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Science Fiction Writers Write DMCA Takedowns

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the quit-using-our-free-stuff-for-free dept.

Sci-Fi 197

TheGreatGraySkwid writes "With an ironic lack of forward thinking, the Science Fiction Writers of America (or, more specifically, their Vice President Andrew Burt) have issued scattershot DMCA takedown notices against numerous items on the document-sharing site Scribd, many of which were not infringing on SFWA copyrights in any way. It appears that a simple keyword search for prominent science fiction names (like 'Asimov' and 'Silverburg') was used to determine which documents were to be singled out. Included in the documents was Cory Doctorow's 'Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom,' which was released under the Creative Commons license and is freely available at any number of places. Doctorow is up in arms over at BoingBoing, with several other Science Fiction notables speaking up in the comments."

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embassies are being hacked right now (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20427959)

lol we are owning them

Cory (4, Informative)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 7 years ago | (#20427979)

I read Cory Doctorow's response. It was very insightful, intelligent and on point. There was a slight caustic edge to it but I think that's understandable in this case...

I would like to think that this little incident will be a wake up call to these consortium types who go so overboard in "protecting their consituents" but I'm going to take a I'll beleive it when I see it attitude for now.

I hope someone does go after them for this though, if nothing else to add one more precedent to the "frivolous use of DMCA notices" body of law.

Re:Cory (4, Informative)

krgallagher (743575) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428231)

"I read Cory Doctorow's response. It was very insightful, intelligent and on point. There was a slight caustic edge to it but I think that's understandable in this case..."

Yeah I had pretty much the same reaction. That caustic edge left me wondering if maybe he was a nut case. I decided to look up his credentials [wikipedia.org] on Wikipedia. Here is the last paragraph of the 'Fiction' section of the entry for him:

He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2000, the Locus Award for Best First Novel for Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom in 2003, and in 2004 he won the Sunburst award for best Canadian Science Fiction Book for his short story collection, A Place So Foreign and Eight More. This collection also contained his short story "0wnz0red", which was nominated for the 2003 Nebula Award.

I even when through the last months worth of edits to make sure he had not doctored his biography recently to make himself seem more credible. Personally I think he has decent credentials.

Re:Cory (4, Informative)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428351)

Well he is basically the main dude at BoingBoing, which I figure a good percentage of Slashdot readers visit daily. I'm surprised you haven't run into him before.

Frankly it amazes me that they were dumb enough to include his works, given how outspoken he is on such issues.

And yeah, he's a bit of a nutcase I suppose. ( http://xkcd.com/239/ [xkcd.com] )

Re:Cory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20429303)

I couldn't even read this link since our new and improved content filtering software denies everything on BoingBoing due to "Nudity". :-(

Re:Cory (4, Insightful)

CleverNickName (129189) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428427)

I had a snarky comment all ready to blast off, but I've changed my mind.

The fact that someone reading Slashdot doesn't know Cory Doctorow's credentials and wasn't sure whether to trust his Wikipedia entry, let alone know who he is in the first place, is actually a charming example of just how insanely fucking huge the Internet is.

Re:Cory (4, Insightful)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428789)

Not to mention how nifty it is that he actually checked the history on the wikipedia entry before deciding to trust it.

Hmm. Maybe it's too good to be true, and it's just cleverly-crafted sarcasm?

Re:Cory (2, Interesting)

rebill (87977) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429353)

It is hard to pick on someone who does not know something, but acts intelligently to correct that situation, isn't it?

Of course, I like it when skeptics look at and think about the facts - and then decide to join the crusade, anyway.

Re:Cory (3, Funny)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429451)

Well, yeah. You're about as likely to find someone saying "who's this guy pretending to be Wil Wheaton?"

Re:Cory (1)

Safiire Arrowny (596720) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428721)

Yeah I had pretty much the same reaction. That caustic edge left me wondering if maybe he was a nut case. I decided to look up his credentials on Wikipedia.


Ahh, Cory is the author of 0wnz0red. I remember reading that story and liking it a lot. I sent an email to him to thank him for releasing it for free, and he sent me back a really nice reply.

You can add my thumbs up to his credentials, whatever that may be worth.

Re:Cory (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429013)

Uh....you hadn't heard of him? He's one of the leading proponents of Creative Commons and a was a very prominent member of the EFF. I find it somewhat shocking that someone reading the "Your Rights Online" section here hadn't heard of him.

Re:Cory (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428241)

I am NOT gay and I never have been!

Re:Cory (4, Funny)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428555)

The reverberating roar of the Doctorow's engines filled the air - an almost palpable presence. The noise beat on Burt like a mob of angry asimovs as he scuttled through the rubble. "What have I gotten myself into now?" he wondered. He slid his rad meter from his belt and ruefully calculated his exposure - more than 500 heinlein.

Re:Cory (2, Funny)

LarsG (31008) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428867)

more than 500 heinlein.

I had always been of the impression that irate is measured ellison.

Re:Cory (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428973)

I wish I could edit my posts - that's wonderful.

