Is copying the look of WordPress Theme on a site a copyright violation?

I found a theme I really like. It’s from a hosting company which is using WordPress but it’s a custom theme that is not available to the general public. Still…it IS a theme in use under WordPress and as such ALL theme PHP code MUST be licensed under the GPL (same as WordPress). I do not have access to the PHP code and don’t need such access so that is irrelevant but I thought I would mention that to lead into…

The CSS and graphic elements can be proprietary.

Now what I have done is reverse engineer the site theme and have re-created all the graphics and CSS I was interested in from scratch with very slight modifications to suit my taste (it was a bear to re-create some of the graphics but I did). But the look of the site is very close between what I have created and what is on the actual site.

What I did was study their existing CSS and graphics very closely so as to be able to understand what they did and then duplicate it with slight changes to suit my taste.

Before uploading and making my site live, with my theme which for all intents and purposes looks like their theme…is doing such a thing a violation of anyone’s copyright?

Don’t be concerned…I will not take your answers as legal advice in any way shape or form. Just wondering overall if such a thing is likely to be a copyright violation is all.

Any input would be appreciated.



Hello Carlos.

I do not suggest that you copy a Web site’s theme entirely, for it could anger the original creator.
Then again, depending on how close of a “clone” it is, it may not really matter.

I doubt you will run into any legal issues, but to be safe, I’d say no.
It’s not so much of a copyright issue, but more of a plagiarism issue.

That’s just my opinion on the matter.

Best of luck to you in the future.

Why copy when you can get a new custom theme all for you!
Honastly i don’t know because i always prefer to have themes and layout designed just for me :slight_smile:
sorry, but really why don’t you try something new?

Exactly. You do not have access to those parts of the theme that are under the GPL, therefore that point is completely moot. To me, what you’re doing is creative theft. If you feel OK doing it, then nobody’s going to stop you, well, unless the firm whose design you “recreated” decides to file a complaint or DCMA.

If their design, and I mean the visual part, markup and CSS are not licensed to permit redistribution, then you are effectively stealing their brand, imo.