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Yahoo Problems Updated
This page has been considerably amended following some good news with Yahoo resolving the initial copyright violation problem! The old page mentioned "Problems at Yahoo including but not limited to plagiarism, awkwardness, bureaucracy, and hiding behind the evil DMCA Digital Millennium Copyright Act" but now some of this is SOLVED. Well Done to Yahoo! (new page!) . Other problems? Read on...
This page is about problems encountered with Yahoo. Initially it was just that a user at Yahoo had plagiarised some of my writings, and I wanted to have a sensible solution to this. Usually with anything like this, an amicable agreement can be reached once we get to talk to the people involved. Yahoo have been good when I've reported Nigeria scams, Lottery scams, and other nuisances, although what's appropriate in such cases is closing them down, whereas in copyright violation, discussion and giving credit where credit is due, is better than heavy-handedness. So anyway, I reported the copyright violation, and I was surprised Yahoo did not behave as I had hoped. As you can see from the correspondence this did not go as planned!
Looking back at this, I was fooled by the automated responses. I believed they were in good faith. Obviously Yahoo should have had humans responding to serious complaints and not left it to an automated email response system. I took it badly and started to believe Yahoo was guilty of corporate plagiarism and that the stealing of people's original material was endemic and implicit to the Yahoo business model. So, I responded by denouncing Yahoo online. Nodoubt you can see why.
I'm pleased to say that the initial problem of the copyright violation has been SOLVED now that I'm in touch with Yahoo London, where the helpful people there (who actually talk to you) got the word put in to other places and in the end the offending items were removed, but, (and this is important) WITHOUT being heavy-handed and closing down the webspace on which the material had been copied.
So, even though this has been a troublesome and acrimonious problem in the past, the first part of it has now been solved. So, WELL DONE to Yahoo!
There are other snags, but these are being worked on, hopefully. The next level of the problem is the automated copyright violation report response system. Here you can see the correspondence. Notice how the bureaucratic robot responses were taken as a bad sign and then the whole thing got out of hand:
(I include part of my preamble first. Green bits are historical. I'll continue with my up-to-date commentary in pink after the (historical) conclusion)
Usually, when someone copies my original material, it's possible to resolve amicably by asking them to credit me. I must tell you the fact that I write huge amounts of original material at this website, and it does a lot of good. It's nice to know my work is appreciated, and I suppose I should be flattered that someone should copy chunks of it. But I feel they should at least credit me.
I thought initially I'd be able to convince Yahoo that a good diplomacy solution would be possible. I'd write a polite message, and get them to forward it to the person in question. This works for most situations. Doctors, banks, solicitors, ISPs, will usually be happy to forward on a message (without revealing the identity of the other person, of course). But not so with Yahoo. It's got to be ALL or NOTHING. Here's my initial letter of complaint, or at least the 2nd letter, the first being ignored:
|Original Message Follows:
Content: blog text
Type your feedback here:
Hi there at Yahoo,
I have written before, and I think I at least deserve a reply!
One of your users has copied chunks of my website for their own blog and has not credited me.
I understand that on the Internet it's easy to copy stuff, but I think the user involved could easily has credited me with "review copied from Zyra's website www.zyra.org.uk " and a link etc. Surely that is not too much to ask?!
I would like to write a (polite) message for you to forward to the person in question. I think that is a reasonable request. Don't you?!
This is the civilised way to go on. It's diplomacy. Much better than the all-or-nothing blunt approach of either shutting someone's account on not.
My opinion of Yahoo, and that of my readers, will be shaped to some extent by your response.
Thousands of pages of ORIGINAL content!
While Viewing: http://360.yahoo.com/profile-the-rest-of-it-removed-to-protect-the-guilty
Yahoo ID: unknown : no amt link
Browser: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Win95; en-US; rv:184.108.40.206)
Date Originated: Monday December 11, 2006 - 10:51:35
No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.1.409 / Virus Database: 268.15.18/584 - Release Date: 2006/12/12
Of course the correct response by Yahoo should be something like: "Yes, of course, just send us the message and we'll review it to make sure it's not offensive, and then we'll forward it. Good luck!". But no. Instead, this is what Yahoo said:
|----- Original Message -----
From: Yahoo! Copyright email@example.com
Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 5:32 PM
Subject: Re: Abuse - Copyright (KMM83540068V44695L0KM)
Thank you for contacting Yahoo! Inc. ("Yahoo!"). Yahoo! respects the intellectual property rights of others and we ask that our users do the same. Accordingly, Yahoo! has established a policy for receiving and processing notifications of infringement in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"), other applicable laws and/or Yahoo! policies.
