I recently purchased a Complianz Nulled version on a WordPress marketplace, claiming so-called “Nulled” versions are a legitimate option for resellers to earn a buck on GPL licensed software. Instead of buying from the source, you’re buying the software from a reseller with a considerable discount. These resellers do not have any affiliation with the creators of the software.
Nulled versions of WordPress plugins are paid or premium versions of freely available plugins in the WordPress repository. The license check, that is needed to enable premium features, support and updates, is removed and the premium features are unlocked. However, support and updates are not available, as the license check is deleted.
After my PayPal transaction of 4.95 dollars, I received an email with a download link. As you might have guessed, the download link didn’t work. Not getting the actual plugin is part of the risk, but what are the other risks of using a Nulled version?
The risks of using a Nulled version
Besides the risk of not getting the actual plugin, it might be better than the alternative; using the actual Nulled version of the plugin on your website. Here are some examples you want to avoid:
By definition, Nulled versions are altered by the reseller
To create a Nulled version of a WordPress plugin, the reseller buys the original and alters the license check in the plugin. Knowing the reseller has altered the plugin, you have no idea if it might be compromised or worse; they have added code to serve their own purposes. A devastating example would be malware that you paid for.
You’re not running the latest version.
Suppose you’re using plugins that need regular updates to conform with legal guidelines, or maybe conform with new developments that require updates to function correctly. In that case, you are missing out on essential updates as Nulled versions are always behind the curve. Not only are they always behind, but updates can also become increasingly difficult as resellers are actively being hunted by plugin authors and denied further access if found.
For a legal plugin, the actual purpose of a premium plugin might be lost, as you’re not conforming to the latest guidelines.
You are using software illegally.
Don’t let marketplaces selling other people’s software tell you what licensing means. The repository’s free WordPress plugins are all open-source, licensed under the GPL. However, this does not mean Premium plugins are also licensed under the GPL. A marketplace making claims that Nulled versions are perfectly legal is not only misinforming the public but might even steer you into serious legal trouble.
About GPL and Complianz
- Our premium software is protected by intellectual property rights and cannot be sold by any other party without proper consent.
- Illegal use of a Nulled version can therefore be subject to damages, paid for retroactive use and any costs related to legal procedures.
The reason to write this article is not really about losing revenue to these resellers or preventing anyone to use a Nulled version. I just wanted to share the risks involved in buying and using an altered plugin from other sources than the actual developers. The WordPress landscape is full of great, hard-working developers creating millions of lines of code to use for free. I would suggest supporting them when you can. Don’t take an unnecessary risk.