I have had my head in WordPress themes recently and was amused to find that the company that provided the blog for No. 10, New Media Maze, incorporated part of a freely available WordPress theme into the blog they sold to No. 10 for a non-trivial sum. Everyone agrees that the theme they delivered bears little relationship to the original, but the CSS file still credits the original and the directories used to hold the theme are named after the original.
If you go to the No. 10 blog, view the source, and look at the CSS link, you will see:
and if you inspect this file you will see:
/* Theme Name: NetWorker Theme URI: http://www.antbag.com Description: An adsense ready theme from Antbag.com. Version: 1.0 Author: Anthony Baggett Author URI: http://www.antbag.com/ */
Bearing in mind that the fees that NMM are likely to have charged No. 10 for developing this blog, it is not surprising that the original designer of the theme, Anthony Baggett, is none too happy about receiving no credit, and nothing at all except grief; as you can imagine there has been a back and forth between Anthony and NMM.
Now I have worked in the IP business, and you take extra special care not to get contaminated by IP if you want to sell it on, and NMM look soooooooo contaminated—it is being screamed to the whole internet—and would surely have a really hard time establishing that their work is in no way derivative of Anthony’s. What really astonishes me is that the agency has no awareness of the first law of holes and is continuing to dig, talking about libelous claims and demanding an apology from Anthony.
Given the horrible mess they have made of this they would really do much better to stop being defensive and think about coming to some agreement with Anthony. Looking over the email correspondence as listed on the NMM website I am horrified at the way they have handled it. The fact that the stakes are so high should make them less prickly but they are coming across as more prickly than a prickly thing. I have not read anything anywhere that is wildly out of line with what all the parties are saying. NMM started with Anthony’s theme and have produced something which is now quite different. The minutiae of the exact relationship between the two is hardly the issue; everyone agrees they are substantially different, but it looks so much like a derivative work, and the credit remains in the CSS file, so why no compensation and all these damands for apologies, especially as Anthony appears to have taken great care to stick to the facts of the case on his blog?