While Yahoo! strives to assist, in Yahoo!'s discretion and accordance with applicable law, in the protection of intellectual property rights, your recent correspondence was insufficient to constitute an effective Notification of Infringement ("NOI") within the meaning of the DMCA and/or as required by Yahoo! policy. The elements required for an effective NOI, and the contact information for submitting a NOI to Yahoo!, are set forth at:
Please be aware that you may submit a NOI in response to this e-mail. To be effective, an NOI must contain substantially the following (reproduced in relevant part from http://docs.yahoo.com/info/copyright/copyright.html ):
1. A description of the copyrighted work or other intellectual property that you claim has been infringed;
2. A description of the location where the material that you claim is infringing is located;
3. A statement by you that you have a good faith belief that the reported use is not authorized by the copyright or intellectual property owner, its agent, or the law;
4. Your address, telephone number, and, if available, e-mail address;
5. A statement by you, made under penalty of perjury, that the above information is accurate and that you are the copyright or intellectual property owner or authorized to act on the copyright or intellectual property owner's behalf; and
6. An electronic or physical signature by the person making the submission (i.e., you or such other person authorized to act on behalf of the complaining party). If the submission is made electronically, the authorized person making the submission should designate his or her electronic signature by typing a forward slash ("/") before and after his or her typed name and follow this electronic signature by again typing his or her name. For example:
This format is intended to represent a signature and typed name as is customarily found within the signature block of traditional, or "hard copy," business correspondence.
Once Yahoo! has received a NOI containing each of the required elements detailed above, Yahoo! will expeditiously proceed to process your request.
We wish to thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. Please contact us if you have any questions or we can further assist you in this matter.
Copyright Agent, Yahoo! Inc.
c/o Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Well NO, that's a fobbing-off letter. What rubbish! It has immediate alarm bells sounding, as it's got bureaucratic nonsense written all over it. And besides, they've ignored my actual comment in the first place. Also, regarding "Yahoo respects the intellectual property rights of others", I feel this is not so. If that were the case, we'd be seeing a much more sensitive and understanding response.
Incidentally, I've not given away the details of the culprit to Yahoo, because I feel they would just go along mob-handed and close down their account. In fact, I would like a promise from Yahoo that they will NOT close down the account just for the sake of it. I want this matter resolving reasonably. (many wars would be prevented if diplomacy was tried first)
So, not giving up, I replied thus:
|Original Message Follows:
Hi there at Yahoo,
Let's first of all get rid of this stuff about the much-discredited Digital Millennium Copyright Act! It's litigious and politically divisive. The Linux www.zyra.org.uk/linux.htm community will curse you for even mentioning it except in mockery.
There is a much better way of dealing with problems such as some naive user pinching someone's material. We don't want you to persecute the person or close down their site or otherwise to behave like fundamentalist extremists. We just want a polite message forwarding to remind the person that they really should do the right thing.
If Yahoo can perform the small diplomatic favour of putting in the reminder, then Yahoo can be considered part of the new world of reasonableness and commonsense. But, if Yahoo's only response is to use inappropriate bureaucratic nonsense, then not only will Yahoo be considered part of the problem, but also Yahoo will be guilty of proxy-plagiarism by harbouring plagiarists and hiding behind evil legislation.
However, if you promise to only take REASONABLE action, I will point out to you where the actual problem is. I'll name the person and show you some search results. Then we can sort this out properly in a calm manner. I'll give you the details and we'll get this resolved. I'm not doing that just yet, because I get the impression you are going to be totally unreasonable and just shut them down, and then you'll try to blame ME for being heavy-handed.
So, come on, Yahoo, do the right thing!
PS. Here is my proposed message to the plagiarist (but with names and locations removed to prevent Yahoo from being able to victimise them!)
At this point it would have been easy for Yahoo to say "Ok, we'll do that. Just tell us who you think has pinched your stuff and we'll forward the message to them".
But no such response was forthcoming. Instead, this arrived...
|----- Original Message -----
From: Yahoo! Copyright firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2006 5:50 PM
Subject: Re: Abuse - Copyright (KMM83565139V18516L0KM)
On October 28, 1998, President Clinton signed into effect the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"). Included as part of the act was the resolution mechanism for resolving disputes relating to copyright issues. While Yahoo!'s previous intellectual property dispute resolution guidelines functioned very well, Yahoo! has elected to adopt the DMCA dispute resolution mechanism for handling copyright disputes.
Please refer to the copyright dispute process and guidelines at:
Notification from a copyright owner or from a person authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner that fails to comply substantially with the provisions above shall not be considered as providing actual knowledge or an awareness of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent.
Copyright Agent, Yahoo! Inc.
c/o Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Well if I'd wanted horse manure I'd have asked someone who owned a horse. At least it would have been some good for the garden. As for the rubbish about the DMCA and whatever President Clinton was supposed to have signed, it would have been funny if it had not been so serious.
