Proper copyright and license practices

Continuing the discussion from Using the nav.php outside roots, i have no “active” class:

What is the best way to build a custom theme with Roots while keeping the copyright and licences in tact?

I’ve read the GPL license multiple times and I am still very confused so I have always opted for building child themes and leaving the parent theme alone. I have recently decided to take the plunge so that I can use some of the Roots goodies not available for child themes, and now I want to make sure I do it properly.

This area is not my expertise so please excuse the beginner questions:

  1. Can I change the name and author of the theme within style.css?
  2. Where do I specify that the theme was built using code from Roots?
  3. Can I change the names of the functions? For instance, roots_scripts to themename_scripts
  4. I am about to release a theme to a client that morphed a theme they chose from the WP repo with the entire lib directory from Roots. I also used a lot of the HTML from the template files. What do I do in this case?

I realize this is probably not Roots specific but I really want to make sure I give you guys the credit for building such a wonderful starter theme.

Here is the license:

As far as I can tell, you can do whatever you want with it, as long as you include that license with the files you distribute.

So yes, being a starter theme, you can change the content in style.css, you can change any function names, basically do anything you want with the files. Just include that license and you should be good.

Thank you :slight_smile:

I was worried I was doing it wrong having changed everything on 4 projects I am working on simultaneously (no one said life would be easy, right?)

One of these projects is a framework I am building to be used for internal projects at the moment, but I could deicide to build and distribute themes using this framework later in the future. How do I properly attach my own MIT license to those themes? So some of the code is © Ben and Scott and rest of it is © Tamara

Thanks for your time

edit: Reading this over I am realizing my main confusion is how to properly weave my own licence in there

I had the same concern, then read “to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software”

Sub-license is the key term you and I may have been concerned with. Looks like we are good as long as our license refers back to the original roots software license. Of course, I am not a lawyer :smile:

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When Roots uses code from elsewhere, or even just inspired by someone else, we always attribute the original source (when it’s known).

Obviously when rebuilding a theme from scratch it’s probably easier/best to leave the general copyright notice for Roots in tact and implement the notices/attributions/license for your own code separately; unless of course the theme becomes predominantly your new code, in which case you should clearly state when something comes from Roots.

You should definitely change the attribution in app.less because CSS, along with images and JS does not automatically fall under the GPL, which WordPress PHP always does.

The likelihood of anyone being sued over a license abuse is pretty remote; the likelihood of anyone being caught out, named and shamed publicly is however much higher, so just try to be fair and you’ll probably be fine (although don’t consider this as legal advice!).

Thanks @Foxaii and @talves! It’s mostly clear now.

I’ll make sure that Roots is credited wherever it may seem ambiguous. I have also started adding a sentence to the description of the theme:

Based on version 6.5.0 of the wonderful <a href="">Roots starter theme</a>.

I’d like my clients to know that I am using a good base for their projects :slight_smile: The version number is there for my own sanity as I am likely to forget that little detail.

@enollo I am with you on that one. I always try to go out of my way to give the credit where it is due. With regards to Roots, it is more than due, that is for sure.

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