Video User Manuals accuses WPMU DEV of copyright infringement in open letter

113 Comments

Video User Manuals claims copyright infringement of Incsub

Troy Dean, co-founder of Video User Manuals, has written an open letter to the WordPress community accusing Incsub, LLC, the company behind WPMU DEV, of copyright infringement. Dean claims in the letter that Incsub is selling a plugin on WPMU DEV that is “based on videos and scripts” from the Video User Manuals plugin.

Dean explains in the letter, which you can read in full on the Video User Manuals website, that there was a temporary licensing agreement for WPMU DEV to use their videos for the WPMU DEV community, which is a paid subscription based community. Dean says that they decided to not renew the three month agreement after WPMU DEV offered the videos for free to those that “liked” their Facebook page, and responded slowly and unprofessionally to Dean’s requests for it to stop.

According to the open letter, WPMU DEV continued to utilize the scripts, with reshot screencasts and voiceovers, after the licensing agreement ended. Dean attempted to negotiate a new license agreement for the scripts alone, but that Incsub’s CEO, James Farmer, told Dean the scripts would be replaced with the release of the new version of WordPress this November (3.3).

Video User Manuals sent a cease and desist letters to Incsub under advisement from their lawyers that Incsub’s failure to recieve proper licensing for the scripts was a violation of the “Copyright Act 1968“.

Since this cease and desist letter was sent, WPMU DEV has released its own video plugin, “Integrated Video Tutorials”, without responding to the letter (according to Dean). I took a couple of screenshots of the sales pages of the Integrated Video Tutorials plugin, which indeed shows some URLs from Video User Manuals’ domain, indicating that the Video User Manuals material was utilized in some way for Integrated Video Tutorials.

Dean did not say what their next step will be, legally or otherwise, beyond the letter, but says that “We [Video User Manuals] feel the behaviour of Incsub LLC is not only illegal, but also not in the spirit of the open source community.”

WPCandy readers may also recall another legal back and forth involving Incsub, LLC a while back, that involved the WordPress SEO plugin by Joost de Valk. One thing I would personally note about this circumstance compared to the previous is that both Video User Manuals and Incsub are located in Australia. In my absolutely unworthy opinion, this could prove more interesting legally, given a lack of international complications.

We will attempt to keep you informed of any further significant developments to this story.

113 thoughts on “Video User Manuals accuses WPMU DEV of copyright infringement in open letter

  1. I’m not going to join the fray as far as the he said/she said confrontation goes. That’s between the parties involved.

    However… one thing that has been pointed out by some on Twitter is the Video User Manuals plugin itself is violating the WordPress license. The plugin is not GPL and therefore isn’t compliant with the licensing required by WordPress.

    The ironic part is going GPL would have absolutely no impact on their business model. Because the videos are hosted and not included in the plugin download itself, there is no reason why the plugin code can’t be 100% GPL while the videos can still require a valid license key entered in the plugin settings in order to view one of the videos.

    So because the video delivery is effectively a SaaS service, there is no reason for the plugin NOT to be GPL.

    • Carl, I too noted those observations on Twitter but I can’t help but think that such nit-picking missed the larger story here: James Farmer’s remarkably ruthless, parasitic, shifty, aggressive and just plain dishonest business practises.

      In one sense, Troy’s small business is reaping what he sowed: if you lay down with dogs you get fleas. All the same, though, can we not at least recognise that, in this situation, he is clearly the victim?

      Troy wrote an open letter to the WordPress community and pointed out, quite correctly, that James Farmer’s pathetic behaviour is beyond the bounds of what ANY community, regardless of license, should be willing to accept.

      The letter should also be treated as a sombre warning. Most of us who have been around for a while know that Farmer has been pissing all over WordPress for years. The last time he was caught stealing and rebadging the Open Source work of the community, he stormed psychotically about the comments here, foul-mouthedly threatening to sue all and sundry … pathetic, pathetic, pathetic weasel of a man, with the manners and mentality of a sewer rat.

      I expect he’ll pull the same stunt this time too, so, everyone, DO NOT BELIEVE FARMER’S BULLSHIT – there is no court in the world that he would not be laughed out of, he is not going to sue anyone, do not be intimidated and, if he ever screws you over or if you discover that the latest WPMU.org PRO plugin bears a striking similarity to your hard work, do not be afraid to tell the WordPress community, because together we can shine a light on these rotten parasites.

      • As I mentioned, i’m not going to get involved in the situation between these two companies. There are always multiple sides to any situation such as this and we’ve only heard one side. I’m not defending James and the IncSub team, nor am I defending the Video User Manuals team. I just don’t have any firsthand insight into the situation.

    • Hey Carl,

      I know if there is anyone to ask about the GPL licencing issue then you’re the man to ask given the fact that your business revolves around an awesome WordPress plugin!

      In terms of the GPL issue am I correct that all Video User Manuals have to do to comply is put in the licence after the plugin info header and they’re sweet?

      I shall be releasing a few premium themes and plugins in a month or two and haven’t talked shop with the lawyers yet so I’m keen for a hot tip before I meet with them too hehe :)

      Cheers for your insider info :)

      • It depends on if they are using third party code themselves such as CreativeCommons etc. They can also just dual license it all. Extracting the code that they have written into a separate library and make the plugin part that uses WordPress actions GPL.
        But that is unnecessary since plugins are not derivative works just by making function calls. Actual GPL code has to be included in the files as well to get the full GPL invasion experience. If you don’t distribute the plugin with WordPress as a whole you don’t get GPLed invaded by the distribution clause.

