Joost de Valk accuses WPMU DEV of copyright infringement, sends cease and desist

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Joost de Valk just last week accused WPMU DEV of copyright infringement of his WordPress SEO plugin, and has today followed up with a cease and desist letter.

The plugin in question is the WPMU DEV SEO plugin, currently available as a part of the $35/month subscription at WPMU DEV. A free “lite” version of the plugin is also available on WordPress.org.

de Valk’s claim is that their plugin copies large amounts of his own work:

This plugin had copied large chunks of code from my own WordPress SEO plugin. Not just a couple of lines, hundreds, probably even thousands of lines were used and all they changed was the namespace in most cases. They added some functionality, but not a whole lot.

What’s worth pointing out here, as de Valk does in his blog post, is that the complaint is not strictly the claim of copied and redistributed code. de Valk’s SEO plugin was released under the GPL, and that means others can do exactly that with the code. de Valk’s claim is that the code plugin is being redistributed without his original copyright notice.

WPMU DEV responded to de Valk on Twitter last week, saying they would recode anything that could have been copied from his plugin. Not satisfied with the response, and that their plugin page was still up, de Valk took the next step:

All this combined made me take a next step. This morning, Incsub, the parent company of WPMU DEV, received this cease & desist letter from my lawyer. If they don’t take down the page, I will press charges and seek assistance from the Free Software Foundation and possibly the WordPress foundation. I also took action to have the plugin removed from WordPress.org. I sent an email explaining the situation, and the plugin was removed instantly, for which I thank the WordPress.org team.

You can download the cease and desist letter here, or view the text of the letter pasted below.

The letter is addressed to Mr. Farmer, or James Farmer, who runs WPMU DEV. The cease and desist was sent to WPMU DEV this morning. We’ve reached out to WPMU DEV for comment, and will update when we know more.

Cease and Desist letter to WPMU DEV

VIA COURIER SERVICE

National Registered Agents Inc.
150 South Perry ST
Montgomery, AL 36104
USA

Incsub LLC
To the attention of Mr. Farmer
PO Box 163
Albert Park
Victoria 3206
AUSTRALIA

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, May 26, 2011

Re: notice to cease and desist copyright infringement

Dear Mr. Farmer,

Please be advised that our firm has been retained by Yoast V.V., a private limited liability company formed under Dutch law, to represent its legal interests in the following matter.

It has come to our attention that Incsub LLC through WPMU DEV is offering for sale a WordPress plugin named WPMU DEV SEO, which provides customers a one-stop solution for optimizing their WordPress site to achieve the highest search engine rankings possible.

As you are aware, the GNU General Public License governs the copying, distribution (together: propagation) and modification of the WordPress software and all derivative works including plugins. Pursuant to the terms and conditions of this license agreement a copyright holder of a covered work grants a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to propagate and modify the source code of his software.

This license is not without limits: the license to propagate modified copyrighted software is void and terminated automatically if the license does not add the appropriate legal and copyright notices to the source doe in a conspicuous manner.

Such is the case here. The WPMU DEV SEO plugin contains source code, which is part verbatim copy, part modified version of the source code used in the WordPress SEO plugin by YOAST. The copyright holder of the source code for this plugin is Yoast B.V.

In light of the above, we demand that Incsub immediately ceases and desists the distribution of the WPMU DEV SEO plugin until Incsub has taken the necessary steps to credit the infringing source code in the manner required by the GNU General Public License agreement.

Incsub license to propagate and modify the copyrighted source code will be reinstated if Incsub confirms in writing within ten days after the receipt of this letter that it has ceased the distribution of the copyrighted material and credited the infringing source code in the appropriate manner.

If Incsub refuses to comply with the demand we will pursue further all legal causes of action, including the filing of a lawsuit, to stop this copyright infringement and to recover damages from Incsub for the loss suffered by Yoast B.V. as a result of the infringing conduct.

This is written without prejudice to our rights, all of which are hereby expressly reserved.

