License type


I am noticing that several of the beautiful themes in the list of Hugo themes are listed under the creative commons license (variety of clauses).

  1. Has there been a discussion about this in the past that I just need to read?
  2. Should this community continue advertising these thems under these licenses?
    2a. Can we work with theme creators to license them under more apropiate licenses?

Let me just say two points:

  1. I really appreciate the design and work that has gone into these themes. They are nice, usable and clean.
  2. The creative commons organization recomned not using creative commons licenses for software. see included links:
    By example:

By listing these thems in the Hugo repository are we making an indirect statment supporting the use of inapropiate licenses in software?

We have had discussions. My conclusion is this:

  • We don’t want any paid theme listed on the themes site or any commercial restrictions (other than an attribution requirement).
  • A Hugo theme falls between two chairs: It is definitively a creative product, and it is also a piece of software. And the nature of the distribution of these themes means that with a MIT theme it is very little attribution left for the theme author.
  • The above kind of restricts it naturally to CC0, CC-BY and CC-BY-SA.

A prime example would be – lots of great looking themes with a CC-BY license. You may try to talk to the author of these themes that his work is software and not creative and should be relicensed, but I think you will have a tough job there.

And using that license is simple: Just keep some kind of attribution on your site (footer or similar). It’s not free as in free beer.

It’s common for themes to have a CC licence since it’s creative work and not just software.

Not sure if you are aware, but they offer a commercial licence (no attribution) via (which is linked at the bottom of the html5up page. Price is reasonable too.

Sign up for just $19 and get three months of unlimited access to all 98 templates, new
releases and support. Keep using anything you download even if you decide not to renew.

Yes, I’m aware and I carefully read their commercial licence and my conclusion was that I could not use it to redistribute the themes as Hugo themes. Which I kind of understand, because that would undermine his entire business.

But I can send him an email about it. But I think I know the answer.

But what is the real problem with attribution?

There may be some questions regarding re-licensing (what should be the license of the Hugo theme when including a HTML5Up theme?).

For free themes, absolutely nothing. I think it is widely accepted practice for this.

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Attribution is still required under MIT license. The Author must claim copyright inorder to license the theme, so as the license must travel with the theme, then the attribution must also flow with the theme.

Sure, but for MIT use of software, it is at least common practice to let that be hidden in source code headers. Which is not the intention in the CC BY theme case, which expects the author name with a link to be preserved in the footer.

But the discussion is kind of hopeless to take here. If lots of themes out there uses CC license, and we want to use them, …


It’s common for themes to have a CC licence since it’s creative work and not just software.

What ecosystem of themes are you talking about? I am most familure with Wordpress and Drupal and those are GPL just like the main software. They also make up a large percentage of the theme market, but they are not the only game in town.

Hugo is MIT… So I know there can be some allowed difference in this siutation. I’m just wondering what context you are refering to here.

I would think that the code portion should be MIT the same as the base software. For images or fonts included those would be as the author recives them… Most images are not the original work of the theme builder, so images may be CC-BY etc. and fonts may have a special Font based license…

Hugo is Apache 2.

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I got response from the HTML5Up person:

Pixelarity license doesn’t permit redistribution/resale as
templates/themes (for obvious reasons) – unless, of course, we’re the
ones doing it

Yes, your right. I was looking at my theme when I wrote that and assumed that it was the same. Academic for Hugo is MIT.

Enabling that is not a problem they can choose a software license that enables those business feature choices. The Creative Commons options are just not the options to do that.

I suspected as much. In fact, my motive for mentioning the commercial licence was more that the end users could remove the attribution on the Hugo theme you make from their themes by buying a commercial licence direct through Pixelarity (rather than relying on any licence you acquire from Pixelarity).

For example, I love the fact you are creating the free themes, but if I was a business user I would not want the attribution. If I could use your theme @bep and then buy the licence from Pixelarity to remove the attribution (this assumes you yourself don’t require attribution (or you yourself have a commercial licence available)) it would be the ideal solution.

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