Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More on the Story Piracy

Today I started to file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice against, the site that is hosting VX Heaven, which has posted my story "Computer Virus" in its entirety without my permission. A little research convinced me that this action would be futile.

Netlux, the ISP, is based in Ukraine; much of its website is in Russian. Only a small percentage of its users, according to (thank you, Mary Kowal) are based in either the USA or the European Union. VX Heaven exists as a site specifically for "virus creators." These guys are just going to thumb their noses at protests from me, including any legal action. They are probably laughing at the somewhat lofty tone of my last email.

The site also has stolen stories from Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, and Greg Benford. I'll email all of them, but, frankly, I don't think there's too much that can be done here.

Then I received the following email, below with my reply. I'm almost getting fond of this character -- at the very least, his sheer gall is arresting.

In a message dated 4/15/2009 8:51:23 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

Dear Nancy Kress

I will start from the end. No, I am not counting on what you wouldn't use the copyright law to solve this problem, but rather the knowledge (based on experience) that you can hardly achieve any results by moving in that direction. Being the part of so called"underground" I do receive much more serious menaces (from time to time) and I don't threaten easily. Yes, you're right, the posting of your story turned me into the thief and exploiter in your eyes, but we have completely different mindsets: the thing that frightens you - the absence of control is my value. I don't want to waste your precious time by explaining my position. The reality shows that there were no control, that you cannot lose what you don't have and you already lost it when you decided to publish your story. After all, one could walk to the library and read the book there for free. It is simply terrible! Usually, I'm receiving the requests for removing some materials from author's agent or publisher's representatives. Their reasons are obvious. The mail from the author surprised me a bit and my first intention was to take your story offline and I had a feeling that I ought to have begged your pardon, but curiosity won and I asked about your reasons. I changed my mind. Let your readers decide. Would them respect your position? Anyone who will try to open the text of the story will get the following warning:

The (C)ontroversy
Nancy Kress ( the author of this text does not want to see it freely available. Probably she would call anyone who will infringe her copyright an exploiter or a thief. You have to choose:
[ I agree with administration, show me the full-text! ]
[ I respect the author's position, take me back to the index! ]

P.S. *) I'm not trying to shuffle off the blame on to another people. *) I can rewrite the text of the warning if you wish. *) I added "no index" tag to the text. It should disappear from the search results soon.
P.P.S. I am sorry for causing you to be offended in any way.--

Dear Pirate,
You are right -- there is not much I can do about this situation. (If you're interested, you might check out how I discuss it on my blog, at Blogspot.) However, I in no way believe you are sorry that you offended me. You are relishing all this.
Thank you for at least giving your readers a choice.
Nancy Kress


deangc said...

The site also has stolen stories from Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, and Greg Benford. I'll email all of them, but, frankly, I don't think there's too much that can be done here.No, there's nothing that can be done. DMCA is an American law. It doesn't apply in Ukraine. Even if it did, you'd have a hell of a time enforcing it. Virus creators in eastern Europe are often associated with criminal gangs and they are good at covering their tracks and hiding their identities.

The one spot at which you might get a bit of leverage is with the domain registrar. Godaddy is a US registrar, and you might be able to get them to suspend the domain ( I don't think that your chances would be good, frankly, but it is one weakness in netlux's position. Other than that, I think they're pretty much untouchable.

And they know it.

qiihoskeh said...

Call out the US Navy sharpshooters!

rant said...

But maybe you could inform the Ukranian fans, for instance... I'm sure they can't al feel as this person does. (I had some contacts somewhere - I'll e-mail it to you.)

Also, I find it very hard to believe Ukraine has no copyright laws. They may not be DMCA, but *some* copyright law there must be, just like we have here in Croatia. ;)

What enraged me here is the fact that someone would begrudge an author payment for her work and then say that "the author does not want to see the text freely available." there's some words missing there - and they would go something like "the author does not want to see the text freely available on this site without any payment to the author while the owner of this site is, via the original content of the author, is generating traffic to the site and thus earning profit."
I think, in your place, I'd turn to Doctorow and Stross. ;)

Kendall said...

Either the bit about the library was disingenuous or it displays woeful ignorance of how libraries work (e.g., they-gasp!-buy books!)

Daniel said...

I find it difficult to avoid saying something disparaging about the guy. Worse than a thief is an arrogant thief.

kurtm said...

Well, to be honest, I think you got more through to this guy than most would have. Usually they would just laugh you off. In a perverse way, he is showing his respect for you in adding that little warning.

Not that the feeling will pay your bills...

Fedman Kassad said...


Dear SF author, welcome to the future.

