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SFWA Accuses Teen Literacy of Copyright Violation

August 27th, 2007 · 11 Comments · Book Lists, Copyright, Site News, Teaching

George MacDonaldApparently I’m beginning to attract attention–and not the kind I was expecting. I was informed this afternoon that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have requested that my list of 300+ Recommended Books for Junior High Students be removed from Scribd because it violates copyright. I have absolutely no idea what is going on with this.

The only thing I can figure is that since I read some of their books ten years ago when I made the list, they think I just copied titles and called it good. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have spent over seventeen years teaching literature to junior high students, and in that time have formulated my own opinions regarding what teens like to read.

I contacted Scribd this afternoon, and Jared Friedman, president of Scribd, has already replied to my email, directing me to file something called a counter-notification, which I have done. Hopefully the matter will be cleared up shortly.

If I have violated copyright unintentionally I will correct the matter and post a new list. But I can’t for the life of me imagine how my personally developed list could violate copyright.

And I’m not sure what the SFWA has to gain by requesting that the list be removed. That list does nothing but encourage people to buy their books. I don’t know if Cory Doctorow is a member of the SFWA, but I’m going to send him an email and let him know about the situation to see what he thinks. He’s been advocate for Creative Commons ebooks for awhile and he might be interested in this.

Regardless, I guess I’ll take it as a compliment that what I’m doing here is attracting some attention.

What do you think? If you’ve seen my list, do you think it violates copyright? And if you’re the member of the SFWA who reported it, maybe you could provide some explanation of what exactly I did wrong.

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11 Comments so far ↓

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  • Phil Lanuto

    I don’t think a list could constitute a copyright violation. I think the SFFWA is up-in-arms because of the other copyright infringements on Scribd and you were caught in the crossfire.

  • K8

    That’s ridiculous – how can you copyright a list? It’s got to be like Phil said, doesn’t it?

    This litiginous nonsense makes me very sad.

  • Michael Capobianco

    I am checking into how this happened, but I can assure you that SFWA would not issue a DMCA notice over a list of recommended titles which did not in any way violate copyright. SFWA is trying to help scribd develop a policy that would do something about all the copyright violations that -are- posted there, and maybe what the other posters suggested is true, that your list somehow became inadvertently added. If so, I offer you my abject apology.

    In any case, please disregard the DMCA notice; SFWA will do what it can to get scribd to restore your list. We would also like to link to it if it contains many science fiction and fantasy titles.

    Michael Capobianco
    President, SFWA

  • Nick

    Michael: Thanks for your response. I appreciate you taking the time to look into this. The list does contain quite a few science fiction and fantasy titles, and you would be very welcome to link to it.

    Phil and K8: Thanks for your comments and support.

  • tom

    I suspect what happened here is just a more extreme example of a mistake the music & movie industries have made before as well: searching for a title of something that might be getting shared, and sending a DMCA take down notice when you find it, without realizing that it was a false positive because of a similar title or something (in your case, nothing more than a list of titles).

    It’s really great that the SFWA President responded to you above (I imagine they’re not enjoying the publicity this has gotten). It’s reassuring that he seems genuinely surprised by this, insists it must have been a mistake (probably true), and offers an apology. He seems mistaken, however, in thinking it is at all relevant in telling *you* to disregard the notice, as that’s something that goes to the service provider (Scribd), and not you personally. So while that’s a nice thought, he needs to realize that you’re incapable of “disregard[ing] the notice”, and his organization needs to coordinate that with Scribd directly.

    Anyway, good luck with all this, I hope the mistake is corrected for promptly. It sounds like you have (had?) a great list! =)

    Tom

  • bill

    I think you’re exactly right, the SFWA is exactly wrong, and they ought to go to a very bad place for a very long time.

    In other words: those bozos!

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  • Idetrorce

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

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