Yours faithfully,

J. Lucas, Esq.

62 thoughts on “Joost de Valk accuses WPMU DEV of copyright infringement, sends cease and desist

  1. He’s put in a lot of hard work into that plugin, I use it religiously across any site I put up. Continuous updates, keeps up with the trends, basically makes our lives a whole lot easier. Shame that someone would copy code and throw a price tag on it, would surprise me if they didn’t know what they were selling (guess the question is also, how much of the code was grabbed? assuming it was enough to get Yoast upset). Hope it works out, he’s taken the right action.

  2. Seems to me it would be simpler and cheaper for them just to throw in the correct attribution and licensing terms rather than attempting to recreate all of the functionality of the lifted code. It would save them a whole lot of time and money and maybe even salvage some goodwill.

  3. Good for de Valk. Having had a dev subscription to WPMU DEV, this doesn’t really come as a surprise to me.

  4. as WordPress becomes more and more profitable as a business model, we’ll probably see more and more of these kind of stories

  5. that’s damn sneaky and very poor form from WPMU. Beyond that it looks like they’ve not managed the situation very well either.

      • The link was fine but they deleted the post. People often initially panic when they get caught and responding to Joost was a mistake because the last thing they want is to focus attention on their shady business model – logically, there is no way they can they can even start to defend the way in which they having been ripping off hundreds of WordPress developers for years. So, they deleted the post and will now pretend that this never happened.

      • A commenter at Joost’s post, Adam Teece, managed to find the text of the post on a scraper site, it is worth reading just for the slippy way in which they turn what started out promisingly as an apparent apology into an excuse, a misrepresentation of what Joost has asked them to do (to simply stop distributing his code without properly crediting his work) and, finally, a marketing exercise trumpeting, of all things, their creativity and originality!!

        A Response to Joost

        June 3, 2011

        Last week we were notified through an (understandably) angry tweet that our WPMU DEV SEO plugin contained code adapted from the Yoast SEO plugin. It was also just announced on the Yoast blog.
        We very quickly looked into it and it appeared that approximately 20% of our plugin’s code (by line count) was adapted from the plugin. Our plugin has 6 main feature modules which make it what we believe to be the ultimate WordPress SEO plugin:

        Title & Meta Optimization – Customize how your site appears when search engines find you
        Powerful Sitemaps that support custom post types, taxonomies, video sitemaps, and news sitemaps

        Automatic Linking – automates deep linking within your site’s post and pages so that crawlers can quickly and easily index all of your content.

        SEOmoz API – In a matter of seconds you can be funneling stats and ranking information for your site from the most highly-regarded SEO experts in the industry right from the dashboard.

        Full Multisite Support and Control – choose what features your blog admins can see or control.

        Easy Setup Wizard – SEO is complicated! We add an easy wizard that guides you in configuring your site’s SEO step by step.

        Only two of these modules somewhat overlap/compete with the Yoast SEO plugin! And it was only the code tied to the Title & Meta Optimization module that appeared to be adapted, as well as some XSL stylesheets for sitemaps that were separately released on the Yoast website outside of his plugin. It’s a far cry from the wholesale copying of a plugin we were accused of, but still quite unacceptable.

        Our Response

        Wholesale copying of any code by our developers is very much against our policy. It was a big mistake and our fault for not catching it (though hard when we have a team of 7+ devs around the world releasing 1 or 2 premium plugins every week, and we don’t as a rule run comparisons with every other plugin out there constantly, we trust our developers).

        So within 24 hours of being notified here’s what we did to make things right:

        We’ve severed our relationship with the original developer who did this without our knowledge.

        We issued an apology to Joost (the Yoast plugin author).

        We had our developer work through the night and rewrite whatever we could find that was similar to the Yoast plugin. We tried to remove whatever was the same code. Here is our commit with edits for proof.
        Even though we changed the code, we added “Inspired By” attribution to our source code to give credit where it’s due (we have no problem admitting that we took inspiration for the Title & Meta Optimization part of our plugin from his). See for yourself!

        We did a complete review of our systems to make sure this doesn’t happen again, we also reviewed and will continue to review everything that developer ever touched while working for us.

        We pride ourselves in the quality, creativity, and originality of the code in our 120+ free and premiumplugins. And don’t just take our (or Joost’s) word for it, review the code differences between the two yourself. We really tried to do the right thing here, but unfortunately Joost has decided to take legal action against us.

