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
    AR (profile), 30 Aug 2011 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Your the one being silly. You are correct that the Evans did not literally remove the original from public domain 9or the Techdirt site). But, with Evans and/or his publishers claim, they are saying if you go back and get a copy of Mikes original article, then Evans and/or his publisher can sue you for infringement;

    "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."

    If this was not the case the last word would be "authors" or "author(s)" since it is a compilation of different works.

    This is the only part that Mike has a problem with as I read it, and rightfully so.

    As I read it, and Mike can correct me if I'm wrong. Mike is saying that Evans (and everyone) can use, copy, reprint, and profit from the articles he writes for Techdirt without giving credit which,arguably, Evans does do, because they are in the public domain. What is not allowed is for Evans (or anyone) to claim copyright over these same articles as to not allow anyone else to do the same. This is what Attrition is claiming and seems to be substantiated with the copyright notification put forth in the publication. If this is what Evans, and/or his publishers are doing, then that is what constitutes copy-fraud and would essentially be taking the original work(s) out of the framework of public domain. This is one of the abuses of copyright and public domain that Mike writes about all the time.

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