Science Fiction Writers of America abuses the DMCA

POSTED BY CORY DOCTOROW, AUGUST 30, 2007 11:36 PM| # | DISCUSS (67)

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 own Creative Commons-licensed novel, "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom." The list of works to be removed was sent by "epiracy@sfwa.org" on August 17, described as works by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg that had been uploaded without permission and were infringing on copyright. In a followup email on August 23, SFWA Vice President Andrew Burt noted that the August 17 list wasn't "idle musing, but a DMCA notice." The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows copyright holders to use "notices" to force ISPs to remove material from the Internet on a mere say-so. In the real world, you couldn't get a book taken out of a bookstore or an article removed from the newspaper without going to court and presenting evidence of infringement to a judge, but the DMCA only requires that you promise that the work you're complaining about infringes, and ISPs have to remove the material or face liability for hosting it. As a result of SFWA's takedown notice, hundreds of works were taken offline -including several that had not been written by Asimov or Silverberg. 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.

This implies that Robert Silverberg and the Asimov estate have asked SFWA to police their copyrights for them, but it's important to note that many of the other authors whose work was listed in the August 17 email did not nominate SFWA to represent them. Indeed, I have told Vice President Burt on multiple occasions that he may not represent me as a rightsholder in negotiations with Amazon, and other electronic publishing venues. More importantly, many of the works that were listed in the takedown were written by the people who'd posted them to Scribd -- these people have been maligned and harmed by SFWA, who have accused them of being copyright violators and have caused their material to be taken offline. These people made the mistake of talking about and promoting science fiction -- by compiling a bibliography of good works to turn kids onto science fiction, by writing critical or personal essays that quoted science fiction novels, or by discussing science fiction. SFWA -- whose business is to promote science fiction reading -- has turned readers into collateral damage in a campaign to make Scribd change its upload procedures. Specifically, in the Aug 23 email, SFWA Vice President Andrew Burt demands that Scribd require its uploaders to swear on pain of perjury that the works they are uploading do not infringe copyright. SFWA has taken it upon itself to require legal oaths of people who want to publish any kind of thought, document, letter, jeremiad, story or rant on Scribd. Not just "pirates." Not just people writing about science fiction, or posting material by SFWA members -- SFWA is asking that anyone writing anything for publication on Scribd take this oath of SFWA's devising. Ironically, by sending a DMCA notice to Scribd, SFWA has perjured itself by swearing that every work on that list infringed a copyright that it represented. Since this is not the case, SFWA has exposed itself to tremendous legal liability. The DMCA grants copyright holders the power to demand the removal of works without showing any evidence that these works infringe copyright, a right that can amount to de facto censorship when exercised without due care or with malice. The courts have begun to recognize this, and there's a burgeoning body of precedent for large

judgements against careless, malicious or fraudulent DMCA notices -- for example, Diebold was ordered to pay $150,000 125,000 for abusing the DMCA takedown process. I am a former Director of SFWA, and can recall many instances in which concern over legal liability for the organization swayed our decision-making process. By sending out this indiscriminate dragnet, SFWA has been exposed to potential lawsuits from all the authors whose works they do not represent, from the Scribd users whose original works were taken offline, and from Scribd itself. In addition to the legal risks, SFWA's actions have exposed it and its members to professional risk. For example, the page that used to host my book, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom now reads, "The document 'Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom' has been removed from Scribd. This content has been removed at the request of copyright agent Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America." Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was the first novel released under a Creative Commons license, and I've spent the past four years exhorting fans to copy my work and share it. Now I've started to hear from readers who've seen this notice and concluded that I am a hypocrite who uses SFWA to send out legal threats to people who heeded my exhortation. In discussing this with my agent, Russell Galen, I was made aware of another potential problem: Scribd does end up hosting infringing works (just like Flickr, Blogger, LiveJournal and any other site that lets users upload their own files) that writers and their agents can remove by sending in legitimate DMCA notices (Russ tells me that he's sent Scribd notices on behalf of the Philip K Dick estate, another of his clients). When SFWA begins to muddy the waters by asserting that the organization is its members' representative for copyright, they make it harder for actual copyright enforcement agents to do their job -- how much harder will it be for Russ to convince Scribd that he is Dick's representative now that they've been burned by SFWA? There's no excuse for this. Even a naive Internet user should be able to understand that if you compile a list of every file online that has the word "Asimov" in it, you'll get a lot of works that weren't written by Isaac Asimov included in the search results. In the