        Oh well, we’ll just continue to create more amazing and original plugins for the WordPress community!

      • Syed, the link was taken down about 2 hours ago – it was a lot of shameless promotion and an attitude of (quoted) “oh well” – more sales pitch than sincere apology.

  6. Not really Henry.. Its pretty obvious who’s at fault here.. The “response” from WPMU containing more promotion for their services just emphasizes the way they do business. It’s a shame really

  7. I am relieved that someone finally had the balls to take a stand. Incusub’s business model has always been to harvest the fruits of the WordPress community, stick them behind a pay-wall and charge high subscription fees to organizations whose IT departments don’t know any better. For years, there has been deep unease and resentment about their activities for years but most WordPress contributors are nice, non-confrontational folks, their nature is to create and give freely, so, they have tended to let this abuse of the system slide, despite the very real damage that it inflicts upon the WordPress eco-system. Now, however, they have made the mistake of trying to rip off a Dutchman. Big mistake.

    Incusub’s parasitic nature has been evident right from the start: they encouraged consumer confusion by using the domain WPMU.org, knowing that using the non-commercial .org TLD would create the illusion that they had some sort of official connection with the WordPress MU project.

    Ironically, given that they make a living by exploiting the creativity and hard work of others, the small cabal of people associated with Incusub never seem to miss an opportunity to snipe at the volunteer community or the employees of Automattic – if you look at most of the supposed “controversies” in the WordPress world, you’ll find this same handful of malcontents behind the scenes, stirring it up and spreading FUD. In some sort of perverse attempt at self-justification, they seem to have genuinely persuaded themselves that the GPL and the people whose hard work they feed upon are the enemy.

    Just to clear, in their response to Joost, which they have now deleted, they stated that they were against “wholesale copying” of the work of others but then, rather greasily, suggested that their use of Joost’s code was not wholesale copying … because they added some other bits too. Note this wonderful phrase, “wholesale copying” – copying is fine, just make sure that you spend a few minutes moving bits around before you slap a glossy logo on it and add the word “Pro” to it’s name. Don’t be fooled by their actions in throwing the developer in question to the wolves, that does nothing to change their basic business model – that guy has been fired not because he stole code but because he should have done a better job of covering his tracks. Parasites hate the light.

  8. I hate the part where they talk about rewriting the code in question. Seems like they are changing things just to not have to attribute the code to Joost. Seems like a dirty game. I agree with Donnacha’s view they just want people to hide their tracks when they copy something. It’s worse than reinventing the wheel in that you have something that completely works and you are just changing things to make them less obvious. If the code works and fits into your project. Use it but give proper credit. Don’t try to trick us into thinking you did something of value by hiding your plagiarism…

  9. Lifting people’s GPL code and reselling it is immoral, sure, but it’s not illegal, and historically there has been so much antagonism in the community towards people demanding to be credited for their work it’s not surprising that so many think copyright notices are optional, or even undesirable.

    If Incsub have indeed replaced the ‘stolen’ code (not that you can steal GPL code anyway) then it seems to me the legal case is dead in the water. They can plausibly argue that they were unaware of the copyright violation and dealt with it by removing the offending code as soon as it was brought to their attention. (No, I’m not convinced either, but now they’ve pushed all the blame onto their contractor it’s not going to be easy to prove a negative.) Joost is now effectively demanding they retain his code, insert his copyright notice and presumably give him a financial cut. (I very much doubt there would be this level of outrage if Incsub were giving the plugin away rather than selling it.) While this would be the ethical solution, it’s very difficult to see how he can force them to revert to a version of the plugin which incorporates his code if they now wish to remove it.

    • There are limits to what you can do with GPL code – that is one of the reasons the GPL exists and everything isn’t placed into the public domain. And it is also why some people prefer the LGPL or MIT or any of the other licenses. If you are going to work on a project under the GPL, you should take the time to understand what the requirements are, especially if you are building a whole business around it.

      And at this point it isn’t just about this code or this case – I have learned more about WPMU DEV and their practices reading this post and comments then I had ever imagined. Reputation is very important to a business, especially when you are working with people with long memories and Google skills. I would suggest they find a way to make this right to Joost as quickly as possible regardless of the legal requirements.

