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.

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75 thoughts on “Perjury, Not Piracy
Is The Problem

  1. My encounter with Fox earlier in the year initially suggested somebody who found it difficult to cope with criticism. However, as events have proceeded it is clear that there is a LOT more calculation in his angry reactions.

    Even if we assume overly generously that SOMEHOW he was unaware of the SWFA page initially, he certainly was aware of it at the time he posted on my blog. In all that time he made no efforts to remove the “pirate” file or remove the SWFA page. Yet, while Larry Correia was on his pre-Dragon Award tantrum months later, we are to believe that he took sudden offence to a link to a page to a link to a file that he almost certainly put there himself?

  2. Laura, if that was the plan all along, it makes a certain amount of malicious logic. Or, he’s just really stupid, and was manipulated by Larry and JdA. Who knows?

  3. Doesn’t surprise me that these people are rotten to the core. Not one honest bone in their bodies. It would be very nice to see Fox thrown out of SFWA for his harassment and unprofessional behaviour.

  4. “China Mike”. I’d forgotten that. I see Larry is still exhibiting all the maturity of a fourth grader.

    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.”
    And he ought to know.

    I hope this comes back to deservedly bite Fox.

  5. Lis Carey on September 14, 2019 at 1:12 pm said:

    Laura, if that was the plan all along, it makes a certain amount of malicious logic. Or, he’s just really stupid, and was manipulated by Larry and JdA. Who knows?

    Equal measures of both? He was throwing around other legal threats earlier in the year.

  6. Well it does seem that Mr. Fox is an author who doesn’t want promotion of his work. Now he doesn’t get promoted by SFWA, even though he’s a Nebula nominee. And he doesn’t get promoted by File 770, even though it was promoting and encouraging people to read all of the Nebula nominees. And he doesn’t get promotion from anyone else on the Web who also used the link to SFWA’s archives in reference to promoting Nebula nominated fiction. Given that the whole point of doing the short story was promotional — seems to have been having something for an anthology that could be promoted for awards and attract people to reading his novel series in the same universe, this seems highly odd.

    It’s a bold marketing strategy, Cotton, let’s see if it pays off for him.

  7. Also, his racist terrorist-loving publisher just proclaimed that SF is dead and that he won’t publish anything more. That doesn’t show much confidence in his authors.

  8. Camestros Felapton: Weber is making an interesting choice.

    Baen’s gotten into the business of packaging big-name authors with nobodies as a way to sell more books by the nobodies. Eric Flint, David Weber, Mercedes Lackey, Ben Bova, David Drake, Kevin J. Anderson — their names are all being put in big print on the front of collaborations for which they are at most maybe writing up a brief outline, with the actual writing being done by the little-known author, because the publisher knows that typical Baen fans will buy anything with their favorite author’s name on the cover, oblivious of quality.

    I suspect that Weber is not at all in touch with the internets, and has no idea what a toxic loser his publisher has suggested that he be packaged with.

  9. @JJ

    I don’t particularly object to sharecropping, they’re fairly open about who’s doing what and fans know what they’re getting. Baen are certainly the masters of growing less-popular authors via sharecropping for big names.
    I’m not sure if sharecrops generally get arranged by the publisher, or are just put together by the lead author and offered to the publisher (probably a bit of both) but it’s sad that the people involved obviously think these sort of “stick it to the SJWs” shenanigans are a positive, or at least not a negative.

  10. To be fair, the practice of packaging big-name authors with lesser-known authors has been going on for a long time from many publishers, with no more sinister motivations than to give a leg up to the lesser-known authors.

  11. Also keep in mind that Fox has been selling a good number of books. I have not been following his sales rankings, but I took a quick look at his GR ratings yesterday, and several of his books have one or two thousand ratings on them — not blockbusters, but respectable. For comparison, some of his books have more ratings than some of Weber’s Honorverse books.

  12. I took a quick look at Cam’s site where this came up previously, and love the quote that a commenter called Joe pulled:

    “Sergeant Hoffman, clad in power armor, his face obscured by a visor, took cover against the side of the wreck and did a quick peek into the school through the broken wall.”