They will hear from me (4, Interesting)

N7DR (536428) | more than 7 years ago | (#20427981)

As a paid-up lifetime member of SFWA, you can be sure that I will be asking for an explanation of this action (and clarification/confirmation as to whether this is being done in the name of the SFWA or whether Andrew Burt is simply acting as an individual).

Re:They will hear from me (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428033)

I'm sure they will take you very seriously and alter their current policies lest you write another angry email.

Re:They will hear from me (5, Interesting)

N7DR (536428) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428077)

I'm sure they will take you very seriously and alter their current policies lest you write another angry email.

Well, Mr AC: firstly it won't be angry; and secondly I have found the people at the helm of the SFWA to be very responsive to their electorate. So I believe that the tone and the content of your response are unnecessarily negative, at least until I receive evidence to the contrary from the SFWA. At this point I am quite prepared to believe that this is all just a misunderstanding or an error by one person.

Re:They will hear from me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428369)

Well, Mr AC: firstly it won't be angry; and secondly I have found the people at the helm of the SFWA to be very responsive to their electorate. So I believe that the tone and the content of your response are unnecessarily negative, at least until I receive evidence to the contrary from the SFWA. At this point I am quite prepared to believe that this is all just a misunderstanding or an error by one person.
God, I admire you.

Re:They will hear from me (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428467)

I'm sure they will take you very seriously and alter their current policies lest you write another angry email.
It's working for the Democrats in Congress, isn't it? Oh, wait...

Re:They will hear from me (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428773)

troll troll troll your post gently down the net.

Is that you Senator Craig?

Re:They will hear from me (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428901)

Is that you Senator Craig?
I am NOT gay, and I never have been!

Re:They will hear from me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428159)

or whether Andrew Burt is simply acting as an idiot).

There; fixed that for you.

Re:They will hear from me (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428535)

As a paid-up lifetime member of SFWA, you can be sure that I will be asking for an explanation of this action (and clarification/confirmation as to whether this is being done in the name of the SFWA or whether Andrew Burt is simply acting as an individual).

How does your organization work? Does it do this for its members as a service, protecting your copyrights? Do members grant permission for this? If not, they don't have the right to issue DMCA takedowns for copyrights they don't own. Did you have to sign some small print somewhere?

Re:They will hear from me (4, Informative)

N7DR (536428) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428689)

How does your organization work? Does it do this for its members as a service, protecting your copyrights? Do members grant permission for this? If not, they don't have the right to issue DMCA takedowns for copyrights they don't own. Did you have to sign some small print somewhere?

Well, like many organizations, the word "work" doesn't necessarily describe things very well :-)

Andrew Burt is currently VP, and I have just looked at the current copy of our journal of record, and I can find no hint in the records of Board meetings or in the reports submitted by the individual officers, that this action has been sanctioned as an official act.

And to (finally) answer your question: to the best of my knowledge there is no simple place to sign up for anything like this kind of "service". I could imagine people contacting the SFWA to ask them to help with removal of copyrighted works that that particular individual has found (and for which he owns the copyright), and I would expect the SFWA to help in such an (isolated) instance. But as far as I know, the SFWA has no standing to conduct the kind of sweeping action suggested in TFA, because members do not automatically give it that authority; as far as I know, members would have to do so explicitly, via some kind of definite communication with the SFWA.

Scribd is at fault here (4, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428045)

Reading the emails, there is no way that they consitute a valid DMCA takedown notice. Thus, Scribd had no obligation to take anything down. Scribd should have demanded a proper notice or ignored the emails.

Re:Scribd is at fault here (3, Informative)

Chirs (87576) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428125)

Ah, but the author *stated* that it was a takedown notice. Either the author was lying or misunderstood what was required for a valid notice.

I can understand why Scribd took them down, as lawyers don't come cheap.

Re:Scribd is at fault here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428243)

cant they be sued for perjury if they are claiming and sending takedown notices for things which are not theirs?

Re:Scribd is at fault here (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428599)

Reading the emails, there is no way that they consitute a valid DMCA takedown notice. Thus, Scribd had no obligation to take anything down. Scribd should have demanded a proper notice or ignored the emails.


Ignoring a takedown notice that falls short of the technical requirements but that identifies the work infringed, the infringing content, and provides contact information has the legal result that the flawed takedown notice may be used to prove the service provider's knowledge of infringement, and thus have the same effect on liability, as if it were a flawless takedown notice (see 17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3)(B)(ii)). Scribd, therefore, was quite likely required, at a minimum, to contact the complaining party for a proper takedown notice, but just taking the material down avoids the mess of paying a lawyer to find out whether or not they actually have to comply and, if not, what they can get away with, contacting the complaining party, etc.

I don't think its fair to act as if Scribd's is morally obligated to know the precise legal boundaries of what they can get away with and push them (unless they have an explicit contractual obligation to their users to do so).

