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Lookie, an illustration of how LJ fanficdom is not the only source of kerfluffle.

Well-meaning SFWA overshoots the basket and drops the ball on top of the referee.. which is probably not the safest thing you can do when dealing with writers like Cory Doctorow. :) I'd never heard of Scribd before this, and from the sound it their system for vetting uploads consists of "wait until the copyright holder complains" which means I'm unlikely to be dealing with them much, but sheesh... just because a document contains the name of Isaac Asimov does not mean he wrote it...

My thanks to james_nicoll for this link.


( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 4th, 2007 04:58 am (UTC)
Blah-ha-ha! Sorry, the whole situation made me laugh. Pained laughter, but still. Protecting Doctorow from himself, that's mighty good of the SFWA ain't it? :P The idjits. Why do I feel like everyone has just jumped down the rabbit hole with the copyright and DRM stuff?
Sep. 4th, 2007 06:03 am (UTC)
Well, there was a bit more to it than that. Certainly there WAS some illicit Asimov and Silverberg on the site. For that matter, there was some Pournelle and Niven that was for certain not there legally, witness this comment by Jerry on his website blog (search on scribd, which will lead you to a letter from Christopher Wright's comment and following that, Jerry's response.) SFWA screwed up, but their heart was in the right place, attempting to protect their members from being ripped off. It's pretty obvious that if Scribd does not want to be a pirate site, they've got a lot of work to do. (Heck, last I looked they still had Glory Road by Robert Heinlein up there, which I'm pretty sure is still in copyright, and I doubt it was posted by the current holders.) I will not be downloading anything from their site.

That said, yeah, it was kinda funny. Personally I agree with Eric Flint; publish electronically at a reasonable rate and you've probably not got much to worry about. But hang it all, it really should be up to the author. I post my writings to my website after they've been published wherever I wrote them for (most recently "Booty", which I wrote for last year's CaliFur conbook). But that's my decision.
Sep. 4th, 2007 06:16 am (UTC)
Any site that basically says, "Upload anything you want" like youtube - is begging for lawsuits. *sigh* It really shouldn't be this hard.

I agree, if downloads were reasonably priced, piracy would be way less of an issue. Many downloads are as expensive as the paper book + shipping, in which case, why bother?

I'm a fan of the Creative Commons stuff, that really helps disseminate work and lets people distribute as much or as little of the rights as they wish. Very cool.
Sep. 5th, 2007 06:17 am (UTC)
Same here - I've got a CC notice on my filksongs. Should probably have one on such of my fiction as is posted on my website, though most of it's been up there so long there's probably no particular necessity. That tends to be stuff that I'd like people to leave my name on, but otherwise really don't care (I mean, Bozos has already been published eight or so times. Maybe I'll put a CC license on the collection when I finish it.)
Sep. 4th, 2007 03:43 pm (UTC)
Part of the problem is that the laws (mainly promulgated by the large content owners) basically force a site like Scribd to not police the contents at all unless a copyright holder calls their attention to a specific occurrence. The safe-harbor provisions in the laws only apply where the site excercises no editorial control whatsoever, and the legal liability if you venture outside the safe harbor without being completely 100% effective and absolutely unerringly perfect is enough to put you out of business.
Sep. 5th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC)
The question is, how difficult do they have to make it for the copyright holder to do so. Jerry Pournelle was kvetching about them for making him "jump through hoops" in that comment I linked to - though to be sure knowing Jerry it may not have taken much to set him off.

I don't recall if Nicolai or his lawyer wrote the "cut it out" letter when someone posted "Other Suns" to the net, but I do recall that he got an immediate response of "oops, sorry about that" and takedown, not a "please fill out this form first".
Sep. 5th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
It depends on the service provider and whether they've gotten burned before. As I said, most want to help but once they've gotten burned they get more gun-shy. It's the same as with people: you have to actually face the reality of $30K in legal bills because you helped someone, but once you have and had to pay it off you start to get leery of helping anyone else.
(no subject) - kayshapero - Sep. 6th, 2007 06:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeran - Sep. 6th, 2007 06:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 5th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
OK, now that I'm not on my way out the door, more coherent.

You noted above about Scribd's system for vetting content. Well, after this incident Scribd's people are probably getting a lecture from their lawyers about this. Among other things, Cory Doctorow could probably sue Scribd and the SFWA for libel (publicly claiming he was pirating copyrighted material (ie. "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom") when he wasn't). Scribd's only protection from this is the safe-harbor provision of USC 17 512(3), and in staying firmly within it and never deviating from it. Among other things it requires Scribd to never look at the material. Once they do they get into the "actual knowledge" portion, which is a legal can of worms. If they don't look, though, they can shield themselves with the paragraph that says a 512(3) notification never causes actual knowledge. It's not nice, but look at where trying to be helpful and responding to an ostensibly official organization making a superficially valid request gets Scribd.

