Since May 2019, WP Starter Pack has been flooding Facebook with ads about their super-cheap WordPress themes and plugins. But what is it, and how does it work?
What is WP Starter Pack?
WP Starter Pack sells an online subscription that promises unlimited access to WordPress commercial themes and plugins for $29/year. They’re reselling commercial (paid) WordPress themes and plugins for a tiny fraction (around 0.3%) of the original cost from the theme and plugin creators.
Is it legal?
The WP Starter Pack website states,
All WordPress items such as plugins and themes are licensed under the General Public Licence (GPL). This means that once we have purchased the item we are free to redistribute it if we choose to do so.
Let’s break down why this is false, and what the GPL actually means in regards to WordPress Themes.
Although they don’t link to it, their statement sounds similar to a WordPress post from 2009, Themes are GPL, too. In this post, Matt Mullenweg from Auttomatic shares the official legal opinion from the Software Freedom Law Center about the GPL license.
In Matt’s own words:
One sentence summary: PHP in WordPress themes must be GPL, artwork and CSS may be but are not required.Themes are GPL, too – Matt Mullenweg
Despite the claims of WP Starter Pack, WordPress themes can be sold under a variety of licenses, provided the PHP within the themes remains under the GPL license. This is called a “split license”, and you can read all about it on Envato’s explainer page.
The themes being resold in the WP Starter Pack are licensed under a variety of licenses which vary depending on the individual creator. Based on a quick scan of their collection, many of these themes are licensed under ThemeForest’s Standard licenses, neither of which allow resale or use on multiple websites.
What happens if I buy it?
You’ve purchased an estimated $8,000 worth of pirated digital products.
While I’m not aware of cases related to WordPress theme piracy, the implications of past piracy cases are sobering. In comparison, in 2012 a U.S. District Court fined someone $675,000 for downloading and sharing 30 songs, which you could buy for $0.99 on iTunes.
And while the people behind WP Starter Pack could face serious consequences, the laws governing piracy vary globally, and evidence suggests they may be located in a country that makes this crime difficult to prosecute and convict.
You, on the other hand, may be located in a country with strict piracy laws, and by purchasing and downloading themes from WP Starter Pack you could be charged with copyright infringement.
What if I don’t care about the possibility of legal action against me?
The themes and plugins provided by WP Starter Pack are not supported by their developers, and WP Starter Pack makes it clear that they offer no support and no refunds. If something doesn’t work, you’re on your own.
Additionally, there’s no way to check whether the themes and plugins match the original, which means the reseller could insert malicious code into the theme or plugin, or even just make it possible for others to do the same.
And finally, if none of this has convinced you, my final argument is that if you’re going to pirate software, why would you pay for it at all?
What should I do now?
If you’re a WordPress user who is looking for a theme for your website, visit the WordPress themes directory or a paid directory such as ThemeForest, and locate a free or paid theme. Alternatively, you could use a page builder plugin – I personally use Elementor for most of my websites.
If you’re a WordPress theme or plugin developer who discovered their product is being resold without their permission, you could attempt to notify WP Starter Pack and get it removed (although I doubt very much that they will comply).
If you’re a concerned Internet user who would like to prevent piracy and help independent creators continue to earn a living, report any WP Starter Pack ads you see on Facebook or elsewhere, and share this review with anyone who may be considering this purchase.
About the author
I’m Isaac, a business consultant for contractors and home service pros. I wrote this review after noticing a huge uptick in traffic to my WP Starter Pack (which is completely unrelated to the discount themes website). If you’re looking for a guide to getting started with WordPress, check out that page – it’s free.