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Trying To Lure Suckers, Company Resells Open Source Blender 294

Posted by timothy
from the born-every-minute dept.
sylphsama writes "A company named 'IllusionMage" deceptively resells a 3D open source animation package (Blender) and claims it as their own. The software, dubbed IllusionMage, portrays flagrant similarities with Blender, although outdated compared to the original. The website itself is a patchwork of sorts, using renders from different users and numerous other packages as a way to impress its visitors. Not only is that a breach of copyright, but they intentionally hide that the software is distributed under the GNU GPL license, rendering it free to use. The Blender Foundation itself has spoken out through its chairman Ton Roosendaal." I love that they promise "Free Updates For Life. All From the Thriving Open Source Community, This Software is Forever Improving."
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Trying To Lure Suckers, Company Resells Open Source Blender

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  • Legit (Score:2, Informative)

    by RobDollar (1137885)

    What he's doing is completely legal. Quite how much money he makes would be interesting to see, anyone buying a 3d package would surely do a small amount of research. Law of averages will prevail I suppose.

    He's been doing this for ages, and does it with various other software packages.

    • Re:Legit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@NOsPam.hotmail.com> on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @08:33PM (#35285980) Journal

      What he's doing is completely legal.

      His customers appear happy, and given that he's marketing to die-hard Windows & Mac users (no Linux version mentioned), the fee probably makes them feel more comfortable. It's a feature...

      " Wow this software is incredible. I have owned Maya, 3DMax and PoserPro. I can tell you, this is by FAR, the easiest software to use."

      Isaac Oneil - Marion, NC

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Considering that the site has the same layout and colours to many other scam sites (Warcraft Levelling Guide, How To Pick Up Girls Waay WAY Hotter Than Your Ex, Buy These Meds They Will Fix Everything In Existence), one can safely assume that the customers do not exist.

      • Re:Legit (Score:5, Informative)

        by LetterRip (30937) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @09:10PM (#35286258)

        His customers appear happy, and given that he's marketing to die-hard Windows & Mac users (no Linux version mentioned), the fee probably makes them feel more comfortable. It's a feature...

        " Wow this software is incredible. I have owned Maya, 3DMax and PoserPro. I can tell you, this is by FAR, the easiest software to use."

        Isaac Oneil - Marion, NC

        He creates false testimonials (I reported him to one of the corporations he was using in a false testimonial - he had fabricated the individual and testimony.)

        • by JWSmythe (446288)

              Prove it. ... shit ...

              There are 9 "Isaac Oneil"s in the US, and none have lived in North Carolina. None when searching for "O'Neil". Well, it could be an alias. Who would believe a review by BeerStud3, especially after they found out he's a middle manger at a Cleveland department store.

      • I can't believe that anyone who has used Maya or 3DMax would fail to look at this and instantly see the Blender interface, and seeing it, wouldn't buy it because it's FREE. I have the Windoze version on the very PC I'm typing this from.

        • by Alex Belits (437) *

          An overwhelming majority of people who used Maya or 3DMax used pirated versions, and have no idea what other 3D software exists.
          Among the remaining minority, a majority are "graphics artists" who only know what was spoonfed to them in their courses. They would not recognize Blender as a 3D modeling software if it was in front of them, being used.

          • by mikael_j (106439)

            Well, without considering the teenagers who pirate one app, consider it the greatest app ever and never even understand that there are other apps available...

            I was actually studying to be a game artist a few years back (at a school that had approx. 500 applicants per year and took in 30 or so students every year, several companies recruited people straight from the school without waiting for them to finish their degree. So no, this wasn't "Joe's garage and game development school").

            In my experience most peo

    • Re:Legit (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @08:40PM (#35286032)
      No, what they are doing is not legal. They are taking non-free images and using it on their own site while claiming it is their own. There's nothing wrong with someone taking Blender, remaking it, licensing it under the GPL and creating a website and selling it. But that isn't what these people are doing, they are trying to deceive others and not crediting the images they use to promote their product.
      • by artor3 (1344997)

        But information wants to be freeeeeee!~

        Seriously though, they did add notes to all of the images naming the source. Maybe they asked permission, and that was all the creators asked of them? I'd advise we hold off on the lynching until one of the artists comes out and complains.