It's just not going to get any more difficult and slowly, but surely, the DMCA will grow less and less useful even in the US. Pirated books (esp. from people like Gibson, etc.) have been floating around on public FTP sites and even BBS systems for the past 20 years. Your bibliography (more or less complete) has been floating around in publicly available spaces for a while, and you're far from being the only one. It's thousands of authors vs. a very dedicated eBook pirate community.

Many authors in Eastern Europe have lived with this situation for decades. Writing stories is not how you make a living here. It's what you do to become famous, so you can earn a better living by other means.

Daniel said...

Fedman, if "the DMCA will grow less and less useful even in the US," it will become more and more necessary for people to rise above the beasts and be honest men and women. I could take great advantage of what limited knowledge I have to gain what is not mine, but I refrain because I know better, and because I have more will power than all those pricks who steal. Don't take the defeatist position to excuse them. Be better than them.

Martin Edward Stephenson said...

Ignore him, ask others to ignore the site.
Don't post anymore of his emails. Don't give him a voice.
He's loving every minute of this.

P.F. said...

The idiot asks:

"Would them respect your position?"

Them most surely do!

I don't know what to do about this except to say: let's all buy a Nancy Kress book in protest!

Eric said...

Just a question- is there anything on the VX site that's available in plaintext through Baen's Webscriptions program? I'd be surprised if so.

~ Sil in Corea said...

I'm sad to hear of this wretched pirate crew's snatching your story. Sounds like you did touch a nerve, although he talks tough.

Completely off-topic, but I am passing on an award given by a journaling friend, to you and others. There are no obligations with this award. It's just my way of letting people who read my journal know some of the journals that I really look forward to reading. There are lots of different reasons why I read some of these journals. You may like some and not others. (Some take forever to load on dial-up; I've noted them as "Photos")
You can copy the graphic from my journal, as well as the write-up, if you are inclined to participate.

Hugs from Corea,
~ Sil

Mark said...

"It's what you do to become famous, so you can earn a living by other means." Sure, this is done by Hollywood and in the sports world (especially motorsports, some of those bikes & cars have rather pleasing lines-if you could look past the sponsors' decals!), and maybe this is how the future of literature will look like. Story idea here.

I did have an image of Nancy getting in cahoots with Gibson, et al and hiring mercenaries, similar to the society in MacLeod's Star Fraction. Treat others with respect until they cease to treat you with respect, and then treat them as they treat you, and then some. Story idea here too.

Another response: Without resorting to paramilitary mercenaries, what about tying this guy up in legal red tape in his own land, paying for prosecutors as a collective? Would it be financially prohibitive, given that this kind of piracy *does* cut into your future livelihood? What about hiring other crackers/hackers to bollix this pirate in all his domains, maybe even charge your pizza to him? Another story idea.

Sorry to be rambly, just wanted to interject my id. I also recall a quote from one of my favorite writers, "It doesn't matter who *should* control [copyright]; it only matters who *can* control [copyright]" :-)

And nowhere is it written that control can't be taken back from Mr. Pirate.

bluesman miike Lindner said...

You hit the nail on the head, Nancy--"His sheer gall is arresting."
Sadly, some people are just born thieves, and delight in "getting over" on the rest of us.


But on a happier note, you've seen the really excellent review of STEAL... in the June ANALOG, I'll betcha. Think about how sf folks appreciate your work, and later for the low-rent antics of low-life trash.

chalten said...

Just found out your blog via io9. I think your discussion with this person presents an interesting case. I agree with them and with another commenter in that not everyone out there can afford to buy a book, and in some countries they are not even available for sale (i.e., in non-english speaking countries you only get to see your books in very central bookstores and most probably you'll only find the Beggars saga).
Would this affect your earnings? (that you rightfully deserve, i also think, as the author of the texts) Most probably not in a negative way, as many authors are moving to a mixed-distribution model for some of their texts (Doctorow, Gaiman, King, there are others) and find their sales over traditional channels are not negatively affected.
I think that in their answer you can read a lot about their actual believes and ideology. And it's not a bad reading ;)

Thanks for posting the story, it's a very interesting twist on something we've been discussing in my friend's circle for some time now. If lawmakers are changing the laws to outlaw what the majority of people are doing, then laws are not reflecting anymore what's accepted as the norm. And laws such as DMCA are being used to push other restrictions on how we use our private property, a matter of no little impact on our lives.

Regarding this, i have to say that i first read your work when translated to spanish by a friend of mine in Argentina (i didn't read english at the time) and enjoyed it so much than when i had the chance to do it, bought several of your books in paperback.

best wishes!

Private said...

For a thorough discussion of this issue please see:
There clearly are two sides to this story and those of us interested in literature and the growth of the creative arts need to understand both.