      • I would suggest they find a way to make this right to Joost as quickly as possible regardless of the legal requirements.

        Well spoken! It is GPL and in this space a lot of innovation is being created on top of the work of others.
        This is a valuable process that not only propels the WordPress Community.

        Proper attribution and recognition in GPL software development (commercial or non commercial) is as important and comparable to quoting and citing in the scientific world.

    • Your comment confuses me as the facts are loose. Here is my read on the dust-up.
      – Joost’s complaint, which Incsub has acknowledged, forked his code without attribution.
      – Incsub did not re-write the code they just added a prefix to parts of the code.
      – Incsub then added extra functionality to the code a released it as a Premium plugin (which I am very fond of).
      – Incsub then removed a good bit of that extra functionality and released a free version on wordpress.org, which now looks like a close cousin to Joost’s original plugin.
      – Joost has not requested any money and to put that out there is a complete misread of the situation and not fair to Joost.

      Here is my scholarly view of the situation…. If Joost’s plugin were to make sweet love to Incsub’s plugin, the incestuous result would be a malformed 3 headed mountain baby.

      • Yeah, I probably should have quoted from Incsub’s response :

        We had our developer work through the night and rewrite whatever we could find that was similar to the Yoast plugin. We tried to remove whatever was the same code.

        Joost wasn’t happy with this:

        they are going to rewrite the code. That means new bugs

        OK, so if he doesn’t want them to rewrite the code, what does he want? Why would you want a commercial plugin to continue using your code if you didn’t want some kind of financial recompense? He’s morally entitled to that and I don’t think there’s anything to be ashamed of in going after it, though obviously he’d be a hell of lot more likely to get it if he’d chosen an appropriate licence to start with.

  10. Opinion from someone who doesn’t write code: Creative versus parasitic. Joost (Yoast.com) is a significant asset to the WordPress community, while WPMU DEV is not. WPMU DEV clearly didn’t copy hundreds of lines of Yoast’s code by accident, I suspect it’s WPMU DEV’s business model. They were caught with their hand in the cookie jar and their initial response has been very revealing.

  11. I know I’m going to be unpopular for this, but legally (not ethically) all WPMU did wrong is lose Joast’s copyright notice, had this been included as a comment deep in the source, then they’d be in the clear and Joast wouldn’t be able to complain. However, the real cause of the problem is Automattic.

    The problem is Automattic’s insistence that they view plugins and themes are derivative, which means in turn that developers are entirely unable to choose the license they use, everyone is forced to either use the GPL (or at best be shunned by Automattic and a lesser extent the WP community). Whilst I think the GPL is a great license (I’ve GPLed many projects over the years) it’s wholly unsuitable for many commercial plugins and this in turn leads to professional devs staying away from WordPress.

    If it wasn’t for this, Joast could easily have chosen a license that DIDN’T allow somebody to take his hard word and charge money for it (as the GPL does) and WPMU wouldn’t be in the situation they are now where Joast (or anyone with access to the source) could take ALL the WPMU software and distribute it (modified or not) for free, too everyone.

    There is a bigger question here of whether WordPress needs/wants commercial developers (currently it’s exceptionally hard to be a commercial developer within the WordPress community) but I’ll save that for another day.

    • There is a bigger question here of whether WordPress needs/wants commercial developers

      It’s not really a big question. The answer has always been no. I doubt very much that Automattic would have raised the level of funding they did if they didn’t have such a high degree of control over the wordpress ecosystem and the ability to squash any potential competitors by unleashing lawyers and/or Twitter hordes upon them.

    • I keep thinking I wrote this. You have no idea how many times people have pronounced my name “Pegden”

    • Glenn, for the record, even if I “could have” picked another license, I wouldn’t have. I’ve been an open source developer just as long as I’ve been a developer. I was a committer in the WebKit project (Chrome / Safari) before I started being active in the WordPress community. I make a very good living doing what I do without having to charge for my plugins.

      It doesn’t lead to professional devs staying away from WordPress anymore than any other open source license would and I think it offsets the fact that other developers are actually drawn in because the project is GPL.