        The only reason to go GPL is to get some exposure by WP newssources.

    • And there is no reason for it to be GPL in the first place(unless it includes specific GPLed code, ie not function calls) other than to comply with the WP leadership highly biased view on the matter. It is just opinions.

      • @Andreas Nurbo : That is not correct. All code produced for WordPress “should” be GPL. This does not mean you cannot sell it or that you have to make your code downloadable if you don’t want.

        I invite you to read this: http://wordpress.org/news/2009/07/themes-are-gpl-too/

        The only thing that can be NOT GPL are external “medias” (such as images, stylesheets, javascript, …). The code (PHP and HTML) should be GPL. It’s kind of hard to understand as you could think that GPL means free (as in free beer and free speech) but it seems you are not “free” about code licensing!

        • I was/is involved in the debate. If you check my comment above you’ll see I have a clue about what I’m talking about.
          It comes down to interpretations of what constitute a derivative work. No cases involving GPL has involved add-ons/extensions that does not distribute the work as whole. In the case of plugins/themes it becomes a whole by the actions of the end-user not the plugin distributor.
          Then theres the difficulty with dynamic vs static linking, function names can be original works that you can apply rules for etc.

          Using WP.org for unbiased information regarding this is like asking the oilindustry if the oilconsumption is a cause of global warming.
          The only reason to go GPL is for goodwill (unless you use actual code).

        • I could add that I release my non-commercial code under MIT license. Which means ppl can do just about anything they want with it. Most in the WP system release only GPL code which is bull. If you want to share code do it in a way so that its up to the enduser to decide the license of his/her work.

        • That’s why there’s a GPL debate in the first place, different interpretations of the same words / docs relating to GPL. Until there is Case Law to cite, there’s going to be varying opinions that claim to be right.

  2. I swear, if you guys overheard a drunk tramp rambling about what nasty things Incsub had did to them, you’d probably republish it here.

    Nevermind though, as you didn’t even ask me for comment (you have my email, I know that much Brian), I’ll leave it here instead.

    While I’m not going to bother going into the ins and outs of who told who to fuck off etc. the fact that we had an arrangement, where we paid VUM to provide their videos, and that that relationship broke down is entirely true.

    As is the fact that, after it broke down we upgraded (version-wise) rescripted, reshot and revoiced (and vastly improved upon, they were a bit shit really) all the videos, and added some more too.

    Troy then, seeing that we had both improved upon and were then technically competing with him, demanded that:

    - We pay them a further $5000
    - We take down all of our videos

    …and some other nonsense… I threw away the tame legal letter, needless to say he hasn’t followed up on any of the lame ass threats within it.

    Because, he claims, without any evidence, that we reused their *scripts* (which we didn’t have) – which were copyrighted.

    In essence, he claims that we (or anyone else) cannot provide a video for our members of how to write a post in WordPress, unless we avoid phrases like “Now, click on the ‘Post’ menu item’ / ‘Now enter a title’ etc. etc.

    Which is very funny, and which we’ll be delighted to work out in any court in any country (he’ll have to sue Incsub in Alabama though ;) – yes, that’s another bit of info you could hav egot by asking me) with the wannabe voice over artist any time he fancies… we’ll enjoy extracting costs from him too.

    Oh, and another thing Brian, don’t you guys have a thing about not promoting folk who are non GPL / breaking the WP trademark and all that jazz https://twitter.com/#!/janeforshort/statuses/137012342725672961… oh, sorry I forgot, you don’t care about your concern for your hobo-esque sources.

    Lame ass bloggers, thinking they are newsmen, sigh… go fuck yourself Candy.

      • One minute after posting your own hate-filled attack, you call your target a scumbag for being foul-mouthed? Looks like you just put a label on yourself.

        • The word “scumbag” is a dysphemism for “a contemptible person”. It is an insult but not “bad language” per se, not an example of being foul-mouthed. Your definition of foul-mouthed may be different than mine, different cultures have different limits, I don’t know what country you come from because you have courageously decided to post anonymously.

          If my post was “hate-filled”, as you claim, it is a justified hate for anyone who acts in such a contemptible manner, blatantly building a fortune upon the hard work of others while continually sniping and undermining their community. James Farmer’s harvesting operation has done more damage to WordPress than pretty much anything else.

          My bluntness was justified, Farmer posted exactly the sort of aggressive rant peppered with legal threats that I predicted, it was important to deflate his puffery before anyone actually took it seriously and backed down, as happened last time. I think it worked, people are becoming far more aware of and united against this character, this is the only way to deal with bullies – although, of course, it doesn’t stop them coming back and posting anonymously ;)

    • Hi James,

      You can see the response your automated email system sent me after I left a note on Incsub’s contact form, directed to you, requesting comment so that we could add it to the story:

      http://cl.ly/1v2o3S2v0x2f2R130z1I

      And no, I don’t have your email address. I checked. I followed the same procedure I would ever follow when writing a post that would benefit from comment. I drafted the post, and sent a request for comment as I posted it.

      I actually checked Incsub’s site as well regarding where you are located. I knew you guys used to be in Alabama (as I’m from Birmingham), but noticed your contact information now references Australia. This is also why I declared my opinion in that particular part “absolutely unworthy”. I clearly noted that that portion was entirely me and not the letter or anyone else.

      oh, sorry I forgot, you don’t care about your concern for your hobo-esque sources.