And this doesn't help the SFWA or the authors it represents either. I'll bet you dollars to donuts the next time the SFWA sends a complaint in, even if it's completely valid, the first thing the Scribd people are going to think about is this incident and how not valid the complaint was, and the lecture they undoubtably got from their legal people over it. And they're going to become as picky about the forms and formalities as a Vogon bureaucrat, because that gives them a legal shield against liability (if the SFWA's letter follows the 512(3) rules Cory can't sue Scribd for taking the material down, and if it doesn't the SFWA can't sue Scribd for not taking the material down (as long as Scribd returns the proper form letter indicating the deficiencies in the notification)).

Part of the problem is in trying to hold Scribd responsible. They provide a way for people to publish material on-line without having to run their own servers. Yes, this is a good thing. Yes, it serves a good purpose. If you don't think so, you go tell Cory Doctorow that he shouldn't have a place to publish his stuff on-line. I dare you. I'll just go get the broom and dustpan now... :) But if you let people publish on-line, some of them will put up stuff they shouldn't. And it's simply not possible for the service to catch everything. Ask anybody who moderated CompuServe or Genie forums, or Teresa over at BoingBoing, about how much work that moderation is, and then scale that up by 3-4 orders of magnitude. Trying to do it would make the service useless for any legitimate purpose, and I'd submit that keeping Cory from publishing his works as he sees fit just because someone else might abuse the service is a Bad Thing for everyone.
(no subject) - kayshapero - Sep. 6th, 2007 06:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeran - Sep. 6th, 2007 06:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayshapero - Sep. 6th, 2007 07:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeran - Sep. 6th, 2007 07:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayshapero - Sep. 6th, 2007 08:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeran - Sep. 7th, 2007 02:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayshapero - Sep. 9th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeran - Sep. 6th, 2007 07:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayshapero - Sep. 6th, 2007 08:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeran - Sep. 7th, 2007 01:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayshapero - Sep. 9th, 2007 05:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 5th, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)
Another follow-up. Jerry Pournelle just put an article up at Chaos Manor about his side of it. Apparently the "hoops" Scribd wanted him to jump through were in fact putting his request into the form required by USC 17 512(c)(3), and they declined to act until it had been.
(no subject) - kayshapero - Sep. 6th, 2007 06:11 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 4th, 2007 04:10 pm (UTC)
Sep. 5th, 2007 06:27 am (UTC)
Which doesn't seem to want to open. Details?
Sep. 5th, 2007 01:56 pm (UTC)
Basically, Peter Murray-Rust had co-authored a paper and had it published in a journal done by the Oxford University Press. He licensed it only under Creative Commons Non-Commercial Use terms. He goes to the OUP web site and lo and behold, their link to get a copy takes him to a company called RightsLink (at copyright.com) which claims that you have to pay to get a copy (which is expressly prohibited by CC-NC). And when OUP pointed out that that was only for commercial use, non-commercial use could just use the free link buried at the bottom of the page, he pointed out that that still violated the license terms (non-commercial use only). And this couldn't have been a mistake, since right on the abstract OUP said the paper was available under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Use license and gave the URL to it.
(no subject) - kayshapero - Sep. 6th, 2007 06:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeran - Sep. 6th, 2007 06:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayshapero - Sep. 6th, 2007 07:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jeran - Sep. 6th, 2007 07:53 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayshapero - Sep. 6th, 2007 08:14 am (UTC) - Expand
OT - should LJ self-destruct - kayshapero - Sep. 6th, 2007 08:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 4th, 2007 09:58 am (UTC)
The thing is I don't see any real workable long term method other than, "Here's the abuse address, if something shouldn't be here tell us and we make it go away."

I don't see fingerprinting the files working long term. It's a problem both of dealing with a constantly growing database of fingerprints, and finding a fingerprinting system that has a low level of false negatives and positives and can deal with things like inserting or deleting segments of video or file format conversions. I suspect building Google (both the search engine and company) will have been child's play compared to that.
Sep. 5th, 2007 06:22 am (UTC)
The usual problem of having to use the law to substitute for what ought to be covered by common decency. The law is far too coarse a replacement, and stuff leaks through the cracks.
Sep. 6th, 2007 09:30 pm (UTC)
There's a very nice analysis and conversation about this whole thing over on John Scalzi's blog, including input from an honest to goodness Copyright Lawyer (C.E. Petit)...
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )

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