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Harlan Ellison vs. AOL Judgment Reversed 253

Robotech_Master writes "An appeals court has issued a decision reversing the summary judgment of a lower court that AOL qualified as a "safe harbor" under the DMCA. At issue is the fact that Ellison sent his notification of copyright violation to an email address at AOL, which AOL never received because the abuse submission address had been changed." The complete decision is available here as a PDF file; read below for an excerpt.

"AOL changed its contact e-mail address from "copyright@aol.com" to "aolcopyright@aol.com" in the fall of 1999, but waited until April 2000 to register the change with the U.S. Copyright Office. Moreover, AOL failed to configure the old e-mail address so that it would either forward messages to the new address or return new messages to their senders. In the meantime, complaints such as Ellison's went unheeded, and complainants were not notified that their messages had not been delivered. Furthermore, there is evidence in the record suggesting that a phone call from AOL subscriber John J. Miller to AOL should have put AOL on notice of the infringing activity on the particular USENET group at issue in this case, "alt.binaries.e-book." Miller contacted AOL to report the existence of unauthorized copies of works by various authors. Because there is evidence indicating that AOL changed its e-mail address in an unreasonable manner and that AOL should have been on notice of infringing activity we conclude that a reasonable trier of fact could find that AOL had reason to know of potentially infringing activity occurring within its USENET network."
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Harlan Ellison vs. AOL Judgment Reversed

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  • Its the law (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:03PM (#8486085) Homepage
    Exactly why are people surprised here? AOL gave their contact address to the copyright office, they failed to listen to the complaints delivered.

    Looks like actual notice to me.

    • Re:Its the law (Score:3, Informative)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) *
      And we should not that even though the notice was sent by e-mail which isn't always reliable, we know that this e-mail worked because the plantiff was able to force AOL to admit their own logs showed that they got it into their systems, it just sat in an account nobody bothered to check anymore and they didn't forward or send bounces.

      Sorry, AOL. You got served. You've got lawsuit.
      • Re:Its the law (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2004 @04:13PM (#8486531)
        This definately scares me as a systems admin. Now if a mail server takes a dump (up to and including unavoidable acts of god) before someone is able to read that all-important email, they're now legally liable?

        This is fscking nuts. Email is not a reliable means of delivering information. It's great when it works, but there's too many things that can throw a wrench in the works. Registered mail has none of these problems, which is why it's historically been used.

        BTW, send me an email, and my mail server doesn't keep a log of what messages it received. It logs what spams were dropped, but that's it. What the hell would they do then? Because it wasn't dropped, therefore it was received?

        Bah. I can just see a bunch of CEOs getting on the email bandwagon. "Registered Mail costs are eating our frivilous lawsuit budgets alive! Email is free!"
        • If you have documentation of the server taking a dump, it's probably ok.

          If you don't have logs of dropping the item as spam, and they have logs that showed your server accepted it, there's a reasonable assumption you recieved it.

          In this case though, the issue is that AOL had a registered address on file, and did not bother to check it. There is no dispute over if the email arrived, and could have been read.
  • Slashlaw (Score:5, Funny)

    by KU_Fletch ( 678324 ) <<bthomas1> <at> <ku.edu>> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:05PM (#8486099)
    Slashlaw: The Finest in IANAL Speculation
  • Its Usenet? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Blackknight ( 25168 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:05PM (#8486103) Homepage
    As far as I know Usenet is a global network. AOL cannot possibly control what is posted on there, unless they stop carrying that newsgroup entirely.

    • Re:Its Usenet? (Score:4, Informative)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:13PM (#8486147)
      Usenet is a global relay system, but that means every Usenet server ends up storing and relaying everything posted to it. So, to effectively get this e-book off of usenet the copyright owner would have to send a DMCA takedown notice to every Usenet server operator. However, hitting AOL's Usenet server to either cancel the offending post or drop the whole group takes the book out of view of the AOL-using population, and that's a pretty big chunk of people in one hit.
      • Re:Its Usenet? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:24PM (#8486219) Homepage
        However, hitting AOL's Usenet server to either cancel the offending post or drop the whole group takes the book out of view of the AOL-using population, and that's a pretty big chunk of people in one hit.