Re:Scribd is at fault here (4, Interesting)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428753)

I don't think its fair to act as if Scribd's is morally obligated to know the precise legal boundaries of what they can get away with and push them (unless they have an explicit contractual obligation to their users to do so).
If you are in the business of running a website whose mission is to collect documents from users (as Scribd is), then failing to invest in some legal advice on how to handle real and supposed DMCA notices and/or the pitfalls of hosting user-uploaded content is simply irresponsible.

Re:Scribd is at fault here (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429563)

Ignoring a takedown notice that falls short of the technical requirements but that identifies the work infringed, the infringing content, and provides contact information has the legal result that the flawed takedown notice may be used to prove the service provider's knowledge of infringement, and thus have the same effect on liability, as if it were a flawless takedown notice (see 17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3)(B)(ii)).

However the penalty of perjury per 512(c)(3)(B)(vi) does not stand due to the lack of a statement of truth. A loophole?

Re:Scribd is at fault here (2, Interesting)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428833)

While I do agree the DMCA is a travesty of law, and think the whole copyright issue would probably work better using 19th century rules (I am dead serious), I can see how the sci fi writers would use this tool after repeated attempts at other eforts to have their still owned works taken down... with limited or NO success. I think Jerry Pournelle (who btw is a damn good writer; you Rock! Dr. Pournelle) who was one of those who requested this actions sums it up clearly, honestly and completely. I am NOT going to /. his site by posting URL. Do the small work requred to: Google "Chaos Manor" then go read the Friday post on the oldest blog on the interweb.

Re:Scribd is at fault here (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429501)

I can see how the sci fi writers would use this tool after repeated attempts at other eforts to have their still owned works taken down... with limited or NO success. I think Jerry Pournelle ... who was one of those who requested this actions sums it up clearly, honestly and completely.
Well,

If Scribd have procedures other than those prescribed by the DMCA, then Scribd is once again in the wrong.

According to the SWFA Livejournal site [livejournal.com] , no DMCA notice was issued to Scribd, so, in this case, I think Jerry Pournelle should stop whining and use the existing procedues and laws available to him.

Re:Scribd is at fault here (3, Insightful)

LarsG (31008) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429057)

A poster on the LJ SFWA group explained the situation [livejournal.com] much better than I could ever hope to do:

"Just to clarify. This letter, sent by Andrew Burt, seems not to be a DMCA notice as a DMCA notice requires some specific statements as to the agent's representation of a copyright holder, which this letter lacks. Indeed, this letter is obviously written as part of a longer back and forth correspondence between Burt and someone at Scribd.

However, in this subsequent letter, Burt falsely claims that the first letter linked was in fact not an "idle musing, but a DMCA notice."

Since the criticism of these letters emerged, we have been told that, in fact, SFWA never sent Scribd a DMCA takedown notice. This is correct.

In other news, I just got a tin deputy badge from a box of Crackerjacks and will be placing some parking tickets I just printed out on my home computer on the windshields of cars on my block. If anyone receiving the ticket asks, yes I am authorized to hand out these tickets and they are real tickets, the fines from which I will collect. If these real tickets get me into trouble, then they are not real tickets and anyone suckered by them is to blame for his own foolishness.

Is that all clear now?"

Science Fictionj Writers... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428069)

I thought this was going to be an article about what DMCA takedown notices would look like 50 or 100 years from now.

I hope the DMCA isn't still around in 50 or 100 years, but alas.

Pursuant to the new DMCA, we demand you surrender your bodily organs to the nearest recycling center...

Irony (5, Interesting)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428079)

How ironic that Andrew Burt should do this.

Andrew Burt was responsible for the first real unfettered access I had to USENET, back in the days when my telnet access was through a CP/CMS machine, and so telnet into Nyx.net [nyx.net] (back when it was still known as nyx.cs.du.edu) was all cluttered with ANSI codes and improper scrolling yet still readable. aburt's Nyx site was where I went to read the anime newsgroup rec.arts.anime that a friend had told me about, and where I was inducted into online writing circles where we wrote our tales and shared our stories freely on the Internet. Though defunct now, alt.pub.dragons-inn and alt.pub.havens-rest were really jumping back in the day.

And Burt was also a more direct champion of writing circles [salon.com] , in his work with Critters. According to the article, he believed that espousing some of the principles of the Open Source movement in writing would lead to more and better writers.

And now look what he's doing. What a shame that it should come to this.

Re:Irony (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428597)

And how irritating that you've seen fit to post the same, identical, comment in every forum you can find to discuss the situation. How pathetic do you have to be to have to get your fifteen minutes by claiming that you knew, at one point, someone who's currently being a jerk? And how much more pathetic do you have to be to do it multiple times without even changing a comma?

Re:Irony (1)

rk (6314) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428751)

Yeah, I feel like a bit of a chump for donating a thousand bucks for Critters to upgrade their servers a couple years ago.

I'm all for authors having control over their works, but the DMCA is a POS and I'm surprised and disappointed Aburt is going this route. I always thought he had more sense than that. If I find that any computing resources for Critters got misappropriated for this little venture, I'll be a damn sight more than disappointed. I'll be hopping mad that money I give willingly to help support the SF-lit community was used to buy servers to run this little DMCA dragnet.

