Is it illegal to remove the copyright of free templates licensed under GNU/GPL, if the site is just for non-commercial purpose?

As an example the copyright below the footer of the site?

Footer copyright

To get more specific, here the template of my choice licensed under GNU/GPL

Joomla51 Free Template Oxygen

  • Remove the copyright from where? Are you using the template on your website and it displays a copyright at the bottom of the front-end output? Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 21:09
  • The bottom copyright on front-end Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 21:12
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    It's really impossible to answer this question without checking the license and asking a lawyer. There are so many different scenarios for this and only a lawyer who does due diligence and proves you will be able to do it. Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 21:13
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    I just checked in Joomla51 templates, and none of them seem to be "free", could you tell us the name of the template? joomla51.com/joomla-templates?layout=columns&category_id=1 Edit: Just found a Free template, Oxigen is it that one? license in that is GNU/GPL so you should be able to remove the copyright, although not a nice move, counting they are giving it free ;) joomla51.com/free-templates Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 21:21
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    That line is showing in the template, so you can modify it, the copyright remains them, but as GPL you're free to modify it's looks Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 21:30

2 Answers 2


Unless the author of the template made it a specific condition of downloading the template, you can remove any markup from the template, and that would include this-template-build-by-X links.

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    That would be the most respectful thing to do, but even if they said you can't edit it, if they licensed it as GPL, you can do what you want with it, including modifying it under the terms of the GPL. Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 22:31
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    The only problem I can think of even with a GPL template is it their backlink is the only copyright notice for the code. But even if that was the case, you could still just comment out that HTML and still be ok (because you aren't removing it, just hiding it from view). Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 22:34
  • From my understanding, the copyright needs to be available upon distribution and a SaaS like delivery does not count as distribution. So as long as the notice remains some where in the code (PHP comment) it should be fine. Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 22:51
  • The question used a downloadable template as the example. SaaS opens up another can of worms because they may impose additional conditions in order to use the service. Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 22:54
  • Joomla was GPL, now is....even more GPL to my understanding. You can make any changes to the code you want, as long as you leave the original credit in the comments. Here is the original reference to the GPL license: gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 1:21

As Don said be sure to first read the conditions of use. If your questions are not answered and there is still some doubt simply send a request to the creator asking permission for the removal of the copyright link. They may set some conditions for you to abide by. Asking will clear all doubts and future proof you and your client.

  • The original question did say for "non-commercial" purposes. So I assume it would not be for a client site.
    – Deb Cinkus
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 23:03
  • I can only find Peter Bass from the Gold Coast. Is this you @Pete? Are you still using Joomla? I would like to get in touch with all Joomla Users in the Brisbane vicinity. Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 1:37

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