An Open Letter to the WordPress Community
Dear WordPress Developers and Enthusiasts,
We are currently seeking the further advice from our lawyers as to the appropriate recourse against Incsub LLC (wpmudev.org) for copyright infringement.
Incsub LLC are selling a plugin on the wpmudev.org website containing WordPress video tutorials that are based on videos and scripts that we developed and initially licensed to them. They are no longer paying us for these scripts, which our lawyers have indicated are recognised as copyright protected works under the Copyright Act 1968.
As the image below shows they are also using screenshots that contain URL’s on our domain.
In light of this, I feel it is my duty to let the WordPress community know the full story.
We make a premium WordPress plugin called the WordPress User Manual Plugin, which consists of screencast video tutorials and a written manual that WordPress developers use to train their clients how to use WordPress as a content management system. We have lots of very happy customers who give us great feedback and testimonials all the time about how our plugin saves them hours and frees up lots of their time to do other things.
Incsub LLC CEO James Farmer approached us in March 2011 and requested to license our videos and written manual to add value to their WPMU DEV members. We agreed to a three-month trial period and were paid US$5,000 for our videos and unbranded PDF written manual. We reserved the right to renegotiate the fee and terms of the license at the end of the trial period.
Within a few days our unbranded PDF was made available as a free download on the WPMU DEV Facebook page as an incentive for “liking” the page. We requested they remove the file immediately. James claimed it was a mistake and that they would remove it.
After having to request the PDF be removed several times and a rather nasty and unprofessional email from James, we decided we were not going to renew the agreement at the end of the period.
At the end of the agreement period in June 2011, I checked in and saw that our videos were still being used so I sent James an email requesting they remove the videos and written manual from their membership site. We received an email back informing us the videos and manual had been removed. This was not the case. I waited a couple of days and checked in again to see that the videos had been re-voiced and re-shot on a different computer but were still using our scripts. In fact, in some of the videos I could see our script in the WordPress visual editor that was being used as a prompt for the person making the videos.
I called James in good faith and attempted to negotiate a deal whereby we would license our scripts and they could make their own videos. I was told by James Farmer that he was unaware that the videos were based on our scripts and that they would be changed for the new version of WordPress due out in November. I said that this was unacceptable and that we needed to be remunerated for the scripts that were currently being used. James Farmer said that he did not want to discuss whether or not there was any copyright in the actual scripts and that if I wanted to debate that point I would need to talk to his lawyers.
Our lawyers have advised that the scripts are recognised as copyright protected works under the Copyright Act 1968 so I instructed my lawyers to send Incsub a cease and desist letter, which they did. We have had no response to that letter and now Incsub LLC have released their own version of the video tutorial plugin which allows you to embed the training videos in the WordPress dashboard.
We were the first company to make such a plugin back in 2008.
As I mentioned earlier, we are currently seeking the further advice from our lawyers as to the appropriate recourse against Incsub for this copyright infringement.
I feel that I owe it to ourselves and the WordPress community to go on the record with this information so that everyone is well informed of the situation.
We love WordPress and we work very hard to help WordPress developers deliver great solutions for their clients.
We feel the behaviour of Incsub LLC is not only illegal, but also not in the spirit of the open source community.
I hope this letter has served to inform you.
Happy pressing of words,
Video User Manuals