      I think it’s safe to say you know almost nothing about me.

      And thanks for your cliche reference of bloggers vs. “newsmen”, but I will refrain from your recommendation of what to do with myself.

      I’ll also choose not to tell you what I think of you, especially in light of your comments. You’ve already told everyone else for me.

      Have a nice day.

    • Just in case if you’re wondering why your company has the reputation that it has, just read your comment again, mate. Not doing yourself any favours here, but you don’t seem to care anyways.

    • Great to see such a professional response from James. Now, I ‘m sure that Video User Manuals allegations of an unprofessional response must be wrong. No way could such a classy guy act unprofessionally.

      #waytoshootyourselfinthefoot

    • James, I think you just lost all contact with the real world. After posting such a comment on a blog like WPCandy, there is nothing you can say to fix this mess.

      You are wrong. Again. And now you’re bitching at someone who wrote a honest article on that, just pointing out that VUM accused you and your company.

      I’ll look at it as damage control, but you’re doing that wrong too.

    • Wow, I now understand donnacha’s comment, your a pretty sad person -) Even verbally attacking a WPCandy writer? Really? Shooting the Messenger? You just love making profit over someone’s hard work, don’t you.

  3. If you want to play in the WordPress party then being GPL is a given.

    But lets be honest. This article isn’t about the GPL or what people are allowed to do. Freedom of speech means I can say real douche bag things in real life but it doesn’t mean that I do. This article is about poor behavior in the WordPress community.

    I think it is really important to make the distinction between members of the “WordPress community” who are doing cool stuff to make WP better, and businesses that copy and sell the works of our friends in the WordPress just to make more money. These businesses are not fostering any community good will and they are actually hurting the people that make the WordPress community awesome.

    This article is actually about how James Farmer and thus WPMU DEV behave in such a way that isolates them from being accepted as friends of the WordPress community.

    The question to ask yourself is whether or not you’re comfortable with guys like Yoast, Donnacha, and now the boys at Video User Manuals, who have spent countless hours making the WordPress community as a whole a richer place for all, being ripped off by people that who are only in it for themselves.

    If you are like me and you don’t feel that this type of behavior is okay then I would suggest that you stick with the original source. In this case I’d be boycotting WPMU Dev and rooting for the guys at Video User Manuals who did all the innovative ground work in this space.

    See. This article has almost nothing to do with the GPL :)

    • Brilliantly summed up Dan!

      You’re right, this article definitely isn’t about the GPL at all but that’s where Incsub got pulled up in the first place so of course James was gonna try to look for that to distract from the main subject matter haha :)

      You’re spot on about “the distinction between members of the “WordPress community” who are doing cool stuff to make WP better, and businesses that copy and sell the works of our friends in the WordPress just to make more money”. We all know which side of the fence Incsub is on!

      Incsub are missing out on being a part of the WordPress community by not getting involved. If they were more involved they’d meet people who would have ideas to better their product and then they could collaborate, negotiate and both help each other…but they’re missing out on that cause they’re just copying and selling other peoples code.

    • Am I “comfortable” with Donnacha? I’ve frankly never heard of him. I’m not taking James Farmer’s side here, just following an interesting controversy brought to my attention by WPCandy. Someone is calling foul play, and the way James responds here doesn’t really make him look good. But this Donnacha guy? Storming out of the gate, hurling “piss” and “shit” and generally screaming with hatred. WTF? Why should I even consider listening to, let alone be comfortable with, a person like that. And I looked at his website – some commercial service. Maybe he did something nice for ‘the community’, well he never did anything for me. At least WPMUDEV provides some free stuff that’s useful.

      You guys have your minds made up, Farmer is the bad guy. Maybe. But you seem to be discounting any objective argument against the other party, so maybe you’re not that righteous, and you’re as guilty of hurting the community as anyone. I believe your real problem is that you don’t like people who go it alone. Be our friend or be cast out.

      $5,000 for some videos? Damn, Incsub must make a lot of money. Good for them. Maybe you’re all just jealous.

      Just an outsider’s view.

      • I’m sorry but, it is so obvious, ox is not “an outsider”, ox is clearly James Farmer – who else would be so focused upon me?

        I am not the issue here and only someone who felt personally hurt by me calling Farmer’s bluff would have come away with that perception, would have felt driven to counter-attack twice. Only the original focus of the article would so desperately try to deflect attention onto someone else. Only genuine anger would cause someone to miss that vital fact that the issue has already be diverted into yet another argument about the GPL, that he has got a free pass yet again on this one.

        Most tellingly, how could it possibly occur to any disinterested outsider to magically spout Farmer’s usual spin and suggest that everyone else is just jealous? How could anyone from outside Incsub actually believe that the “free stuff” offered on WPMU Dev is somehow better than the massive Free and Open contribution that the community collectively makes and without which no WPMU Dev plugin or theme could exist? Disinterested outsiders simply don’t come up with stuff like this, it takes years of effort to build up that level of delusion.

    • The result was I decided not to waste money on a debate that would have no real winners. They never contacted me again, nor did they ever comply with my simple demands, but I went on and made my WordPress SEO plugin ten times better. If they ignore that, it’s their loss :)

      • Your plugin rocks! I don’t blame you for not want to waste your time dealing with WPMU.