        • Re:Legit (Score:5, Informative)

          by LetterRip (30937) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @09:12PM (#35286278)

          Seriously though, they did add notes to all of the images naming the source. Maybe they asked permission, and that was all the creators asked of them? I'd advise we hold off on the lynching until one of the artists comes out and complains.

          No they did not ask permission. We specifically denied them to use of some of the images and of our videos (some are CC licensed and thus we have no control over, but many are not). However he has ignored most of the requests from the Blender Foundation.

          • by artor3 (1344997)

            No they did not ask permission. We specifically denied them to use of some of the images and of our videos (some are CC licensed and thus we have no control over, but many are not). However he has ignored most of the requests from the Blender Foundation.

            Well, if that's true, fuck 'em. And the more I look at "reviews", the more I'm inclined to believe you're being honest. That site screams scam.

          • by thegarbz (1787294)
            I thought the CC licence doesn't immediately allow unrestricted commercial use? Or are there different variants?
          • Re:Legit (Score:4, Insightful)

            by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Wednesday February 23, 2011 @03:36AM (#35288130)
            What you need to do is to send him a C&D and then a serious lawsuit. If you don't have funding then please announce that and we will provide. I now pledge 100 Euro on actual instigation of a court action against him for a specific GPL violation if you need it and provided that you demand appropriate damages (as with the BusyBox cases).
          • Well, if you want to get nasty:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statutory_damages_for_copyright_infringement [wikipedia.org]. The lawsuit might actually pay for itself...

        • Um, no they didn't. The only thing is that it says on the site is that "Images supplied by: GPL Released Wiki's " which they aren't. Because of the images cited on the page that Blender shows the artist's page which have all rights reserved to them.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by im_thatoneguy (819432)

        I thought artists didn't deserve copyrights anymore and lived on a "failed business model".

        Always hard to always stay up to date on the current common wisdom of Slashdot.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by t2t10 (1909766)

          Always hard to always stay up to date on the current common wisdom of Slashdot.

          The GPL is an attempt to use copyright against itself. So, GPL license holders are going to insist on having their copyrights enforced, even though they disapprove of the current copyright system. There is nothing new about this strategy, it's been the same for more than 20 years; I'm sorry you haven't been paying attention.

          • by Plekto (1018050)

            And, of course, there is nothing to say that you cannot take a GPL program and package it with other programs, a few utilities, some nice value-added extras, and sell it for a profit. This happens all the time. RedHat and Wine being notable - open source but it's worth buying the CD and support, IMO. Especially if you are in a multi-user environment where a CD helps immensely.

            Now, the program in question is really doing nothing that wrong, legally(borderline fraudulent advertising tactics aside, of cours

            • by t2t10 (1909766)

              Now, the program in question is really doing nothing that wrong

              No, it isn't. Did I say anywhere that it was?

              • by Plekto (1018050)

                Nope. But it is amazing how many people get their shorts in a knot over this stuff. A little common sense and an understanding of basic legal issues goes a long way - or would for most of the people here.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          There's no logical inconsistency in objecting to plagiarism but not copyright infringement.

    • "Legit" under standard current US law. That's not the only social circle most people are a part of, and not the only code most anyone abides by. There are rules galore in society - company policies, group behavior codes, clubs, game rules, social morals, principles, culture, tradition, decency, politics, neighborhoods, philosophy, religion, heck, just name a group, and they will have their body of rules, and some sort or another of enforcement or lack thereof. I'll wager this guy breaks a tad too many of
    • You missed the bit where the software is being promoted using copyrighted artwork.
    • What he's doing is completely legal. Quite how much money he makes would be interesting to see, anyone buying a 3d package would surely do a small amount of research. Law of averages will prevail I suppose.

      He's been doing this for ages, and does it with various other software packages.

