Woah congratulations Andre and Ironyk! That’s pretty amazing!
We’ve got a big company meeting this morning, so I just made a slide for my presentation of your Winning image Nice to celebrate some community wins!
@Pixelbuffet – great question, I need to look into what our current policy is on plugin bundling. Off the cuff, it doesn’t make sense for authors to just start bundling more and more plugins. There’s already plenty of free ones aside from whether or not CC plugins are GPL, so I assume we don’t allow bundling, or at least advertising of bundled plugins like its a service. But will ask the team for confirmation.
Also great idea about DesignCrumbs being the featured author for EnvatoMail, a nice closing of the loop so to speak!
@klasikweb – I totally understand where you’re coming from. I look at WooThemes as being the top of a certain group of theme developers and designers who I think will be a valuable addition to the community here at TF. But I take your points!
@sanisoft – I must admit not to being a lawyer, but I’m fairly certain that the GPL allows reselling as well as redistribution. If you do decide to use the full GPL license, it’s really worth reading all about it and what it means.
@ChapterThemes – I think one major reason would be if its in line with your philosophy about the world and open source. WordPress is all GPL, and using a 100% GPL license is arguably more in line with WordPress’ core principles. The ThemeForest regular license is 100% legally compliant however, so its completely up to you what path you take.
@VF – Totally agree, we didn’t do a good job with the reviewing, and I’m not sure why to be honest. But it’s something we’re going to get to the bottom of, and improve. Not just because of this current situation, but also because its important that our reviewing is consistent across the board – regardless of the name of the author!
@mad_dog – I totally agree. I’m not sure how it happened, because it really shouldn’t have. As I mentioned Jarel is investigating and starting a rereview. I think the short answer is, we made some mistakes.
@Anps – Good question, I haven’t looked through the themes myself, but am going to spend some more time with the review team to better understand and make sure we address anything which isn’t in line with our regular standards.
@FinalDestiny – thanks for the comments, I think you make some fair and justified points. Definitely I was (and still am) excited about WooThemes joining, but I didn’t want that to come across like it was at the expense of our own community. And I think we could have done a better job of an even handed promotion.
@Bitfade – I think with GPL theme copycats, if it was on a major marketplace we’d look to speak to the operators of the marketplace and make the case that its a bit unsavoury – even if it is legal. However if its just a random site onselling GPL themes, I think any author who chooses that license needs to understand they are accepting that this is a completely legal thing to do.
@Robvenom – Those are probably fair assumptions, I just don’t want to say categorically that was where the mistake was, until I’m sure and we’ve spoken to the review team and looked at the situation properly. It’s not that I’m trying to avoid saying we made a mistake – I’m very proud that as a company we have a history of owning up to mistakes – I just want to make sure I’ve got my facts right before I assign any blame internally on a public forum. Hope that makes sense!
@doru – We don’t mean to treat anyone like an idiot. I’m really sorry if you feel that way. We do our best to have a fair setup. It’s more complicated than everyone is treated the same though. Whenever we get criticism about something being unfair though, we do treat it seriously.
@VF – You asked about hidden/special incentives for some vendors in search and sorting systems. We’ve got a fairly straightforward listing which doesn’t have much in the way of weightings. I agree placing items in so they are spread a bit more unevenly could be viewed as a sort of manipulation, but as you say its one intended to make things better for other authors. We used to upload in blocks and it was a real source of frustration to community members who felt like one author was taking up all the listings. I guess its always a fine balance. I will speak to the team to ensure we are as transparent as possible about how we weight search results. We’ve got some major search projects this year, so it’s a good idea to make sure everyone is on the same page on this important topic – thanks for raising it.
