Lets say I'm building community that uses some webapp. These webapp uses a a modified version a a GPLv2 licensed theme. Additionally the community uses a donation mechanism to fund itself. Donation overheads will be given back to the community in some form, so there is no commercial goal behind it.


  1. Am I required to publish the modified version of the theme if I only use it?
  2. Is this "commercial use" in terms of the GPL?

1) From the GPL faq :

Does the GPL require that source code of modified versions be posted to the public?

The GPL does not require you to release your modified version, or any part of it. You are free to make modifications and use them privately, without ever releasing them. This applies to organizations (including companies), too; an organization can make a modified version and use it internally without ever releasing it outside the organization.

But if you release the modified version to the public in some way, the GPL requires you to make the modified source code available to the program's users, under the GPL.

Thus, the GPL gives permission to release the modified program in certain ways, and not in other ways; but the decision of whether to release it is up to you.

In some sense, by using your modified theme for your webapp, I would consider that you are releasing your theme for something else than internal use, so you need to release your modified source code, at least to the person using the app.

2) GPL never forbid any kind of charging for the use of your app, so you have the right to make money of it, as long as you comply with the terms of the license.

  • 3
    In fact, "Selling Free Software is OK!" – user34768 Aug 19 '11 at 10:18
  • Maybe explain the downvote, if I'm wrong it would be interesting to have the right answer. – Jonathan Merlet Aug 19 '11 at 19:04
  • Careful with "for the use of your app". You may charge any amount you want for the app. You may charge your reasonable cost for the source code. You may NOT charge for the license, and you may not use a license that is incompatible with the GPL. So handing over the app for free and then charging for the USE is probably not GPL compatible. – gnasher729 Feb 29 '16 at 15:46
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    @gnasher729 You meant to say "without also providing the source," right? Payment terms are entirely inconsequential to the GPL, unless you're asking for payment in exchange for GPL privileges. – Robert Harvey Feb 29 '16 at 15:49
  • Not sure about 1). AGPL is explicit about the web [non]distribution scenario, base GPL isn't crystal clear. – Tibo Feb 29 '16 at 17:14

1) No, but that depends on what you mean by "use".

2) The GPL says nothing about commercial use. So go ahead.

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