Licensing Suggestions for Theme Components

Kicking off this discussion as it’s sure to catch some with their pants down later. Let’s talk licensing for theme components! This is of particular interest to those who host their code in public GitHub repos as copying code to GitHub may constitute distribution if you check stuff into your repo. Ready?

Okay, here goes…

If your base theme is licensed under GPL (a strict copyleft license) the theme components you use to build your site should probably be compatible with the GPL. Here’s what the FSF has to say about license compatibility with the GPL:

Note that there may also be legal issues with combining certain nonfree libraries with GPL-covered free software. Please see the question on GPL software with GPL-incompatible libraries for more information.

Here are the 54 software licenses FSF says are compatible with the GPL:

Includes such greats as: Apache 2.0, WTFPL, ISC, The Unlicense, and X11 (MIT) license.

Here’re the list of free licenses incompatible with the GPL:

And here’s the list of not free software licenses not compatible with the GPL:

Of particular interest here is the No License license.

So, if you’re publishing theme components please:

  1. Pick a License, Any License.
  2. And stick to one of the GPL-compatible licenses to maximize component reuse.
  3. Consider setting topics for each component in GH: hugo-theme-component to ease discovery.

IANAL. Please refer legal questions to Thanks.