There’s been lots of questions around yesterday’s 100% GPL and WooThemes announcements, and three forum threads worth of discussion. Sorry it’s taken me some time to respond, it’s been a day full of meetings, and I asked the team to leave me the threads! So just read through most of the commentary and hopefully I’ll manage to answer most of the main questions. I’ve closed the other three threads to try to centralise, but in case you want to find/read them, they were:
Exclusivity & 100% GPL
Essentially the concepts of ‘Exclusivity’ and ‘100% GPL’ are separate and distinct things:
(1) Exclusivity is an agreement between an author and Envato where the author says “I won’t sell the same items somewhere else”. The author is saying that irrespective of what license they are offering the items under (regular, ext, or 100% GPL).
(2) Licensing completely under the GPL (or otherwise) is an agreement between the author and the buyer saying what rights the buyer will be getting. In the case of the 100% GPL that includes many rights, such as the right to redistribute or resell.
What is tricky is that theoretically the buyer can use GPL to sell the item somewhere else making the item no longer exclusively available through ThemeForest. This is an important consideration that authors need to factor in when choosing to use the 100% GPL option. My own personal opinion is that licensing under the 100% GPL option is something of a philosophical decision. If you do it, you have to be comfortable with the idea of giving up a certain amount of control.
To be honest I’d like to believe that no marketplace worth their salt would allow someone other than the creator of a theme or plugin to sell it. Certainly at ThemeForest we would prohibit anyone trying such a thing.
Our exclusivity programme is an important part of selling with Envato and has helped us create the unique set of libraries we have today. I don’t believe the 100% option is going to end up undermining the overall library exclusivity because I think most people are fair and sensible, and I have a lot of respect for our competitor marketplaces out there. There are exclusive authors who want to use the 100% GPL option, and they are free to do so, but must comply with the obligations it sets out (i.e. don’t sell the same items elsewhere).
What is Envato’s Preference – 100% GPL or Not?
The choice of licensing completely through the GPL or not, belongs to you – the theme or plugin author. A few people thought that because we are promoting this launch that we are, or will be, favouring the 100% GPL option. This isn’t the case at all. With any launch we usually do some promotion. My intention in publicising the feature and choosing a launch partner is purely to encourage more authors, particularly those who have shied away because of licensing options, to join us here at ThemeForest! As I mentioned in the other thread, in retrospect I really should have promoted a homegrown author too! So I’m going to find someone to add in when we run our newsletter story.
So, no we’re not suddenly going to start only promoting, featuring, talking about 100% GPL authors. There’s no hidden agenda to try to get authors to go one way or the other. Now the option is here, it’s here as just another part of the Marketplaces.
Do WooThemes get the usual 33%?It’s important to us that we have a fair and open approach to things like rates. The vast majority of authors are on the standard advertised rates. Beyond those we do in fact have a Special Rates policy which we added to the knowledgebase some years ago.
We give out these kinds of rates pretty rarely, and as the KB article explains, they are used to kickstart new initiatives, or help us grow into new categories and niches. So for example when we launched PhotoDune we contacted a number of very high profile stock photographers and negotiated individual rates for each to ensure that we entered that marketplace with a competitive starting library.
These agreements are on a case by case basis, and they vary depending on how big we think the category or initiative will be, how much value the author would be bringing, how hard it will be to accomplish the same things with a different route (like a seed competition, marketing spend, or commissioning of content). The agreements have additional clauses that those authors agree to as well which other authors don’t have.
In the WordPress theme space, we’ve used special rates a few times. Kicking off 100% GPL is indeed one of those times, so yes WooThemes is not on the standard rates table. Another instance was when Frameworks looked like they were going to be big, and we negotiated with a couple of authors of leading WordPress Frameworks and landed two (though one has since departed!)
Anyone can apply for a special rate, but we do them very rarely, and only when there’s some serious merit or purpose. From memory, there’s been maybe five or so in the last year across all the marketplaces. In every instance they tie into a particular push, initiative or launch.
The only reason we go beyond the standard rate is in order to grow the Marketplaces. Ultimately this benefits everybody, and the cost of giving up some of our standard rates is one that Envato wears like we do other marketing and launch costs.
Did WooThemes go through the usual review process?
Aside from the release timing, yes they did. But from what I understand we didn’t do a super job of it!