      Yeah, he bundles the software with tutorials and such. In this case "300 hours of videos and tutorials included with IllusionMage" - or "IllusionMage & Blender contains the software, a complete 250+ page illustrated digital manual, tutorials, and over 8 hours of video training, tutorials and examples"

      I guess, mostly, people need to read and decide if the tutorials are worth the price.

    • by Phillip2 (203612)

      Actually, it is possible that this is not legal. He's claiming that downloading the software means agreement to be
      bound by New Zealand law; my guess would be that this additional clause is counter to the GPL which does not
      allow this form of restriction.

      Mostly, though, this is funny.

  • Hide what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaHat (247651) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @08:26PM (#35285900) Homepage

    At the bottom of the page it clearly says:

    Released Under GNU GPL. Source code available for download

    • by Microlith (54737)

      That and the link to the tarball is held off of their "Disclaimers" page. But from all appearances they're trying to sucker the unsuspecting into paying them for a copy of Blender with no real improvements.

      The summary is wrong that they're in violation of the GPL, but it is very deceptive.

      • by linuxpyro (680927)

        What is interesting though is that they claim to include video training. So, while they may not really have done anything with blender, they do have a new product here if you count what they've included. Their tutorials may not be that bad, and who knows, they might help people get into Blender. Depending on how you look at it, to some may be worth the $47 they're charging.

        That said, they are being extremely deceptive. They could have just distributed a "Blender training CD" or something, or at the very

    • Re:Hide what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by StikyPad (445176) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @09:03PM (#35286212) Homepage

      While the site and sales pitch are sleazy, it appears what you're really paying for are the video tutorials which, unless I'm mistaken, were produced by the guy running the site.

      TBH, it looks more like someone's trying to drum up faux controversy to get their site linked from the front page of Slashdot.

      • by dsavi (1540343)
        There has already been controversy on the Blenderartist.org forums and on Blender mailing lists (IIRC). As Ton Roosendaal (Blender Foundation chairman) concludes in the press release Rebranding Blender [blender.org], "Sunlight is the best disinfectant". It was probably with this in mind that someone submitted this /. story.
    • by drolli (522659)

      they even provide a mirror of the corresponding blender sources, so *legally* the are on the safe site, i guess.......:

      http://www.illusionmage.com/source/blender-2.50a1.tar.gz [illusionmage.com]

  • Easy? (Score:4, Funny)

    by ogfomk (677034) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @08:29PM (#35285930) Homepage
    I knew it wasn't Blender because the commercial said it was "easy".
  • by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @08:29PM (#35285936) Journal
    Anyone else remember, a few years ago, how there were web sites that offered, for something like $50, a copy of OpenOffice?

    Now this isn't to say that it's wrong to sell GPL software - even RMS and the GPL v3 licenses [gnu.org] say that you can sell it for whatever you can get for it - but that anyone else is free to do the same with the copy you sell them, so the price quickly drops to zero.

    You may charge any price or no price for each copy that you convey, and you may offer support or warranty protection for a fee.

    They're doing the "sucker born every minute" thing.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      "so the price quickly drops to zero"

      The price was zero in the first place, so getting "whatever you can get for it" implies that the price is not really zero. It's just zero if you market it by saying "you can have it for free but buy it from me anyway."

      I wonder how many marketing schools tell their students not to do that.

      • by msauve (701917)

        It's just zero if you market it by saying "you can have it for free but buy it from me anyway." I wonder how many marketing schools tell their students not to do that.

        Obviously not the one Red Hat uses, and they've been pretty successful, doing pretty much the same thing as the company mentioned in the article (charging for free software, and implying that it's their own). CentOS seems not to have significantly hurt their profits.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @08:43PM (#35286056)
      The problem isn't that they are reselling it, that is perfectly legal. But they are using the Blender Foundation's copyrighted images and other people's copyrighted images to do so.
    • by afabbro (33948) on Wednesday February 23, 2011 @01:24AM (#35287584) Homepage

      Anyone else remember, a few years ago, how there were web sites that offered, for something like $50, a copy of OpenOffice?