    Nothing conjures up the image of tough space marine like “did a quick peek”. Quite apart from the childishly clunky grammar, it has hilarious connotations of urination. And ‘face obscured by a visor’ – who’s there to notice that the face can’t be seen? Why is this relevant? ‘Clad in power armor’!? This was a tired cliche when, no doubt, Heinlein first used it decades ago. Maybe original when Mallory used it in Le Morte d’Arthur. I’d expect better from a reasonably talented high schooler: and this was a candidate for a Nebula award? Hardly surprising he’s trying to get rid of links to it.

  13. Cliff: this was a candidate for a Nebula award?

    If you missed the whole fiasco, a group of self-promoting self-publishers from a collective called 20BooksTo50K got their works slated onto the Nebula ballot this year. I read all of them — with the exception of the novel, but after reading the excerpt, which was crap, I wasn’t going to pay to read the rest of it. This story was about the same quality — or should I say, lack thereof — as the rest of them (with the exception of Lawrence M. Schoen’s novelette, which I thought was very good).

    If you’re interested, Cam did a series of posts about the group’s shenanigans.

    These should be read bottom-to-top:

  14. Thanks JJ. I did actually follow the story here, and maybe on Cam’s site too. My question was really more one of rhetorical outrage than anything else.

  15. Peace Is My Middle Name on September 15, 2019 at 3:26 am said:

    To be fair, the practice of packaging big-name authors with lesser-known authors has been going on for a long time from many publishers, with no more sinister motivations than to give a leg up to the lesser-known authors.

    James Patterson and his many co-authors come to mind. He and his publisher – Hachette – seem to be doing quite well.

    “The 2019 Patterson/Scholastic Book Clubs campaign drew a total of nearly 125,000 applicants, with more than 26,000 applications coming from new teachers. Patterson has now donated $8.5 million to school and classroom libraries through his partnership with Scholastic Book Clubs.

  16. Indeed, packaging or coattailing big authors with smaller following authors has taken many forms and many guises. I remember a Harry Turrtledove collection, decades ago, being packaged as “Isaac Asimov Presents”

  17. @Peace Is My Middle Name: I haven’t seen any indication that publishers were trying to give lesser authors a leg up; ISTM that most publishers were trying to get more sellable titles by pasting a big name on them, without caring whether the person who did the work gets enough reputation to sell books with their own name leading. Maybe I’m just a horrible cynic….

  18. @Paul Weimer: And Clarke had “Arthur C. Clarke’s Venus Prime” (written by Paul Preuss), and Brin had “David Brin’s Out of Time” (written by Kress, Sheila Finch, Roger McBride Allen, and

  19. @Chip

    I see it as a bit of both, and some good authors have got their start that way. I first read Elizabeth Moon when she was published as the And… to Anne McCaffrey.

  20. And in a few cases, the work’s been better. Weber’s stuff co-written with Eric Flint was way better than Weber writing by himself. I suspect that Flint managed to get him to pull his head out of his conservative turtle shell and forced him to actually, you know, write a plot rather than just 400 pages of tech specs and Ayn Rand-ish posturing.

  21. my dog is named hannah: And in a few cases, the work’s been better. Weber’s stuff co-written with Eric Flint was way better than Weber writing by himself.

    Yeah, I have a strong suspicion that The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. was much more tightly-written than other recent Stephensons due to the influence of Galland.

  22. I wouldn’t give Webber the benefit of the doubt on this one. This is not the first time he has enabled somebody absolutely toxic.

  23. @Andrew

    And Clarke had “Arthur C. Clarke’s Venus Prime” (written by Paul Preuss),

    The Venus Prime books were my first contact with Arthur C. Clarke (beyond watching 2001, which I did not like very much at the time) and I loved them a whole lot. But when I read Clarke’s solo work, I never enjoyed them nearly as much, because what I had loved most about the Venus Prime books was Preuss’ contribution, not Clarke’s.

