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Science Fiction Writers Write DMCA Takedowns 197

Posted by Zonk
from the quit-using-our-free-stuff-for-free dept.
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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Science Fiction Writers Write DMCA Takedowns

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  • Cory (Score:5, Informative)

    by just_another_sean (919159) on Friday August 31, 2007 @03:27PM (#20427979) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by krgallagher (743575) on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:02PM (#20428231) Homepage
      "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 (Score:5, Informative)

        by catbutt (469582) on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:15PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CleverNickName (129189) * <(ten.notaehwliw) (ta) (liw)> on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:22PM (#20428427) Homepage Journal
        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 (Score:5, Insightful)

          by peacefinder (469349) <alan@dewitt.gmail@com> on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:56PM (#20428789) Journal
          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?
          • by catbutt (469582)
            I assume you are implying that checking the history doesn't verify anything.

            While true, it does give a lot more credibility to its veracity than just looking at the article itself. There is a lot you can glean by browsing the history.

            I know everyone likes to show how smart they are by saying "don't trust wikipedia", but for me, "trust" depends not only on the chance of it being false information, but how much damage bad information would give. If I see a mention of Mary Queen of Scots and want more in
            • "I assume you are implying that checking the history doesn't verify anything."

              Nonono! That's not at all. It was an entirely sarcasm-free post.

              I really am impressed that someone actually checked the history to determine the trustwortiness of the article. In my experience, most people just make a snap judgement one way or the other without checking up.
          • Re:Cory (Score:4, Funny)

            by Lumpy (12016) on Friday August 31, 2007 @11:21PM (#20431105) Homepage
            Fact checking on Slashdot?

            OMG!! OMG !!

            This is the first sign of the apocalypse! It was foretold in chapter three of the holy testaments of the TCP/IP.

            Chapter 15 verse 7 of the book of routing.

            "and Yea, before the end of time when the routing tables become corrupt and the packets fragment, there shall be a sign. The well of bable, the fountian of inanity will have a single light grow from within. A young new user will go against the word and check the truthiness of the word. Upon this event, the fall of all that is will begin. This will be the warning of the arrival of the rouge router packet horsemen that will start the loss of data, reset TTL counters at random causing packet losses where there should not be any and the bandwidth will fall."

            DOOMED! WEARE ALL DOOMED!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rebill (87977)
          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 (Score:4, Funny)

          by julesh (229690) on Friday August 31, 2007 @06:13PM (#20429451)
          Well, yeah. You're about as likely to find someone saying "who's this guy pretending to be Wil Wheaton?"
      • 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.
      • 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 (Score:5, Funny)

      by Stanistani (808333) on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:35PM (#20428555) Homepage Journal
      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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Original Replica (908688) on Friday August 31, 2007 @07:13PM (#20429871) Journal
      There was a slight caustic edge to it but I think that's understandable in this case...

      Slightly caustic isn't going to do much about this problem of DMCA notices put up by non-copyright holders, but wouldn't the act of insisting on a improper takedown legally infringe on Doctorow's property? As in he is entitled to damages. Umbrella groups that represent artists are businesses, and the only was to effect the way a business acts is by hitting it in the profit margin. I would love to see Doctorow go after severe punitive damages and then use the money to promote Creative Commons.
  • by N7DR (536428) on Friday August 31, 2007 @03:28PM (#20427981) Homepage
    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).
    • 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

      • by N7DR (536428) on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:46PM (#20428689) Homepage
        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.

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Friday August 31, 2007 @03:35PM (#20428045) Journal
    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.
    • by Chirs (87576) on Friday August 31, 2007 @03:46PM (#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.
      • I can understand why Scribd took them down, as lawyers don't come cheap.

        Yeah. Too bad India isn't outsourcing lawyers.
    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:38PM (#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).
      • by whoever57 (658626) on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:53PM (#20428753) Journal

        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.
      • by julesh (229690)
        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 o
        • 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?


          No, because with or without the penalty of perjury, a material misrepresentation is independently actionable under 17 USC 512(f).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pilgrim23 (716938)
      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
      • by whoever57 (658626)

        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

      • by LarsG (31008) on Friday August 31, 2007 @07:09PM (#20429853) Journal
        While I have great respect for Pournelle as a writer, he should have read Doctorow's piece more closely.

        Ignoring the obvious ad hominem, let's look at Jerry's arguments:

        "I can say this: Scribd.com which Doctorow defends has the complete text of a number of works. One of them is Sheffield and Pournelle, Higher Education. I guarantee you that neither I nor Charlie's widow has given this outfit any permission to do this. They used to have more of my books, and Niven's, and many others. They also had a series of hoops one had to jump through to get those taken down. The procedure was onerous, and they didn't answer my emails."