Down and Out et. al. (4, Informative)

Scutter (18425) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428109)

I note that Cory's Down and Out... has since been replaced on scribd.com. I wonder if they replaced all of the erroneously (I mean illegally) removed works.

Re:Down and Out et. al. (5, Informative)

PhywriterDotCom (860343) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428365)

Not yet, no: http://www.scribd.com/word/removal/96311 [scribd.com]

Ray Gun Revival magazine has at least two works that have been removed by Scribd at SFWA's behest merely for mentioning the last names 'Asimov' and 'Heinlein'.

We filed our DMCA counter-notification and are awaiting the mandatory ten day time period.

The story, for me, is recounted here: http://raygunrevival.com/Forum/viewtopic.php?t=139 5&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0 [raygunrevival.com]

Re:Down and Out et. al. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20429281)

WTF goes on? There seem to be endless cases of websites responding to bogus DCMA notices, many of them written by lawyers. I live in England. If this happened to me I would make a personal complaint about the lawyer who drafted the notice to the Law Society, the professional body that represents and regulates lawyers. Many British lawyers seem to have forgotten that their first sworn duty is to the courts (i.e. justice, not their clients or their profits). Any lawyer making bogus statements for profit should be struck-off, and I'd do my damnedest to make sure they were.

Do American lawyers have a similar duty, or a similar professional body? If so, how are the RIAA's lawyers still in business?

one of the tags should be (4, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428129)

"freakingmoron"


RS

scribd with non-proprietary sw? (1)

SloWave (52801) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428153)

So what's the secret to reading scribd's material without flash. I refuse to install flash on my Linux systems after previous experiences with flash's binary pukefests.

Re:scribd with non-proprietary sw? (1, Flamebait)

Knara (9377) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428167)

Not using Linux.

(not really a secret)

Re:scribd with non-proprietary sw? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428935)

...won't help if you have even a BIGGER problem letting scripting languages run amok in your Windows browsers.

Re:scribd with non-proprietary sw? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429003)

Not using Linux.
So what's the secret to reading scribd's material without flash. I refuse to install flash on FreeBSD systems after previous experiences with flash's binary pukefests.

Re:scribd with non-proprietary sw? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428635)

Using Linux on Qemu on Linux, you should be safe...

Re:scribd with non-proprietary sw? (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428743)

click the pdf button or the text button under "Downlowd as:" on the left side of the page.

Only a Little Bit Pregnant? (0, Troll)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428199)

"many of which were not infringing on SFWA copyrights in any way.

So what you're saying is that yes the site does contain copyrighted materials for which no permission been obtained, and hence it does infringe on the works of some authors?

Sorry chief, but ya do the crime, ya do the time. Be more careful in the future.

Re:Only a Little Bit Pregnant? (3, Insightful)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428213)

So, since at least SOME slashdot comments contain SOME infringing material, your post should be deleted?

I don't think so.

Re:Only a Little Bit Pregnant? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428259)

what? are you crazy or stupid?

There are legal ways to use copyrighted material without permission. Thus NOT infringing on the copyright.

Your conclusion is, at best, stupid.

Re:Only a Little Bit Pregnant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428283)

Sorry chief, but ya do the crime, ya do the time. Be more careful in the future.

So if your neighbor is a criminal it's ok to come and arrest you since you should have been "more careful"? Cory Doctorow didn't do the crime, so why was his own book fingered by the takedown notice?

Or maybe you just enjoy making up strawmen.

Re:Only a Little Bit Pregnant? (1)

jonask (9394) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428295)

And if it's not actually ya that have done the crime, ya should do the time anyway?

Re:Only a Little Bit Pregnant? (1)

mchale (104743) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428317)

That's not the way it works. Two wrongs don't make a right.

In order to serve a DMCA notice, you have to be the copyright holder (or an agent thereof). If only a single work was wrongly taken down from scribd by the issuance of a DMCA notification, the SFWA still falsely represented their rights to that copyright. That means their action still constitutes perjury, even if all of the other takedowns were legitimately their copyrights.

(IANAL, please supply your own grain of salt.)

Re:Only a Little Bit Pregnant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428411)

Don't be obtuse. Simply because a site has some amount of content that violates copyright restrictions doesn't mean that you can demand that the webmaster take down whatever arbitrary content you want. The DMCA doesn't provide for the removal non-infringing content from a web site. Furthermore, it is expressly forbidden to send DMCA takedown notices for non-infringing content.

Of course, if there is material on the site that is in violation of copyright law, then it is appropriate to send notices that are restricted to infringing material. But if you bother to completely RTFS, you'll find that Doctorow is complaining about a takedown notice issued against a novel that he wrote and published under a CC license. The SFWA has no reason to be making DMCA claims about this novel in the first place.

Basic Logic (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428441)

"many of which were not infringing on SFWA copyrights in any way."