  12. Oh boy! WPMU really didn’t handle this well. Not only should they pleaded ignorance as they did but they also should have ritually sacrifices the developer and offered ample gifts to Joost. The strict community gods will not however be fully satisfied until WPMU makes the plug-ing free of charge.

  13. Pingback: Assholes? The real Joost & WPMU DEV story… | WordPress News at WPMU.org

    • Wow, James Farmer, wow.

      Joost never asked for his code to be stolen, you forced him to go to a great deal of trouble and expense to defend his GPL right to be credited. He raised the issue on the 26th of May and you spent a week doing precisely nothing, forcing him to go to the extraordinary length of hiring a lawyer and sending a Cease & Desist request across the world to you in Australia.

      The C&D made an incredibly reasonable request: that you credit him as the author of the parts of the plugin which were stolen from him, at which point, under the GPL, they would no longer be stolen. Simple. He did not ask for money or anything else to which the GPL does not entitle him. No code had to be rewritten, no money had to be paid, you simply had to fire up your text editor and add his name.

      Your initial posted response to the C&D was seriously ill-judged and, wisely, you deleted it after just a few hours. Remarkably, having had some time to mull it over, you have now somehow managed to post something even less appropriate and less graceless than your first non-apology. Is Charlie Sheen doing your PR?

      In an astonishing new low for a company that has already been limbo-dancing its way through the WordPress world for years, you suggest that Joost has a psychological disorder! Again, he did not create this situation, he made a reasonable request that you respect his GPL rights and gave you plenty of time to comply. You could have spent a couple of minutes adding his name, entirely settling the matter, and happily continued running your plagiarism farm, knowing that the vast majority of WordPress developers will not have the money, time or energy to call you out on your shady business model, but something in your psychology caused you to foolishly and arrogantly ignore him, the same bad judgement that is now driving you to keep making the situation worse.

      From a business perspective, your refusal to man up, accept responsibility and issue a simple, sincere and straightforward apology, is incredibly self-destructive because it draws continued attention to the dirty little secret underlying your business: the conveyor-belt manner in which you hastily churn out knock-off plugins screws your customers. Look at what this controversy has exposed: you hired a young, inexperienced coder in Benin, Africa and ordered him to write an SEO plugin – a difficult and time-consuming task even for experienced developers. When he magically drummed up a fully-featured plugin, you did not even bother to compare the code with the leading existing SEO plugins, an obvious precaution if a company were in any way serious about not stealing code.

      As Joost pointed out after you ignored his original complaint, the problem with this rapid duplication model is that your paying customers get stuck with forked plugins that are frozen in time. Even if you did respect the GPL and properly credited developers for their hard work, you still end up with a massive collection of plugins that are stuck at the point at which you copied them, bugs and all, no longer receiving the ongoing care, attention and deep knowledge that the original developers can give their plugins.

      Obviously, to keep raking in those subscription fees, you must continue the fiction that your small company is somehow not only matching the combined efforts of a developer community of thousands but is also managing to do it so much better that it justifies a subscription, I understand that. What makes no sense is why you insist upon treating the developers, whose creativity, expertise and hard work you are taking a free ride on, with such open disdain. You are like a shoplifter who, instead of remaining inconspicuous, spits at the security guard as he runs out of the store, with frozen chickens tumbling from his trench coat.

      Why, exactly, are you waging this war?

      • If you want to make this about James, by all means. But no need to bring his contractor into the mix. (Who, I’ll point out, is a prolific core contributor.) It’s not like this is an isolated incident.

        • Actually, I didn’t mean to suggest that the contractor was to blame – he was simply fulfilling an order that, realistically, could not have been fulfilled without heavy reuse of existing code, as is explicitly encouraged by the GPL. WPMU Dev’s responsibility, upon receiving the code, was to ensure that it properly credited any such code, as is required by the GPL. The issue here is Incsub’s ongoing disdain for this requirement.

          I was not aware that the contractor is a prolific core contributor, his WordPress profile did not show up when I Googled him, but that’s very good to hear – thank you Ulrich. I went by James’ description of him as “a new-ish developer” and felt that this was all the more reason why WPMU Dev had a responsibility to check that he understood the importance of properly crediting reused code.