        Then again, how many people who know how to get binaries off USENET use AOL?

    • Re:Its Usenet? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fiendo ( 217830 )
      AOL cannot possibly control what is posted on there...

      They can if its their users who posted it and if the material is being hosted on servers they own.

      • Once something is posted on usenet it's too late. The guy might be able to get AOL to delete it from their news server, but every other news server in the world is going to pick up on that article.

      • Knowing Ellison (not personally), I would strongly suspect his goal was not to get anything off of anything, but to get mucho dineros out of AOL. From what I have read of his jousting at windmills, he has mortgaged his last dollar in this attempt to hit the big jackpot.
    • If judges are elected where you live, you can campaign for ones that are clueful enough to understand that Usenet doesn't belong to AOL.

      If judges are appointed, you can write to the governnor and the confirmation committee.

      Complacency will just result in more judicial decisions based on misunderstanding of technology.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:10PM (#8486126)
    I would use that high-speed technology to send The American Choppers kid (you know the geeky one) back in time to kill Harlan Ellison. But in an ironic twist he will fall in love with him and instead be forced to let him die in a freak truck accident.
    • I wonder how many slashdotters caught the reference.. and how many of them truly appreciate the depth of your joke.

      Thanks, /. may be going down hill, but some of us here still laugh at clever posts like that.

      And I still find the idea of Joan Collins watching a Clark Gable movie awfully funny. I'm not sure why that is, though.
  • Dear ghod... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bentonsmith ( 81425 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:10PM (#8486130)

    I've never heard nor seen USENET refered to as a "peer to peer" file sharing network.

    Or a hyphenation of "news-group".

    • Re:Dear ghod... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cbreaker ( 561297 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:41PM (#8486325) Journal
      Yea, all of a sudden anything having to do with "illegal" content is immediately labeled "peer to peer."
    • Re:Dear ghod... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kisrael ( 134664 ) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:46PM (#8486353) Homepage
      I've never heard nor seen USENET refered to as a "peer to peer" file sharing network.

      Given a reasonably broad definition of "peer to peer", I'd say it's a reasonable description (if a politically loaded one at the moment) of how Usenet servers treat each other. It's a little more complicated, because each peer then serves many actual clients, and typically every server has a full copy of the content in question (i.e. it's not "on demand" as are most peer to peer systems seem to be). Still, the end result is something that's a lot closer to peer-to-peer than client-server.
      • USENET is not P2P because you do not retrieve the content from the originating location. It is sent from server to server, and you have access only to stuff on your local server. Sounds like a clear-cut case of a client-server model to me.
        • More of a hybrid. The connection between your news reader and some server is pure client-server. But, the propogation of articles among servers is more of a peer-to-peer model.
  • Just settle (Score:4, Funny)

    by mao che minh ( 611166 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:12PM (#8486142) Journal
    Why doesn't AOL just settle with Ellison, maybe offer him like 5,000 free hours instead of the normal 2,500?
    • Re:Just settle (Score:2, Insightful)

      by endx7 ( 706884 )

      Why doesn't AOL just settle with Ellison, maybe offer him like 5,000 free hours instead of the normal 2,500?

      * Hours must be used within the 45 day trial period.

      (Hint: how many hours in 45 days?)

  • by MadAnthony02 ( 626886 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:16PM (#8486169) Homepage

    Skimming the papers, it sounds like email is the legally acceptable way of contacting an ISP about a copyright issue... which seems kind of surprising. I mean, when you sue someone, they generally have to be notified either by certified mail or in person. If the U.S. Postal Service can't be trusted to deliver a supena, is it reasonable to trust email with a takedown notice and punish the recipeient for not acting?

