Very recently, we covered designer Alara Mills' wholly misguided takedown efforts against Mike Riethmuller, a coder who crafted a periodic table of HTML 5 elements that she claimed looked like hers. Here's Riethmuller's:
Which was inspired by Josh Duck's earlier effort:
Neither of which look like the HTML 5 table Alara Mills sells:
But she claims Duck's (and consequently, Riethmuller's) infringes on this earlier version, which was the subject of a lawsuit
she brought against Duck.
The suit was dismissed. Duck settled rather than fight Mills' baseless claims, which included the unsupported accusation that somehow Duck had intercepted her original version -- which she had emailed to someone else entirely -- and used that to craft his version. From the cease-and-desist order, in which her lawyers don't sound too sure about the theory their client is pushing:
Ms. Mills submitted an earlier version of her chart within a book prospectus to a publisher in July 29, 2010, a copy of which is enclosed. This is the version that was possibly leaked to you in creation of your Periodic Table.
Using this "win" (she voluntarily dismissed the suit with prejudice), she's now pursuing Riethmuller over his Duck-inspired version -- not because it looks like her current version, but because it looks like the unreleased version Duck supposedly infringed on.
When I wrapped up the last post, I noted that Mills had apologized to Riethmuller and withdrawn her legal threats. Apparently, that move was just PR-related. Mills had no intention of dropping her baseless claims against Riethmuller. The same night that post went live (with the final "good news" added to it), she reversed course. Mills has filed a followup complaint to Github in hopes of expediting the removal of Riethmuller's HTML 5 table.
Here's her original takedown request, which spends as much time on claims of "owning" common elements like Mendeleev's periodic table design and coding constants as it does espousing conspiracy theories and mangling IP terminology. [Interrupted periodically for commentary.]
I, Alara Mills, have read and understand GitHub's Guide to Filing a DMCA Notice.
1. Identify the copyrighted work you believe has been infringed.
The copyrighted work I believe is infringed is my copyright in the 2-D artwork titled “The HTML Table of Elements.” The copyright is registered with the United States Copyright Office with an effective date of registration of January 27, 2010 and registration number VAu 1-014-116. “The HTML Table of Elements” is my original, United States copyrighted artwork. It is an original work inspired by the Periodic Table of Elements from chemistry that I first sketched out on paper December 25, 2009. The HTML Elements within my chart are placed in my own unique categories. It is this unique ordering that took it out of fair use and thereby made it eligible for copyright. (Author's unique ordering of HTML5 Elements within their literary books is also what makes them unique for copyright.)
[You can't take something "out" of fair use. Fair use is a defense. She may have meant "public domain," but even if so, she's still completely wrong. You can make use of public domain elements, but what you can't do is "remove" them so that no one else can do the same. But that's what she's claiming.]
2. Identify the material that you allege is infringing the copyrighted work listed in item #1, above.
The material I am alleging is infringing the copyrighted work is hosted at the following URL: http://madebymike.com.au/html5-periodic-table/
My HTML Elements and Attributes Infographic has evolved into a proprietary graphic with various derivative works. The one in question is an earlier derivative work which was submitted within a book prospectus submitted to publishers as early as May 2010. This version was leaked to Joshua Duck, who then made an unauthorized derivative work of my original work and hosted it at http://joshduck.com/periodic-table.html.
[Word salad. First, this still assumes that these are "derivative" from her works, when there's very little evidence to support that. And, remember, the only control Mills has is on derivative works of the parts of the original that was actually protectable
by copyright. And there's almost nothing in the original that is protectable -- and what little there is does not appear to be carried over into Duck's or Riethmuller's design. And, of course, this argument rests on the still-unsubstantiated claim that Duck had access to her earlier versions and used that as the basis for his table.]
I filed a lawsuit against Joshua Duck March 2014 and the matter was settled out of court with Joshua Duck agreeing to removing the infringing content and not to use it again (Settlement agreement is attached). However, I have discovered that Michael Riethmuller has recreated another unauthorized derivative work which is an exact recreation of Josh Duck's work, which is also an unauthorized derivative work which infringed on my copyrighted work.
[It's not an "exact" recreation. It's significantly different and it's inspired by Duck's version, rather than being a ripoff of a ripoff of Mills' questionable "original."]
3. Explain what the affected user would need to do in order to remedy the infringement
I recently emailed Michael Riethmuller to express my concerns and asked him to please change the credit language he is attributing to Josh Duck on his sites page. I am willing to allow Michael Riethmueller to keep the derivative work IF he is willing to update the credit language to state me as the true and rightful owner of the work.
[The only person who believes you're the "rightful owner" of common coding elements arrayed on a remix of Mendeleev's periodic table is YOU, Ms. Mills.]
He has not responded, which makes me allege that Josh Duck is somehow behind Michael Riethmuller recreation of his work, to add injury to insult. Additionally, both parties are coincidentally from Australia, though Josh Duck now resides in Northern California and is employed at Facebook. If Michael is unwilling to make this change in credit of the work, then I want to request for it to be completely taken down.
