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 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. identicon
    Jose_X, 30 Aug 2011 @ 2:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    >> (i.e., "original author" does not refer to the compiler, but the original author of an individual piece).

    Who is the "original author" of a "part of the publication" that includes two pieces each written by different authors?

    Do you see the problem?

    That statement doesn't seem to reference a "part of the publication" that might have multiple authors.

    So either that phrase (if it intends to be useful and accurate) (a) says nothing about parts of the publication you might want to copy which would include sections written by multiple authors OR (b) says something about any part of the publication you might want to copy but then "original author" refers to an "author" that one could argue could be considered the author of such a part. The only "author" that is common to any subpart of the "publication" (aka, the compilation) is the author who put it together, and that author can be called "original" if by "original" you mean the author who first put that compilation together (as opposed to someone copying or doing a derivative work).

    Most likely that phrase is ambiguous and confusing, but it's really hard to argue that it is used correctly to refer to the authors of the separate components unless you then view the whole statement as being rather limited to only cover subparts that were written entirely by one author.

    Well, this is one take on this...

    .. but thinking about it some more, we could assume that (c) a subpart that covers works of multiple authors still has sub-subparts that would each be under a single author, and any such sub-subpart (and, by extension, all of them taken individually) cannot be copied without permission from the original author of that sub-subpart.

    OK, I think (c) is reasonable as well, but clearly there was confusion. Attrition and many other readers (including myself) found it natural to consider (b) above.

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