case of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, the file included a blurb from Gardner Dozois, former longtime editor of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine -- and it was that "Asimov" in "Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine" that triggered the takedown. 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. Indeed, he previously created a system called "Shades of Grey" that is supposed to ruin the ebook downloading experience by poisoning the Internet with corrupted copies of ebooks. He convinced SFWA to appropriate funds from its operating capital to patent this idea, on the basis that publishers would pay SFWA to use it to make science fiction ebooks less attractive to readers (I don't understand the logic of this either). During the last SFWA election, he promised to pay this money back. SFWA's copyright campaigns have been increasingly troublesome. In recent years, they've created a snitch line where they encourage sf lovers to fink on each other for copying books, created a loyalty oath for members in the guise of a "code of conduct" in which we are supposed to pledge to "not plagiarize, pirate, or otherwise infringe intellectual property rights (copyright, patent, and trademark) or encourage others to do so." What business SFWA has in telling its members how to think about, say, pharmaceutical patents, database copyrights, or trademark reform is beyond me. In 2005, SFWA sent out a push-poll to its members trying to scare members off of giving permission to Amazon to make the full text of their books searchable online. All of this is pretty bad, but this month's campaign against Scribd takes the cake. I'm a dues-paying SFWA member and past volunteer who relies on the free distribution of my books to sell printed books and earn my living. By fraudulently removing my works from Scribd, SFWA is taking money out of my pocket -- it's the online equivalent of sending fake legal threats to bookstores demanding that they take my books off their shelves.

Discussion
#1 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 30, 2007 11:55 PM:

Tw wrds: Scnc. Fctn.

#2 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 12:04 AM:

And your actions to counter or fix this are?-LBR
#3 POSTED BY KROMEKORAN , AUGUST 31, 2007 12:13 AM:

as the Veep of the SFWA, Andrew Burt doesn't seem like a very forward-thinking man, something I find a little ironic. interesting read, Cory. enlightening even. can't stop the signal.
#4 POSTED BY JERE7MY , AUGUST 31, 2007 12:15 AM:

Indeed, he previously created a system called "Shades of Grey" that is supposed to ruin the ebook downloading experience by poisoning the Internet with corrupted copies of ebooks. He convinced SFWA to appropriate funds from its operating capital to patent this idea, on the basis that publishers would pay SFWA to use it to make science fiction ebooks less attractive to readers (I don't understand the logic of this either). The logic seems pretty clear — by devaluing illegitimate copies of ebooks in relation to authorized copies, I expect he hoped to make authorized copies more attractive to users. The same thing has been used to destabilize rival currencies — by releasing a lot of counterfeit coins stamped with your competitors' mint mark, your own coins increase in relative value. Content providers who release free content often do the same thing — you get a degraded version for free (a small image, a lossy audio file) and a snazzy version if you pay. Burt was presumably trying to come up with a way to degrade the free versions that had been released without the consent of the authors. I don't know if it worked — I wouldn't expect it to, since it could be defeated by user reliability ratings of downloadables — but the logic seems easy to follow, and suggesting he did it to "make science fiction ebooks less attractive to readers" seems to be an oversimplification.
#5 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 12:17 AM:

The link to the second takedown notice points to the first.