    • It was not that e-mail is a legal notice necessarily, its the fact that it was AOL's specified policy to use e-mail as an acceptable way of notifying them of infringement. They lost their safe harbor status for failing to properly implement their own policy.
    • The advantage I see with email is you get a response and know it's working. You communicate. That's the essence of contacting the ISP about a copyright issue, you contact them to resolve the problem, not only to send a takedown notice to them and then hope they comply with no further followup, only hoping that the fact it was registered mail means you can sue them later.

      If it were my work being distributed illegally, I'd have emailed, telephoned, sent registered mail and kept at them until something was do
    • The reason you use registered mail is because you want legal vaild confirmation of delivery handed to you.

      E-mail doesn't technically generate a good enough proof of delivery. However, if you can grab the server logs from whomever was being served and then show your message was mentioned in those laws... there's some proof that notice was served. That's a little harder to get, but in this case he got it, and he also got a phone record that shows that an AOL user called to point this out and AOL took no acti
    • ...if they had argued that the email had not been delivered due to technical problems, filtering or whatnot, it might be a valid defense. Same as claiming the postal service failed to deliver your letter.

      But when you're legally required to have a correct address registered with the copyright office, and fail to do so, I fail to see the problem. That's like relocating, and not informing the copyright office because any regular mail could have been lost anyway.

      The more interesting question is if AOL is resp
      • I know that here a company was fined 1.000.000 NOK for carrying kiddie porn groups, while strangely enough warez and mp3 groups go completely unpunished.

        Why is that strange? I don't think you would find anyone (well not many people, at least) who would consider warez and mp3 groups to be as much of a threat to society as paedophiles.

    • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:45PM (#8486345)
      Email has always been legally acceptable.. the only issue is whether you can prove in court an email was really delivered or not.

      ANY form of communication can constitute a valid contract, some are just harder to prove than others.

      A written piece of paper with real original signatures, including several witnesses, is fairly hard to fake. That's why important legal documents have so many signatories.. it's to show that yes, all parties understood the contract, and yes, all parties willingly agreed to it.

      In this case, AOL *registered* their email address with the copyright office as a valid way to contact them about copyright issues... that's the point. Had they not done this, they could have insisited on some other method probably.

      But they said "this is the address that we will accept complaints on".. then they proceeded to ignore those complaints through mismanagement.

    Re: Harlan Ellison v. Stephen Robertson, America Online, Inc., RemarQ Communities, Inc., Critical Path, Inc., Citizen 513, and Does 1-10, Federal District Court, Central District of California Civil Case No. 00-04321 FMC (RCx)

    22 February 2001



    • Dammit Harlan, if you quit SHOUTING at us, we might actually listen!

    • Jeez Harlan, we know you're pissed, calm down and *take your finger off the SHIFT key* and people might be able to actually read what you have to say.

      Original text from Harlan here [harlanellison.com], perhaps someone reply with a bit of SHIFT-F3.

    • Aha! (Score:3, Funny)

      by AndroidCat ( 229562 )
      I see the problem: His original email to AOL was probably ALLCAPS, so their spam-filter ate it.
    • Fuck you, Harlan. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2004 @04:14PM (#8486542)

      You know what? I was a teenager from a poor family. No father and an overworked mother going to school and holding down a full-time job at the same time bringing in barely minimum wage. No child-support. Living with her parents (our grandparents).

      My main exposure to good books was online, through Project Gutenberg and various shared copies of e-books (fair use?). I had never even HEARD of Ellison until I read a copy of one of his books online.

      I find spending $20 on a CD to be ludicrous and criminal. But you know what else I find criminal? Spending $20, $30, $40 or even $50 for a book of fiction. Christ, it's a couple hundred half-sheets of paper glued and bound into a set of thick cardboard covers for fucks's sake.

      It's cheaper to get full platinum digital cable with every movie channel and HBO and all the channels your cable provider offers each month than to afford a book per week reading habit. Books are fucking criminally expensive and I can't blame people for sharing them.

      People like Harlan not only want people to not share ebooks, but he doesn't want them to share real physical books either. They don't like libraries, they don't like used book stores. They don't like auctions for used books. They don't even want you to give a copy of a book to a friend when you're done reading it. They want every person who ever reads their work to have to pay for it all over again.

