3.x.x themes on Themeforest require Extended License

I’ve been informed by Envato Legal Team (via Customer Support) that any Ghost 3.x.x installation using the default Members and Subscriptions features will require a ThemeForest Extended License, not the Regular License and pricing shown on the ghost.org/marketplace/.

This can be misleading to Ghost Community members who don’t know better or read the fine print. I think it’s misleading to show this on ghost.org/marketplace/ when Ghost 3.0 Members and Subscription features are touted as the main selling point.

Extended License can run into the thousands, vs the ~$49 Regular License.

From Envato Customer Support, Dec 19, 2019:

“I have received feedback from our Legal team that if the paywall functionality is not used, then the website wouldn’t be considered a paid website and you would only need standard license.”

So if you turn off Members and Subscriptions in Ghost 3.x.x, then you can use the Regular License. If you use Ghost 3.x.x for its Members and Subscriptions, you are subjected to the $1,000+ Extended License.

I think this should be more clear upfront from the Ghost Team.


Well Envato/Themeforest need to work this out for their own good. Until they can provide a reasonable solution to this, I am, whenever possible (which is most always), I am buying directly from the Developer’s website or through other theme marketplaces. The Developers are not exclusive to Envato.

For example, say one of my clients finds the new Churel Ghost theme on Themeforest (the Developer of this theme is Themeix) that they want to use for their site, and they want me to make some modifications to the theme, and/or they want me to add some extra features (i.e. update a v2 theme for compatibility with Ghost v3, and add Memberships features because they will want to charge for some of their content.)

In this case I have the choice of buying (or directing my client to buy) the Churel theme through Themeforest for $900.00:

(Screenshot of Churel on Themeforest):


I can buy (or direct my client to buy) the Churel theme directly from the Themix website for $39.00:

(Next 3 Screenshots are also Churel, but directly from Themeix - the Developer’s website)


Appreciate your thoughts on this. I agree with you, I think ThemeForest needs to figure this out, but also think the Ghost Team should remove linking through to them from their ghost.org/marketplace/ site.

This is going to catch a lot of developers out when they might not realize they need an Extended License. They should read the fine print, but I am sure most will not, especially since the pricing, and perceived endorsement comes from the Ghost Team.

Here is another example, buying from t2themes at Gumroad ($39) vs the same theme from Envato/Themeforest ($2250 for the extended license):

($39 on Gumroad - there is no specified limitation on license)

($2250 on Envato/Themeforest with specified limitations on “Extended License”)

I’ve got this same question. I submitted a ticket to Evanto support asking for clarity. Their examples are 2+ years old and are all over the place. I can use a regular license to create a TV ad but an extended license if I have gated content? Right.

My non-lawyer take is this.

A paid newsletter should be a regular license because the newsletter is not using anything from the website theme. A core feature of Ghost does this.

The harder one is if that same newsletter content can be accessed as gated content on the website, in which case the theme would definitely be in use as paid content (product).

I certainly wouldn’t use the above take when making a decision on behalf of a client. I won’t be using Evanto for any client related membership/subscription projects until Envanto has some official clarity/guideslines we can point clients to.

I also agree with the other posters here. It would be great if someone from the Ghost team could help us get an answer. The difference between $39 and $2250 is, let’s say, substantial.

You absolutely should not need to purchase an extended license in order to use Ghost’s features - that’s completely ridiculous. It sounds like the team in question have not understood the functionality.

@brian feel free to cc me - john@ghost.org - on the support ticket with Envato, happy to help get things cleared up.


John I appreciate your weighing in here. It seems important to hear from you on this.


@John Thank you for weighing in on this and getting involved. I think it’s paramount to the community to have clear legal guidelines from it’s partners, especially with the prominent placement and tight integration ThemeForest is given in the marketplace.

You’ve been CC’d on my conversation with their support team. Let me know how else I can help.

Thanks again, and good luck with them :wink:

Has there been any update from Envato/ThemeForest on this issue? I’ve had clients drop Ghost this past month instead of waiting it out.

I’m literally laughing over this.

I’m being one of those ignored voices, that reclaims further support on the themes side from the Ghost organization. A few of use are not deverlopers (we may be able to maintain a server, but we are not good enough to translate the default themes and keep them up-to-date with the code updates happening in the source repos.

Issue here is the theme ecosystem is too inmature out there. Yo have right know two choices: Get a theme posted on Github, and trying to support (donate) the maintainer, so you don’t end with a theme without updates, or use Envato. And their legal terms are clear. If a user is charged while using the end-product (paywall), you need to use the extended license.

From https://themeforest.net/licenses/faq#main-differences-licenses-a:

And from https://themeforest.net/licenses/terms/regular:

It’s hard to be the first, but paywalls are still not popular as feature on CMSs. This is why is critical that the default themes are thought to be fit for content makers, instead of focusing on developers, that have more skills to remove translation strings than the other way around. Still, the crew from Ghost is more focused on developers, than content makers. A bit weird taking into account that their main product is a CMS (?)

Seems now that if you want to use a major feature of Ghost, you need to either use a default theme (only if you and your public speak english), trust a Github repo maintainer, or be ready to pay almost a grand. That’s not great.

I heard back from Themeforest and they are, so far, sticking with requiring an Extended license if a Ghost Install makes use a of paywall feature. John was copied on my ticket and I know there are others in the system as well.

I’ve asked to be escalated to someone at Envanto to have this stupid policy reviewed. In the course of my ticket with Envanto they said that a Regular license can be used to run a site like the Envanto Market place itself, but a small paywall newsletter requires an Extended license.

Here is the response I got:

I do apologise for the delay in our response.

Even though the Ghost platform offers the ability to set up a paywall for sites using the platform, alongside free content, the question here is whether the customer actually makes use of that functionality.

To clarify, if a customer does not deploy the paywall functionality in their End Product (even though the website might technically have this functionality available), then they would only need a regular license. If a customer does deploy the paywall functionality (ie, and has content/functionality behind a paywall) then an extended license is required.

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me back.

I’ve asked Ahmad, the author of the absolutely stellar Penang theme for a refund. I’ve also contacted him to see if I can purchase directly or if he will consider making his themes available elsewhere.

For clients where $2k is realistic, say as part of $35k web project, authors like Ahmad absolutely deserve $2k for their work. But for a small site with a shoestring budget, it’s not feasible.


I wasn’t copied on that last response, but I’ll reach out now to their partnership team separately.