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., 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.)

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43 thoughts on “Brought to You By The Letter Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!

  1. “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.”

    Um, that’s not how laws work. You can’t just declare something to be illegal and then everybody has to agree with you that it is, just because you wrote a story.

  2. Still seeing various people claiming that we are obliged to believe Fox’s claim that he didn’t know that the multiple formats of his story were public links (doubly so, i.e. that the links would be on a public part of the SFWA site and that the links could be accessed by anybody). Further that he was unaware of this not just during the initial Nebula Reading list promotion but for all the months in between his false claim of piracy at my blog to his false claim of piracy here.

  3. maybe SFWA needs to send Fox a copy of “The Internet for Dummies”. (There really is such a book. Two, in fact – one is 900 pages long.)

  4. Fox’s meta-defence amounts to “believe that I am as clueless as I appear to be” is frankly fascinating. Things I assumed were just obvious and quite blatant lies become more plausible when he says things that are so clearly clueless that some of his more absurd claims start becoming more plausible.

    For example, the idea that the PDF disappeared when I removed the link to it. Now that so clueless that I ended up starting to believe that HE REALLY THOUGHT THAT because it’s too embarrassing a misunderstanding of how the internet works to be a lie about his own beliefs.

  5. In my view, Fox did not understand what would happen when he submitted that link to the document on the Google Drive, has misunderstood copyright law, and oh so conveniently can use all this to slam File 770 and Mr. Glyer for supposed perfidy.

    “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.”

    Yeah, Richard. As someone who has had their copyrighted work pirated and defaced, there are laws about this sort of thing. If Jon Del Arroz were to link to one of my photographs online at my own site, I can’t accuse him of piracy for that link, no matter how I feel about him personally.

    Now, copy my photo and put it on a Reddit server with saying something nasty about me on the defaced photo, and I have a case. (and have had to deal with this).

  6. I wasn’t that interested in Puppygate at the time. But I have followed this since your post on the 14th. Both here and on their own blogs, since it’s only fair to judge people by their own words.
    By their own words, then : crap, what a bunch of bitter, mannerless snowflakes. They don’t argue well even when they do drop the name calling. I think I will spend my beer money elsewhere. Since I’m one of those horrible Not Like Them people, this probably won’t upset them much.

  7. The SFWA finalists link is a great spot, Mike. Everyone who made use of the Google drive link was assuming – quite reasonably – that if SFWA were using it to promote one of their members then it must be legit.

  8. I have to wonder if Fox has ever bought an anthology before. Was his story for sale as a stand alone work? If not, does he not realize that if someone likes his story, they might buy the anthology in hopes of finding similar works? Having one story out of an anthology being read for free will only drive sales of the anthology.

  9. Did Fox ever straight up claim that he sent a DMCA takedown notice to Google? Given how these folk squirm and wiggle around the truth, I wouldn’t be surprised if he figured out during all of his histrionics and the replies thereto that he was yowling about files he’d put up on Google Drive, and then took them down himself.

    Also, I just read his original post about the “piracy” and even the Quora answer he links to directly refutes his definition of piracy. Admittedly, it’s worded a little confusingly, but if you read the whole Quora answer it’s obviously saying that a “direct link” (by which they mean, in this case, a link to a file hosted on the site putting up the link) would be actionable, whereas a link to an off-site file would not be.

  10. Because of Fox’s confusing claims and shifting stories, a lot of attention has focused on how his works appeared on the Nebula Reading list. However, that is only slightly relevant to his attack on Mike.

    Fox was joining in with a hate campaign organised by Larry Correia that Correia had been pushing on his blog and Facebook. That campaign was so vitriolic that (according to Correia) it led to him being suspended by Facebook and led to multiple comments at his Facebook page being deleted by Facebook. Regardless of what action Mike took, Fox was going to claim his work had been stolen and Correia was going to claim Mike had pirated Fox. Even though I had removed the link on my blog swiftly, Fox still calls me a thief. The details of the Correia attack would be different but the basic claim would be the same. If Mike had removed the link PRIOR then Correia/Fox would have claimed it was a cover up. We have seen in the past Correia attack this blog because of comments THAT NEVER EXISTED, assuming there was a better course of action than calling Fox’s bluff is a mistake. Looking back I should have done exactly that when Fox played that game back in Feb/March – kept it there and challenged him to take down the files he had made public.

  11. Don’t these guys have something else to do? Write books, pet the cat, clean the septic tank, watch paint dry…..

  12. Kathodus on September 18, 2019 at 4:16 pm said:
    Read some FB comments on Correia’s post. Wow. They’re still attacking Meadows by proxy.

    Seriously? Good grief.

  13. Larry Correia’s wounded bird act never gets any better, does it? He’s a successful author with a raft of books and a fervent following, but still remains so unhappy that he has to stoke a grudge with half of fandom. Nobody honored with a Campbell Award nomination by the members of Worldcon has ever treated it as an insult before Correia. It’s an amazing feat to derive so much bitterness from something that our community did as a genuine effort to recognize a new writer’s work.