So what you're saying is that yes the site does contain copyrighted materials for which no permission been obtained, and hence it does infringe on the works of some authors?


No, saying that many of the subjects of the supposed DMCA takedown notice were not infringing does not say that the others were infringing; its perfectly consistent with the infringing/non-infringing status of the rest not being readily determinable.

Sorry chief, but ya do the crime, ya do the time.


Whether or not any of the alleged incidents of infringement was accurate, all of the false accusations were material misrepresentations that are actionable under 17 U.S.C. 512(f). So, clearly, your statement here must be an endorsement of, rather than a challenge to, the criticism leveled by GP.

SFWA represents ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428207)

Does anyone have a list of members of SFWA? I'd like to update my "do not buy from" list.

Re:SFWA represents ... (1)

j_sp_r (656354) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428547)

The guy who wrote TFA, for example!

Re:SFWA represents ... (4, Insightful)

scalzi (878223) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429459)

Hey, now.

This suggests that every member of SFWA supports what's happened. Since I'm a member of SFWA (indeed, I ran for president of the organization earlier this year and lost), and have access to their private boards and have seen the carnage there, I can tell you authoritatively: It's not even remotely true.

Speaking for myself, I think every author has a right to say how their work should be used and displayed. I also think that this particular maneuver was pretty dumb.

Punishing every member of SFWA because of a jackassed maneuver by one of its officers is like punishing every American because Dick Cheney is busily taking a squat on the Constitution. In both cases, the executive in question does not represent the views of every member.

Prominent authors (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428211)

> prominent science fiction names (like 'Asimov' and 'Silverburg')

Silverburg? Really? Last I checked, The Book of Skulls was written by Robert Silverberg (as well as a host of other great books).

Re:Prominent authors (1)

originalnih (709470) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428359)

He didn't mean it, don't kill him!

Re:Prominent authors (1)

Mr. Bad Example (31092) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429253)

> Last I checked, The Book of Skulls was written by Robert Silverberg [...]

Perhaps the original poster was thinking of Stickwick Stapers by Farles Wickens with four M's and a silent Q.

But, but, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428377)

They're science fiction writers! Surely they understand that in the new age of freedom that writing a book and giving it away is the way to be now! Making money is for old-fashioned troglodytes who like eating and having a place to live.

Re:But, but, but (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429001)

I dunno.

On the one hand, I am a tightwad that's willing to buy Eric Flint's book in hardbound because he's cool.

OTOH, I wouldn't waste the effort to cross the street to spit on Harlan Ellison.

Not inspiring hatred from the book buying public can be profitable.

Although it mostly just helps to not be lame and full of yourself (like Ellison).

Re:But, but, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20429279)

OTOH, I wouldn't waste the effort to cross the street to spit on Harlan Ellison.

Come on now... it doesn't really take that much effort. Even though he's cantankerous, he's pretty old and slow. Just imagine what a better world we'd live in if more people took the time to spit on Harlan Ellison.

I do not like DMCA... (-1, Troll)

quonsar (61695) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428399)

...but I pretty much support anything that upsets Cory Doctorow.

What a cluster honk (1)

samuel4242 (630369) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428415)

And it will only get worse. It was clearly foolish for the organization to send out notices about content it doesn't own. But it's actually a bit counterproductive to make a big deal about this. Written between the lines seems to be the claim, "The SFWA is a bunch of jerks. Whoo hoo. Now I can feel good about myself for pirating, er, sharing so much without paying." Not every writer can get cash from the EFF to support a writing habit. Not every writer can get USC's bursars office to do the rights management. I wish Cory would cut the writers some slack and admit that the copyright system, however flawed, is really pretty fair. If there are n readers who pay for n copies, then everyone pays an equal amount. But if n people buy legit copies and m pirate the work, then it's not fair to the n folks.

Re:What a cluster honk (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428725)

If I were one of the authors affected, I would be pretty offended. The SFWA is asserting copyright on things that Cory has written, and someone could easily be confused into thinking they're representing him when they issue these notices. That's borderline on libel - it could give someone completely wrong ideas about Cory, if they don't realize he didn't authorize the SFWA's takedown notices.

He should be pissed at them. I would, if this happened to me.

Re:What a cluster honk (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429021)

Cory has already claimed that this situation has caused damage to his reputation.

The problem with being an ass on behalf of others is your clients will be the ones to end up with the worst of the ill will that you generate. It's real shame that Cory can't challenge the offending party to a duel.

Lightsabers?

Laser Guns?

Re:What a cluster honk (2, Insightful)

zotz (3951) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428843)

"I wish Cory would cut the writers some slack and admit that the copyright system, however flawed, is really pretty fair."

I don't know about Cory, but I think the system is far from fair. Very far from fair. In many, many ways.

all the best,

drew

http://openphoto.net/gallery/index.html?user_id=17 8 [openphoto.net]
Some CC BY-SA photos for your enjoyment...