By now the matter of a small-time plagiarist stealing some of my website content had become relatively irrelevant, as Yahoo had shown themselves to be a more significant problem. This type of corporate getting-in-the-way of the spirit of the Internet is something which we can do without. The following message tells it how it is:
|----- Original Message -----
To: Yahoo! Copyright email@example.com
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2006 8:26 PM
Subject: Now Yahoo is in trouble Re: Abuse - Copyright (KMM83565139V18516L0KM)
Yahoo has no legitimate excuse!
In your reply, you are having a joke, surely?! In 1998 President Clinton also said "I did not have sex with that woman", and history tells you something interesting. According to the BBC at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1998/12/98/review_of_98/themes/208715.stm : "Bill Clinton, the most powerful leader in the world, was brought to his knees - forced to apologise for his conduct, having the most intimate details of his sex life made public and finally becoming only the second president in American history to be impeached"!
Now I suggest you think about this very carefully, because if Yahoo is going to hide behind the DMCA and to allow plagiarism without any reasonable comeback, then history will very likely have Yahoo recorded as having gone and made a mess of things too.
These days you have to take responsibility for your own actions. With the dawning of the new age of The Internet, people have the power, not governments. As another reminder from history, it's no good saying "we were only obeying orders" (quote from defendants at the Nuremberg Trails after the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War). Yahoo can not acquire immunity from responsibility nor absolution for corporate sins by hiding behind the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. If it is Yahoo's corporate policy as you have said "Yahoo! has elected to adopt the DMCA dispute resolution mechanism for handling copyright disputes", then shame be upon Yahoo for failing to adopt a sensible policy!
You have to deal with situations properly. As I have explained, there is an issue here, and I have suggested a constructive way forward. It is no good saying "...shall not be considered as providing actual knowledge or an awareness of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent". You have been informed that plagiarism has taken place, and that Yahoo is implicitly profiting from plagiarism by having lots of silly advertisements on the pages of misappropriated work. You now have to take responsibility for this.
You are welcome to contact me and we will see about possible diplomatic solutions. Or, if there is an officious failure by Yahoo to be cooperative, the matter will be referred to a higher form of justice: Individualist Power. People reading this material online will be able to make their own minds up. That's where the power really is. It would not surprise me if Yahoo was at some time put out of business by people voting with their feet.
In my opinion, and that of some other people, Yahoo should not hide behind the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to allow plagiarists to get away with copying other people's work and publishing it as their own on Yahoo webspaces. I believe that Yahoo making a profit from silly adverts on pages of stolen work is in effect a form of corporate plagiarism by proxy. If an individual steals some work, they might be forgivable, and it should at least be possible to have reasonable discussions with them. But if a corporate entity in effect sanctions plagiarism with the only alternative allowed being an all-or-nothing zero tolerance act against another individual, then that's a sin which is less forgivable. We the People are not going to let Yahoo get away with this, and I suggest that unless a more reasonable policy is adopted by Yahoo, we generally unplug Yahoo as homepage on so many computers, cease linking to Yahoo webspaces where there are better or equivalent alternatives, generally adopt a lower tolerance to splat advertising, and in various other ways undermine Yahoo's alleged misuse of the Internet. We hold Yahoo in lower regard than would otherwise be the case, for example if Yahoo had respected authors' intellectual property and individual freedoms and had allowed reasonable dialogue.
If Yahoo doesn't respect people's copyrights, maybe other people may consider Yahoo as unworthy of its own copyrights deserving protection. Diplomatic sanctions could be widespread.
I have wondered for some time why the word "yahoo" sticks in the memory with such horror, and has done so for a long time before The Internet. A long time ago the famous author Jonathan Swift wrote the book Gulliver's Travels in which he mentions such things as "I have never yet heard of any Yahoo so presumptuous as to dispute their being, or the facts I have related concerning them; because the truth immediately strikes every reader with conviction" (see http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~rbear/swift/gulliver.html ). So, when I've heard people being described a long time ago as "ignorant yahoos", it may have struck a chord which has resounded in history. Maybe more people should be made aware of the Yahoo problem and enlightened into works of history which cast light upon the present day.
Gulliver's Travels, along with a great many other out-of-copyright books, are available from Gutenberg www.gutenberg.net , and now this message I am writing to Yahoo will be available to see online as I am publishing it for the world to see!
Shame about Yahoo!
PS. If I ever meet the individual plagiarist in question, I will shake them by the hand, as they are not the problem. The problem is Yahoo.
So, there it is: "The problem is Yahoo". Plagiarists are a (small) problem, but corporates allowing plagiarists to hide behind the evil DMCA, that's a big problem.