    For those new folks wondering why he’s raging at OGH, it’s because File 770 committed the heinous crime of quoting Correia’s blog accurately when linking to it.

  14. rcade: If and when I ever want Larry Correia’s insults repeated here, I’ll be the one putting them up.

  15. Which I’m sure leaves people wondering what the heck I’m talking about — because I edited out the pertinent paragraph.

  16. Sorry. I will not repeat it again here and don’t mind that paragraph being removed. To be honest it’s so stupid I felt stupid just explaining it.

  17. Mike, those of us who were around for the juvenile canines remember enough to have a good idea.

  18. While many people self-publish very well, after reading through the whole thread over at Cam’s, I couldn’t help but wonder if having a publisher would have helped Fox avoid all of this.

    Also, there are so many good things to read written by nice people. Why would i let a jerk have any access to my brain? I really don’t understand this business model. Calling someone a thief over and over again to people who are trying to help you understand what happened both doesn’t make it so nor certainly does not make me want to spend any time with your writing. (And what’s with the insult names?!? That trend can’t end soon enough)

  19. Added Fox to my “authors who are assholes – never buy” list. I really don’t see how this online behavior helps them. The name calling stuff really makes them seem like middle schoolers.

  20. Mike Glyer’s patience and even-handedness is dealing with these mendacious canine louts is a wonder. Thanks for OGH’s continuing work to share news about SF.

  21. Richard Fox reasons

    Objection! Assuming facts not in evidence.

    When I initially read Fox’s story after it got the Nebula nomination, I merely thought he was a bad writer; everything he has done since has made me question whether he is also a blithering idiot, a liar, or both. I guess this sort of posturing is good publicity among ex-puppy hangers-on? Because it’s certainly not going to help Fox’s reputation with anyone else.

  22. @Stacey: I amplify @Joe’s guess: Fox is posturing to raise his profile in his market. I suspect there are a lot of writers who think that what worked for Occupant will work for them; after all, they don’t need anywhere near half of even a rigged market to make a living, and probably even less than that to convince their oversize egos that they’re just as real authors as the ones who everyone has heard of.

  23. And now the “read online” link has been removed from SFWA’s page. It was probably brought to their attention that the link was broken.

  24. @OGH

    Thanks for the fuller explanation of the mechanics involved.

    In general, there is a broad array of topics where a non-trivial number of people don’t understand how they work.

    Finding one guy that doesn’t understand the internet doesn’t even budge the needle on my meter anymore.

    I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them. – Isaac Asimov

  25. What continues to surprise me is the sheer vulgarity of people like Correia and Fox. And they’re posting it under their own names where it can be discovered by friends, relatives, and co-workers.

  26. @Greg —

    What continues to surprise me is the sheer vulgarity of people like Correia and Fox. And they’re posting it under their own names where it can be discovered by friends, relatives, and co-workers.

    I keep wondering what Correia tells his bishop at his Temple Recommend interviews. Every interview is supposed to include the following questions amongst others:

    “8 Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and other meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?

    9 Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?”

    Things that make ya go hmmmmmm.

  27. What cow-orkers do these people have? I know Torgersen is a soldier officer — but I haven’t heard much of him recently (possibly nothing since fellow officer Myke Cole told him he was committing conduct-unbecoming). An obvious guess wrt friends and relatives is that most of them run the same way; it’s possible each is the odd-out in some circles, but the percentages are against it. Certainly we’ve seen mob squads forming online, which leads one to suspect that these chaotics’ friends are self-selecting and self-reinforcing, and their families are either supportive or estranged.

    There’s been mundane discussion in recent years about how both the major US political parties have become much more rigorously defined; some of this I don’t mind, having grown in a border state where a Democrat ran for governor under the slogan “Your home is your castle — protect it!”, but the trend toward rigid attitudes (and uncouth discussion of them) isn’t confined to a few netholes.

  28. @ Contrarius: Every single community of belief I’m aware of, without exception (including those who define themselves by a general disbelief, or a specific disbelief in this or that), has some members who think that they occupy a morally privileged position and do not owe complete (or, in some cases, any) moral justice to those outside. There are a zillion rationales, but they all seem to boil down to “but I’m right, so they have it coming”. I can’t image Correia’s authorities find anything surprising in what he’s doing, even if its intensity might make it stand out some.

  29. Greg Hullender: How can you say that? This was a work so good it’s own author tried to pirate it!

    I am still snorting over just what a massive self-own Fox committed here. I feel like he’s won a Dunning-Kruger Award for Literary Achievement. 😀

  30. a Dunning-Kruger Award for Literary Achievement.

    Which is the bestest award, because it gets voted on by the entire internet.

  31. Mike, well said.

    This is an area I’ve studied intensively given my own need to qualify for what DMCA calls a Storage Safe Harbor (for my Internet servers), and I long ago adopted the attitude of the late Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX): ‘If you’re going to play the game properly, you’d better know every rule.’

    And me, I’d absolutely be looking to collect 17 U.S.C. 512(f) damages, and asking if my upstream provider wants some, too.

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