        I know that after reading the WPMU CEO comment here that I am not very interested in their plugins. What kind of customer service could I expect from a company whose CEO uses the “f” word to address WP Candy a much esteemed contributor and member of the WordPress community?

        • James Farmer – you are a disgrace!
          He spoke to me like this before over simple support query on their payed for forum.
          Yes, a paid up member asking for support gets told to **** off and that it’s not their problem.

  4. As with all businesses there are good business models and bad business models. In my opinion James has now cemented himself as a ‘serial offender’ when it comes to stealing code and IP without giving attribution back to the original authors. I only know of this plugin and Yoast’s plugin that James company has built upon but that’s because both of the people who have produced these plugins are heavily active within the community. I can’t help but wonder if we went through all the plugins on WPMU Dev how much more of this we’d find?

    This is definitely not a good business model in the WordPress community as we’re all about giving back to the community and working together. WordPress is such an awesome product that we can all make money off it whilst still giving attribution back to the original authors without stealing!

    Maybe James just wants to be the next Chris Pearson?

  5. Pingback: Incsub/WPMUdev Under Fire ... Again

  6. Im a small web designer and work for a small web shop and I am not surprised..management has us steer our clients away from WPMU especially since the SEO debacle ..
    I can not say guilty or innocent but association is enough to scare away any business my shop would have sent to them.. im sorry but the wordpress world is large our management says there are many other sources for plugins and themes and all….and of course they are right..its wrong to judge but this is a business and WPMU has lost the trust of our small shop and I know this will not put a dent in their business….I write this comment to show a point of view from a small fry..Management says we need to have trust from all sources of our business to pass that trust to our clients than in turn they return with more business..Even the hint of impropriety and people get sketchy now days..
    Dan

    • Well said.
      I am also a small-fry web guy and our company has been steering clear of WPMU since the SEO fiasco as well.
      Comments like James only hurt the community.

  7. they did it before to yoast, and doing it yet again, and from the replies from incsub being totally unprofessional, i dont know if thats because they got caught or what.

    I guess the calm approach doesnt really work for them.

  8. Think I’ll join in with Paul… if he’s got any left…
    But before I do…

    Those of you who are key bashing and textually going in for at least one round or more against this guy or the other, and using such disgusting and aggressive language and tone, (actually I am surprised, appalled and repulsed by it), are doing no justice, nor positive service to yourselves or the WordPress community at all… Think of how a relative ‘outsider’ would see the way ‘many’ of you are handling yourselves… Sh-t, we’re supposed to be intelligent professionals. If I didn’t know any better, from seeing a discussion like this I might even be scared enough to consider Joomla…
    There are many ways to express concerns and vent but… For your own self respect… Pull yourselves together guys and gals…

    Secondly, and I firmly believe believe this. ‘No-one’ is a saint in the WP community… and I mean that in the sense that ‘Everyone’, whether they provide amazingly brilliant and free plugins like Yoast (my hero) or not, is in it for him/herself is some way or another… Guaranteed!

    And finally, (yes I begin sentences with And) – It’s exactly this kind of public discussion, rat-bagging about who supposedly did what to who etc., (officially) unproven spraying of so-called ‘fact’ about so-and-so, and un-resourced/un-backed information spread into the public domain, that gets court cases kicked out of litigation before they even begin, as the ‘public’ discussion and possible (mis)-information (whether correct or not), can possibly bias the thoughts of those that need to review the actual ‘found’ facts and evidence in their making a decision about guilt. So… Those of you wishing for the ‘bad-guy’ in this discussion to get ‘legally’ hammered for what he may have done are not helping by slinging sh-t here.

    if you want to warn people about certain risks you may feel there could be in working with a specific person or company, by all means do so… but the gross public display of behaviour here is by no means the way to intelligently express opinions and discuss a situation that is most definitely highly engaging, to some enraging and to others apetite bearing…

    (Oh, and a gentle note WPCandy.. Are you happy having this kind of language and ‘slander’ being pasted all over your ‘moderated’ forum… I would be concerned… Good discussions are great… but be careful not to fall into the trap of allowing just about an anything-goes bastardisation of a great website and WP resource just because you think that a ‘hot’ discussion will be good for traffic.. Personally, if I had comments like those above I would either carefully ‘edit/moderate’ them, or place them behind a login – food for thought – just by 2 bobs worth)

    Paul, got any of that popcorn left mate?

  9. Pingback: Incsub LLC Accused Of Copyright Infringement

  10. Please disarm the nukes everyone, no one wins in a nuclear war.

    I happen to pay money you both parties involved in this argument. I don’t want a winner and loser from this debate. I want to use plugins from both parties.

    I’m just a small developer too and rely on premium plugins to provide ongoing support and upgrades to provide future proof reliable solutions. As much as I love and respect free theme developers I worry they will burn out fast without stable cashflow so I prefer a business based plugin house in some ways for the added stability.

    What would be great is if WPMU stuck to their multi site plugins which are fantastic and not try and cover so much of the plugin landscape which seems to be a minefield for them right now.

    I will add that I will only ever use Video User Manuals for in dashboard client training videos and manuals because thats what they do best too.

    Finally a word of advice to any commercial player in the WordPress spotlight that WPCandy is. Ask yourself, what would Brian Gardner or Cory Miller do?