    Talking of Venus Prime, I found the first three books in my local import bookstore, but they never got the fourth book, The Medusa Encounter, so I had to special order it (which was expensive and took ages in those days). And when I finally got The Medusa Encounter (in a UK edition, so the covers did not match, which annoyed the completist in me), it ended on yet another cliffhanger. I never found the fifth book, since the UK edition didn’t provide a blurb or even a title, so I had no way of special ordering it. I just checked and the fifth and sixth book in the series are both available in e-book form, it turns out. I’m torn whether to buy them, because after 30 years I’d have to reread the whole series and I’m worried the suck fairy has dropped by in the meantime.

  24. Camestros Felapton: I wasn’t willing to post Fox’s comment as it was submitted, rehearsing falsehoods, dodging significant questions, and working in some juvenile namecalling about you. I wrote him, explicitly identifying each of these many problems and what it would take for a comment by him to appear. Will he do that, or go post his preferred version somewhere else? The bookies are making odds….

  25. When China Mike has to thought police any rebuttals to his lies, you really should re-evaluate who the ‘forces of fragility’ are.

    And don’t worry, China Mike, more’s coming through channels you can’t censor.

  26. So Fox doesn’t bring anything to the discussion apart from insults as usual. Doesn’t surprise me.

  27. I know which side I’m on in this, and it isn’t the guy screaming about lies by others about things he did himself.

  28. Richard Fox: When China Mike has to thought police any rebuttals

    When your so-called “rebuttals” are just more of your lies, why should he post them?

    Let’s be honest, Richard, here’s what really happened:
    1) You uploaded ebook versions of your story to Google Drive.
    2) You posted your story to SFWA’s public-facing Recommendations list with the links to the files on Google Drive.
    3) I included the public link from SFWA’s page to your Google drive file in my “Where to Find the Nebula Finalists Online” post.
    4) Cam copied the public link from my post into his post.
    5) You accused him of posting a link to a pirated copy and asked him to remove it.
    6) In a comment immediately following that accusation, I pointed out that it was a public link on SFWA’s Recommendation list to a file on Google Drive.
    7) You did nothing. You did not remove the files you’d placed on the Google Drive. You did not ask SFWA to remove the links from their Recommendations page.
    8) Fast-forward 6 months. You suddenly decided to accuse Mike of piracy, of distributing illegal copies of your story, even though he had not distributed anything, merely just linked to files you yourself had stored on Google Drive and then posted links for.
    9) He pointed this out to you. And what did you do? You did not remove the files you’d placed on the Google Drive. You did not ask SFWA to remove the links from their Recommendations page. You perjured yourself by filing a DMCA notice falsely claiming that Mike was distributing copies of your story.
    10) You also got some other authors who are as big of liars as you are to post these ridiculous claims on their blogs.
    11) Mike contacted SFWA complaining about your lying, unethical behavior, pointing out that the links with which you supposedly have such a problem are hosted on SFWA’s site, and SFWA removed the page themselves. (Why is it, I wonder, that you did not issue a DMCA notice to SFWA for hosting those links? I wonder.)
    12) You belatedly removed the files from your Google Drive, and ceased “pirating” your own story.

    This is a massive case of you self-owning, and making yourself looking like a complete fool. I mean, I’ve seen grapefruits with a higher IQ than this. 🙄

  29. Mike Glyer on September 15, 2019 at 8:10 pm said:

    Camestros Felapton: I wasn’t willing to post Fox’s comment as it was submitted,

    Ah, I see I spoke too soon 🙂
    “I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog too!” <- let me guess… Larry Correia’s going to wade in on the side of fake DMCA notices and perjury? That will be interesting.

  30. Richard Fox: This juvenile namecalling you’re so enamored of is guaranteeing these comments won’t be posted. Why waste your time? It’s up to you.