#6 POSTED BY JERE7MY , AUGUST 31, 2007 12:19 AM:

(Unrelatedly, the gray boingboing logo at the top of the page has a tiny yellow line above the final "g". Dunno if that was mentioned in the mega-thread about the redesign.)
#7 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 12:30 AM:

This is what you get when not enough vote for Scalzi :D marty
#8 POSTED BY WIL WHEATON , AUGUST 31, 2007 12:59 AM:

So SFWA has ripped a page from the book of the RIAA and MPAA, and tried to follow in their footsteps. Brilliant. And by "brilliant," I mean idiots. This never would have happened if John Scalzi were president.
#9 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 1:11 AM:

Once again, a salient, compelling response to the childish "mine, mine, mine" that characterizes copyright abuse. There are many members of the creative community that feel exactly as you do, but lack either the specific grounds or the courage to be so vocal. Please don't stop speaking out. Fortunately, ethical irresponsibility has a way of coming around to bite you in the ass. It's only a matter of time until abusers get countersued into oblivion.

#10 POSTED BY JANUARY , AUGUST 31, 2007 1:38 AM:

Charming. What a very forward thinking man indeed. Incidentally, the link to the follow up email points to the first notice. I think it should be going here: http://craphound.com/sfwa-scribd-takedown2.txt
#11 POSTED BY SHEDSIDE , AUGUST 31, 2007 1:41 AM:

Since this is not the case, SFWA has exposed itself to tremendous legal liability. Including from you. Just say if you need to hold a whipround.
#12 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 1:45 AM:

Sue them. Do it!
#13 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 1:48 AM:

You should all get together and file a lawsuit. Maybe after they face legal consequences for their actions here, Andrew Burt won't be winning any more SFWA elections.
#14 POSTED BY CHARLIE STROSS , AUGUST 31, 2007 1:54 AM:

I'd like to state publicly that, although I am an SFWA member, SFWA does not have authority to issue DMCA takedown notices on my behalf. (Rule #1 of working in any creative field in the 21st century should be: Your Fans Are Not The Enemy.)
#15 POSTED BY DEWI MORGAN , AUGUST 31, 2007 2:07 AM:

Yup - where do we sign up to donate to your legal costs?
#16 POSTED BY JASON ERIK LUNDBERG , AUGUST 31, 2007 2:09 AM:

Once again, I am reminded of why I've never joined SFWA or even had the inclination to do so. This never would have happened if John Scalzi were president. True dat, Uncle Willy.
#17 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 2:26 AM:

As I just commented over at Making Light, that first e-mail is emphatically not a DMCA takedown notice. The DMCA Sec 512 (c) (3) requires such a notice to include: "(v) A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

(vi) A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed." Neither of these statements is present. IANAL, so this isn't legal advice, and lawyers should be consulted, but it looks to me as though no valid notice has been served, so scribd don't have any obligation to remove the works.
#18 POSTED BY RYAN ALEXANDER , AUGUST 31, 2007 2:49 AM:

This kind of backwards thinking is all the more disappointing coming from an organization that is supposed to support those who write about the future.
#19 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 3:04 AM:

Haven't they violated their loyalty oath by otherwise infringing on the intellectual property rights of others in attempting to 'protect' their own?
#20 POSTED BY LAURIE MANN , AUGUST 31, 2007 3:24 AM:

Ryan, you said it better than I could. SFWA's behavior is disappointing, but not surprising.
#21 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 3:42 AM:

So what about DMCA counter notifications? I work for a file sharing company and we get legitimate removal requests all the time, but contact the post to let them know they can file a counter notification and keep the content up, then doesn't it go into the accusers court to prove it is infringing material? Doesn't anyone use the DMCA rights to protect their rights to post? If I misunderstood how DMCA works, please let me know, because it seems to be just a ISP copout to avoid direct responsibility for infringing material, and posters should stand up for their rights more using the tools the law gives them. I am certainly in the defective by design boat, but any insight would be great.