        Doctorow doesn't defend scribd, and he also voice no objection to authors (or their agents) sending DMCA notices in order to remove truly infringing content. His problem is with SFWA sending fraudulent notices (which of all things wasn't even in a proper format) that resulted in non-infringing material being removed. And those 'series of hoops' [scribd.com] are what's required by the DMCA notice-and-takedown process. It is the law, not some arbitrary attempt on scribd's part in order to make the process more difficult than necessary. If he has a problem with the law he should take his complaints to Congress.

        "SFWA will have an answer to Doctorow. Doctorow does not seem to have done his homework regarding DMCA, but that too is hardly astonishing. DMCA has a number of legal requirements for both those asserting their rights under it and those asserting a right to post copies of works without the permission of the copyright owners. I am no expert on those matters, but SFWA has such experts among its membership and supporters."

        I find it incredibly hard to respond to that in a non-ridiculing manner. Cory has been working with the Internet and copyright for so long that he should be able to quote the entire DMCA by heart by now (well, maybe not the rider bill concerning the sui generis protection of boat hull designs). If there is someone that doesn't understand the DMCA it is Burt, he didn't even manage to send a proper DMCA notification to scribd. If that's the level of "experts" that SFWA has available, I'd strongly advise them to get outside counsel post haste. Especially now that Burt has exposed the SFWA to liability due to perjury under DMCA 512(f).

        And let me repeat; noone has said that sending notices in order to get infringing material removed is wrong. The entire issue is with SFWA sending notices that resulted in non-infringing content, and content from authors that have explicitly allowed for distribution being taken down.

        "They made it difficult for writers to ask that their works be taken off: we had to find them and request one at a time and provide them other materials."

        That's the way the DMCA works. If he doesn't like, Congress is over there.

        "[..] or that the right of Doctorow to have his work displayed on a site that uses piracy to get net traffic is far more important than mine to have a writers organization try to act in my behalf."

        The real issue here is what requirements there should be on services that provide 3rd parties the ability to publish stuff. The notice-and-takedown provisions of the DMCA isn't without it's flaws but it is certainly better than nothing. Copyright holders might feel that the current law is too lax or onerous, so I'd be really interested in seeing what kind of system Pournelle would like to replace it with.

        And it might also be educational for him to think through the consequences of his proposed system. For starters: What would be the impact on services ranging from MySpace and YouTube down to blogs which allows comments on posts? Could unscrupulous organizations like the Church of Scientology abuse his system to silence online criticism?

        Smart people have thought about these questions, and notice-and-takedown and a similar procedure called notice-and-notice are at the top of the pile when it comes to striking a balance between protecting creators, not stifling the creation of new services and avoiding abuse of the system.
    • by LarsG (31008) on Friday August 31, 2007 @05:28PM (#20429057) Journal
      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?"
  • Irony (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Robotech_Master (14247) on Friday August 31, 2007 @03:41PM (#20428079) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by rk (6314)

      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 suppor

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

    by Scutter (18425) on Friday August 31, 2007 @03:44PM (#20428109) Journal
    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.
  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Friday August 31, 2007 @03:48PM (#20428129) Journal
    "freakingmoron"


    RS

  • 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.
  • > 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).
    • > 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.
  • 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 manageme
    • by Phroggy (441)
      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.
      • by jedidiah (1196)
        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zotz (3951)
      "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...
      • 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, o
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pthor1231 (885423)
          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.
          • when it is used so egregiously incorrectly

            Oh sure. Go ahead. Criticize. But please try to remember that many writers are doing the best that they can. Jerry Pournelle has been complaining to Scribd [jerrypournelle.com] for some time, but they just ignore his email messages. Not every writer has chosen Cory's path. There's a real danger, though, if Cory's love of anarchy kills the copyright system. I like paying for big Hollywood movies, the morning paper, and the latest song from iTunes. I want some of my money to go ba
            • But please try to remember that many writers are doing the best that they can. Jerry Pournelle has been complaining to Scribd for some time, but they just ignore his email messages.

              So, Jerry Pournelle can't use Google to find out how to file a proper DMCA takedown or, better yet, find a copyright attorney to do it for him and, if the material isn't taken down "expeditiously", proceed to legal action?

              And there's a real chance that it will win if the systems like Scripd are able to hide behind the complexity

              • But why should he have to? Imagine if we treated physical goods the same way? What if I could, say, steal your lawn furniture and it would be your responsibility to hire a lawyer to tell me that it's yours? Seriously.
                • by Jonner (189691)
                  Can someone put your lawn furniture on his lawn without removing it from yours?
            • by pthor1231 (885423)
              So, are you disagreeing with my statement that in this case, the DMCA was used incorrectly? I'm not defending Scribd or any other places do make it kind of a pain in the ass to take something down that is obviously copyrighted, such as Pournelle's works. He, along with others, went to SFWA, and then they acted. Except they included the works of people who did not even ask them to act on their behalf.
        • We could move it back to the original, 19th century concept. We could have a system that doesn't, through lobbying and whoring politicians, grant guys like Disney effectively infinite copyright. We could have a system that would see quick punishment for asserting copyright over works that an individual or organization does not in fact have copyright over (I mean, isn't what the SFWA just did effectively theft of copyright materials)?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

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


      Foolish, sure, but also illegal.
  • Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by NumbDr9 (601117) on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:29PM (#20428505)
    I can understand why DMCA takedown notices qualify as fiction, but what makes them SCIENCE fiction?
  • by eagl (86459) on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:31PM (#20428529) Journal
    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?
    • 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 h

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:47PM (#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.
      • by justins (80659)

        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.

