It seems that an agent acting on behalf of the British government has violated the copyright of the software it used to create the PM's spiffy new Website. As much as I utterly despise the entire premise of Intellectual Monopoly, this is about violating the principles of a Free License, and if it's good enough for the British government to violate our civil rights in the name of Intellectual Monopoly, then it's good enough for the Free World to protect its "property" (in fact Freedom) too:
After receiving many emails on the subject, it’s been brought to my attention that my NetWorker theme for Wordpress has been used by the government of the UK, and it seems they’ve not honored the copyright agreement. The theme was released under the Creative Commons 3.0 license, which requires attribution to me whether the theme is modified or not. The link that I place in the footer of each theme I have available, which points to this website, is the attribution that I expect from each website that uses that theme.
The theme has been heavily modified, and looks very different from the original. However, one look at the source files verifies that it is indeed built on NetWorker.
The website in question is apparently the official site of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and boasts protection under Crown Copyright.
~ Anthony Baggett, NetWorker developer.
The agent in question is New Media Maze Ltd. of London, who proudly announce the publication of their "Top Secret Project, namely designing, migrating and building the new Number 10 Downing Street website!" on the front page of their site.
This blatant contempt for Free Software copyrights prompted me to write an official letter of complaint to FACT (the Federation Against Copyright Theft), the UK Intellectual Property Office, and various other interested parties, as follows:
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2008 02:35:33 +0100
CC: Katie Lydon,
UK Intellectual Property Office,
Subject: Creative Commons copyright violation report
I wish to report a copyright violation which is being committed by the following company:
Dave Smith, Managing Director
New Media Maze Ltd.
2-4 Hoxton Square
Phone/FAX: 0207 097 3600
The copyright violation occurs on the following Website:
This site is using a blogging application called Wordpress, and a derivative of a theme called NetWorker, which is copyrighted under the Creative Commons 3.0 attribution license (cc-by-sa):
However, New Media Maze have removed the copyright notice from this derivative work (specifically the "footer.php file which displays that copyright notice), and are therefore in violation of the license.
More information from the author of the original work is here:
New Media Maze seem to be claiming that because their theme is heavily modified, that they are therefore not subject to the terms of the original license. This is simply not the case, since their work is still a derivative of the original author's copyrighted work, nonetheless.
I would also direct you to this disclaimer, in which New Media Maze appear to be claiming that they do in fact satisfy the terms of the copyright, however this is false:
The original author's code provides a mechanism (the original footer.php) to clearly display his copyright notice, such that those viewing this copyrighted work are made aware of the copyright owner's identity. The fact that New Media Maze removed that part of the original author's code, indicates a deliberate attempt to obfuscate that copyright attribution and falsely mislead their site visitors into believing the copyright was attributable to another party (in this case The Crown Copyright). The original attribution may still exist in (what equates to) the source for this code, but it is not clearly displayed as per the original author's wishes, as indicated by the presence of the file that New Media Maze deliberately removed. In other words, from the perspective of site visitors, attribution is not being maintained, and the original copyright is therefore not being honoured.
The cc-by-sa states that "such credit may be implemented in any reasonable manner", however it is my contention that implementing credit in such a way that this attribution is not actually displayed to site visitors, is not in fact reasonable, since most site visitors will not know how to view the file containing that attribution (style.css), and the actual copyright notice (footer.php) has been completely removed. This is a clear copyright violation.
I urge you to contact New Media Maze and remind them of their legal responsibilities, which they appear to be making every effort to avoid. This is particularly inexplicable, since the original work is licensed both free of cost and with the granted freedom to modify that work, so New Media Maze only need maintain accurate attribution of copyright in order to comply with these requirements, at no financial cost at all.
In addition to reinstating the original copyright and attribution notice, New Media Maze are also required to release their derivatives of this copyrighted work under the same cc-by-sa license or similar.
"If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same, similar or a compatible license"
As far as I'm aware, Crown Copyright is incompatible with cc-by-sa, therefore this is a secondary violation of the original license.
This infraction of copyright law is especially disappointing given that the Web site in question belongs to the British Prime Minister, and as such brings both the British government and the Crown into disrepute. For this reason I believe that this copyright violation needs to be addressed as a matter of the utmost urgency.
Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
Stay tuned for developments as they unfold.