has become increasingly popular over the years, and one of the most well-known licenses for this type of software is the GPL license. What is GPL in depth? What does it offer to users and developers? In this post, we’ll provide a brief overview of everything you need to know about the GPL license.

What is GPL?

The GPL license, or General Public License, is a free software license developed by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) to promote the principles of free and open-source software. It is one of the most widely used open-source licenses designed to protect the rights of users to access, modify, and redistribute software.

Overview of the GPL license 📋

Any program released under the GPL license must also be distributed further under the same license. It means that the source code must be provided to anyone who obtains the software. As a result, the software is kept free and accessible to all, and users are given the freedom to use, alter, and redistribute it as they see fit.

Permissions GPL offers to its users 🔒️

The GPL license offers several permissions to users, including:

  • The right to use the software for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial
  • The right to modify the software and distribute the modified versions, as long as the modifications are also released under the GPL license
  • The right to distribute the software, either in its original form or as a modified version, as long as the recipient receives the software under the terms of the GPL license
  • The right to access the source code of the software and make modifications to it
  • The right to redistribute the software and its source code to anyone else

Permissions may vary according to the two types of GPL, which we will dive into later.

How GPL relates to WordPress

WordPress, the popular content management system used by millions of websites, uses the GPL license. This means that any plugins and themes created for WordPress must likewise be released under the same GPL license.

The GPL license provides a legal framework for the distribution and use of copyrighted software for code collaboration and sharing throughout the WordPress community.

Developers can freely exchange their code and build on each other’s work, culminating in a platform that’s constantly developing and improving.

This has helped make WordPress one of the most successful content management systems in the world, allowing businesses to navigate their websites with ease.

The difference between GPLv2 and GPLv3

There are two versions of the GPL license, version 2 (GPLv2) and version 3 (GPLv3). Both have differences in terms of their provisions and requirements.

  • GPLv2 requires that source code be made available only to those who receive the software,
  • whereas GPLv3 requires that source code be made available to anyone who interacts with the software over a network.

This means that under GPLv3, companies that offer software services must also give access to the source code of the software.

Additionally, GPLv3 addresses software distribution over networks, which has become more common with the rise of cloud computing.

Conclusion: What is GPL? 📢

Now that you know what is GPL, it will be easier for you to manage your websites. The GPL license develops open-source software both for WordPress and general users while shaping the future of the software industry.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Or start the conversation in our Facebook group for WordPress professionals. Find answers, share tips, and get help from other WordPress experts. Join now (it’s free)!