    Kind regards
    Tony

  11. Okay, I kind of feel like I have to say something. Last time this happened we all kept quiet and made no comment because we were shocked by the force of the vitriol. It’s amazing how quickly and easily it happens again, without anyone asking any questions about whether the claims of copyright infringement are actually founded or not.

    But anyway, it is completely unfounded to say that everyone at Incsub is a “rotten parasite” or a “dog”, and particularly that none of us ever give anything back to the community. It’s just not true. I’m not going to list each of us and what we individually do, but as a group we support and promote many different WordPress businesses, take part in the theme review team, report bugs, we write tutorials and articles about WordPress, we contribute to BuddyPress, we submit plugins to the repo (as WPMU DEV, and as individual developers), we release free themes, support WordCamps and generally get involved.

    Of course we are aware of things that went on in the past but maybe they should be left in the past and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions and make us out to be some sort of Evil Empire. I know lots of community members who I work with as clients and who I consider to be friends who are horrified by the type of things that are being said here.

    Finally, it’s completely inappropriate to call James “Hitler”. That would make me a member of the SS and I’m far too uncoordinated to goose step.

    Can we move on now, please?

    • @Siobhan I understand and respect your view as a WPMU DEV team member, but what about the offensive, inapropriate and unmannered way your boss behaves (for the second time in a row)? The way James deals with this situation is a big cause why this discussion got fueled up.

    • Agree with staxx. If James had just come out and said something like: “There’s another side to this story, but I don’t want to talk about it at the moment, because my lawyers are looking into it”, it would have poured some water on the fire. Instead he came out throwing gasoline. It’s no wonder there was such a reaction.

      To be clear, I am not talking about who is right or wrong with respect to copyright infringement etc, I am talking about a) simple basic courteous behaviour and b) reputation management 101.

      To respond with “go fuck yourself Candy” when you’re accused of being unprofessional, just proves the point. At the very least, he clearly didn’t think before speaking and the action (but not necessarily James himself) was just plain stupid.

    • Siobhan, I respect and appreciate your writing but you seem to be suggesting that there is some sort of irrational, unfounded animus towards your boss, that flares up unpredictably for no reason at all. That is simply not true.

      You say “it’s amazing how quickly and easily it happens again” but no-one else is surprised.

      Your boss has been bullying, barging and taking liberties with the hard work and rights of others for years, stretching back long before you starting working for him. On the whole, people in this community are pretty relaxed, mostly inclined to turn the other cheek. In private, people express exactly what they think of his actions – the long list of disappointing things he has done – but, in public, they are reluctant to make a fuss.

      This means that, for the most part, James Farmer’s approach works, he always gets away with it, but you cannot complain when, occasionally, a particularly blatant piece of sharp dealing, such as this video situation, emerges into the spotlight and people make the educated guess that your boss probably did exactly what he is accused of. Sure, none of us know the full facts, but expressing your “shock” at the reaction and our lack of judicial process rather glosses over the fact that it only seems to be your boss who repeatedly finds himself in these situations.

      I accept that my first comment in this discussion was vitriolic but that was warranted because, if you read back over your boss’ comments the last time we were all forced to address his business practices, you will see that he used extremely aggressive threats and, yes, vitriol to successfully shut down the discussion. This time, I immediately knew that he was going to try the same approach – why not, it worked for him last time, right? – so, the purpose behind my vitriol was to fight fire with fire and to encourage others not be cowed by his bullying tactic.

      Sure enough, your boss did not disappoint and his comment, which I think he must have been writing at the same time that I was writing mine, contained all the elements I predicted.

      Now, I understand that you feel loyalty towards your boss, he’s probably very sweet to you in person, but you do yourself a disservice when you twist reality in order to enjoy a personal sense of injury. You state “it is completely unfounded to say that everyone at Incsub is a rotten parasite or a dog” and, yet, THAT DID NOT HAPPEN, I did not say anything about the rest of you. It was crystal clear that I was denouncing your boss as a parasite and the dog reference was part of a well known saying, warning that you should be careful who you do business with.

      Just for a moment, put aside your loyalty, take off your rose-tinted glasses etc and look at what his business is really built upon. I understand that some of you there do good work but, be honest with yourself, isn’t there something just a little wrong with how your boss views the rest of the WordPress community? Isn’t there more than just a hint of harvesting and repackaging going on? And what’s with his nastiness towards someone he did business with, even if that business relationship broke down? What sort of man publicly denigrates the very work that he once wanted to buy, what sort of man are you working for? Surely writing gigs aren’t that thin on the ground – as I said, you’re a good writer, good writers are valuable, do you need to be part of an operation like that?

      You say “Can we move on now, please?” … how about this simple solution, which I guarantee will prevent this ever, ever flaring up again: ask your boss to stop treating others with such contempt. Simple as that. Anything that I or anyone else here has written about your boss has stemmed, 100%, from HIS actions and HIS attitude. If he starts acting with common decency or, even, is just a little less blatant in his shenanigans, I think you’ll find that this sort of anger with magically stop flaring up in public and you can all pretend, once again, that Incsub is a respectable business.

      But he won’t stop.

      • Oh, donnacha – if you spent half as much time working on your business and site’s design as you did with your troll-like and absurdly lengthy comments here, you might actually have a successful product! You sound awfully jealous to me! Why waste your breath?