Re:What a cluster honk (1)

samuel4242 (630369) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429145)

Very far from fair. In many, many ways

Oh, you're right. But please supply a better system if you can. I'm all ears. I just don't think it's fair for a few suckers to pay for the content while everyone else tries to justify their sharing/theft by growsing about the current model. To me, copyright is like gravity. It's a weight on your shoulders, but it's better than floating off into the vaccuum of outer space.

I've poked around sites like YouTube, Revver, and Scribd and while they have many great, original, non-infringing files, I think that the vast majority of them are put up there without the knowledge of the copyright holder.

Re:What a cluster honk (2, Insightful)

pthor1231 (885423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429467)

Just because someone can't give a better system currently doesn't mean we can't criticize the current system, especially when it is used so egregiously incorrectly.

Re:What a cluster honk (2, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429455)

It was clearly foolish for the organization to send out notices about content it doesn't own.


Foolish, sure, but also illegal.

Huh? (4, Funny)

NumbDr9 (601117) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428505)

I can understand why DMCA takedown notices qualify as fiction, but what makes them SCIENCE fiction?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428885)

Heck, I'm wishing they were FICTION. Never mind the science part.

Well, they ARE infringing in some cases (4, Informative)

eagl (86459) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428529)

Dr. Jerry Pournelle notes in his daybook (blog... whatever) that scribd has at least one of his works on the site, entirely without permission (and therefore illegally). The process to remove a work is lengthy and emails were apparently not returned. When this sort of abuse of copyright occurs, why is anyone suprised when people who rely on income from their efforts band together to attempt to halt the infringment?

Theoretical blathering on copyright aside, unauthorized posting of complete copyrighted works that ought to be a source of income to the writers who write books for a living is not right. There are no MPAA or RIAA strongarm tactics at work here. Rather, there are actual writers attempting to defend their copyrights.

Everyone rightly complains when the RIAA sues a grandmother for $10,000, but if an individual musician requests that a site illegally hosting an entire album stop unauthorized distribution of their work, isn't that a lot different?

Here's the link to Jerry's comments on this (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428633)

Here you go, scroll down a little bit to see it (Corey Doctorow):

http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/view481.html#Fr iday [jerrypournelle.com]

Read the whole thing

Re:Here's the link to Jerry's comments on this (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428793)

Interesting; I never realized Pournelle was such a dick.

"Apparently writers who want some control over who displays their works are despicable, but those who want their works displayed by pirate sites have a legitimate grievance."

Hello, dumbshit: it's not a "pirate site" to the extent that it's distributing works with permission. When you send takedown notices, you should be careful that the notices cover only properties to which you own the rights. Otherwise, guess what? You're the pirate.

Re:Here's the link to Jerry's comments on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20429209)

Pournelle's a big fan of whining and not answering the question.

Which I suppose is why all of his best work came by depending on the other author.

RTFA (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428699)

There are no MPAA or RIAA strongarm tactics at work here. Rather, there are actual writers attempting to defend their copyrights.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to fraudulently remove numerous non-infringing works from Scribd, a site that allows the general public to share text files with one another in much the same way that Flickr allows its users to share pictures.

Included in the takedown were: a junior high teacher's bibliography of works that will excite children about reading sf, the back-catalog of a magazine called Ray Gun Revival, books by other authors who have never authorized SFWA to act on their behalf, such as Bruce Sterling, and my [Cory's] own Creative Commons-licensed novel, "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom."


RTFA before saying the summary got the story wrong.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20429191)

However you're ignoring the fact that some of the DMCA notices were for content that was ripped off/stolen/whatever.

Re:RTFA (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429503)

However you're ignoring the fact that some of the DMCA notices were for content that was ripped off/stolen/whatever.


Its not being ignored, its irrelevant. The fraudulent ones are still a violation of the law, no matter how many non-fraudulent notices were included along with them.

Re:Well, they ARE infringing in some cases (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428707)

The process to remove a work is lengthy and emails were apparently not returned.


The process to remove a work is to provide a notice conforming to 17 USC 512(c)(3)(A), which should take about half an hour if you've actually located infringing content, and by sending that to the registered agent identified on the publicly accessible portion of the website (as required by 17 USC 512(c)(2)), and then check to see if the infringing work is expeditiously removed as required by 17 USC 512(c)(1)(C). If not, file a lawsuit, because the service provider is outside of the DMCA liability shield, and is subject to suit for damages and injunctive relief for the infringment.

If the service provider tries to put you through additional hoops and draw the process out, well, as long as you do what is required and document it, they're the one's left holding the bag.

Anyhow, no amount of actual infringement justifies the illegal (under 17 USC 512(f)) misrepresentation involved in the false claims of copyright ownership and infringement at issue here.

Re:Well, they ARE infringing in some cases (1)

CreatureComfort (741652) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428953)


Dr. Pournelle is absolutely correct, and he is correct that he hasn't had anything decent published recently. I am sure, as he notes, that he ekes out a meager living on residuals and reprints. The last Pournelle reprint I bought, a "The Mote In God's Eye" recent edition, fell apart before I was half way through the book. So, while I do not support downloading and reading his material for free when it is published on the net without his permission, I had zero qualms about buying a third printing edition from the local used book seller. As long as Pournelle supports the publication of his works in an utterly crappy product, I consider him a hypocrite of the highest order.

