Number 10 and the Creative Commons

Number 10\'s WordPress Website
Number 10’s new website, from our beloved government who are such strong users and supporters of Open Source Software [NOT], is running on WordPress. This isn’t actually big news now. There’s plenty of comment about that on the web via Google.

Well, that’s OK I guess. At last they are starting to grok OSS perhaps, although I’m rather inclined to actually surmise that they [#10] don’t even know what WordPress is. They just bought a website…

Anyway, quite a nice site layout don’t you think? I wonder who designed their site?

Looking at the html source, we see that the stylesheets are in a directory called networker-10/ and many of the images are in a subdirectory called images/.

Firstly, see the bit above where it says ? Usually, in there, that line reads: where the X.X.X is the version of WordPress the site is running.

So they’ve removed changed that then. I wonder if they are trying to conceal the fact they are using WP? Not a very useful trick though is it? Having a directory tree called /wp-content/themes/... is a bit of a giveaway if you ask me.

Now then, if you visit and look at some of the themes they have created, there’s one on there called “Networker”. Here’s the demo page

Let’s look at the top few lines of the html source for this theme:

They look quite similar don’t they? The directory structure is identical and the top-level theme directory is called networker-10. Amazing…

The Networker theme is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Which you can read all about here:

I can only assume that Number 10 have requested, and received, permission of the author to remove all traces of this license and attribution from their WordPress site. I have left a “contact us message” at the author’s website to see if this is the case…

[Update] Anthony Baggett, the theme’s author, has just confirmed that No 10 have not requested that the attribution be removed. That’s not playing fair by my book.

[Update 2] Seems like I am not the only one to have noticed this. A bit more digging has thrown up the following sites also commenting on #10’s cock-up. One is also suggesting it cost £100k. Not bad for a ripped off theme running on an Open Source blogging engine… Links below]

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  • Alan,
    I can confirm for you that they did not seek permission to remove the attribution from this site, as I’m the author of the theme. I’ve searched my records, and can find no contact from them about this website.

  • Alan Lord says:

    Many thanks for the message Anthony. I’m sure that a word in the right ear will get it sorted… But it is does seem to be a bit of a cock-up (yet another one) for the Gov. to have used an Open Source platform and an Open licensed theme but have not complied with the conditions of your chosen license.

    Looks like they still don’t get what Open Source means: Just because something is “Free”, it doesn’t mean you can steal it.

  • […] Anthony Baggett, who is the author of the NetWorker theme, says that no-one approached him for permission to remove the attrribution. So Number 10 is committing […]

  • Mike Rouse says:

    I’ve had the Managing Director of New Media Maze on my blog today here:

    The guy is not very happy with my attacks on his firm, but I don’t care. His firm is the one not playing fair and potentially responsible for Downing Street embarrassment.

  • Alan Lord says:

    @Mike, that’s funny. How fast do they need to back peddle? What a monster cock-up. Fancy nicking a bloke’s free WordPress theme and trying (very badly) to hide the true author and license.

    If it did cost anywhere near £100k the UK Gov. are nothing less than a complete bunch of f**kwits when it comes to IT. Oh hang on. We knew that already…


    PS. I sent this story to my current favourite MP: George Osbourne. I thought he’d see the funny side…

  • dizzy says:

    Wish I could get paid to hack other peoples themes

  • dizzy says:

    Have been speaking with a couple of journos this evening, Dowing Street is apparently claiming that they only claim copyright on the content and are trying to suggest they;ve done nothing wrong.

  • Alan Lord says:

    @Dizzy, “Wish I could get paid to hack other peoples themes”

    I do sometimes ;-). But we always retain the original author’s license and attribution where required.

    “Downing Street is apparently claiming that they only claim copyright on the content and are trying to suggest they’ve done nothing wrong.”

    I guess that Downing St. think they just “bought a web site”. They probably don’t even understand the difference between using original work and Open Source.

    Someone has done something “wrong” however. IANAL, but to my mind they have removed the attribution notice that was in the original footer, and have therefore broken the license conditions, and are therefore in breach of copyright.

  • […] fiasco Being “that-kind-of-a-bloke”, I thought I’d dig a bit further into the Number 10 Steals Free WordPress Theme […]

  • Gerry says:

    Now, if Anthony Baggett were to start an e-petition on Number10, something like “To call upon the government to meet legal obligations and respect copyright law” I bet that would get a few signatures.

  • Alan Lord says:


    Good idea 😉

    Unfortunately the e-petitions are only for UK residence IIUC. Anthony is from Northeast Mississippi…

    Would you care to start it as it was your idea? Send me the link and I’ll sign it and publish it here.

  • Sin Ickle says:

    Why i wonder is anyone making a fuss about this? I mean seriously – since when has the law applied to the government? Ultimately what the government want to do, they can do – no different to how it was when, say, Henry VIII was on the throne, or King John. You can say… oooh this is against the law as much as you like. Who made the law? If it really comes to the crunch, the government can either change the law, or if it’s easier lock you up under the prevention of terrorism laws. But most likely they will do nothing, and say, “so what – sue us – if we lose, the taxpayer will pay, and that’s you”.
    The government have always been beyond the law – it’s really no different now, than it was 1000 years ago. we just like to think it is. Of course you can vote the idiots out – or try. How long do we have to wait? Hmm – anyone expect an emergency bill to be passed in the next 2 years: to deal with the crisis of climate change/fuel shortage/credit crunch/terrorist threat/delete as applicable, the general election is postponed and all parliamentary debate will be made by an emergency cabinet in closed session until the current crisis is over. You think this is paranoid? You heard it here first!

  • Alan Lord says:

    @Sin Ickle

    People are making a fuss because they care. If everyone had your attitude then we would be in a very different world to that which we now inhabit.

    Whilst I can understand, and even partially agree, with your basic premise. I would much rather be in a country where the Government is at least accountable for some of its actions as opposed to living under a regime such as Robert Mugabe’s.

  • António says:

    “So they’ve changed that then. I wonder if they are trying to conceal the fact they are using WP?”

    I’ve seen that recommended as a way to avoid exploits for those that do not keep their wp installs running the latest version. Crackers will still be able to take advantage of the website but will take them a bit longer to figure which version is the blog/site running. Not saying that was the reason…

  • […] story so far, for any new readers. can be found here, here and here and follow the links in those posts to the various other sources to get a broader […]

  • Simon says:

    I helped the US Homeland Security folk set up their Terror Alert blog on WP so I know whereof I speak. The Government could not have made a bigger cock up if they tried. And as for NMA. 66 validations on the front page, a whole slew of accessibility issues and a lot of typos and mess.
    £100k did I hear? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. And the way they have treated the designer, the open source ethos, and the Creative Commons license is an absolute disgrace.

  • Slotvent says:

    Very intresting post but what more did you expect from the goverment. They have all the “do what i want” cards and no one can complain.

  • Absolutely Priceless 😉

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