          The contractor made a relatively small, understandable and entirely fixable mistake. He has apologized unreservedly but is not the one who refused to amend the mistake once it became apparent.

          I am not “making this about James“; James, in deciding to turn what should have been a simple amendment into a legal stand-off and, now, a personal attack upon Joost, has made it about James.

          Sadly, you’re right, the firing of this contractor is simply a whitewash to make it appear to be an isolated incident, rather than the basis of their entire business. Publicly naming, blaming and firing him was a shameless, graceless and selfish act. Again, all of this could have been avoided if James Farmer had reacted properly to Joost’s initial complaint.

          • Thanks for having clarified your previous comment, donnacha. It is much appreciated. Thanks to Nacin too.

            A couple of other things I would like to correct:
            1- They didn’t name me at first, before I wrote my blog post.
            2- I wasn’t fired because of this. I have had no communication with them for several months.

        • @Nacin, either provide examples of where this has happened or we’ll be in touch.

          This is the real world, you just can’t make up stuff on hearsay or suspicion, you’re slandering a real business here and you’re going to experience the consequences if you choose to continue or not back up / retract your comments.

  14. I know I’m going against the grain here, but I don’t understand on what grounds Joost is basing his hissy-fit.

    I just spent some time going through Joost’s code and made a couple observations.

    First, because his plugin is listed on the WP.org directory, it MUST be GPL — but I find no proper license declaration in the source code. If he were to argue that his code were not GPL, WP.org would have to immediately pull it from the directory ( and to remain consistent, Matt would have to publicly drag Joost through the mud, a la Chris Pearson and Thesis ).

    Second, I see no declaration of copyright anywhere in Joost’s code. The closest I can find is in the standard WP Plugin Header info where it says “Author: Joost de Valk.” I know that copyright is inherent in any creative work, whether declared or not, but that brings me to my next point.

    The GPL is NOT an attribution license. There is nothing in the license that states “if you use someone else’s code you must give them a shout-out, hi-five, pat on the back, whatever”

    The GPL, in sections 4 and 5 lay out how to handle “Conveying Verbatim Copies” and “Conveying Modified Source Versions,” but I’m not entirely sure this case is either. If the 15%-20% copied code figure is accurate, I suppose that it could be considered a “Modified Source Version,” but this is all in the realm of attorneys and case law precedents I’m not familiar with…

    It seems to me that this entire issue could be resolved legally by WPMU DEV simply adding a single line to the header of their plugin saying “Some of this code came another source, and was modified by the WPMU DEV team in 2011, and is released with the GPL license intact”

    Of course, I’m not even sure that Joost’s plugin -is- GPL due to the fact that nowhere does he say that it is. Another solution here might be to pull Joost’s plugin from the WP.org directory until he properly declares it as GPL…

    I think it reeks of hypocrisy for Joost to be attacking WPMU DEV over a fine-print detail of the GPL when Joost himself has done a piss-poor job of declaring his plugin as GPL in the first place.

    WPMU DEV is also doing a terrible job handling this, in my opinion. My advice would be to stand up for your rights under the GPL, talk to an attorney if need be to find out if and where to add an appropriate copyright notice, and move on with business as usual. This nonsense of “OMG we had an evil employee stealing code; we’re so sorry; we re-wrote all the code; we beg of your forgiveness” is just silly.

    Know your license, know your rights, and stand up for them.

    I’m tempted to pick the top 10 WordPress.org plugins, white-label them as my own, modify the source to ensure GPL compliance, and start selling them openly as such just so we can finally get some of this pissing-match B.S. in the community into the courts where it belongs. We’re all fumbling in the dark until we have this whole WordPress GPL mess sorted out by the legal system.

    As to the whole “morality” issue — if you’re a coder and re-inventing the wheel over and over to avoid using someone else’s code, you’re an inefficient idiot. No programmer worth his/her salt wastes time re-doing things that have already been done. Progress is made when we as software developers create new functionality — not when we re-write functionality that’s already freely available.

