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!
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