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I'd like to know if it's legal to remove the footer copyright from a website theme, in this specific case a Wordpress theme.

I've modified the header and the menu, created a logo for the site and put it in the header. I've also modified part of the CSS. I'd like to put a sign of my work in the page but I was wondering if I can delete the © creator_name from the footer and leave only my one.

Site owner has paid for having this theme and then passed it to me to modify it, it's not a free one.

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4 Answers 4

It depends on how the theme was licensed when it was purchased. If you look at the original theme files there will likely be a license file with more information - if not, check the theme webpage that it was purchased from. Odds are you can remove it, but always check the license first. When in doubt, contact the theme author directly.

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If site's owner paid I think so, but it depends on the terms of the agreement. Read the terms where you bought the theme.

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Here's what I understand about WordPress licensing: According to the WordPress license, anything created for WordPress (a derivative work) holds the GPL license. WordPress takes a strict interpretation of the license which dictates that all parts of that thing, be it CSS, HTML, Javascript and even graphics, are also GPL. This applies even if the theme author gave the theme a different license. So you can do anything to anything created that runs on/for WordPress, including removing footer links.

To be considerate and still give attribution to the theme author, you can do so in code comments or in the main style sheet that states the theme name, author, etc.

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1  
A theme may or may not be a derivative work, and that's a question of copyright law that the courts answer, not Wordpress's authors. So you'd really want to talk to an IP lawyer before doing this. Also, see GPLv2 §2(c). –  Anthony DeRobertis Mar 1 '13 at 16:43

I think it is not right to remove the footer copyright info.

Similar examples:

  • Do you remove the "BMW" or "Porsche" badge from the car which you bought?
  • Do you remove the "Apple" or "Samsung" label from your phone or notebook?

If you are not removing labels and badges of manufacturers from other products so why do you want to remove developer's copyright info from WordPress theme? WordPress theme is the same product like car or gadget.

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-1 Irrelevant. The question regards whether you're allowed to remove the footer, not whether you think it's appropriate to. Even if the cars or gadgets you mention force you to sign some contract not to modify them, that says absolutely nothing about the agreement for the purchase of this WordPress theme. –  Su' Mar 5 '13 at 19:57
    
@Su' I told from mine point of view. From legal point of view: many licenses give right to modify footer credit links to the theme buyer. But developers want to protect it from modifying and theme and footer code are so complicated that if you delete or modify footer code completely then theme return a fatal error and stop working. And the theme buyer needs about few hours to understand how to modify the footer. So developers give you right to modify the theme footer but sometime with huge pain in the @$$ :) ...continued... –  webvitaly Mar 6 '13 at 10:03
    
@Su' ...IMHO theme developer earned to be mentioned in the theme footer and some developers will invent different protecting methods to stay there forever ;) And I want to encourage people to leave footer credit links untouched for not starting infinite fight between developers and buyers for theme footer. –  webvitaly Mar 6 '13 at 10:04

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