    /rant

    • @Seth, Actually I also did a search through the plugin’s code for a hint of the copyright notice. As I couldn’t find anything, like yourself, I however took the initiative to go (back) to the Yoast website and lo and behold, at the bottom you will find the words “Some Rights Reserved”, linked to this page.
      I do agree with you hoever that the Copyright notice could be a bit more visible in place on his plugin (like at the top of the file or something as recommended by WordPress in the first place).

    • Hey Seth, to be clear, all I asked was precisely that: a statement in each of the files they copied that my code was copyright by me, nothing more, nothing less.

      Next to that: thanks for the comments re: declaring GPL in my files I should and will indeed amend that, simple oversight as the plugin is still in beta.

  15. Ryan you have a major CSS problem with the comment form as used in replies.
    For starters you might wanna set the width for #respond textarea to something like 90%, for the right side gets totally hidden.
    #respond input, #respond textarea {
    width: 560px;
    }

    no need for fixed width here.

  16. OK, gonna make a few things clear here:

    1. We immediately responded and fixed the problem when we found out about it, as detailed in the post that’s just been responded too

    2. Ulrich says in his post: http://pubpoet.com/2011/06/05/apologies-to-yoast-and-wpmu-dev/

    “I used some code from Yoast’s free WordPress SEO plugin to develop WPMU DEV SEO plugin… I was not asked by WPMU DEV to use Yoast’s code without attribution.”

    Also we didn’t name him, he named himself.

    And we haven’t worked with him for months.

    3. And this is especially for you Nacin, if you’re going to say that there are other incidents of us engaging in copyright abuse, then you;d better have the information to back it up or retract it.

    Also, I’m looking forward to the apology and retraction of your tweet:

    “Color me surprised, @wpmuorg. Your premium SEO plugin is a white-label rip of @yoast’s? Community is about respect, guys.”

    But really, all in all, you guys just need to read this post, I mean *actually* read it rather than assume you already know what’s in it – it’s not cool to just go around spouting defamatory sensationalized allegations with no backing, grounds or that simply dont reflect reality:

    http://wpmu.org/wpmudev-joost-de-valk-story/

  17. @donnacha we’ve asked Ryan to remove your comments on the basis that they are unsubstantiated and defamatory.

    Should he not choose to, however, and should you choose not to retract your comments, you should expect to hear from our lawyers in the very near future.

    • Farmer, you are so full of crap.

      Having completely mishandled this entire situation, do you really think you can now staunch the flow of truth on several blogs and Twitter by threatening to sue individuals? Have you any idea of how laughable that is? Do you understand that, in just a few days, you have managed to permanently damage your company’s reputation, that you have single-handedly turned the spotlight on how you operate?

      I am absolutely certain that you have zero understanding of how the law actually works and suggest you visit an actual lawyer before making a fool of yourself in public – but, of course, you won’t because you’re the kind of guy who thinks life is all about shortcuts, so, instead of spending money on counsel, you’ll make a lot of thuggish threats and hope that people are gullible enough to be intimidated by that.

      Hey, I’ll even save you a thousand bucks and tell you exactly what a lawyer will tell you after reviewing your treasure trove of evidence: your primary problem is that the misgivings now being openly expressed about the way in which your company operates are well-founded and constitute reasonable comment. More importantly, this entire discussion only blew up because you decided to ignore Joost’s request that you stop breaking the GPL and credit his code, meaning that any resulting comments can be traced back to an act of bad faith on your part.

      So, sure, keep digging, I’m sure this will turn out really well for you.

  18. Pingback: 3 Count: Lose Yourself

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  20. Clear case for me. And for me the case is closed. And voting with the mighty dollar.
    Will NOT, repeat will NOT buy any products produced by WPMU.

    Shame on you.

  21. All wordpress plugins ares either gpl or gpl compatible, thus giving womudev every right to sell it. Is it ethical, thats another question

  22. Wpmu dev is in no way value for money! don’t use them, don’t use them, don’t use them! Do it you own peril. I couldn’t make it any clearer.

    A glossy logo and a shinning new website (build on open source platform by the way, one that is free!) is in no way worth your 75usd a month. Use this money on better products for you website or web business. Not to mention that the moment you cancel your membership, your plug ins stop working! Horrible business model, just a couple of lines short of a scam…

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