#22 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 3:58 AM:

I think the SFWA is channeling Monty Python.. SFWA: "you have been found guilty by the elders of our town by uttering the name of our {lord|client}, and so as a {blasphemer|pirate}, you are to be {stoned to death| banned from the interwebs}!" dude in shackles: "look, [...] all i said [...] was, 'that piece of halibut was good enough for {jehova|asimov}'." and, as in the movie, no good can come out of it for anyone except the sellers of beards and stones.
#23 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 4:33 AM:

Correction: Diebold paid $125,000 - not $150,000 - in fees and damages according to the EFF page cited. Either way, this isn't a trivial amount, and I'm very surprised that SFWA would open themselves to the possibility of damages. You would have expected them to take great care since they know that they do not act on behalf many (most?) US SF authors. Jeff
#24 POSTED BY LAURIE MANN , AUGUST 31, 2007 4:45 AM:

Y'know, isn't it interesting that the "SFWA Saves Writers Work from Scribd" has not shown up as a story on SFWA's news feed. Might show a certain...ahem...dissention in the hierarchy as to whether or not this was a good idea?
#25 POSTED BY JOHNE COOK , AUGUST 31, 2007 4:54 AM:

I first started posting about this on Tuesday. In the interim, Boing Boing added the ability to leave Comments. I can't tell you how pleased I am at the timing!
#26 POSTED BY RAPTROS-V76 , AUGUST 31, 2007 4:59 AM:

Ugh. Every time I hear about this sort of garbage happen, I get pushed more to the idea that anti-DMCA-abuse extremism is needed. I believe that I am not the only one. Someday, someone is going to snap, and is not going to be a pretty sight. To everyone

who has ever done something like Andrew Burt, good job. You are going to make someone commit a violent crime, just by abusing a legal system.
#27 POSTED BY TERESA NIELSEN HAYDEN/MODERATOR ,AUGUST 31, 2007 5:04 AM:

Message #17, please re-post that with your name on it. A general announcement: the "post anonymously" option was made available because the editors wanted to leave a mail slot open for whistleblowers and the like. One of the missing bits of the redesign is that there's supposed to be a notice when you post that says that comments posted anonymously will automatically be held for moderation. Which they are. And once that notice gets posted, getting out of the "anonymous" moderation queue is going to be a lot harder. I'm not going to automatically clear anonymous posts in this thread, either. Just so you know.
#28 POSTED BY MICHAEL BRUTSCH , AUGUST 31, 2007 5:08 AM:

I'm a dues-paying SFWA member Then you're just contributing to the problem. In fact, you're funding their efforts. Do you not see a problem there?
#29 POSTED BY TERESA NIELSEN HAYDEN/MODERATOR ,AUGUST 31, 2007 5:11 AM:

#17: Aha, thought so. Hello, Jules. Good to see you here. Just register and re-post, okay? SFWA thrashes are bad enough when you can tell who everyone is.
#30 POSTED BY BROTHER PHIL , AUGUST 31, 2007 5:29 AM:

Two suggestions for everyone: 1. Email support@scribd.com complaining that you can't access the book. Refer to this article to rebut the notice, and ask for access to be restored. 2. (Perhaps some feedback from Cory before taking action on this one). Everyone set

up an account on scribd.com and upload a copy of Down & Out, and maybe a few more CC novels. Phil.
#31 POSTED BY CORY DOCTOROW , AUGUST 31, 2007 5:37 AM:

Regarding DMCA put-back notices -- yes, they're available, and Scribd's users are starting to deploy them. But there's a 10-day cooling-off period for reinstatement, and there's the fact that Scribd's users aren't lawyers or experts. They're getting generic notices saying (more or less), "SFWA has called you a criminal. If you aren't a criminal, fill in this scary legal boilerplate. Warning: if you do this, you might be sued." As SFWA has not provided any context (e.g., "You're being served with this takedown because you used this phrase: ______________"), the Scribd users are having to guess at what they did that might be illegal. They aren't copyright experts, and some have written to me asking if they *do* need permission to quote a single sentence, use the name of their favorite author, etc. The DMCA process is a lousy way to learn about copyright in a hurry.
#32 POSTED BY ANONYMOUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 6:07 AM:

Why don't you try just burning out their resources by posting "Asimov, Asimov, Asimov, Asimov, Asimov, Asimov, Asimov" all over the interwebs :) That ought to keep them busy for a while.
#33 POSTED BY MATT STAGGS , AUGUST 31, 2007 6:18 AM:

If I were an author represented by this group I'd be embarrased as all hell. Perhaps many of them will be and withdraw their membership.
#34 POSTED BY SIRDOOK , AUGUST 31, 2007 6:20 AM:

I've noticed that this post contains the terms "Asimov" and "Silverberg," so you should be prepared for a DMCA taketown notice, Cory.
#35 POSTED BY PATRICK NIELSEN HAYDEN , AUGUST 31, 2007 6:22 AM:

Michael Brutsch in #28 quotes Cory as saying "I'm a dues-paying SFWA member," and

goes on to hector him: "Then you're just contributing to the problem. In fact, you're funding their efforts. Do you not see a problem there?" Jesus, guy, what Cory was saying was "Look, I'm a member of this organization, and as a member I object to this being done in my name." Are you really proposing to yell at him because he hasn't resigned in high dudgeon _fast enough for you_? Take a pill.
#36 POSTED BY SCALZI , AUGUST 31, 2007 6:22 AM:

Wil Wheaton: This never would have happened if John Scalzi were president. Had I been President of SFWA: 1. Someone (hopefully not me) would have gone through Scribd, comparing the authors on the site with the authors in SFWA's membership rolls. 2. Those authors would have received notification via e-mail (or snail mail if e-mail were not available) that their work was available on Scribd, along with instructions on how to send a DMCA notice if they or their representatives wished to do so. 3. The general SFWA membership would have been made aware of Scribd, via e-mail and the FORUM publication, and given information on how to draft a DMCA notice if they found their work there. 4. From time to time, and hopefully with the cooperation of Scribd, step 1 would be repeated, with repeats of steps 2-3 handled privately within SFWA. However, I am not President of SFWA.
#37 POSTED BY YATTERINGS , AUGUST 31, 2007 6:30 AM:

This is a truly insane position and I hope it bites Burt hard. However how many other

people talking about books, films etc are going to get hit in the meanwhile? Fingers crossed the reality check steps in soon. At #28, this appears to be the actions centering around one person - why walk away from the SFWA just because of one jerk? Raising objections and doing something about it is a far better use of time, imho.
#38 POSTED BY MIKE W. B. , AUGUST 31, 2007 6:37 AM:

In my opinion, they're not absuing it at all. I'm an author myself and I have to admit that I've sent a DMCA (well, my publisher has) to Scribd as well. These guys just don't give a damn about authors. They're facilitating theft and they're hiding behind some law that was not even meant to protect them. Horrible. I can't believe Cory's defending these thieves.
#39 POSTED BY FLYING SQUID , AUGUST 31, 2007 6:45 AM:

Silverberg is not exactly an unique name. I wonder how many people named Silverberg got affected by this? For example, Silverberg.net has nothing to do with Robert Silverberg. Furthermore, the chief wine critic for the New York Times is Eric Asimov. Want to discuss Eric Asimov's wine review on Scribd? Too bad.
#40 POSTED BY TERESA NIELSEN HAYDEN/MODERATOR ,AUGUST 31, 2007 6:45 AM:

Mike W. B., they're not all thieves. Re-read Cory's post. A lot of the stuff Andrew Burt demanded that Scribd take down had been put there by its own authors. Cory's novel has been freely available online since the day that it was published. Cory has also explicitly forbidden SFWA and Andrew Burt to claim that they represent him. The unlawful taking in this case was done by SFWA.
#41 POSTED BY SCRAPS , AUGUST 31, 2007 6:47 AM:

Then you're just contributing to the problem. In fact, you're funding their efforts. Do you not see a problem there? Perhaps it's not the only thing that SFWA does, and other things might be worth paying for. Do you see your error in logic here?

