This blog is not normally a venue for telling tales, but I really rather angry about this, so I want to document it here.
On June 25, Joel (a doctoral candidate who blogs at Unsettled Christianity) posted the latest retort in an ongoing trade of insults and arguments with Neil Godfrey (a professional librarian and amateur historian who blogs at Vridar – [NB: this is a new address as of today, for reasons that will become clear]). The post is short, quotes another person’s tweet in full, and mostly consists of a series of links.
On June 26, Neil responded on his blog quoting the short post in full and responding in detail to each link. Using unkind language and personal insults which have been de rigour on both sides of the exchange.
Joel, claiming to be concerned merely that Neil had quoted his content in full without permission, issued a Digital Millenium Copyright Act takedown notice. Neil claims not to have received the notification, and so did not respond appropriately, whereupon WordPress suspended his account, and removed Vridar from the web.
So much, so unpleasant. It is highly unlikely that Joel’s copyright infringement claim would have been sustained in the courts, but the DMCA shoot-first-ask-questions-later system means that issuing the takedown notice is an excellent method of censorship. But as is, this could be a case of thin skin and a glitch escalating something that could have been resolved.
But what motivated this post was a trip to the cache. Google’s cache shows that Joel had the following message on the blog post on June 26:
Sometime in the last few hours, as this issue began to draw consternation, Joel changed the copyright to read:
This change was not for future posts: he changed it retrospectively, so the old posts, including the one Neil quoted, have this new copyright message.
So Neil quoted a Creative Commons work, Joel decided he didn’t like this, issued a DMCA takedown notice and retroactively changed the license on the work to make it look like Neil did not have the rights to copy it.
This is not acceptable in any way. I would imagine Neil would easily be able to recover any costs and lawyers fees involved from Joel. But beyond that, it is a seriously two-faced way to behave.