When you want to leech off me by forcing me to re-buy your book every time I want to re-read it, that is unreasonable. The entire reason I was buying a second copy, was because my original copy got worn out from re-reading and all of the moves over time. I look forward to enjoying my ewest copy for the next several years as well.

Re:Well, they ARE infringing in some cases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428981)

"Theoretical blathering on copyright aside, unauthorized posting of complete copyrighted works that ought to be a source of income to the writers who write books for a living is not right. There are no MPAA or RIAA strongarm tactics at work here. Rather, there are actual writers attempting to defend their copyrights."

That's fine. But usually you practice due diligence before accusing someone of being a criminal, and if all they are doing is searching for words such as "Asimov" or "Silverberg", that's a pathetically lame way to sort the real infringement from the false positives, especially if some authors have specifically released the relevant work under creative commons or some other license that allows free (as in money) copying. It's a serious accusation, and people should have some kind of accountability for making false accusations with such flimsy evidence, so that they are compelled to do a better job of it.

Heck, if we were talking about parking, it's like handing out a ticket to every car on the street *regardless* of whether the meter has expired or not, or if they are parked in their own driveway. A police officer who did that regularly would end up in court. And given the crazy penalties handed out for copy infringement these days, it's probably a great deal more serious than a parking ticket. So, why can't they spend just a little more effort to get the accusation correct?

Re:Well, they ARE infringing in some cases (1)

RML (135014) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429035)

Perhaps Dr. Pournelle doesn't understand how the DMCA takedown process works [jerrypournelle.com] . Yes, the process requires identifying the specific works, and providing excess information. That's the way the law is set up by the US Congress. Once the notice is sent, Scribd does have an obligation to take down everything - even the stuff they have permission for. Again, that's the law.

It sounds like Dr. Pournelle is unhappy that Scribd is taking advantage of the DMCA's safe harbor provision to make money. While I understand why he's upset that people are copying his works, it sounds like Scribd is following the law, which makes it the responsibility of the author to send takedown notices for infringing works (and only infringing works). The fact that the SFWA notice included works that weren't infringing was an abuse of the DMCA process, and that's why people are upset.

Re:Well, they ARE infringing in some cases (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429041)

Please remove the above post under the terms of the DMCA as it constitutes one of the copyrighted works Dr. Jerry Pournelle.

Re:Well, they ARE infringing in some cases (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429071)

When this sort of abuse of copyright occurs, why is anyone suprised when people who rely on income from their efforts band together to attempt to halt the infringment?

That's a bit like saying, "Well, the 'come out or we'll shoot' warning didn't work. Bring out the B-52s, we'll carpet-bomb the city!" Surely a lawyer with a carefully written C&D letter would have been more effective than an email demanding the removal of what is apparently a simple text search of their site?

Re:Well, they ARE infringing in some cases (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429419)

Apparently Dr. Jerry Pournelle is a moron who knows next to nothing of the current state of Copywrite law or the DMCA.

IANAL, but here's how Pournelle should be handling it based on the cases I've heard of. If this becomes a "lengthy process" it is because he is on shakey legal ground already and is tiptoeing around it so as not to get his own pants sued off.

If one of his works has been illegally posted without his approval (note, if he used a CC license or some other odd license posting without his permission may not be illegal), he needs to notify the company that facilitated the posting (i.e. Scribd), and they are REQUIRED by LAW to take it down IMMEDIATELY. The standard that I have seen is less than an hour. If that does not happen, Dr. Pournelle needs to get off his rump, call a lawyer, and sue the pants off Scribd, because they would be breaking the law at that point.

If the posting is taken down, but the original poster claims the legal right to post, then he sends Scribd his address, etc, and Scribd sends that info to Pournelle and the posting goes back up. This must happen within 10 days of the original takedown notice. If not, guess what? Pournelle sues the pants off of Scribd.

That's 10 days max before either the posting is permanently removed or the issue is headed to court. Lengthy process my ass! The only reasons this could be "lengthy" are if either the poster actually has a potentially legitimate right to post Dr. Pournelle's works, or Dr. Pournelle is a moron and his lawyer doesn't know how this crap works.

There are no MPAA or RIAA strongarm tactics at work here. Rather, there are actual writers attempting to defend their copyrights.
Actually this is about the SFWA using strongarm tactics to, in one fell swoop, eliminate both legitimate and illegitimate content from the website. The illegitimate content should go, and did go, as it should be. The legitimate content the SFWA had removed should never been touched. That's the issue.

People aren't necessarily pro-piracy, it's the fact the system is so stacked in the Copywrite holder's favor, that it is incredibly easy for an illegitimate party to get legitimate posts temporarily removed from a website, and often permanantly removed, that people are lashing out against these blanket takedown notices.