        • Don’t you worry about my business, Sam, it is doing just fine and I rather like my website :)

          I only stick my head above the parapet and post here on special occasions; crying foul when a fellow member of our community gets treated badly is important enough to “waste my breath”. Anyone who benefits from WordPress should be equally willing to waste their breath.

          Interesting that most of the folks who have an issue with me doing that are anonymous, first-time commenters …. hmmmmm ….

    • @Siobhan

      While I understand, that being an employee of the accused individual and probably fond of your job as well, please read his comment on this article with an open mind. For a moment pretend you didn’t know who wrote it.

      You will not be able to prevent realization that using foul language as a counter argument to discredit people’s opinion has no basis whatsoever. Reading about the past issues for the first time today, I would have been willing to give your boss and his company the benefit of a doubt – until he managed to prove everyone else right who had characterized him before.

      Not only was that a tactical mistake, it shows for one what this despicable person thinks of the greater WP community, as well as how limited his intellect must be. No matter how evil a villain might be, if he is of any smarts, he attempts to hide his evil nature as well as possible. James has managed to reveal not only one (attitude towards others) but two (limited reasoning) of his character traits in one comment.

      I guess people such as me, that neither knew him or his company before, should actually be grateful for him having proven everyone else right.

      I hope you took my advice on (re-)reading his comment – do you honestly feel like he himself (or people representing his company) have any right whatsoever to comment on other people’s choice of words? If so, that’d be a prime example of hypocrisy…

    • I’m going to intercede on behalf of Siobhan here if you don’t mind. After all she posted about a scammer in WordPress plugin repository:
      http://wpmu.org/beware-fake-jquery-calls-in-wordpress-plugins-from-the-repo/
      You can see on the comments that Samuel “Otto” Wood went took notice of her article and promptly removed the offending plugins and banned the faulty author.
      I’m in no way defending WPMU, after all the management tries to deceive right from the beginning, with that domain name and the .org TLD. The management also proved they don’t give an f about anything last time with the case of Yoast’s WordPress SEO which should be enough for most knowledgeable people to stay away from WPMU.
      The point is that some people involved have nothing to do with it and they should not be put in the same bag as the “bad guys”.
      On the other hand, the plugin was apparently not under the GPL terms itself
      https://twitter.com/#!/janeforshort/statuses/137012342725672961
      so they are not the “good guys” either.
      Both parties are somehow not in line with WP community. Let’s see who takes the first step to correct this.

    • @Siobhan
      I am not a developer, I am a small fry wordpress enthusiast that has previously paid for plugins/support from WPMUDEV and found out the hard way that 1) the plugin didn’t work as thought 2) paid support was vague and infrequent 3) support was vague to further sell private consultancy and 4) told (essentially) if I didn’t like it, I knew what I could do with it.
      Just plain rude.
      I’ve worked for many companies, in many different industries and what is true, is that a company will shape itself by design of the boss.
      Have a look at your boss, then have a quiet reflection.
      Please, if his tone does not reflect you or your colleges, then go and start something else with them elsewhere.

      Finding this blogpost has made me feel a whole lot better, because I thought I was alone and that this offensive man (and company) was the new face of the WordPress community.

      “it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it!”

  12. The solution is not to “move on”, the solution is for certain people to change their behavior. Its not as though this is the first time this type of thing has happened and signals all point to it not being the last.

  13. As a person who just stumbled on to this forum after reading about the “Copyright infringement” accusation on WP, I am astounded at the amount of venom spewing forth from so many here in your community. I know you’re all pissed at this guy, but it sounds to me like you are allowing his bad business practices and childish vitriol to provoke infighting that you as a group neither want nor need.
    As a completely disinterested third party I can tell you that James Farmer sounds like a creep with whom no one in your line of work should ever do business again. And if he is caught doing anything illegal you should (whoever is involved) sue his ass. Sooner or later he will either stop stealing or go broke defending himself in court.
    Beyond that is there really anything to be gained by continuing this discussion?

    • If it isn’t discussed here, then those involved could continue their behaviour without ever fearing ramifications for their actions. Suing is an option, but I don’t think most people are interested in taking things that far.

    • No-one’s ass is getting sued, James Farmer is not going to go broke defending himself in court.

      The Open Source community is not about money, so, when someone’s work gets ripped off, there are no financial mechanisms in place to fund legal action – see Yoast’s comment above, he is any example of a successful plugin author who pours a huge amount of time into creating useful plugins that we can all use for free. When he discovered that this company was rebadging his work and passing it off to it’s clients as its own, he complained loudly but, realistically, there wasn’t that much he could do.

      In a sense, the vitriol expressed against those who feed upon the work of others is all we have. Discussion has always been an important part of any Open Source community, it is how the culture is formed, how the rules of acceptable behavior are established. WordPress is a huge enabler of business and millions of commercial entities benefit from it without breaking those rules but some do.

      Such companies carefully position themselves to take advantage of people who they know cannot fight back and, as you can see from Farmer’s comment above, they regard the community with contempt, know that we would never be their customers because we understand that taking free plugins and slapping the word “Pro” on them does not actually add any value.

      You have stumbled upon a discussion that, in commercial terms, will have very little affect upon the offending company, it will continue to thrive, to spend huge amounts on advertising and to pile up enough money to plausibly back threats to sue anyone who complains – that is what happened last time, people were threatened into silence and Yoast did not pursue legal action because defending his plugin, which he gives away freely, would have been very expensive. James Farmer did not remove the copied code, he did not apologize, he did not suggest that he would modify his parasitic behavior. The vast majority of James Farmer’s future customers will not stumble across discussions like this, they will not discover his real nature, they will only see the glossy ads and decide that they need to some more “Pro” in their lives.