      So excuse me if I don't cry you a fucking river, you pompous prick. And excuse the fuck out of me if I don't send you a check for your stupid "kick internet piracy" bullshit.
      • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @04:54PM (#8486849) Homepage
        Christ, it's a couple hundred half-sheets of paper glued and bound into a set of thick cardboard covers for fucks's sake.
        Well, it's more than that. There's also a fair bit of information on those sheets of paper.

        That $100 bill in your pocket -- it's just a blend of linen and cotton, for fuck's sake. But you'd probably get upset with me if I relieved you of it, even if I paid for you for the value of it's constituent components (probably just a few cents) first ...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2004 @04:22PM (#8486599)

      How is this possible, Harlan? How much is the average fiction book these days? $20? $30? How much does it cost to produce each copy? I mean, it's a bunch of flimsy paper with black ink on it, surrounded by a thicker set of paper or some sort of cardboard cover. If you can't survive on the markup between cost and sales on an item like that - at a price like that - talk to your publisher, not us!

      Further, you're lucky that you're even being read by people and that you are being published. Do you know how many people in the world write excellent material but aren't considered by the publishing giants these days? It's harder to even get an agent today than it was to get a *publisher* three decades ago. The average author who *is* published only makes an average of $8,000 to $10,000 per year from it.

      I have been writing novels my entire life and am dying to be published. I give out my material for free. When someone shares my writing with another person - or whole groups of people, I don't freak out and demaned $20 from each and every person that read it. I'm just appreciative that they like my work. That they appreciate my art. That it has an audience. Remember. It's ART.

      Also, if you can't make a living, then I suggest you contact Cory Doctorow of boingboing.net. He has written two very popular best-selling books and made a lot of money from them. BUT HE ALSO GIVES THE FULL BOOKS AWAY ONLINE FOR FREE. Imagine that!
    • ... is to legally change his name to RIAA.

      Oops, they will sue him for copyright infightement then ;-).
    • >SFWA has allocated $5000.00 to help combat Internet infringement. Approximately 25% of this was paid to the attorney for the Heinlein estate who traveled to Russia in May and attempted to shut down some of the pirate archives established there which infringe on the works of many authors, including Harlan.

      Now I understand why some of the Russian-language literature is disappearing from the Internet libraries ... This happened because Heinlein's widow studied Russian (he even travelled to Soviet Union w
      • I think the copyright laws need to be changed into protecting just fresh written works. I can understand that. However, claiming that you need to be paid for a 70 years after your death is just ridiculous.

        I'm with you. This "life + 70" shit is often justified as a way to "bequeath the business to one's family", but that's a load of crap. If a man is a carpenter and wants to leave his carpentry business to his son, he better teach the kid carpentry. The business of an author is writing, so it satnds to rea

  • More info (Score:5, Informative)

    by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:16PM (#8486174) Homepage Journal
    Since I wasn't familiar with this case, a little searching on Google turned up the following links:

    Harlan Ellison's webpage [harlanellison.com]:

    From his NEWS page [harlanellison.com] he's been on a campaign to Kick Internet Piracy [harlanellison.com].

    According to this site [speculations.com], he's been fighting to prevent unauthorized posting of books/creating work on the intarweb without the authors consent...he believes AOL was partly responsible for his works being posted.



    What I find surprising is that the lower court sided WITH AOL in what looks to be a one sided case in favor of Ellison. How can the lower court support the DMCA and still side with an evil corporation...are they that corrupt now? Do we need federal courts to provide simple justice to the common man now?

    • Re:More info (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Whether Harlan has a case here, and he may, remember who he is before climbing on a free speech or author's rights bandwagon with him. Harlan is much more concerned about *his* control over what gets published than about author's control, credit, or payment.