If an individual musician's entire album is being hosted on a site illegally, and he follows the DMCA guidlines, if it doesn't come down within 10 days that musician is going to be one rich futhermucker.

In other words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428559)

Doctorow's complaint is centered over a take down notice that includes one of his works released under "Creative Commons." For that he is entitled to relief and should have public access to such work restored. In this he has a valid point.

Where Doctorow's thinking goes astray is over matters of Scribd hosting copyrighted works without permission thus denying the copyright holders/authors the income due from their works. This is theft.

As Doctorow points out, the SFWA take down notice appears over broad on the face of it. That is correctable as is copyrighted works being illegally hosted by Scribd.

What also remains is determination over amounts of lost revenue due copy right holders over Scribd's illegal distribution of those works and to what degree Scribd has financially benefited from the theft.

Interesting approach (1)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428577)

So, if someone were to mention Isaac Asimov or Robert Silverberg on a prominent website, there could be an email to take that posting down? You'd best read this message quickly, then.

I have enjoyed reading work from both of these authors for several decades. It's too bad that their names are being besmirched like this.

Re:Interesting approach (1)

hawk (1151) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428775)

Why?

If the prominent website goes down, we can still read it here . . . :)

hawk

Re:Interesting approach (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429441)

As the attorney for Isaac Silverberg, it has come to my attention that you have posted a comment on Slashdot which infringes the intellectual property of my client. We demand that you immediately remove the offending material, and cease and desist in any future violation(s).

Not all SCI FI writers are jerks... (3, Interesting)

Odinson (4523) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428593)

The link to my book on scribd.

Thicker Than Blood [scribd.com]

Come give me a takedown notice for my own book. I'll sue the crap out of you.

Don't click on link in parent! It's goatse! (-1, Troll)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428879)

That's what you get for shamelessly plugging your book.

Re:Don't click on link in parent! It's goatse! (1)

Odinson (4523) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429323)

I'm sorry you don't approve, honestly I don't either. I am not shameless. I am actually rather ashamed.

I have received good to great reviews so far, but there are no avenues to promote an book that is strictly a creative commons download. I have submitted the book for more mainstream reviews but I always get the same answer back. Until you have a publisher, we consider you a vanity writer.

In fairness I am pretty sure I can get published but have not perused it yet in part because I do not want to take a chance that the contract I sign will enable my publisher to attack my fans in my name. Everything that I read indicates that new authors will likely only get one legitimate chance at a real printing with real promotion.

So here I sit. Punished for trying to contribute to this culture, while not attacking it. I feel like a sailor dehydrating while at sea. Water everywhere but not a drop to drink. You seem like the kind of person who is willing to give me the tough criticism I need either in my business strategy or my writing skills. Could you read the book and tell me what you think? How would you proceed from here? Any feedback is welcome.

I am sorry.

Dystopias (4, Insightful)

Wordsmith (183749) | more than 7 years ago | (#20428605)

It's like some bad science fiction story set in the near-future, where automatons are used to enforce the will of idea-owning cartels, empowered by a government that passes laws with unintended though predictable consequences!

Thank god we have science fiction stories to warn us away from such dystopias.

My contribution to DMCA rebellion... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20428819)

Isaac Asimov - Robert Silverberg - David Eddings - Neal Stephenson - William Gibson - SFWA Vice President Andrew Burt
Isaac Asimov - Robert Silverberg - David Eddings - Neal Stephenson - William Gibson - SFWA Vice President Andrew Burt
Isaac Asimov - Robert Silverberg - David Eddings - Neal Stephenson - William Gibson - SFWA Vice President Andrew Burt
Isaac Asimov - Robert Silverberg - David Eddings - Neal Stephenson - William Gibson - SFWA Vice President Andrew Burt

Wonder if I should report to the local federal building or wait for the G-Men to come pick me up now?

"Doctorow is up in arms over at BoingBoing" (1)

vsync64 (155958) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429359)

I'm sure he is.

One Forward, Two Back (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 7 years ago | (#20429581)

I was involved in SFWA's early organizing of what eventually became the ePiracy Committee. They were a very forward thinking bunch and worked very hard to properly protect the works of their members. I did by hand (well, by Forte Agent and WinTrack FTP and web site mirroring) what Burt's program does. Out of 14,000+ hits I had no false positives. That was because I actually looked at what I was doing. It's pretty apparent Burt isn't.

I sincerely hope he is doing this on his own, otherwise the ePiracy Committee is in the process of sabotaging the second part of their stated purpose: "The purpose of SFWA's ePiracy Committee is to minimize the harms from piracy while maximizing respect for our customers." Acting like a street gang is not going to look like respect to any customers.

What makes this all the more mystifying is the fact that SFWA had some very good legal advisers. In fact, they wrote some fairly detailed copyright/anti-piracy/DMCA articles which are still on SFWA's web site. Burt isn't following his own organization's instructions. If he doesn't straighten out he's going to run into a hell of a liability problem, and it won't be just him that has to pay for it.
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