      The only real purpose of this discussion, and the anger expressed here, is to establish, within our own community, who has acted in bad faith and to make clear, to the tiny number of people interested in such matters, that certain people have certain patterns of behavior that are harmful to others.

      If you find the anger expressed here unnerving, you must remember that in an open community, unlike a proprietary company, discussions are not hidden behind closed doors. As consumers, accustomed to being fed carefully crafted PR and marketing, we remain mostly unaware of the human drama and acrimony that underlies the products and services we consume. This, however, is not a showroom or a sales booth, you have stumbled into a backroom and, yes, discussions of this type are absolutely essential to the operation of the machine.

  14. ugh. Sad Face. My first post on here. I actually saw the news headline on my Dashboard. I literally just talked to a client about WPMU and several plugins today! I’m glad I haven’t followed up yet this evening. I’m not really sure what to make of the post comments. I don’t really know the history or what happened. I do know that we use Yoast also. I will not be recommending the plugins to any future clients. I cannot imagine what would happen to my already small clientele if I had to start pulling code and hacking sites apart because of copyright infringements. :(
    I don’t know enough yet to produce things useful for the wp community, but I have always planned to release things freely once I do learn enough to produce things that work consistently and usefully LOL. I honestly never thought about someone stealing the ideas or code and then selling my works for profit. Sad really, as open source communities are the last frontier of expression I feel as all the large companies are patenting and eating up everything they can thinktank up. Hopefully things like this don’t continue to happen, but I’m not entirely naive ;)

  15. Could someone please look at WPMU’s more worthwhile plugins, and rewrite them under an open license so that I don’t have to pay them anymore?

    If working alternatives to their plugins were available for free, there would be no reason for anybody to ever give them a dime.

    • Their plugins are openly licensed and there is usually an equivalent plugin in the official repository which you could use instead.

      Which particular plugins have you not found an alternative version for?

      • Really its just their ‘Pro Sites’ plugin and Anti-Spam. These are the only plugin out of their repository that I use, and at their monthly rates, its WAY too expensive!

        I would be sooo happy if there were free and open alternatives to these plugins. Maybe there are?

        • For “Pro sites” I was intending to custom write something for my own site. I guess it would be nice if there was an off the shelf plugin which could do it instead though.

          There are numerous ways to block splog attacks. Here’s one route:
          http://www.darcynorman.net/2009/05/20/stopping-spamblog-registration-in-wordpress-multiuser/

          I believe Ron Rennick is working on a plugin to block splogs too, so it might be worth dropping him a line to see if it is available for download anywhere. Work by Ron is bound to be of higher quality than anything you will find on WPMuDev.org. Ron’s stuff is always top notch.

          • Thanks Ryan. I’ll look into the plugins you recommended.

            So if WPMU plugins are on an open license, what is to prevent others in the community from modifying and building upon their code and making them available for download without the monthly subscription?

            What am I missing?

        • Something which answers your question about specific plugins has been posted on Google+:
          https://plus.google.com/110334265798828836941/posts/cNx3BoM2UJf

          Nothing at all prevents WPMu plugins from being hosted elsewhere without a monthly subscription. I assume they are indeed available elsewhere, you would just need to know where to look for them. I generally recommend downloading plugins directly from the developer though so that you can make sure you get all the latest updates.

          The last time I downloaded the WPMu plugins, many of the ones I was most interested in required hacking core WordPress files. I think this would prevent them from being hosted in the official WordPress plugin repository along with most of the free plugins since I don’t think they would meet the same quality guidelines as their free counterparts.

  16. You hit it right on the head Conor. We (I’m an Incsub employee), purchased the rights to use the videos in question. When that agreement expired, we stopped using the videos, and we decided to make our own. Mostly because the videos weren’t meeting the needs of our members. No code was copied and no copyright was infringed. The screenshot just wasn’t updated – though it definitely should have been. The Video User Manuals guys obviously weren’t happy that we ended our relationship and that we decided to go a different direction. Then blogs such as this one took it and ran with it in a very unprofessional and unproductive manner – all in the name of driving traffic and dividing the community.

    I think it is worth repeating, no code was copied and no copyright was infringed. If anyone has any evidence that would suggest otherwise (with any of our products), please contact us – http://incsub.com/contact/ – so that we can fully look into it.

      • Fair enough. Just as anyone who’s character and business they’ve spent years building is attacked – he fought back and defended himself. It may have not been in a manner we would have all wanted to see, but it in no way means that the original accused actions of copyright infringement are valid – which ultimately is the more important issue here.

        • Ronnie, while I appreciate someone (or actually a couple of you) from WPMU responding here in a more civil tone, I think the underlying problem is that you didn’t make good on your previous “issues”.

          Last I heard from James, he was going to sue ME over the fact that I had the guts to say you guys blatantly copied lots of code from my WordPress SEO plugin. If you don’t man up and fix your previous mistakes, they’ll hunt you forever. So WPMU should be smart and make right what was, and in some cases still is, wrong, regardless of whether that’s the case in this particular case or not.