      Look up the problems with Harlan's anthology "The Last Dangerous Visions", where Harlan got various copyright agreements with contributors, then violated them by never publishing the book but has never released the original works back to the authors so
    • How can the lower court support the DMCA and still side with an evil corporation...are they that corrupt now? Do we need federal courts to provide simple justice to the common man now?

      Perhaps the lower court thought that Mr. Ellison is a crackpot jousting at windmills, and that if all he could manage was to send a couple emails (apparently not bothered enough to send an actual letter or even pick up a phone), then he really couldn't say he'd held up his half of the DMCA requirements (in spirit at least).

    • How can the lower court support the DMCA and still side with an evil corporation...are they that corrupt now?
      That's a rhetorical question, right?
    • You know, I certainly can't get interested in supporting a cause where a third of its text on its site is in upper case, in bold or is a link. That almost makes me sick just thinking about it.

      From what I've heard from a few sources, Harlan is kind of an ass anyway so I really can't pick "sides" in AOL vs. Harlan, not that who I'd advocate for makes much difference in the courts.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:21PM (#8486200)
    The DMCA usually protects the mega-ISP from being responsible for the copyright violations of its users when it posts user-submitted content without screening it.

    However, in order to qualify for that protection, the ISP has to register a contact point with the Copyright Office for all complaints to be sent, and must respond to all properly formatted requests sent to that contact point. It turns out this request to kill a Usenet posting from AOL's servers got lost because the copyright owner sent it to the registered address, but it turns out nobody was reading it since they had established a new address and didn't change their registration.

    Therefore, the plantiff followed the law correctly, and AOL missed their chance to escape punishment by letting the time run out. Therefore, the safe harbor clause of the DMCA doesn't apply here, and AOL's going to be open to liablity here.
  • Usenet Precident (Score:2, Interesting)

    by themaddone ( 180841 )
    What sort of precident does this set regarding USEnet?

    It is possible that this judgment could some way be construed to hold all ISPs who give subscribers access to USEnet liable for copyright infringement?
    • by Daniel_Staal ( 609844 ) <DStaal@usa.net> on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:40PM (#8486312)
      Well, nothing's set in stone yet. The higher court just said that the lower court didn't cover all it's bases correctly, and needs to try again.

      That said, you are liable if you distribute copyrighted works (that aren't yours and you don't have rights to distribute) and do not fall under the safe harbor clauses. This decision just says that AOL may have not completed all the paperwork correctly to fall under the safe harbor clause.

      Moral: Do your paperwork correctly.
    • Re:Usenet Precident (Score:3, Informative)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) *
      Yes, but, under the DMCA, each ISP can dodge the lawsuit by filing with the copyright office the contact points at which they will take official DMCA takedown notices. So long as they actually take down what they're told to that way, they can't be held liable.

      What happened here is that AOL got a notice to their registered e-mail address, and didn't do the takedown in time. They were 99% in compliance, but this went through the 1% hole in their lawsuit shield.
  • Seems to me when first glancing at the headline that they were saying that AOL is responsible.

    This is not the case, #include IANAL.txt, from what I can tell. It seems that the summary, ie just automatically granting AOL rights as a safe-haven was reversed... Instead the actual desision was remanded back to the court to look at to determine if AOL actually does qualify for that provision.

    They also affirmed that AOL did not act in a vicious maner in reguard to the posting of the material and thus I assume
    • If computer geeks always have to add IANAL disclaimers when talking about the law, can we get lawyers to use I Know Jack About Computers disclaimers?
      • Can you drag lawyers before a court of technical experts for practicing software engineering without a liscence? Is there anyone serving time for impersonating a networking consultant? Until the answer to those questions is yes, IANAL, and if the esteemed Mr. Cochran wants to claim that he knows more Linux than Linus, about all we can do is cry BS.
    • Right. The court seems to have decided that AOL made enough mistakes that certain protections that would normaly apply weren't available to them, so Mr. Ellison's complaint isn't automatically shot down, but that doesn't mean he will automatically win it either. The decision still means that a company which kept up an incoming e-mail address that was clearly needed for legal messages would get a measure of protection from maintaining that address properly.
      It also helps define negligence, intentional ma
  • AOL vs the DMCA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Greger47 ( 516305 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:42PM (#8486329)

    Well since AOL apparently bothced their get-out-of-jail feee card I wonder if they are going to spend some of that cash pile of theirs to put a big dent in the DMCA to get of the hook.