[The world according to Mills: Australia is a continent inhabited solely by Riethmuller and Duck, who have both conspired to screw Mills out of some poster sales
. This bizarre theory helps explain why Mills can't be dissuaded of her notion that Duck somehow intercepted her earlier, unpublished chart. The world -- well, at least Australia -- has it in for Mills and will stop at nothing to steal her HTML 5 table.]
I also want to challenge Michael Riethmuller's threat that he will simply send a counter to my take down request on the bases of fair-use. Though the periodic table is fair-use and the HTML5 elements categorized by the W3.org is fair-use, my unique effort in categorizing and placement of the HTML5 elements within my chart made it eligible for U. S. copyright. Josh Duck copied my work without permission and with the false assumption that it was not copyrighted and thus he did not apply any real originality to his version, using the exact same color choices and placement of the elements within his chart making them jarringly similar. It is for this reason that I am asking Michael Riethmuller to either give appropriate credit to me at the true author of his "inspired" work, or take it down.
[Nice. A preemptive strike against fair use. The best offense is a good offense, I guess. As for the rest, anyone with eyes can see Duck's version does not
use the "exact same color choices and placement of elements." And this has to be the first recorded use of the phrase "jarringly similar." Click through for the full-size version.]
The original takedown request is thoroughly ridiculous. As is Mills herself, who keeps finding conspiracies where none exist and doesn't seem to have even a basic understanding of fair use, idea vs. expression, derivative works or even that her chart she claims Duck copied exactly
only very faintly
resembles her version.
So, she told Riethmuller she'd drop all of this and let it go. That was the evening after the post went live. The next day, Riethmuller emailed me Mills' revived effort to have his table kicked off of Github.
Dear Github Support,
I am emailing to follow-up on the status of my DMCA notice. As per my last communication with Michael Riethmueller, I requested that he please place an appropriate credit to me as the original author of the work instead of taking down the work all together.
There is no mistake as to my copyrighted work being a protected work that does not fall under fair-use.
[This again. FAIR USE DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY. You can't exempt your copyrighted material from fair use. It either is or it isn't, but you can't somehow get out ahead of it just by declaring your work not open to fair use.]
I added enough originality to the expression of this art work by placing the HTML5 elements in my own unique order different from the World Wide Web Consortium's categorization of the HTML elements. This is the same copyright protect that is granted to all other authors of HTML5 literary books: they all came up with their own unique listing of the HTML elements within their works.
[So what? Just like all these authors used the same common elements to create protect-able creations, so did Mills. And Duck. And Riethmuller. It is completely possible for all of these to exist
without infringing on each other and for every single one to be protected by copyright. Mills cannot seem to wrap her mind around this concept.]
The work that Michael Riethmueller is using is a modified version of Josh Duck's unauthorized version of my original art work. Josh Duck was under the false assumption that my work was not copyrighted and therefore copied my exact color scheme and placement of the HTML elements making the works too similar.
["Too similar?" It isn't. It's only as "similar" as the elements behind it force it to be (Mendeleev's periodic table design; the semi-rigid hierarchy of coding elements).]
I don't think it is unreasonable for me to request that Michael Riethmueller's work be credited appropriately to me to avoid additional unauthorized use of his work. Again, if Mr. Riethmueller is unwilling to update the author credit, I do want to request to have the work taken down.
[Riethmuller won't credit her because he never saw Mills' version. He may have seen Duck's version and his more closely bears resemblance to Duck's than to Mills', but either way none of these charts bear enough resemblance to each other to make one of them infringing. Riethmuller owes Mills nothing in the way of "credit." She had no part of this. She only thinks she does because she registered her version back in 2010 and now feels other versions are somehow infringing on her creation.]
Given Michael Riethmueller's refusal to credit the work to me as the rightful owner, I am also alleging that Josh Duck is somehow very much behind Michael's recreated work as a form of retaliation for my rightfully filing a lawsuit against him which was settled out of court at Josh Duck's explicit request.
[More conspiracy theories. Nothing factual alleged here and veering very close to being defamatory. This argument is about as worthless as her decision to play the sexism card during my earlier Twitter conversation with her. (If you're planning on chatting with her
, get screenshots. She likes to delete tweets
So, Mills has learned nothing other than how to give the appearance
that she's learned something. She's continuing to push Riethmuller to give her credit she doesn't deserve (and which is not a part of copyright law anyway) and she has clearly shown she doesn't understand the first thing about fair use, derivative works or that the underlying elements of "her" HTML 5 periodic table can be remixed in a number of highly-similar ways without infringing on her "original."
From where I sit, there just aren't enough
periodic tables of HTML 5 elements and that situation should be remedied, although I would ask any Australians to refrain from participating unless they already know everyone else who lives on their continent.