Release timing is something we occasionally do for bulk imports or for a particular launch. Again this doesn’t happen very often. A good example is once we brought in a few hundred vectors all at once to open a new subcategory on GraphicRiver. That time we did a bad job of the import and they really swamped the browse pages. We’ve gotten better these days happily – though I think there were still a couple of kinks to iron out. Our aim is to get a bunch of stuff in quickly, on a coordinated day, with minimum disruption to regular authors. It’s harder than it sounds!!
In terms of the other pieces of the review process, from what I understand we seem to have missed some things that we catch in review normally. There was a normal process of submission, soft rejections and so on. I’ve chatted with Jarel our Review Manager who is investigating what went wrong and starting a re-review of the WooThemes items.
This definitely is not a case of different rules for different authors. If anything we were trying to be really extra standard. It is really bad when a high profile author seems to get favourable treatment. This isn’t what is happening, this was a much simpler case of us not doing our best work.
Unlike the special rates policy, there is no special review policy! We sometimes rush things through, but all items are supposed to get the same inspection and quality look over. Consistency is important, and hard. Again Jarel and his excellent review team are investigating and re-reviewing.
Whew so that was a lot of stuff. I’m sure I must have missed some burning question, so will try to revisit tonight to keep an eye on the threads!
Overall, I think we did a great job of getting community opinion on the new feature, building and delivering a good solution to the problem, and everything seems to be working on that front. In hindsight I think we could have done better on the whole launch partner side of things, picked someone from our own community as well, done better on reviewing, and been a bit clearer about what was happening.
We’ll work hard to do a better job of those next time! Thank you for raising all the great questions, hopefully this post answers most of them!
Some very valid points raised about why didn’t we launch with a homegrown author. I am completely sure we’ll have lots of our own make use of the new 100% GPL, but in this instance I really wanted to use the feature as a way to attract even more WordPress talent to set up on ThemeForest.
A big part of our strategy for ThemeForest has always been to make it the place to buy WordPress themes – which means having the largest range of high quality themes from great authors. This expands the buyer base which in turn is great for all authors.
A strong branded name like WooThemes is a great signal to other authors who may have shied away from ThemeForest because of the GPL question, that they should feel welcome and know that even the biggest names are happy to come on board.
That said, in retrospect I think we should have highlighted both Woo, and someone from our existing community. I think that would have been the right message, and was a bit of shortsightedness on my part. I apologise for that, and will definitely keep it in mind for anything like this in future.
With that said, I’m going to ask the community team to contact our top 20 authors to see if any are planning to make use of the new option, so we can highlight them when we send out this month’s EnvatoMail.
Thanks guys, hope that helps explain more. Certainly don’t want anyone thinking that preference goes to people from outside the community just because!!
yes you are right most of us are not visiting the notes , so thank you for sharing this one. To us it sounds like the whole system is category driven. So if you decide to place one of your items inside the GPL category it will be 100% GPL otherwise its split licensed. But still not sure about it.Cheers UT
Hey UT, definitely won’t be category driven, as it will be an optional choice for each author, and most likely on a per-item basis. Hope that clarifies!
Thanks for the pick up and post on the Forums. I posted up on Notes this morning and then let John/WPDaily know – and boy he cranked out a post fast!! I guess that’s the news business
In regards to your question, my gut feel is it would be per-item, so authors have flexibility. That said the team is now just starting the technical assessment of how we will implement, so I’ll need to come back to you later in March.
Hi guys! Great to see everyone discussing the license updates. I’m so excited about them overall, though they are of course just one phase of a big project. We definitely know we need more individualized licenses and that’s our next port of call.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the use of CC items in TF items. This is clearly an important usage, and one which we will have at the top of the list to address next. At the same time, extended license sales on CC make up a very small percentage of overall sales. It is definitely something we are taking seriously, but I also want to reassure CC authors on the sales front.
Tomorrow morning (here in Australia) we’ll be back with a summary post addressing the various questions that have been raised in this thread. It’s fourteen pages and going, so I want to make sure community members can get all the answers in a nice concise format