    Or if the AOL part will just bend over and take it so that the Time Warner part can keep their beloved DMCA intact.


  • by btempleton ( 149110 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:43PM (#8486330) Homepage
    And networks like it.

    Harlan thinks of some turkey posts his book on USENET, he should then be able to attack all the zillions of people running a USENET server.

    In his first round, he didn't do well, but he did have this one technicality -- AOL didn't handle their complaint address properly. And AOL getting dinged for this is fine. What we need to worry about is what the precedent means.

    I mean, we've all had email go astray before, had servers go down, had mail drop on the floor. (Happens daily in the world of overactive spam filters.)

    This might mean that some sites will decide there is too much legal risk in hosting content or usenet servers.

    This part of the DMCA (little relation to the circumvention parts) was meant to make it easier to be an ISP, though at the cost of making them obey every takedown without requiring proof in some cases.
    • One of his copyrighted works got posted on USENET. He told one of the larger providers of USENET access to take it off. Seems a pretty reasonable thing to do.

      The court case only arose because AOL utterly fucked up in the procedure they used for reporting copyright violation.
    • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @04:58PM (#8486880) Homepage
      This might mean that some sites will decide there is too much legal risk in hosting content or usenet servers

      Gosh...an ISP might decide to not carry alt.binaries groups whose main purpose is to distribute copyrighted material without permission?

      This is suppose to bother me how?

      • Gosh...an ISP might decide to not carry alt.binaries groups whose main purpose is to distribute copyrighted material without permission?

        ObCynic: If ISPs stopped carrying alt.binaries.whatever, the pirates would just flood other groups. Do you propose ISP just stop carrying all non-moderated groups?

      • Not all binary groups exist to violate copyright, and what's to stop some jerk from posting a Harlan story to rec.food.cooking? Is every NNTP server operator supposed to drop everything and delete his story from their servers? What happens if they get hundreds of requests for this a day, many of them bogus requests (like from $cientology)? Thousands?
    • "And networks like it."

      No, it is not. It's about upholding existing laws, whether or not any computer is involved at all. In this case they happen to figure prominently.

      "Harlan thinks of some turkey posts his book on USENET, he should then be able to attack all the zillions of people running a USENET server."

      Harlan thinks no such thing. What Harlan thinks is that the law gives him (or his lawyer) a way to notify people with infringed material of his on their server that it's there, and ask them to remove
  • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:46PM (#8486352) Homepage
    While I think AOL is in the wrong here and should get punched in the face for their stupid actions, I find it hard to have sympathy for this Ellison guy. From the looks of it he found copies of his books on usenet. Does he really believe any significant number of people really wants to read books on a computer?

    Paperbacks are still relatively cheap and available. I much prefer an actual printed book for $7 to having to scrunch up in front of a computer and strain my eyes for several hours to read a book. Sure I can read it on a teeny tiny PDA screen, but that sucks too. Books are probbably the _least_ susceptible to copyright violation, and have withstood the onslaught of copy machines for decades. Printed books are simply a better technology than electronic books, and probbably will be true for the forseeable future. While Ellison certainly has a right to complain about his works being posted on usenet, it seems more akin to some old man yelling at kids to "get off my lawn!".
    • Harlan Ellison is one of the only spec fic writers who works almost exclusively in short stories (and articles, for that matter). A short story is a completely different beast than a novel; I could certainly see myself reading a couple of his stories on my Pilot while riding a subway. But I couldn't see myself reading a Roger Zelazny novel in the same way.