In my opinion, they're not absuing it at all. Inasmuch as Cory has detailed very specifically the ways in which SFWA has abused the DMCA process, can you explain why you think SFWA has not? How SFWA pretending to represent people they don't represent, and forcing the takedown of texts they have no right (or reason) to take down, is not abusing the DMCA process? Deplore Scribd all you like; we're talking about a specific issue here, in which SFWA is clearly and grossly in the wrong.
#42 POSTED BY TYCHO GARREN , AUGUST 31, 2007 6:55 AM:

I can see the benefit of--and even sometimes think it's a good thing--to put the onus of enforcement on the originator of the content, but probably only when the originators are big companies. When it's people like me, or even you, Cory, it seems like less of a good idea. I can respect the way that having the originators of the content be responsible for sending take down notices means that spaces/areas of the internet, means that website owners can do what they do best: making websites, rather than policing copyright. At the same time, the implementation sucks, of course, and there's no real good counter for assholish (I use the term generally) content owners/originators, who are fixed on riding a horse. Speaking of which, it strikes me that SFWA isn't really a union, and thus shouldn't *really* be taking this kind of action on behalf of it's members, but I could totally be wrong about that.
#43 POSTED BY ROB KNOP , AUGUST 31, 2007 7:07 AM:

But there's a 10-day cooling-off period for reinstatement, ...but not for takedown notices, eh? Even before the law was passed, it should have been clear that no-evidence takedown notices coupled with a FUD-barrier and coolingoff period for reinstatement was a system tremendously easy to abuse. Experience shows that it is abused.

There must be some sort of SFWA general mailing list. I realize that there are a lot of DMCA-loving SF authors -- including some that I otherwise respect greatly -- but there have to be a lot out there who will be angry when they realize what's going on here, and how bad it makes them look. On their behalf, the SFWA is issuing takedown notices for all kinds of non-infringing things, including a novel that is explicitly CC-licensed. If enough figure out what's going on here, there should be some sort of outrage within the organization. If not, then it's probably time for Doctorow, Stross, Wheaton, and others to break off and form another SF Writers' supporting organization....
#44 POSTED BY SHIVA7663 , AUGUST 31, 2007 7:19 AM:

If that had been a legitimate DMCA takedown notice instead of a pre-notice shakedown, it should certainly have originated from the office of the SFWA Counsel; I have to wonder if the SFWA Counsel was even consulted before the missive was launched.
#45 POSTED BY BRUCE COHEN, SPEAKERTOMANAGERS , AUGUST 31, 2007 7:25 AM:

Cory, do you know if anyone in SFWA other than Andrew Burt knew about this action before the notices were sent? It may be that Burt doesn't legally represent SFWA either. That's certainly the position I'd take if I were the current president of SFWA. It may be ethically questionable to throw your organization's officers to the wolves in lieu of defending the organization itself, but in this case I think it would be warranted by Burt's over-the-top actions.
#46 POSTED BY MKHOBSON , AUGUST 31, 2007 7:28 AM:

As a SFWA member, I'm outraged by this. I'm quite frustrated that Scribd apparently complied with SFWA's demands without insisting upon appropriate legal aegis -- it seems they just took Burt's word that he had the right to demand these removals. This would seem to subvert the ability to hold SFWA accountable for this egregious abuse; they will just argue that "it wasn't a legal request, and it wasn't our fault that Scribd took it that way." Or maybe I'm missing something. In any event, I remain furious.

