Perjury, Not Piracy
Is The Problem

Fans usually have to pay writers to make up stories about them – lots of sf/fantasy authors have raised money for charities by auctioning off the privilege of being Tuckerized in their fiction.  But this summer Richard Fox, Larry Corriea, and Jon Del Arroz decided to write a pirate fantasy about me for free. And being them, it was scurrilous.

Larry and JDA you know. Who’s Richard Fox? He’s the author of a large number of MilSF novels, however, in 2018 he also had a short story, “Going Dark” in Ellen Campbell’s Backblast Area Clear anthology. An author page was created on the SFWA site making the story available to the public while it was being promoted for consideration for the 2018 Nebula Awards. That must have worked: “Going Dark” was a finalist. (Click on screencaps for larger images.)

Jonathan Brazee also put “Going Dark” on the list of 26 works he circulated to the 20BooksTo50K writers group, calling on the group’s SFWA members to nominate them for the Nebula. Maybe that helped even more. Five of those works made the final ballot, including Fox’s “Going Dark.” The apprehension that this was the product of slate voting triggered an uproar among some SFWA members, Brazee apologized and SFWA issued a statement.

Nevertheless, Fox’s story was on the ballot. So when JJ researched the finalists for File 770’s “Where To Find The 2018 Nebula Finalists For Free Online” link collection, JJ discovered the public copy of “Going Dark” linked from the SFWA page [Internet Archive link].

The Google Drive URL copied into JJ’s post was this one:

And that was that.

Until the middle of August when Richard Fox tried to add these comments on JJ’s post.

I thought What the hell is that about? because – we weren’t hosting a copy of the story, we were pointing to the same link as the recommendation post on SFWA’s site. Please note: on that SFWA page it states “Links are added by members and not endorsed by SFWA.” Which SFWA member do you suppose put his story there? Fox’s email address was in the comment, so I reminded him of these facts but said I would take down the link anyway:

The file is not hosted by me. I have removed the link because I have no interest in publicizing someone who would make such an unfounded accusation.

That wasn’t enough for Fox, who replied:

You put the link up to a pirated copy. Asshole. 

We continued our increasingly unpleasant exchange with Fox addressing me by Larry Correia’s pet nickname for me, and insisting that I was pirating his work and stealing from him (by pointing to a file linked on a SFWA page that he created to promote his work?), and waving threats of legal action. I hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place and I wasn’t going to be pushed around. I put the link back up.

By then I’d discovered I wasn’t even the first person Fox had harassed with claims that the very same file was pirated. He’d done it before in February, making the accusation in comments to Camestros Felapton’s blog. At the time JJ told him exactly where the link came from. The file itself was a double-spaced manuscript in PDF form that only Fox or his editor would be likely to have. How could Fox pretend not to know this?

I came to suspect the complaint was a set-up because the very next day both Jon Del Arroz and Larry Correia blogged versions of it. JDA trumpeted “Hate Website File 770 Pirates Bestselling Author’s Work, Refuses To Apologize” [Internet Archive link]. Larry Correia interrupted the pleonasm about his latest Facebook suspension and worked in a shot: “Banned Again. Facebook Gets Even Dumber, Part III: The Saga Continues” [Internet Archive link].

And also yesterday I heard from a different author how China Mike put up a pirate link to one of this author’s stories, and when that author contacted Glyer demanding it to be taken down, Glyer got all self-righteous and started bitching about civility again. Sure. He’s stealing from you, but how rude of you to be upset that you caught him stealing from you.

My name was smeared all over both posts but strangely, JDA and Larry never refer to author Fox by name or specify that his Nebula-nominated story is the pirated work. Why? Because anyone could have spent five minutes with Google, found the SFWA page and the story link, and seen for themselves the claim was a lie.

Richard Fox remained determined to harass me for pointing to his story and found that so long as he was willing to lie under penalty of perjury he could submit a DMCA takedown notice to my ISP and get them to shut down the page. So he did. I was informed by my ISP:

We have received a formal DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice regarding allegedly infringing content hosted on your site. The specific content in question is as follows:

Specifically, the following section and links:

“Going Dark” by Richard Fox (Backblast Area Clear) (PDF) (audio version)”

The party making the complaint,

Richard Fox claims under penalty of perjury to be or represent the copyright owner ofthis content. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 512(c), we have removed access to the content in question by setting its post status to draft….

