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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2011 @ 6:18am

    Do we really want more restrictions on fair use?

    Do you really want to create a new fair use right? Google can't be expected to copy the right byline for every article that it scrapes? Do you want Matt Drudge to put bylines on everything? This would kill the Internet!

    Frankly I like the way that BoingBoing does it. They write one sentence of introduction. Then they copy a huge chunk of the
    article. Then they give thanks to the blogger who passed them the link by name.
    Then they discretely hide a link to the original piece, usually with no attribution what-so-ever. Most
    people tend to think that the person thanked by name is the original author even though that's rarely
    the case.

    http://boingboing.net/2011/08/29/moogfest-2011.html

    Let's face it Mike. I know you do plenty of work on these pieces. They're great. But the people doing the remixing are the real backbone of the Internet. When they spend ten seconds to cut and paste, they're contributing to something organic and cool. When you run your mouth and insist on being given a byline, you're just like the old, lamestream media. You're not cool. So get with the program.

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