  31. And now you want me to post a screencap that, when opened, displays an insulting file name? What a child you are.

  32. Mike, you probably already know this, but this (17 U.S. Code section 512(f)) applies in full force against any knowingly false DMCA takedown notice:

    (f)Misrepresentations.—Any person who knowingly materially misrepresents under this section—
    (1) that material or activity is infringing, or
    (2) that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification,
    shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, incurred by the alleged infringer, by any copyright owner or copyright owner’s authorized licensee, or by a service provider, who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing, or in replacing the removed material or ceasing to disable access to it.

    As someone who’s had a Web site online since 1993 (yes, some of us have), I made a point of learning all the ins and outs of DMCA when it went into force, including how to use it to legally hammer makers of false claims, as Voltaire might have put it, ‘to discourage the others’.

    I tend to take a behaviourist/deterrent approach to such hammer-management matters, even though I understand that to be out of fashion in a cognitive-psychology world, but you be the judge.

    ETA: Not sure about literal perjury. Would have to re-read some materials. But the statutory penalty cited is definitely a real and serious thing.

  33. Re sharecropping: There is another reason for the many collaborations out of Baen than mere marketing. Jim Baen saw co-authoring books as a way to get mentors to new aspiring authors. Eric Flint has spoken very well about the outlines he received from David Drake, and how much he learnt about plotting from them. I’m not sure how much of that pattern still remains, but some undoubtedly still is there.

    @my dog is named hannah: As I understood it, Weber actively chose to partner with Flint so that he could get some progressive (US liberal) characters into his books that weren’t jokes or strawmen.

  34. A brief followup: My reading of the only specific ‘perjury’ wording in the DMCA text, 17 U.S. Code §512(c)(3)(vi), is that it inarrowly applies only to masquerading falsely as legitimate representative of a copyright stakeholder. However, there may very well be other grounds, external to DMCA’s black-letter text, that would make fraudulent DMCA filings qualify as perjury (which in the USA is both a crime, if a DA is willing to prosecute, and a civil tort). I would consult an attorney to see about that.

  35. @Paul King: Oh, that Prenda Law thing was the gift that kept on giving, wasn’t it? Ken ‘Popehat’ White’s news coverage was particularly entertaining. Getting back briefly to perjury, though, the essential element is not merely a substantively false statement but one made under oath that is material to a legal proceeding.

    The awkward bit about DMCA takedown notices as prescribed in 17 U.S.C. §512 is that only that one element (just the one where you claim to legitimately represent an aggrieved copyright stakeholder) is required to be asserted under penalty of perjury. The rest, nothing else must be under oath. That’s why I have doubts about (literal) perjury in such affairs.

    There are plenty of other torts (aside from perjury) that could I could imagine applying to the described chicanery, though, and that’s why one would consult legal counsel.

    DMCA is a dismally written statute (as is widely acknowledged), but on that one point it’s pretty clear.

  36. Have Fox specified why it’s piracy to link to the story? That is, have he:
    a) made a direct claim that the google drive version is an unauthorized copy?
    b) admitted that the google drive version is authorized – published by himself – but argued it’s still piracy to link to it?
    c) made some other specific claim about what makes this piracy?
    d) simply dodged the issue of why linking to the file is piracy?

    (From what I can see it’s (d) but I may have missed something.)

  37. Johan P on September 16, 2019 at 3:07 am said:

    As far as I’m aware it is (d). He really isn’t going to want to engage with any details as the story falls apart immediately.

  38. It just occurred to me to check and yes, there are pirated ebooks of Fox’s work no more than a Google away. (This isn’t unusual, pirated ebooks are depressingly easy to find) I wonder if Fox is bothering to DCMA all of those? Or just the ones that let him gin up some publicity?

  39. @Cliff: Just seen this, but I comment on both File770 and Cam’s blog as Joe; neither very frequently, however. The first couple of paragraphs of the Fox story were unpromising enough that I never read the rest…

    And in re the thread in general, the one of Richard Fox’s comments which was sufficiently non-assholish to make it through moderation isn’t exactly going to make anyone who isn’t already in the “we hate File770” club think that OGH is the villain here! And the fact that that was the least assholish comment is not much more encouraging.

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