JJ’s post was taken down and kept on ice until I filed my DMCA counter notice and the time expired for Fox to tell them he’d filed suit against me. He never did, and I put the post back online last weekend.

While I was waiting, I wrote a complaint to SFWA about the harassing conduct of member Richard Fox, who is damaging me by telling people I host a pirated copy of his story, by threatening a lawsuit (which is what a DMCA takedown notice does), and whose unethical behavior is bringing SFWA into disrepute by implying his material is illegally hosted in the organization’s public online spaces. They are considering the issue. (They promptly removed SFWA’s “Going Dark” page, showing how easily SFWA member Fox might have arranged for that himself, if he’d wanted to. The Wayback Machine has an archive snapshot of how the page used to look.)

For JDA it was just another day spent dishing out harassment. Correia doesn’t have the integrity to apologize for his role in spreading these false charges. As for Richard Fox?

Brian Niemeier recently pointed out, “Building a following by stirring up drama is the Dark Side of author branding. It’s quick & easy, but once it becomes your brand, rebranding takes heroic effort. You pretty much have to start again from square one.”

Having chosen to imitate a couple of poor role models, it’s back to square one for Richard Fox.

75 thoughts on “Perjury, Not Piracy
Is The Problem

  1. There’s plenty of real internet piracy out there. People who get upset because links to PUBLIC ACCESS items get used are seriously in need of some remedial education.

    At least the last time I saw someone throw a fit like this about something that was literally posted on a blog where anyone and everyone could read it, it was because it was being used for a class where students had paid the teachers, and the person was upset the teachers were using their labour for free while being paid. Still weird, but a bit more understandable. (and the students respected the issue and stopped discussing it even though the discussion was fruitful until then.)

    Unless and until Fox asserts he never put his story on Google drive, made it available to anyone with a link, and posted links to it himself on SFWA’s site, I am going to take his claim with no seriousness whatever.

  2. @Karl-Johan Norén: interesting report on Weber/Flint/Baen, sounding like at least one writer got something besides quick cash out of ~ghosting. I’m not a Flint fan (especially after the egregious Friday-esque marriage-was-everything-to-her mess he made of the sequel to The Witches of Karres), but there’s value to most learning experiences; I never met Baen and don’t think much of a lot of the authors he found, but most of what I’ve read indicated that he was a decent sort.

    Meanwhile, the unsweet idiocy goes on. I’m reminded by a story on today’s BBC* that Clarke correctly semi-foresaw the net as a way of making porn available — but I don’t know of anyone who foresaw the reinforcement-of-fruitcakes** effect that it’s had.
    * story about an app that automatically cancels subscriptions at the end of the free-trial period reported that the most-canceled lines were porn and Netflix.
    ** yes, I’m being kind.

    @OGH, I admire your forbearance; if faced with a s**tstorm like this I’d just chuck the whole mess and take up something less conflict-prone, like maybe bridge. (Yes, I know that’s conflict-prone.)

  3. This entire thing just gets more and more bizarre. Fox is essentially filing a claim on himself, and he’s doubling down on that having been the right thing to do.

    In any case, check out the work of Phenderson Djeli Clark, A.T. Greenblatt, Rhett C. Bruno, Alix E. Harper and Sarah Pinsker in all legally available methods. They will probably not come after you threatening a takedown notice on files they posted online or links to such documents.

  4. @Lenora Rosa:

    Unless and until Fox asserts he never put his story on Google drive, made it available to anyone with a link, and posted links to it himself on SFWA’s site, I am going to take his claim with no seriousness whatever.

    This really seems the essence of it to me. Someone put the story on Google Drive and gave info about it to SFWA. Was that Fox? If so, did he think that resharing the info was somehow prohibited, or even just discouraged? If he did, why – how did he come to that understanding? Did he initially intend it for public sharing and then change his mind? If so, when, and what steps did it take to get it removed? Has he taken to harassing and lying about anyone else who might have shared it? If he didn’t do it, who does he allege did it, and what evidence is there for any such person doing so?

