[back to Articles index]

 

EXKIAP.NET EDITOR "OUTED" BY ALLEGATIONS OF COPYRIGHT VIOLATION

 

Back in the formative days of this website I came across an article on "Kuru" which I felt would be of interest to readers who have served in the Eastern Highlands. I copied the article over to this website whilst prominently indicating at the top of the page the source of it including a hyperlink to the originating website page. 

Over the past few weeks I have received emails from an Alan Dunlop-Walters accusing me of copyright violation and asking me to remove the article from the web. It would appear that this person is a resident of the UK and as the article that I copied was unsigned Iím not too sure whether the complaint has been made in his capacity as author and/or publisher. 

For the edification (note that I didnít use the term amusement) of the readers I have included these emails and my response to them further on in this scribble, the things I have to do to inject new life and controversy into this website. 

The following is a brief review of the subject article for those readers who havenít read it. The article was anecdotal in style and despite obviously sourcing information from elsewhere provided no accreditation or a bibliography but this is only a cheap shot by me and of no great import. 

I found interest in the fact that a phenomenon that occurred 50 odd years ago in PNG was linked to more current issues of Creutzfeldt-Jakob and ďmad cowĒ disease, why didnít we twig to this?

Reference was made to another issue that I thought would bring back memories to that who served in the Highlands and that was the effect of Boyleís law in terms altitude and how that was sheeted home to us in real terms of the ď3 minute boiled eggĒ and tepid cups of tea.

Reference was also made to persons many of us new or new of such as Dr Vincent Zigas and Carleton Gajdusek. Iím led to believe Gajdusek was subsequently involved in legal controversy in the USA totally unrelated to his research and for those who may be prurient in mind (and arenít most of us?) then carry out some investigative searching on the internet.

I also thought that readers could draw humour from the novel expression ďFore IndiansĒ a term that is totally alien in the description of Melanesian society or the South Pacific in general, for the benefit of those not in the ďknowĒ, Papua New Guinea is not located in the Americas.

Now for those who have not read the article, Iím sorry but donít despair there are numerous other similar articles available on the web, try these two sites:

http://www.as.ua.edu/ant/bindon/ant570/Papers/McGrath/McGrath.htm

http://www.siu.edu/~anthro/welch/Anth305/kuru.pdf

And if anyone wants to read more about Carleton Gajdusek and his 1976 Nobel Prize then go to:

http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/1976/index.html

Now for the controversy, these are the emails received in relation to the allegation with my smart arse responses:


Email 1 dated 25/8/03:

"I'm writing with reference to my article on Kuru, which you have taken word for word form my own kuru article at my old website, at www.xviral.co.uk, and published it at http://www.exkiap.net/articles/miscellaneous/kuru.htm, together with, rather surprisingly, since it is not your work, your own copyright notice.

Regrettably I seem to be unable to trace any record of your having asked permission to use my work and I must therefore ask you to remove your article forthwith or failing that to pay a suitable licence fee, which we will negotiate.  I think you will find, and I can prove, that I published full copyright notices on my site.  It is therefore my duty to inform you that you are guilty of copyright violation.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Dunlop-Walters"

Editor: To which I make the following comments:

1. "... your own copyright notice", obviously hasn't read my copy right notice, copyright is the one thing I don't personally claim in regard to my website, for the 99.99% of readers who haven't read my copyright notice then click on the copyright hyperlink at the bottom of any one this web site's pages.

2. "... pay a suitable licence fee", you must be joking, there are numerous web articles on "kuru" and numerous ways I can produce this information on the website without cost, for example I could resort to the artifice of reviewing your article.

3. "Copyright" raises the issue of "original material", what material in your article is original? To me it appears that you like I, have aggregated information from other sources.

4. Can you claim copyright to information whose copyright is vested elsewhere? Your second paragraph contains an extract from a report by J.R. McArthur (not MacArthur but near enough is good enough in this case), these reports are not "public domain"; the copyright is held by the Commonwealth of Australia albeit available for legitimate research with prior written approval.

5. Guilty? Allege, assert but donít contend that Iím guilty; did I miss out on my day in court somewhere along the line?


Email 2 dated 31/8/03:

"Sir,

I am quite concerned and somewhat puzzled to see that you have not yet replied to my previous email.

Your earliest attention to this matter would be most appreciated.

AD-W"

Editorís response:

Don't be concerned, I haven't been replying to any person's email let alone yours, it's just that I've been busy and I really donít think that this matter is of any great import"


Email 3 dated 2/9/03:

"Sir,

As my concern and disappointment grow I am forced to try other methods of getting in touch with you for an answer to my original questions, which, for your convenience, you will find below, in the body of this email.