        The interesting thing is, once you take off the OMG DMCA blinders, that is all considerably more heavy-handed than what the SFWA did in this instance.


    • 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
      • by tsotha (720379)

        That's not fair to him. The Burning Tower stuff he's done with Niven is decent, at least. Is it as good as the Mote trilogy? Well, no, but how does your work this week compare to your best output in the last fifty years?

        I don't think I've ever seen him rail about people who bought used books. You want to buy books used? Go ahead. This discussion is about a company that's making other people's work available without compensation so they can drive traffic to a site and cash in on advertising.

        The other

    • by RML (135014)
      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 wh
    • Please remove the above post under the terms of the DMCA as it constitutes one of the copyrighted works Dr. Jerry Pournelle.
    • I don't think I'll be reading anything else by him, paper, legal download, or illegal download unless I get word that it's so outrageously stupid that I can't resist. But only if it's a posting on a publically available website.

      It's ironic that the author of books like "A Step Further Out" in a business which is about giving people a look into possible futures, he hysterically denounces someone who is actively trying to create a future worth living in, apparently, because he himself is incapable of findi
  • 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.

    • by hawk (1151)
      Why?

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

      hawk
  • by Odinson (4523) on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:38PM (#20428593) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • Dystopias (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wordsmith (183749) on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:39PM (#20428605) Homepage
    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.
  • 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 Committ
  • by scalzi (878223) on Friday August 31, 2007 @06:52PM (#20429735) Homepage
    This is posted on the SFWA Web site here [sfwa.org]. It's from Michael Capobianco, President of SFWA.

    I want to respond to the flurry of activity that has resulted from Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) mistakenly identifying several works as infringing copyright. First, some background. There have been discussions within SFWA for several months regarding websites that allow users to upload documents of all sorts for other users to download and share. Many hundreds of copyrighted texts have been put online at these sites, and the number is growing quickly. Some SFWA members complained about the pirating of their works to SFWA's e-Piracy Committee and authorized the committee to do something about it. SFWA contacted scribd.com, one of these sites, about removing these authors' works and generated a list of infringing works to be removed.

    Unfortunately, this list was flawed and the results were not checked. At least three works tagged as copyright infringements were nothing of the sort. I have personally apologized to the writers and editors of those works. If you are a creator who has had material removed and has not yet been contacted, please email me at president@sfwa.org.

    SFWA's intention was to remove from scribd.com only works copyrighted by SFWA members who had authorized SFWA to act on their behalf. This kind of error will not happen again.

    Michael Capobianco
    President, SFWA

  • Pournelle's claim that it's a long process is ludicrous. After you have identified an infringing work, the time to submit a DMCA notice is under 10 minutes.

    If you find a bunch of them at a single site, you can list them all on a single complaint.

  • by charlie (1328) <charlie&antipope,org> on Friday August 31, 2007 @09:28PM (#20430605) Homepage Journal
    I am an SFWA member.

    SFWA is an organization of writers (as in, a herd of semi-feral cats). It's not a distribution cartel like the MPAA or RIAA, and it has not, in point of fact, got very much real-world clout at all.

    SFWA is, however, a representative democracy. And the current elected executive officers appear to have decided to take this (in my opinion, bone-headed and incompetent) action on their own initiative.

    There is currently a flame war raging inside SFWA over these DMCA takedown notices, with some authors supporting them and others calling for the resignation of the board. I'm not going to name names or tell tales out of school, but please don't assume that this is indicative of some borg-like organization of copyright totalitarians taking aim at your liberties: it's more a symptom of incompetence.

    (Meanwhile, some of us are maintaining our SFWA membership specifically to fight this kind of stupidity from within.)
  • From Cory Doctorow's bit at boingboing:

    It appears that the list was compiled by searching out every single file that contained the word "Asimov" or "Silverberg" and assuming that these files necessarily infringed on Silverberg and Asimov's copyrights.

    (...)

    Even a naive user should know better -- and SFWA Vice President Andrew Burt (who got his position through an uncontested ballot) is a computer scientist and programmer with experience in this field.

    Even though we've all seen these kind of programs a few ti

  • prominent science fiction names (like 'Asimov' and 'Silverburg') was used to determine which documents were to be singled out

    Asimov has been dead for over a decade, while Silberberg hasn't written anything worth copying in about as long.

    Unless they get a holographic C&D from Hari Seldon [wikipedia.org], or send a Skandar [wikipedia.org] around to explain things, they should just treat these threats like a 4th Law of Robotics: ignore it.

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