      Yeah, they were calling it "Star Office" or something like that.

      • by tomhudson (43916)
        I'm not talking about the original staroffice, but sites that offered to let you download openoffice for a one-time fee.
  • Given that they must have a very low IQ to do this, I suppose they'll be like: "I can haz your work and call it mine?"
  • FlightGear (Score:3, Interesting)

    by U8MyData (1281010) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @08:34PM (#35285984)
    Same, nearly identical, treatment for flightprosim.com knock off of flightgear.org. Shame....
    • by tomhudson (43916)
      ... until someone gets smart and updates the meta tags for flightgear.org to add "free flightprosim clone download", etc.

      ... and someone else registers freeflightprosim.com and redirects to flightgear.org

  • There's nothing so shameless that no one would do it if they could make a buck.

  • the only crime here is that site's design. eww. must. wash. eyes.

  • When you get down to the part where the website talks about the price:

    Thats right. Your investment for the entire course is only $47 (this launch offer will closed anytime after February 25, 2011 ) And when we reach that point, I'll withdraw this offer immediately and not apologize for it.

    So you have to go through several pages worth of text before you get to the price, which has a grammatical error in it's explanation. And then a vaporous promise to increase the cost later:

    First I'll bump it up to $97.00...then to $197.00 and more...and it'll still be a bargain for what you're getting. So don't waste any time! Take action right now:

    Although I really love how they have a 60-day trial; which apparently you pay full ($47) price for. I guess the figure after 60 days if you realize that you just paid for open source software, you won't be willing to take the initiative to ask for

    • by MaggieL (10193) on Tuesday February 22, 2011 @09:20PM (#35286324)

      ...which has a grammatical error in it's explanation...

      BZZZZT Game over, thanks for playing. ;-)

      • ...which has a grammatical error in it's explanation...

        BZZZZT Game over, thanks for playing. ;-)

        The "apostrophe - s" there shows possession. If the explanation belonged to John, we would say "John's explanation". Here I was using the informal "it" to refer to the company or product, hence "it's explanation" as the explanation belonged to it.

        • BZZZZT - ok so you've thought about it but you're still wrong.

          http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Apostrophe [wikihow.com]

          Be aware of the its/it's trap. Use an apostrophe with the word "it" only when you want to indicate a contraction for "it is" or "it has." It is a pronoun, and pronouns have their own possessive form that does not use an apostrophe. For example, "That noise? It's just the dog eating its bone."
        • ...which has a grammatical error in it's explanation...

          BZZZZT Game over, thanks for playing. ;-)

          The "apostrophe - s" there shows possession. If the explanation belonged to John, we would say "John's explanation". Here I was using the informal "it" to refer to the company or product, hence "it's explanation" as the explanation belonged to it.

          Wrong.
          It's is a contraction for it is or it has. Its is a possessive pronoun meaning, more or less, of it or belonging to it.

        • Nope, sorry. The rule to remember is "Possessive pronouns do not have apostrophes." So: mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs

          • Note to self: just never reply to a grammar thread. No matter how many times you reread it, you won't see the problem till after you post.

        • by Blymie (231220)

          Here's a great way to keep it straight.

          Long ago, I assume he's became hes, then his. At the same time, her's became hers, and it's became its.

          So:

          he's -> hes -> his
          her's -> hers
          it's -> its

          So, when you realise that "it" is a non-gender specific pronoun, the apostrophe sort of makes sense.. or lack thereof.

          As an aside, this is why I *hate* the use of she or her as a change in the non-gender specific use. Some languages use female, and others male as the non-gender specific, and English uses male.

      • by pz (113803)

        ...which has a grammatical error in it's explanation...

        BZZZZT Game over, thanks for playing. ;-)

        And that's why I check incompetent each and every time I use the word.

    • which has a grammatical error in it's explanation.

      Curse you Muphry! Curse you!