#47 POSTED BY SEVERIUS , AUGUST 31, 2007 7:28 AM:

I think it's hilarious that an organization of science fiction writers, writers who historically have written in condemnation draconian laws copyright and otherwise, has taken it upon themselves to abuse a tyrannical system against their own readers. The irony is quite profound. And I am quite disappointed, I feel a bit betrayed by the writers who's work I so dearly love. The SFWA's actions reflect upon all of it's members whether they approved these actions or not, and that is dangerous for all sf writers.
#48 POSTED BY LANCE WEBER , AUGUST 31, 2007 7:29 AM:

If the RIAA/MPAA is like the Mafia, then that makes Burt and Capobianco... I've got it! The bumbling burglar-idiots from Home Alone.
#49 POSTED BY LANCE WEBER , AUGUST 31, 2007 7:31 AM:

Bruce #45: Michael Capobianco (Pres. SFWA) clearly knew about it based on his comment reply to the blog post here: http://phywriter.com/archives/2007/08/28/sfwa-issues-misguided-rgr-takedownsat-scribd/
#50 POSTED BY BRUCE COHEN, SPEAKERTOMANAGERS , AUGUST 31, 2007 7:42 AM:

Lance Weber #49 Maybe I'm missing it, but I don't see any acknowledgement that he did know in advance. He's not distancing himself from it (yet), though he admits it was a mistake in at least one case. I suspect he's leaving himself room for plausible deniability if he needs to retract all the notices and say they were a bad idea.
#51 POSTED BY MKHOBSON , AUGUST 31, 2007 7:44 AM:

From SFWA President Michael Capobianco's draft statement: "Despite what may have been said or implied, SFWA did not send DMCA takedown notices for the works that were removed from scribd.com. There are certain procedures involved in filing a DMCA notice, and the communication between SFWA and scribd.com did not fulfill any of them. The owner of scribd.com took those works down on his own responsibility as owner of the website and his claim that he did so because of a DMCA notice from SFWA was in error."

Yep. Basically saying, "Aw, gee! If those boneheads at Scribd misread the line in VP Burt's email where he said that this wasn't idle musing, but a DCMA takedown notice, that's their problem." Furious!!!
#52 POSTED BY LAURIE MANN , AUGUST 31, 2007 7:50 AM:

#36 John, that's so rational! The report of Michael Capobianco's response, that the "takedown" was the FAULT of scribd.com (in response to a threatening message from Andrew Burt) is bizarre. Has he been watching too much Fox TV lately? If you get a threatening letter from an organization, you just might overreact to it!
#53 POSTED BY SCALZI , AUGUST 31, 2007 7:56 AM:

MKHobson: It's not fair to air a draft version of a statement posted in a private area to the public. There may be a revision before the official release. Give Capobianco some breathing room to get it right.
#54 POSTED BY SCRAPS , AUGUST 31, 2007 7:57 AM:

Capobianco has managed to top Burt for contemptibility. That is the kind of disingenuousness that you know the author is completely aware of, and is only hoping to fool people coming late to the issue. Shame on him.
#55 POSTED BY SCRAPS , AUGUST 31, 2007 8:03 AM:

Taking Scalzi's admonition that this is merely a draft statement under advisement, it is still ludicrous for SFWA to even consider blaming Scribd for knuckling under to SFWA's clearly deliberate use of the DMCA to intimidate.
#56 POSTED BY JULES , AUGUST 31, 2007 8:15 AM:

Rob Knob @43: [The DMCA takedown notice] was a system tremendously easy to abuse.

Experience shows that it is abused. Interestingly, this is presumably why criminal penalties (i.e. that of perjury) were incorporated for the worst foreseen abuses of it. Yet, by not actually issuing a valid notice, but merely convincing the recipient that they have, SFWA seems to have sidestepped this potential penalty.
#57 POSTED BY JARRETT CAMPBELL , AUGUST 31, 2007 8:21 AM:

#38 said "I can't believe Cory's defending these thieves." I didn't see this at all and if that's your opinion of Doctorow then you probably don't really know much about him or his work. I hear Cory saying that he personally depends on free file sharing sites to further promote the business model he has adopted, gaining publicity for his work through Creative Commons licensing and legal file sharing of works which he owns the right to allow be distributed for free. He has always said obscurity is a bigger obstacle to his selling books or making money from his writing than file sharing is. Cory is not promoting thievery. He is condemning SFWA for acting on behalf of him when they had no right to do so. And he is condemning abuse of the DMCA and pointing out flaws in its structure. That's a far cry from defending thieves.
#58 POSTED BY MICHAEL D THOMAS , AUGUST 31, 2007 8:40 AM:

Oh, to be a lurking fly on the wall in the SFWA forum right now... I bet that it’s an open brawl, especially considering how many writers are currently jetlagged in Japan.
#59 POSTED BY MKHOBSON , AUGUST 31, 2007 8:41 AM:

John, you're absolutely right re: post #51, as I realized after I posted it. I would like to publicly apologize to Mr. Capobianco for posting from the draft statement he posted on a private board. He posted it in good faith, to keep the membership apprised of the

evolving situation, and for that I applaud him. If there's a mechanism for deleting comments made in the heat of battle (as there is on LJ) I'd love to know about it. I'm new to the BoingBoing world.
#60 POSTED BY XOPHER , AUGUST 31, 2007 8:48 AM:

And to think I wanted to join this bonehead organization. I will refer to Capobianco henceforth as "Ernie," since that goes with 'Burt' so well. IANAL - very ANAL - but it seems to me that SFWA was not acting on behalf of Cory in demanding that his work be taken down. They were acting on behalf of the Asimov estate, and falsely accusing Cory's work of infringing on copyright because it mentioned Asimov. So Cory's grounds for a suit are much shakier, it seems to (NAL) me.
#61 POSTED BY MEGAN , AUGUST 31, 2007 8:49 AM:

Wow. I wasn't expecting such a spectacular lapse in SFWA's judgment. Guess I'm not a cynical/realistic as I think.
#62 POSTED BY XOPHER , AUGUST 31, 2007 8:49 AM:

MKHobson 59: You ask the Moderator to kill them. And I think you just did.
#63 POSTED BY CHARLIE STROSS , AUGUST 31, 2007 8:50 AM:

Michael @28 -- some of us SFWA members strongly disagree with the position of people like Andrew Burt, are campaigning to change the organization from within, and intend to stay in the fight until we win. Any voluntary organization is no more and no less than the sum of its active members. Encouraging people to withdraw from SFWA is counter-productive -- do you *want* to hand the organization to the copyright totalitarians?
#64 POSTED BY SCRAPS , AUGUST 31, 2007 8:52 AM:

If MKHobson's comment is deleted, go ahead and delete my responses to it as well, if you want.
#65 POSTED BY KAREN SWANBERG , AUGUST 31, 2007 8:56 AM:

#42 tycho garren I can see the benefit of--and even sometimes think it's a good thing--to put the onus of enforcement on the originator of the content, but probably only when the originators are big companies. When it's people like me, or even you, Cory, it seems like less of a good idea. Why is it less of a good idea? I know plenty of authors (including myself) who use Google Alerts to inform them when their work is discussed or reviewed on-line. It wouldn't be too much harder to alert an author when their piece is posted. Take a distinctive line from the piece and alert on it. Then when Google sends an alert, they can examine the page and decide for themselves if a DMCA is warranted (if they believe in the DMCA, which I do NOT). For trademarks, it's always been the onus of the owner of the trademark to pursue infringers. I believe this should be the same way.
#66 POSTED BY PROSTETNIC VOGON JELTZ , AUGUST 31, 2007 8:56 AM:

scroll scroll scroll scroll scroll. How about splitting this article into a read more?
#67 POSTED BY SIMON GREENWOOD , AUGUST 31, 2007 9:00 AM:

Don't go to so much trouble as to get white powders, the way to get someone wrongfully imprisoned in the US in the 21st century will be to plant COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL on their person - careful what Bluetoothed messages you accept as they might contain a contraband copy of 'I, Robot' making you ripe for the stitching. It sounds like Scribd has panicked somewhat here in the same way as YouTube did over the Viacom blanket takedown. Surely a Creative Commons licence attached to a work, as all of Cory's do, must be honoured, otherwise the requirements of the industry associations that the DMCA was created for render every form of free or open licensing worthless. That or it's time to find Kinakuta and set up shop there.