Brought to You By The Letter Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!

The day before yesterday Richard Fox answered File 770’s article “Perjury, Not Piracy, Is the Problem” in a post on his blog, “If someone asks you to remove pirated stories, and you refuse, you’re wrong. All stop.” [Internet Archive link.]

There you can see Fox’s comment that I wouldn’t post here, rehearsing falsehoods, dodging significant questions, and working in some juvenile namecalling. He insists I should not have denied him the chance to defend himself at File 770. “I take the freedom of speech very seriously,” says Fox. He takes it very seriously — on other people’s blogs. Richard Fox doesn’t allow comments on his own blog.

Linking is not piracy. Fox’s deceptions start right in his title. File 770 never hosted a copy of Fox’s story “Going Dark.” We included a link to the Google Drive file, after seeing the URL on SFWA’s public-facing Nebula Reading List.

Courts have long held that including a link is not the same as hosting the material yourself. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that in Perfect 10, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc. (2007). The issue was also raised in a suit against Boing Boing, dismissed last year, analyzed at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

How links are chosen. File 770 runs features like JJ’s “Where To Find The 2018 Nebula Finalists For Free Online” as a reader service, impartially listing all the works available. We aren’t going to have people coming back to ask “Why didn’t you link to Richard Fox’s story on the SFWA site?”

Many online magazines post fiction free online, asking for subscriptions or Kickstarter support. That’s their business model. Many self-published authors post sample stories to publicize their work, another traditional marketing strategy.

Likewise, to attract attention to members’ work from all quarters, SFWA changed the Nebula Reading List to a public facing part of its site in 2015 (see the press release). 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.

How links get on the Nebula Reading List. SFWA has two ways for members to share work, as their FAQ explains.

  • The Nebula Reading List. This is visible to the public. Members must be logged into the SFWA discussion boards to add new entries to the list.
  • SFWA Members may also make work available in the SFWA Fiction section of the Discussion Boards. This is accessible only to members who are logged in to the Discussion Boards.

I asked Kate Baker, SFWA’s Executive Director, how this works and was told —

A member or the author themselves can create a listing on both the public/private reading lists. This does not fall under SFWA Webmaster or the Nebula Award Commissioner’s duties. 

The person who created it would not have the ability to remove it.

What was on the SFWA site was also just a link — they did not host the file. They had no control over the files of “Going Dark” on the Google Drive.

However, the page listing the links could only be removed with SFWA’s assistance.

And indeed, that page now has been reformatted with a solo link to a members’ only entry in the SFWA Forum. Previously it had six links and looked like this [Internet Archive link].

Pirate link on SFWA’S Nebula Recommended Reading List? According to Fox:

When this year’s Nebula Awards were getting attention, I shared my short story GOING DARK with the password protected site that was only for Science Fiction Writers of America. Sharing this was only for their consideration, and never for the general public as I had the story in an anthology that was for sale.

And yet he also says:

I deleted the post after the Nebulas, but I put on several different versions.

Where did the links on the public Nebula Reading List come from?

Somewhere in this milieu, a Google drive file of the story was created and made available for outside of the password protected site….

At Camestros Felapton’s post “Larry Correia Endorses Richard Fox’s Piracy Claims”, Fox has by now made over 40 comments and given a convincing impression that he doesn’t know how the internet works. How can anyone rely on his notion of what happened or might have happened when he can’t assess the most basic facts?

In February, Fox found Camestros linked to the same Google Drive file that was listed on the SFWA site. Fox says at that time “I thought you were hosting the file”. Camestros removed the link when asked. And Fox says, “After you removed the link, I assumed the file was gone”.

By the same token, Fox insisted my citing the same link meant I, too, was actually hosting the file.

The SFWA site? Fox claims, “I didn’t know they were there. Once Glyer pointed them out, I submitted the take down notices.”

Yes, I had to explain to him where the links led to. And once he had the information he filed a DMCA takedown notice against me anyway.

DMCA Takedown Notices. My ISP took down JJ’s post. Fox has tried to carry the day on Camestros’ blog by telling everyone —

You know who agreed with my position that linking to the story was piracy? Glyer’s ISP. Are you more experienced with that realm of internet management?

That is a complete misrepresentation of the law. If you fill out your DMCA takedown notice correctly, and the ISP you send that to sees they are hosting the targeted content, they are obligated to take it down and notify the customer of his rights, which includes the right to file a DMCA counter notice. The ISP is not the arbiter of the charge. They simply comply with the DMCA statute to avoid forfeiting the safe harbor they receive for obeying it. 

I filed a DMCA counter notice, starting the clock running that gave Fox up to 14 days to file “an action seeking a court order to restrain the subscriber from engaging in infringing activity relating to the material on the service provider’s system or network.”

He didn’t follow through with any legal action because his takedown notice was a prank, and one he could do for free. My post went back online.

And it’s actually Fox who could be subject for damages under 17 U.S. 512(f) for his knowing misrepresentation that my link was infringing his copyright.

I’m ruler, said Yertle, of all that I see. Richard Fox reasons, “It’s fairly evident that I am the copyright holder of that story and if I say a link to something is pirated…it really shouldn’t be much of a discussion.”

So then, should I have taken the action Richard Fox requested anyway? I almost did. Then after I got a few more emails from him that amounted to “Yes you #!@%! pirate stop stealing from me oh and by the way let me repeat a few choice insults Larry Correia wrote about you, too” he convinced me it was a better idea to keep enjoying my legal right to post a link to something on the internet.

Larry has rushed in to try and prop him up. You’ve got to be impressed with Larry’s genuine humility in carrying water for guys like Richard Fox – because it doesn’t get any lower than that.

If you want a result, you ask like a human being. If you want a kerfuffle, you make false charges, namecall, and rope in renowned internet liars to echo your story – and the people who love that kind of thing will love Richard Fox.  

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. You know who else must have thought that Google Drive link was a valid public copy of Fox’s “Going Dark”? The SFWA Webmaster. Every work that made the 2018 Nebula Awards ballot got a dedicated page on the SFWA site. And it’s still online, still displays the same Google Drive link (though broken now) used in JJ’s post. (Just in case the original disappears five minutes after my post goes online, here’s a copy at the Internet Archive). A screenshot taken today shows the meta data about the link. (Click on the image for a larger version.)

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.