          • I was under the impression that we did make good on our previous issue – though I admit I wasn’t 100% in the loop on all of that. If there is anything outstanding, please contact us (I think you have some email addresses) and let us know.

          • Well Ronnie, you see what I said above, I didn’t hear from you, other than that last remark from James, so no, it’s not good, in fact, I still literally hate your company over it and will tell anyone who asks me. I’ll leave it to you guys to contact ME if you want to issue a formal apology and see where we can take it from there. Half the job is already done: the “crime” was admitted to already by the developer you hired, you simply “forgot” to take the next steps.

    • Please don’t accuse WP Candy of being unprofessional and/or unproductive over this. They simply reported the facts. Your employers are known for conducting business in an “interesting” manner, and so it is entirely appropriate to report on these sorts of things when they crop up.

  17. I’d like to say that ever since this has come to light (and the message from the CEO — very unprofessional) I’ve decided not to use WPMU for anything, including any new projects.

    No matter what happens — a dog barfs on your face or the sky falls down, you don’t come in and start shouting on blogs and public sites. You simply alienate future customers who read this story on WPCandy or planet.wordpress.org.

    For shame!

  18. It’s simple logic that hateful expressions leads to more hateful expressions.
    Why the need to make disparaging remarks?
    My hope is that I don’t have to read such unproductive comments on a WordPress site ever again.

  19. Hello,

    This is my first post here. Wow this is an ugly thread.

    But I’m posting because I actually signed up for WPMU a few months ago mainly because I build all of my sites on WordPress network. I really like the Supporter plugin and in fact it is the core of a few of my sites and businesses.

    I know someone mentioned that there are open source alternatives to most of their plugins but I haven’t seen any that are actively supported for the plugin they now call Pro Sites.

    It seems to me if everyone is so upset about the WPMU business model that maybe the community could create a site called something like Free WP Multisite that matches them plugin for plugin. Membership would be free with the option to subscribe and support the site.

    I would definitely support ta site like that and look forward to any suggestions for working multisite plugins.

    BTW, I actually really like the tips that Siohban, Sarah and others write about on their blog. I know its a promotion machine for the premium stuff but still really good info.

      • Thanks for the reply. I’ve been to that page, which seems really cool and informative, but I didn’t try their package of plugins because they mention in the limitations that they don’t offer subscriptions. I assumed this meant that when a person signed into your site, then you wouldn’t be able to charge a monthly subscription. I need to be able to charge monthly for access to plugins and themes. I guess I’ll have to test it out to see.

        • We don’t offer subscriptions on our own products. ;) It’s a one time fee.

          With the premium package manager, those *are* package deals set up on time frames you decide. 1 month 3 months, 1 year- whatever you like.

  20. So after the comments above I engaged in some emails conversation with Ronnie at WP MU. I did some proposals to make it all end, in my view very generous proposals from my side, but they didn’t want to take any of them even though it seems that Ronnie did genuinely try to talk James into it.

    They (or maybe just James, I don’t know that) still feel as though I was the one who did wrong, even when they themselves admitted that they copied my code without attribution in the first place and made money in doing so.

    Regardless of whether the case in the article above is true, the company has very questionable ethics at its core, so I’d recommend everyone to stay away.

    • Thanks for the update Joost, it tells us all we need to know about the true nature of WPMU Dev.

      Despite all their spin during this discussion, despite their characterization of this report as a baseless attack, despite their public promises to you … now that the heat has died down, now that the spotlight has moved on, they have acted in exactly the way they always act when it comes to the rights and work of others.

      As you point out, this goes beyond a question of money, you weren’t even asking for money, and it is not about you being somehow awkward – your request for proper attribution was as reasonable and easy to comply with now as it was six months ago.

      No, this company simply cannot act in a decent manner because their contempt for the WordPress community is too deeply engrained, it goes to the core of what they do and who they are – sharks do not respect tuna.

      Anyone who thinks this argument was some simple disagreement, with valid points on both sides, should take note of this simple, brutally blatant outcome.

  21. well after taking the time to read EVERY COMMENT is safe to say that almost no one knows how to deal with this. trashing back and foward insulting people thats not even involved. today i just saw 3 guys that i respect reaviling their hearts (including wp-candy). im gonna keep paying for everyones services even when i just saw how childish you solve adult or business problems. seen this everywhere even in and out the open source community and people keep paying for services. what people dont realise is if this get to heated 2 things can happens, someone is gonna get sue for talking shit and affecting someone else biz for taking the matter out of proportion or dont get sue and people are gonna see the real you (or person) and is gonna take HIS OWN desicion if do biz with that person or not. but dont encorage someone to stop bc you say so, thats not ethical either. if James is a bad guy or whatever. well his reputation is the one getting affected. but if you get heated and start talking shit too, my friend we are gonna see it too. 2 wrongs doesnt make a right. i know what you guys are trying to do making awareness of the issue but my 2 cents, do that then and just that. bc from my perspective a lot of people here got really heated and insted of inform the community is like gather up and become James and bully him, his company and anyone that work there.
    so please for futured issues, take the high road or at least dont become james, anyone can easily fall there, the bible say even someone wise can become crazy.

    and before closing my comment. i must stop and give my props to Yoast, this guy was geantleman.

    PD people can always change and if is a problem get to the court and sue someone

    my first comment ever on wpcandy and it have to be for this men. this suck.

    btw my apilogy for typos or wrong words, im not that good english speaker.
    :P

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