      Always remember: copyright law is not evil in and of itself. Without it, the GPL would be meaningless: anyone could steal GPLed code to use as s/he want

    • I'm a writer and applaud Harlan Ellison in this case. Do I think he foams at the mouth too much? Yes, as an individual he does, but there aren't a lot of writers out there with time, energy, and money to pursue such things. Writers have no RIAA (whose tactics stink, for sure), so I am glad we at least have Harlan. Now though, what you're really saying is that ebooks aren't so great, so no one should complain? How about the dirt-poor writer who has lost money? What happens when the technology is more m
  • by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @03:46PM (#8486355)
    "No, Mr Ellison, I don't think the term motherfucker is appropriate to use in the lawsuit. Yes, even if it's fitting."

    Love you Harley.

  • by expro ( 597113 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @04:14PM (#8486540)
    1. Spam usenet under false identity. 2. Complain to copyright office. 3. Repeat 1 and 2 as often as necessary to get violations by major ISP's. 4. Sue. This only works if the ISP's are actually held responsible.
  • by ThisIsFred ( 705426 ) on Saturday March 06, 2004 @04:26PM (#8486643) Journal
    I mean seriously, why would registering the change even be an issue? I deal with these types of things every year when staff comes and goes, or people have their names changed. I use this really neat feature called an "alias". See, with an "alias", I can have more than one address point to the same inbox. That way, during the transition, the e-mail user has plenty of time to inform senders of the change, all without losing any important messages.
  • When did it become acceptable to just e-mail someone as a legal means to serve notice? I am suprised AOL's spam blocker didn't catch the guys e-mail address and filter it out as spam. You would think being served a DMCA notice would arrive with some sort of reply receipt, like in certified mail.

    steps to abuse the process:

    1. write a book or song
    2. get it legally copyrighted
    3. post it to usenet using a "Free 10 hours" account
    4. send notices to all ISP's in the world that offer usenet access
    5. sue the ones t
  • by Anonymous Coward
    AOL, the aging bloated fraud whose presence annoys intelligent tech savvy people, and who will savagely destroy anyone who they percieve as a threat to their ability perpetuate a tired business model...

    Or Harlan Ellison... er... the aging bloated fraud whose presence annoys intelligent tech savvy people, and who will savagely destroy anyone who he percieves as a threat to his ability perpetuate a tired business model...

    Oh well... never mind...

    Posting anonymously so Harlan won't be able to find me and

  • Y'know, email isn't a guaranteed delivery system. It shouldn't be treated as one. It's bogus to demand that it should be considered so.

    So yeah, AOL screwed up. And Harlan sent an email that didn't bounce and didn't get read. SO FRIGGING WHAT? I, for one, am very nervous about any policy that says that _sending_ an email constitutes a legal notification.

    So AOL should apologize, sure. And the fact that Harlan sent an email should be unadmissable... it's irrelevent (unless AOL counter-sues claiming tha

  • The Other Reason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) * on Sunday March 07, 2004 @12:27AM (#8489180) Journal
    that Harlan is doing this is for other authors. Big names like Harlan can make their own contracts. Lesser known authors have to settle for what the publishers will offer. This invariably includes "e-print" rights, the right for the publisher to reprint it in e-book form at some time in the future should they choose to (with or without more payment at that time). If they want that book contract, they sign.

    The problem is that although the publisher has rights to reprint the e-book, the copyright holder is still responsible for the work, and for seeing it isn't published in like form outside the contract. If the author went to someone else and had it done, they'd be liable. However, even if someone else does it without permission, the copyright holder is still responsible and liable. They must act is a reasonable manner to reverse that. Failure to do so could result in loss of the contract, demands for repayment of the money already paid, sued for damages for inability of the publisher to now make money on the e-book, etc.

    Very few authors have the knowledge guts, money, and ornery it takes to track down (or have tracked down) the people doing the pirating and take action. Harlan does. After seeing how hard it has been for someone like him with a team full of intellectual property and computer specialists to protect his own work, it becomes obvious how hard a lesser known (and paid) author would have to work, and what their chances of success would be.

    Has any publisher ever tried this yet? No.
    Are any ever likely to? Not anymore.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.