It's largely irrelevant whether Yahoo try to reply to the message, because the abuse department that can punish Yahoo is not the one at Yahoo. Instead, I invite people to generally boycott Yahoo wherever possible. For a start, let's get people educated into being able to change their own homepage on their browser and get rid of Yahoo as any kind of default. See how to change your homepage. There are much better sites to make your home page! Even my site or my site index A..Z would make a better homepage! (loads of good content and no silly in-your-face adverts!). Replace Yahoo as homepage. Also, on the ridiculous splat advertising, a problem at Yahoo and at a few other places, let's stop putting up with them. You don't need to. There are plenty of good sites that have reasonable, discreet adverts, or no noticeable adverts at all. And there are plenty of Internet Service Providers who can host your website without insulting your visitors with lots of silly adverts! ...etc
Youch! A serious breakdown of diplomacy! Notice how bothered I had become as a result of the thoughtless Yahoo responses, and notice the considerable animosity produced. This is the type of misunderstanding that companies usually try to hard to avoid. Public Relations failures can be very expensive.
Anyway, at least it's good news on the copyright violation solution, as Yahoo have done the right thing. The problem was more complex than that, and had gone on for some time, so here's a summary:
1. Copyright violation: - SOLVED!
2. Automated email responses causing bad feelings and failing to deal with the real issues: - problem published on this page so it can be understood and solved.
3. Banishment of the site: - oh, yes, I have got to mention this: "Evidently Yahoo didn't like this page to exist, so now it appears they have BANNED THIS SITE. The message is simple then: If you speak out against Yahoo, they ban your site. Understandable, in a dictatorial kind of way".
It is this last problem which I feel needs to be solved urgently!* Although it is arguable whether Yahoo really did banish this site because of writings against them, the fact is that at about the time of publishing of the criticisms, the site was found mysteriously absent on the searches. *note: see update at end!
Well it's all very well feeling like it's a Salman Rushdie case and the author is being persecuted because of speaking out against some kind of Church or Establishment, but regardless of whether that's true, there are some key elements which make the Yahoo Search look as if it's failing:
1. Zyra's website has lots of interesting pages, and these are conspicuously MISSING* from Yahoo search results. (They appear on Google, no problem).
2. There is no GOOD reason to ban this site.
3. Zyra's site being missing on Yahoo searches is not only bad for my own profitability, but also it's a shame that people out there in the wider world are being deprived of seeing the interesting stuff!
I invite Yahoo to solve this search problem. I am optimistic now that the earlier problem was solved.
[paragraph about confidence in the stocks and shares on the stockmarket and the dot com bubble being BURSTED. ...removed]
Other information: Yahoo's official website is at http://www.yahoo.com
Issues about various DMCA protectionist stuff can be seen at the page about the evil of Palladium. Incidentally, very few things get classed as "evil" at this site. One of the exceptions being cybersquatters
In the same sort of line as apostrophes, if you want to be really picky about it, the exclamation mark (!) is an item of punctuation, not a letter of the alphabet, and when so misused it looks awkward and naff.
In case you're interested, Gulliver's Travels is available as a free book on Gutenberg.net , so you can read about the "ignorant yahoo" and a variety of other political satire, written quite a long time ago but oddly relevant in the present age!
Yahoo's right of reply: correct
Everyone else please see: Change Your Homepage to What YOU Want
This page, and others associated with it, are being worked on and updated, and as time goes on, Yahoo may yet solve the problems and refine the working methods. I speak as I find, and as my opinion of Yahoo improves I intend to reflect this in my online material. I like to get on well with people and have friendly relationships wherever possible!
Further good news on this! 2008/05: Following some more positive responses from people in Yahoo Search, it is now looking as if the search problem will be solved. Therefore, some of the material on this page (and on others associated with the matter) is being updated to take account of the improved situation.
*Further update 2008/11: After considerable discussion with people at Yahoo, the matter of "Zyra's website being banned" was looked into, and it was found that it was a mistake. As I understand it from what I've gleaned from bits of discussion, Zyra's website had been accidentally "classed" as rubbish/spam/seo-nonsense/commercialist-guff and had been banned from Yahoo search results. However, upon this being discovered by the humans at Yahoo, the good things about Zyra's site (for example the thousands of pages of worthwhile content!) were brought to light, and the ban was lifted.
However, it seems that upon the Yahoo ban being lifted, the site had to start to grow a new respect gradually from scratch. It is only now, some considerable time later, that the pages of Zyra's site are starting to appear in Yahoo searches. However, the lateness is not important. What's important is that a GOOD outcome was had in the end. So, that's why this now gets a further WELL DONE TO YAHOO!
Now things have improved to the level where we are forgiving Yahoo. So, as with Buy.at , there is a New Page for YAHOO here!
More about plagiarism on this new page.