Given the possibility that you do not read mails to exkiap.net, I wonder, should this email to alternative addresses reach you, if you would be so courteous as to let me know your intentions regarding your plagiarism of my kuru material appearing upon exkiap.net.  I appreciate that, according to the website in question, you are busy with other matters, but that should not preclude at least a weekly check of your email.

I must inform you that, should you fail to reply satisfactorily in the next 48 hours or so, then I shall have no alternative other than to take this matter further.

Regards,

Alan D-W"

Editorís response:

"Plagiarism" this is raising the stakes. Copy, yes! Plagiarism, no! You should read up on case law, has an element of defamation crept into this issue? Read my copyright notice concerning plagiarism.


Email 4 dated 3/9/03:

"Sir,

As the deadline approaches without any word from you in response to my several emails, reproduced below, I feel it to be my duty to inform you that I have prepared a formal complaint to your hosting company.  I feel that it is my further duty to inform you that unless I hear from you as detailed below in the next paragraph then I shall have no alternative other than to forward my formal complaint to that hosting company.  I regret the necessity to make a complaint, but find that I have given you adequate opportunities to respond over the past 10 days or so.  I know my emails to exkiap have been received, given that I have auto-acknowledgments in my possession and, given that my emails to you at optushome.com.au and optusnet.com.au have not been bounced, I have adequate evidence that these too have been delivered.

I require that you either respond to me by email, indicating your proposals regarding the plagiarised kuru material, or remove the offending material from exkiap.net, within about 6 hours from this moment, which according to my reckoning is exactly 14:30 hours GMT.

Alan Dunlop-Walters"

Editorís response:

You shouldn't waste your efforts in this direction, I donít think that a web site hosting company would remove a website merely on the basis of an assertion, surely that would want to see a court order wouldn't they? And if they were to remove the website it could re-located in a matter of a few hours to any one of those tens of thousands or web host providers out there in cyberspace, all cutting each others throats for a dollar.


Email 5 dated 9/9/03:

"Sir,

It is with great interest I note that you seem to have found the time to respond to a message in your own online forum yet not, apparently, to me.  I have taken the liberty of posting in your forums requesting that your other members might if possible ask you to read your email.  Meanwhile, following legal advice as well as the informal advice of a number of professional colleagues, I have delayed the action promised below in the supposition that you may be on 2 week's holiday, however, holidays cannot go on forever, nor can my patience.

Thank you."

Editorís response:

I hope you haven't paid for this legal advice, that's a waste of good money. Holidays, what the hell are they?


In conclusion:

1.       Your article was an interesting read but there was nothing great or original about it apart from the "Fore indians". The article isn't of any commercial value and there are many similar articles on the web (with great bibliographies). Legally you may think you have an issue but I'm not so sure and my ornery nature tempts me to test you but I haven't got the time.

2.       Under other circumstances and in accordance with the undertaking in my copyright notice, I may have apologised to you but your email rubbed me up the wrong way so I thought that I'd dig my heels in, this is not to say that you were not entitled to send me the email or that my reaction is reasonable.

3.       This issue of copyright and the www is interesting:

  • is the issue of your asserted copyright as clear cut as you may believe;

  • how much money would you have to spend to establish and enforce copyright across international jurisdictions, I suspect a small fortune;

  • if I was found guilty of copyright violation what would be the quantum of the damage, I suspect very little as I have not profited from it nor have you lost revenue which then raises the question as to whether the legal action was worth it in the first place;

  • bearing in mind that it is so easy to establish a website in some god forsaken place like Azerbaijan is it practical to try to enforce copyright on the web.

  • like education and health, I'm of the mind that legal action is nearly beyond the financial resources of the average working man.

Unfortunately I'm running out of time again so if I think of any more half smart comments I'll append them later. Meanwhile Alan, thanks for the tickle up.

If any other exkiaps or readers want to exercise their dormant (and suspect) legal skills on this question of copyright in terms of what constitutes copyright in the context of this allegation then please feel free to let fly on the Forum. This invitation is also extended to those colleagues who have gone totally over to the dark side by becoming Solicitors, Barristers or whatever.

Peter Salmon,

11th September, 2003.

 [ Front Page | Mission Statement | Search  |  Contact  ]

 © Copyright 2001-2006 Peter Salmon and other web site content contributors. All rights, whatever they may be, reserved.