The Curmudgeon’s Excellent Copyright Caper

This has nothing to do with The Controversy between evolution and creationism, but it’s something many bloggers will experience at one time or another, so we’ll tell you the tale. Afterwards, feel free to use the comments for an Intellectual Free Fire Zone.

We recently learned that a website we never heard of had copied one of our posts — WorldNetDaily Supports Mark Armitage. Our post is dated 02 August, and their copy appeared on 04 August. Not much question about who copied whom.

They had reproduced our post totally, from top to bottom, including the graphics and even the formatting. It was far from the usual “excerpt and link-back” job, the sort of thing that happens all the time. Most bloggers enjoy that kind of attention. This was different — a complete copy, with no additional material added between excerpts as background, or commentary, or supplemental information, as we do with news articles and creationists’ posts. There was absolutely no pretense of fair use — they just grabbed the whole thing and posted it.

Well, they did link to us, but that doesn’t legitimize copying someone’s work. It’s like putting a tag on something displayed in your home that says: “This item was taken without permission from ______,” and thinking that the tag makes everything okay. It doesn’t.

We won’t link to the website that did this because we don’t want to give them even that much recognition. If you know who they are, dear reader, please don’t mention their name, and don’t link to them. We have no idea if they’re a creationist site or not. We’re not interested.

So what’s a blogger supposed to do? We did the legal thing. Matters like this are governed by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the DMCA), which immunizes a website’s host from liability for copyright violations. But that immunity ceases when they’ve been formally been put on notice — known as a DMCA notice — that one of the websites they host is improperly using someone’s copyrighted material. Assuming it’s not a groundless complaint (there are procedures for that, not relevant here), in order to retain their immunity, the host is required to block access to or remove the infringing material from the site they’re hosting.

There’s no mystery about how such things are done. DMCA notices aren’t difficult to draft, and many bloggers take care of such things themselves. We looked up the offending site in Whois, and saw that they’re hosted by GoDaddy.com. That’s good. GoDaddy is well-known and respected in the industry. GoDaddy’s website even provides guidelines with the language they want to see in DMCA notices.

Rather than sending GoDaddy a complaint from the Curmudgeon, we went full-bore and had an attorney send the notice for us — using the Whois info we obtained and the relevant links which we supplied. Everyone in the business already knows the law and knows what needs to be done, so the lawyer’s letter was only a single page — no ranting, no wasted words — just the required information.

The DMCA notice was sent by email yesterday, 05 August, around midday. We didn’t expect an immediate response, and there wasn’t any that day, but we assumed that GoDaddy would do the proper thing — and they did. When we checked this morning, the offending post had been taken down. The website is still there, which is fine with us. Our only concern was the illegal copy of our post.

So there you are. It’s a story with a happy ending. Thus endeth the Curmudgeon’s excellent copyright caper. And now, let the Free Fire Zone begin!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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27 responses to “The Curmudgeon’s Excellent Copyright Caper

  1. Pip pip! Well done, Curmy!

  2. Run DMC,”it wasn’t me she was fooling, but she knew what she was doin’, when she told me to walk this way” she told me to WALK THIS WAY, TALK THIS WAY… like this” ..

  3. Go get ‘em, Curmudgeon. But perhaps we can’t expect respect for intellectual property rights from people who don’t respect the human intellect–their own or anyone else’s.

  4. One more thing. How could you have neglected to tell us that Mark Armitage wrote a book called–wait for it–“Jesus is like my Electron Scanning Microscope.”

  5. M’god, Jill Smith, you’re right. Here’s the Amazon listing: Jesus is like my Scanning Electron Microscope.

  6. Jill Smith and Crummy:
    Well then, it’s a good thing I was a transmission electron microscopist!

  7. Theft is the sincerest form of flattery?

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    Wow, people are still doing that? In my early days of blogging that little game was played often. I guess like spam, it never goes away.

  9. What more can you expect from a bunch of christians?

  10. Did they also copy the comments? When we write something in the comments section of a blog do we still own it or does it become the intellectual property of the owner of the blog?

