You Can Copy Our Articles All You Want... But Please Don't Claim The Copyright Belongs To You

from the copyfraud dept

The folks at Attrition.org have been tracking a guy named Gregory Evans who runs LIGATT Security for a while now. Evans apparently hypes himself up as a fantastic hacker, though Attrition suggests he's not all that skilled in reality. Still he's been able to get himself a fair amount of press over the years, though Attrition obviously thinks he doesn't deserve it. One thing that Attrition has spent a lot of time on is showing that Evans has a history of plagiarizing content in his "books." However, the folks at Attrition contacted us, a few months ago, to let us know that Evans was using a Techdirt article in one of his books. The "book" is what Evans calls a "scrapbook," supposedly of a bunch of articles about computer security, including at least one of ours. Evans claimed that he got permission to reprint every article in his book, and Attrition decided to see if that was true.

As we told them at the time, we were unaware of any request for permission from Evans, but in our case, that didn't matter. As we've stated repeatedly, our content is free for people to use, and we consider it to be in the public domain. With that, I figured we were done with it, but Attrition has now put out their article on the results of their research (including our response), and they couldn't find anyone who said they had, in fact, given Evans explicit permission to use their work (it's not clear if anyone even received a request).

In our case, we stand by the fact that we (perhaps alone of all the sources he copied from) don't mind the fact that he decided to reprint our stuff. That's cool. Anyone can do that. But what struck me as interesting, was this bit:

It is also worth noting that Evans tries to establish a copyright on the book, despite the fact that every article he used is already copyrighted:

"No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means; -- electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without permission from the original author."

This disclaimer is laughable, as Evans himself did not obtain permission to use all of the articles contained in the book. Worse, in using the articles without permission while charging $39.95 for the book, he is profiting off these copyright infringements.

While we're fine with him re-using our works, one thing that we're not at all okay with is him then claiming copyright over it or otherwise trying to then limit the reuse of our works by others. That's copyfraud. As for the others in the book, I would imagine they're even less pleased, since it appears that most, if not all, of the others whose works were used do consider their works their own copyrighted material, and did not sell that copyright to Evans.

Filed Under: copying, copyright, gregory evans, plagiarism, security
Companies: ligatt security


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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 30 Aug 2011 @ 9:46am

    Wow

    This thread is so full of bizarre comments. No time to reply individually, but for the record:

    1. No, nothing in this says that I want to, nor need to, use copyright. Not sure where anyone is getting that from.

    2. I'm not trying to control Evans at all. Quite the opposite. I'm asking him to make clear that he has no control over what I wrote either.

    3. Contrary to the claims of people above, I am not upset that he might make money from works I wrote. Anyone is free to do so. Those harping on this haven't read this site or this post very carefully.

    4. Also, I'm not even asking for "credit" as some have suggested above. Once a work is in the public domain, credit is not required. It is nice and is appreciated, but is not necessary.

    5. The only thing I'm saying is that you cannot take a work that is in the public domain, and then claim copyright over it. That's not a "hypocritical" stance at all. It's fully consistent with my views. Denying that means either not understanding what I write or simply trolling. Your choice.

    6. The copyright notice clearly states covers "this publication," and does not say each individual piece. Separately, as noted in the original article at Attrition, the book is made to look as though Evans and a co-author "wrote" it.

    I think that gets all the key points.

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