I want to develop a WordPress theme using Roots theme framework and then sell it on themeforest.net.

Roots theme license allows me to sell the theme as per its founder's discussion with some guy on this google group post.

It says that the product should have an MIT compatible license. The question is:-

If I sell it on themeforest then will it be under compliance with the MIT license? I believe that themeforest has its own 'regular license'.

Will the purchaser of the theme have the right to modify my theme's source code and sell it again on themeforest?

Note: I don't have much knowledge of the licenses, that's why I'm here. Please don't ask me to read the license because I'm unable to understand their complex English. "INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED", "AS IS", "TORT OR OTHERWISE" etc. Can't understand it clearly.


Here is a summary of some popular licenses I keep handy.

MIT: Do basically whatever you want. Just don't claim you wrote it, and don't try to sue anybody.

GPL: You can do whatever you want with the code as long as your code is GPL too. You can't use it closed-source projects. You can't restrict the next person in any way.

LGPL: GPL except some restricted forms of closed-source use are OK. I believe the idea is that you can use an LGPL library in a closed-source project. Really, both the GPL and LGPL are way too confusing.

BSD: Essentially equivalent to MIT.

Microsoft Public License: Essentially equivalent to MIT.

Apache License: Essentially MIT, but you have to make sure people know that you modified the code (if in fact you did).

Selling on Themeforest will be under compliance with MIT, and the purchaser can change your source but must attribute you for the original codebase. As to whether they can resell it, I am also unsure, I assume they can.

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Given the completely different nature and scope of the themeforest.net licenses and the MIT license, it is very hard for a non-lawyer to determine if they are compatible. The only way to get any level of confidence is to ask a lawyer or the author of the Roots framework.

The themeforest.net licenses are quite restrictive licenses for using a software product.

The MIT license is a very permissive license centering around modification of source files.

How the usage restrictions from the themeforest.net license interact with the freedoms from the MIT license is hard to predict. In my, non-expert, opinion, it can go any way.

  • There is a case to make that for a buyer only the themeforest.net license is relevant,
  • There is a case to make that both licenses apply and that the themeforest.net restrictions are effectively cancelled, and
  • There is even a case to make that both licenses apply and are incompatible (resulting in a product that you can't sell).

The only way to know for sure which it will be is to go to court. A second best option is to ask a lawyer who specialises in this kind of stuff.

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