  11. Good question, Dr. SK.

    Now on to the FFZ…

    We visited the City Museum in St. Louis today. The place is amazing — one man’s creation and vision, it’s really not a museum at all, but instead it’s the world’s largest work of art that you crawl through,slide through, climb through, squirm through and walk through. An absolute treasure that everyone should experience. Tip — wear old clothes, and let the child within you come out and play.

    Traveling there we passed through several small towns, each with a sign welcoming the traveler and proudly displaying the town’s motto.

    Well, we passed by Effingham, Illinois, and I thought of a great new motto for them:
    “Welcome to Effingham — the best effing town around!”

    I think I’ll submit it to their effing town council.

  12. And more for the FFZ: Who could still think cretinism and/or IDiotology are exciting when we can have what real scientists and engineers do!?

  13. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    LoL, the few reviews on Armitage’s book are pretty entertaining. Of the nine, a couple give good reviews, a couple of midlin’ starred but still give him a little ribbing, and reviewer Darby M’Graw lays in first with a snarky two star. A selected snip …

    “Here’s another odd quirk, from the Acknowledgements page: “The author greatly acknowledges the assistance of the anonymous reviewers of this manuscript.” This is a bit odd. Is the author of the impression that this is a peer-reviewed scientific work? It most assuredly is not.”

    Some two months later, a thoroughly butthurt Armitage decided to respond to Darby’s review by making a five starred review for his own book* titled If you had guts, “Darby M’Graw” you would tell us your real name. In which Armitage rails against Darby’s anonymity and “liberally” blurts about himself in the third person.

    “Everybody is a critic. Especially the liberal evolutionists who are afraid to use their own names. Armitage’s name is out there – hell you can even get his phone number and call him if you like. He is not afraid to answer his phone and he does not hide behind names invented by Robert Louis Stevenson. Why don’t you give us your name “Darby”? Are you ashamed of who you are? Armitage is not ashamed of Jesus or what He has done in his life. He shares openly how the Creator (and yes, “Darby” the Bible does call Jesus the Creator), has washed and changed him and set him in the heavenly places. “Darby” is ashamed of who he or she really is. Armitage wrote the book because he enjoyed writing the book.”

    A short time later, Darby adds a comment on his own review.

    “Apparently the author feels much less gratitude for anonymous review than he let on in the acknowledgements.”

    To which Armitage responds by pasting his own five star review of his own book as a comment on Darby’s review.

    Good Times.

    * I’m pretty sure that creating a review for any reason for your own products is against Amazon’s terms.

  14. Con-Tester ponders a little more: “Who could still think cretinism and/or IDiotology are exciting when …..”
    Well, creacrappers and IDiots themselves, I guess.

  15. Stephen Kennedy asks:

    Did they also copy the comments?

    No. Their copy ended just before the copyright notice I place at the bottom of each post.

    When we write something in the comments section of a blog do we still own it or does it become the intellectual property of the owner of the blog?

    I don’t know who owns your comments. I assume you do. If you want to publish a book consisting of your comments, I doubt that you owe me (or WordPress) any royalties. However, I can decide which comments stay here and which get deleted. Also, to make the ownership situation murky, I have the awesome power to delete [or edit] any comment that (in my humble opinion) detracts from the blog. But regardless of my editing, as far as I know your comments still belong to you.

    I don’t know if I have any legal responsibility for your behavior. I hope not, but maybe I do. If you insult or slander someone, I think it’s your problem. But even if I’m immune, I’d probably get sued along with you anyway, so if I notice that someone’s comments might cause problems, I don’t want him around.

  16. Good on you, Curmuge!

  17. DMCA take downs are used ALL THE TIME on YouTube by “Christian” channels taking down criticism. It’s been done by our pals at the DiscoTute in clear violation of the “fair use” policy.

    Google, which owns YouTube, is very, very bad about simply acting on the face value of the complaint and blocking the offending channel. Shoot first, ask questions later. It’s then up to the affected channel to file a protest and get the ban lifted, which is routinely done.