  • Want to create Pixar and Dreamworks In 2 Hours or Less? Easy! just ripp off this already free software, then ripp off some illegal Pixar models on the net and you are set! BEAUTIFUL Animations With Minimum Effort...
    There's no way to make a decent animation in two hours, unless your movie is based on a bouncing ball in a squared box, heck even that would take more than two hours in blender, Producing 3D Animations & Graphics Ha[s] Never Been THIS EASY
  • I just noticed that their main page [computeranimations.org] says you can try it "risk-free" for 60 days. However the order form [illusionmage.com] tells you that you can try it risk-free for 8 weeks.

    I also find it interesting that they don't offer a Linux version; as there is of course a Linux version of Blender...
  • I've been doing 3d since 3dsr3 Dos. It's a life long learning adventure. 2 weeks my ass :)

    • by JamesP (688957)

      I guess that's the first time I used 3D software as well... (it was on DOS, I'm sure)

      What bothers me is that the speed looks like it's the same =P (of course the DOS version didn't have particle systems, etc)

  • Legit or not, you gotta love the layout of that website. Someone should make a wordpress theme called "scam" that looks like that...
    • Yeah, by the end I was really confused: should I fork over money for 3D modelling software, an iPhone unlock, or a special set of DVDs that will turn me into an awesome guitarist in just over three weeks? Whichever way, I'm pretty sure that there's an awesome bargain here that I don't want to miss out on.
  • Ignoring the specifics of this case (as they've been explored in other comments) I'd like to get back to the fundamental question here:

    Is it "ok" to repackage open source software and sell it at greater than zero?

    Under what circumstances is it ok? Do you need to add some significant "value"? Do you have to tell anyone who asks (or who didn't) where you got the source from or just your customers?

    Don't quote me the GPL or the law.. I want to hear your opinion.

    Are businessmen who buy hats for $1 and sell the

    • by stinerman (812158)

      It should be legal for these guys to sell unmodified GPL software, but it is immoral. Same goes with taking GPL software and bundling it with spyware or making it adware.

      There must be some minimal value-add over and above what I could get from at least a free distro, much less upstream. Just mirroring the software and asking for someone to pay for it, isn't enough. Spyware bundling is a value-subtract.

      The businessman who buys hats at wholesale and sells them at significant mark-up is morally superior bec

    • by Draek (916851)

      In my opinion, it's OK as long as you neither pretend it's the only option, use low-rate psychological tricks to prevent your customers to evaluate your offer rationally, or violate the law in any other way.

      These guys undoubtedly violate the last two criteria, and YMMV on whether they violate the first or not though I think their mentions of Open Source software make them, if not ideal, at least tolerable on that account at least.

      As for the hat businessman, no they're not morally superior merely on the acco

    • I think it's OK to sell free software, under any circumstances, provided you never mislead anyone -- for example, by making it look like what you're selling is not freely available via other channels, if it actually is (it's possible it's not, for example if it's some old obscure software that hardly anyone is interested anymore). In any case, you should also never mislead anyone into thinking that *they* would be unable to further distribute it.

      I don't see how you'd manage to tell just your customers; you'

  • by dk3nn3dy (722733) on Wednesday February 23, 2011 @12:36AM (#35287406)

    This part is awesome:

    Your Dinky One-Time Investment Is Only $47!
    (This is a special launch offer only, we're only opening this for the next 3 days only before the offer closes forever!)
    Thats right. Your investment for the entire course is only $47 (this launch offer will closed anytime after February 26, 2011 )

    Where February 26, 2011 is:
    days = 3; // How many days to add to today
      d = new Date();
    now = d.getTime(); // Add 10 days
    d.setTime(now + days * 24 * 60 * 60 * 1000);
    document.getElementById("offerEnd1").innerHTML = formatDate(d);
    function formatDate(d) {
    var months = new Array("January", "February", "March", "April", "May", "June", "July", "August", "September", "October", "November", "December");
    return months[d.getMonth()] + " " + d.getDate() + ", " + d.getFullYear();;

  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

    The Blender contributors should be very proud!

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. -- Jerome Klapka Jerome

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