    In the absence of any claim to the contrary and any evidence for it, it looks to me like he made it publicly available, gave info about it to SFWA, and then decided that he didn’t like the cut of Our Gracious Host’s jib or something and set about a malicious campaign, including dishonest use of the DMCA, to back it up.

  5. @KatG —

    In any case, check out the work of Phenderson Djeli Clark, A.T. Greenblatt, Rhett C. Bruno, Alix E. Harper and Sarah Pinsker in all legally available methods.

    Small correction: Alix E. Harrow. Otherwise, what you said.

  6. Does creating a shareable link imply release for public consumption if it is only used in a private forum? The SFWA forum prominently announces:

    The SFWA discussion forums are for SFWA members only, and all posts made here are confidential. Material may not be re-posted outside these forums without the explicit permission of their authors.

    It would be more consistent if the SFWA were to make Nebula recommendation/nomination pages not viewable to non-members (i.e. not signed into their forum).

    Assuming that a publicly viewable link in a private forum is intended for public use is an understandable error. Taking down the link as “requested” was the right choice.

    The continuing abuse of OGH is mind-boggling.

    Regards,
    Dann
    * <- After the Hair Club for Tribbles . <- Before hair club

  7. Wow. That’s just, so mind-bogglingly gormless. Does he genuinely not know how the internet works? Or is he just trying to burnish his rep as a jerk?

  8. Dann665: Does creating a shareable link imply release for public consumption if it is only used in a private forum?

    I’m sure you’ll get a puppy biscuit for asking that question.

    The Nebula Reading List is a public facing part of the SFWA site. SFWA issued a press release in 2015 announcing that the Nebula Reading List had been made public. It’s been public for four years. Whatever is linked to from there is visible to the public. That ranges from links to Amazon sales pages to links of the full text of works, as determined by the SFWA member involved.

  9. Dann, OGH put up a link over on Camestros’ blog showing that the SFWA Nebula Reading List has been publicly accessible for several years .

    ETA: And OGH beat me to it!

  10. Philip Weiss on September 16, 2019 at 3:13 pm said:

    When the link was first passed around earlier this year, I looked at the Google metadata on the drive file. The account had a screen name of “Richard Fox”.

    Interesting…

  11. Camestros Felapton on September 16, 2019 at 3:51 pm said:
    Fox has conceded that he was the source of the file BTW – not that should be a surprise to anybody. Good grief, we are not talking stellar levels of competence here.

    While tantrum-throwing is pretty much SOP for the Puppies, throwing a tantrum over something you did yourself is really taking it to a whole new level.

  12. Now SFWA’s page for Going Dark only shows a link to the private SFWA forums thread for the story. So not only are the links to where the story was on Google Drive gone, but also the link to the Amazon product page where you can buy the anthology with the story.

  13. Laura on September 16, 2019 at 5:18 pm said:

    Now SFWA’s page for Going Dark only shows a link to the private SFWA forums thread for the story. So not only are the links to where the story was on Google Drive gone, but also the link to the Amazon product page where you can buy the anthology with the story.

    Well, I guess we are all now deprived of his immortal prose.

  14. Read this and this is at the same level of Mignogna and Beard.
    Maybe Law Twitter will find it and Maggie it a chew toy?

  15. @OGH

    I’m sure you’ll get a dog biscuit for asking that question.

    If I’m waiting on biscuits then I’ll probably starve.

    I think you, JJ and Cam were operating in good faith and didn’t do anything wrong in using that public-facing list.

    I also think you were correct in removing the link upon request.

    Each individual nomination page also includes a disclaimer that SFWA doesn’t control what goes on those pages. Are the pages promoted to SFWA members as being intended for public or private consumption? Did he know that including that link on that page would end up making his work freely available? Did he put the link on that page? Did he supply the link to a third party thinking that only SFWA members would see it?

    If he supplied the link fully understanding that it would be public-facing, then…well, he’s a bit of a tool.

    If that wasn’t his understanding, then his method of fixing the problem still makes him a bit of a tool. But a tool in the pursuit of a legitimate end.

    Regards,
    Dann
    The most cogent reason for restricting the interference of government is the great evil of adding unnecessarily to its power. – John Stuart Mill

  16. Pingback: Brought to You By The Letter Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! | File 770

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