We are developing WordPress plugins. As WordPress itself is GPL licensed we must publish our plugin as GPL, too. Our complete plugin development environment is built on top of a lot of devDependencies and dependencies (npm with package.json). I did some tests with https://www.npmjs.com/package/licensee and the output gave me also dependencies licensed under CC-BY-3.0 and CC-BY-4.0.

The above mentioned CC dependencies are only represent in devDependencies, that means, the code of that dependencies are only used for building the plugin. In our CI/CD pipeline we get an installable and uploadable .zip file with the WordPress plugin itself as artifact.

  • Is the build process itself (e. g webpack, babel or typescript) relevant for the built WordPress plugin? Can I differentiate between licensing of dependencies and devDependencies? Do I need to make the build process also GPL?
  • I need to put a file like 3RD_PARTY_LICENSES to the built artifact. Do I need to refer to all used dependencies (inclusive devDependencies)?

1 Answer 1


For copyright licensing, only the dependencies of the deployed software are relevant. The licenses on your build tools can be completely ignored1.

A file like 3RD_PARTY_LICENSES also only needs to refer to the licenses of your dependencies.

1: the exception here are tools that copy part of their source into the output. Those would effectively be a dependency of the deployed software.

  • Well technically the copyright of the tools does matter, but only insofar as you copy (i.e. install) them. For example, a proprietary tool T that compiles your software might say in its license agreement "you are allowed to install this software on 5 machines" and so you are allowed to do that. If you install it on 6 machines you could be said to be violating the license and/or copyright of T. But if you use that software (1 illegal copy on 6th machine) to create your own program P, then the distribution of P itself is not violating the copyright or license of T.
    – Brandin
    Dec 10, 2019 at 8:51

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