    Recently, a YouTuber was taken down for criticizing the film TRAILER, “Matter of Faith.” It was a TRAILER, not the film. The criticism was scathing and the DMCA was filed by the producer, Christiano. After the requisite waiting period the YouTuber got the decision reversed but it was a hassle.

    The most famous, to me, DMCA battle was between VenomFangX and Thunderf00t. Fang had a nasty habit of filing scores of DMCA’s against any channel he simply didn’t like, which was a lot! Thunderf00t finally got tired of it, got a lawyer and sued FangX for false DMCA claims.

    Now, DMCA works both ways. It’s a legitimate way to protect your copyright but if you use it knowingly simply to block criticism then you can face fines including jail time and a permanent ban from YouTube.

    In the end, VenomFangX had to produce a video in which he admitted filing false claims, apologized for doing so, and promised not to do it again. The video was approved by Thunderf00t.

    There are a number of anti-creationist, or pro-science, YouTubers out there: Thunderf00t, AronRa, Desertphile, C0nc0rdance, DonExodus2, WildwoodClaire1 and more.

    A shout out to my pal WildwoodClaire1 and her weekly series, Coffee with Claire, featuring nice geology explanations and the Dim Bulb of the Week – you know who they are. Comes out every Sunday.

  18. This is Thunderf00t’s dim view about false DMCA claims.

    I would hasten to note that Thunderf00t in addition to his 39-part “Why We Laugh At Creationist” series which contains excellent science and addresses the physics of creationist claims, he has also made some extraordinary science videos on the chemistry of explosions, astronomy, nature and other clever uses of video technology. He’s quite a good experimentalist.

  19. I love Dim Bulb of the week.

  20. RSG:
    I hope you were able to enjoy the rooftop before the storms moved in. I’ve always liked the slides the best. My kids use to go to their late night blackout events where they turn out the lights and give you a small flashlight to use.

  21. There are a number of anti-creationist, or pro-science, YouTubers out there: Thunderf00t, AronRa, Desertphile, C0nc0rdance, DonExodus2, WildwoodClaire1 and more.

    Thunderf00t bores me, and he’s sexist as hell, so I find him hard to take.

    The best of them all is Potholer51.

  22. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    docbill

    “DMCA take downs are used ALL THE TIME on YouTube by “Christian” channels taking down criticism. It’s been done by our pals at the DiscoTute in clear violation of the “fair use” policy.”

    One of the false DMCA claims that the Dishonesty Tools issued was against DonExodus2. When he got the specifics, which you don’t get unless you file a counter-claim and request a copy of the original claim, he took the time to point out their blatantly ridiculous hypocrisy. It goes without saying that the DI is just as guilty as he would be, if what Don did had actually violated copyright law.

  23. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    was had

    *stretches arms wide and looks up in an appeal to the curmudgeonous skies*

    [*The clouds part and a Curmudgeonly Hand descends to grant the supplicant's wish*]

  24. Wait — it’s not over yet. GoDaddy emailed that they don’t host the offending website. But … the copy of our post had been taken down. Or had it? We took another look at that website. Surprise! The copy of our post had only been moved to an earlier position in the same thread, and yet another of our posts was copied immediately below it. So some more WhoIs work was done, and now yet another letter from the lawyer has been sent to what we think is the true host. The adventure continues.

  25. @BioRod: Yes, thoroughly enjoyed the rooftop. Spent hours being a kid again. I can still crawl through the tight squeezes chasing my grandkids around. I could even do some things up there they couldn’t do — for instance, have a beer. Great place, that City Museum.

  26. Regarding Thunderfoot’s alleged sexism. Calling B.S. on feminist videos (specifically Anita Sarkeesian) is not sexist. For example Anita Sarkeesian alleges it is a myth that women are as a group physically weaker sex, where Thunderfoot would correctly call B.S. on this because humans are a sexually dimorphic species.

  27. Final update. A new DMCA notice was sent to the actual host, as I said earlier. Now all the copies of our material have been taken down. A most satisfactory conclusion.