22 June 2009

Associated Content Takes Down SOTT Server

SOTT has been shut down due to a legal demand by a gang called "Associated Content". It was sent to the hotmail account of one of the editors on June 20, which obviously we didn't get since sott email is received at sott(at)sott.net. Anyway, this morning we received the following from our server people:

Due to the below email, their is an abuse issue with your server. You have 24hrs to respond on how you will correct this issue before we null route the ip. Further complaints, without action may result in deactivation of your server.

Thanks for your cooperation.

To Whom It May Concern:

We would like to report the following violation of your Terms of Service outlined on your web site for "sott.net/", a web site that your company hosts. Please view our DMCA complaint below regarding http://www.sott.net/articles/show/186797-Feminist-Perspectives-on-Natural-Childbirth.

Please respond to the undersigned with your decision.

DMCA: 1. The copyrighted work at issue is the text that appears on _http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1375139/feminist_perspectives_on_natural_childbirth.html?cat=7

2. It appears on http://www.sott.net/articles/show/186797-Feminist-Perspectives-on-Natural-Childbirth

3. Please contact us at designated_agent@associatedcontent.com

We are: Associated Content, Inc. 88 Steele St. Suite 400 Denver, CO 80209 F: 720-214-0293

4. I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted material described above on the allegedly infringing web pages is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

5. I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

6. Tori Hyman, On behalf of Designated Agent, Associated Content


Tori E. Hyman 88 Steele Street, Suite 400 Denver, Colorado 80206 P: 720-214-1000 | F: 720-214-0293 associatedcontent.com

The question is, of course, what is "Associated Content"? I decided to do a little investigating. According to their site:

Associated Content is an Open Content Network. AC's platform enables anyone to participate in the new content economy by publishing content on any topic, in any format (text, video, audio and images), and connects that content to consumers, partners and advertisers.

* Sources benefit in three major ways beyond the opportunity to publish: fair payment compensation, online discoverability and distribution through our partner sites. Anyone can become a Source. Click here to learn more and sign up.

* Associated Content publishes authentic, useful and informative content on nearly every conceivable topic, produced by real people sharing real-world expertise from diverse perspectives. Search our library to see what we have, or create an RSS feed of content that interests you.

* The depth and breadth of our library is the perfect match for our partners who desire authentic content for their own websites or to advertise against at AssociatedContent.com. If we don't have the content you need, our Sources can quickly and affordably generate credible, engaging content on any topic. Click here to learn more about what we offer our partners.

Corporate History

Associated Content was founded by Luke Beatty in Denver, Colorado, in 2005. Luke, who developed search advertising and taxonomy solutions at WAND, Inc. before founding AC, envisioned a business that would open the content economy to the world by allowing anybody to publish content in any form. Today, with its vast library of unique multimedia content, diverse community of Sources and scalable platform, Associated Content provides consumers, brands, and publishers with a wide range of quality content.

Obviously, the sott editor who selected this article should have checked out this site a bit better and, having done so, would have determined that it is not a reliable source for information. (Do some research into "WAND, Inc." too, just for fun. Their legal disclaimer page is a gas!)

But, even more curious is that this "take down" notice came as it did, without warning. I have never been able to get a server to take down my own material that has been pirated with such a letter... so it is curious that others are able to do so so easily, without even demonstrating that they have taken the necessary steps to notify the object of their nefarious intentions. One wonders about the "connections" that Associated Content may have?

Looking a bit further, it seems that this person - Juniper M Russo Tarascio, the author of the article in question - is rather militant about his/her "rights" in the financial sense. See this Link and this one.

I think that what SOTT.net will do from here on out is to remove the text (and link) of any article we have received a complaint about, and replace it with the take-down notice so that our readers can know which sites to visit and which to avoid. With SOTT's growing readership, that should make some waves. But then, maybe it is SOTT's growing readership that is worrying somebody? Or am I being too conspiratorial?

It is, indeed, a "sign of the times."

UPDATE!SOTT.net has received an email from Juniper as follows:

Subject: DMCA Nazis and Other Stuff Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 00:05:46 -0500 From: Juniper **** To: sott(at)sott.net

Hi There,

I'm a SOTT reader and the author of the article "Feminist Perspectives on Natural Childbirth" that caused the recent brouhaha. I wanted to write to you guys and let you know that I was actually very happy when I saw that SOTT had published one of my articles. I was a little embarrassed since it wasn't one of my best (it was written at 2:00 am with a teething baby in my lap) but I actually had no problem whatsoever with SOTT reprinting the material.

I'm a freelance writer and I write for a number of "credible" sources, but I use AC for Op/Ed pieces, newsy bloggy stuff, and topics that are too political for other sources to publish. Writing for Associated Content is a labor of love-- I get paid all of about $3 per article on average. I really don't care if other sites want to republish my work, especially when they're sites that I support, like SOTT.

I have only had ONE article removed in over a year working as a freelance writer. SOTT links to Ning's removal notification, and to a forum where the members of the site defame me (without having the slightest clue who I am or how much money I don't make). Though SOTT cites that as evidence that I'm "militant" about copyright law, I'm actually not. I had the swine flu article removed from Ning only because it was a very hot topic and the reprint had surpassed my original copy on Google-- costing me about 10,000 pageviews. I get paid by pageviews, not by article, and I'm raising a family of three at well below the poverty line. I only bothered to have that ONE article removed because it was affecting my ability to earn a living.

SOTT's republication of my Natural Childbirth article didn't cost me a dime, because it was never a particularly popular article to begin with -- and because I never expected to make any "real" money on an op/ed piece like that. I really didn't care that it was republished, so please don't make me out to be a DCMA Nazi.

I'm really upset about the fact that SOTT- a website that I visit daily-- would be defaming me just because AC was bullying you guys with copyright law. For the record, I'm actually a fan and frequent reader of SOTT, and I was personally very happy to see that I was republished there.

This has been a lot of mess over an article that I was never even particularly fond of.

Before you defame or attack a writer, please make sure you ACTUALLY know who's looking at the other monitor. It hurts a lot to see a site that I respect call me "militant" about my financial rights, when I am neither militant nor financially well-off. I'm also cringing at the fact that anyone took the people at Ning seriously when they accused me of "profiting enormously" and being a money-grubber because I wasn't happy about losing pay to plagiarism. I've got rent to pay and a family to feed, but I'm by no means militant about DCMA.

You're welcome to republish this email, if you want. I don't want any other SOTT readers to think that I'm opposed to the SOTT's cause.

Cheers, Juniper Russo Tarascio

This information puts additional light on the situation and SOTT sincerely apologizes for any upset we may have caused Ms. Tarascio. What is important to note is the fact that Ms. Tarascio has informed us of the following curious fact:

SOTT's republication of my Natural Childbirth article didn't cost me a dime, because it was never a particularly popular article to begin with

In other words, it was Associated Content's sole decision to take this action in consideration of an article that was not even popular and had been receiving exposure on SOTT since January of 2009. How curious is that?