Well, that escalated quickly!
We knew that publishing an article shedding light on dodgy practices from developers would see us getting a lot of attention, but we certainly didn’t expect the level we have received. So firstly, thank you to everyone who supports us, and also those that offer criticisms to help us better ourselves. Of course, regardless of article, we also keep our Community Charter in mind and have massive respect in ensuring we deliver for the community. The community isn’t just us the consumer, but also the developers and publishers who work tirelessly to bring us great content.
And this is why I conducted the investigation into Cloud Surf Team. Something was dodgy from the start, and before I knew it, I was down a rabbit hole that needed more and more exploration. Of course, this exposed Cloud Surf Team for what they were.
We’ve heard from multiple people since then about their experience with the “CEO” of Cloud Surf Team, James Douglas. Of course, they all point to the same thing: he knowingly and willingly was using models from Thomas Ruth and other developers for his own personal gain.
As we said yesterday our original source provided us with plenty of information between them and also James himself. It was all related to the use of freeware models which they would “edit” slightly to avoid possible copyright infringement. I am certainly no expert in copyright law, but this is very much a non-ethical practice especially in our small community.
Here are just a few samples provided to us showing that James knew what he was trying to do.
Sadly, all this information came too late for one developer who was the unfortunate person behind the live streaming via Twitch.
As soon as he caught wind of the article and the exposure FSElite delivered, he immediately deleted all the content from his Twitch channel. Now, we admit that due to this, we were quick to point blame at the streamer as he was there with the modelling, making edits as though the model was his own. We have since heard from him, and he had the following to say (cleaned up spelling and grammar):
“Some months ago a guy asked on Facebook to join a team to develop an A380. I told him that I am a modeller and could possibly help. After a while he came up with the Cloud Surf Team. I said well okay give it a go. When I first saw the A340 model in blender I was very surprised why this thing was upside down, and how the old modeller found the right files over the years with these strange names.
Well James wouldn’t tell me by then. I went on modelling my own thing until James came up with the idea to ask Project Airbus for permission to use theirs. After a while I was told “yep you can use it”. We just have to make a few adjustments. So I did and then was told its okay to stream it.
James at that time didn’t do anything at all, except writing these unprofessional posts. Even I, as a German, could have done that better. I always thought why are we all working when James not doing anything?”
This particular developer then showed FSElite some screenshots of the model work he had actually completed for Cloud Surf Team:
As you can see, he had good intentions, but was misinformed by James about the reality of what was going on. Should this guy have known better? One could argue yes, but he was working (and streaming) under false pretences.
The developer hopes to continue working on the model independent of Cloud Surf Team with a possible free release to the public in the future.
It wasn’t only this member of the team that left Cloud Surf Team, but we heard from several others all stating they were no longer a part of the team due to the shoddy business practices of a 17-year-old who tried to rip off the Flight Sim community. Not only was it members of his team, but also other well-known flight sim community members who shared information regarding their exchanges with James.
Of course, they all pointed to the same thing: James willing and knowingly used other files to pretend they were his business’ own.
Soon after we exposed him, he emailed FSElite with this official statement:
Hello FS Elite and the rest of the FS community…
Firstly i want to clear up an confusion,
-We used a freeware PA model, which we did think we could edit and give away
– I will hold myself accountable for this, we had a team of 8 but only one other person knew about it and he doesn’t want me to say his name so i won’t
I’m 17, i’m sure when you were around that age you also made some mistakes, I have made a really, really big mistake and I’m going to have to accept the consequences for that,
We never accepted any donations from anyone and myself and the other person who knew were about to tel the group in the next week or so that we should made it freeware (whether that’s still allowed we will never know!)
Obviously we have disbanded and everyone has left, I have sut the page down but it will take 14 days to close for good….
If anyone knows how i can personally apologise to PA that would be great, I really feel bad about what I have done and want to make it up to them and the community.
I just want to say that i know that in the short term, I will be disliked even hated but I hope many of you in the long term will be able to forgive me and move on,
Also if any of you were thinking of doing what we have done, PLEASE don’t its stupid and you ill be caught out….
Their official Facebook page has now been shut down.
We will be keeping an eye on James and any involvement he may have in future projects to make sure the lesson has been learnt.
Unless anything else significant is uncovered, FSElite will no longer be posting updates regarding this subject.
Thank you to everyone for the support and we hope we’ve provided you with a great deal of insight into the matter.