Po' Smedley's Life And Brain Drippings

Today on Wincustomize, a fellow skinner brought to the attention of other skinners something interesting and of importance to a lot of graphic artists, wallpaper designers, and skinners in general. It was that Softpedia posts any one’s work that they want to before getting permission from the author and even if they can not contact the author to get permission.

The skinner had received an email informing him that his work had ‘already’ been posted. He shared it in the WC forum for others to see. When other artists began looking, they found their own work posted on Softpedia but some or most had never received any notification at all. None. Nadda.

So, one of these other skinners emails Softpedia about the work they posted that belongs to this particular skinner. The skinner then shared Softpedia’s response in the forum.

“Hello,
          We were unable to contact you, because we didn't find an email address. It's company policy to inform all producers when we publish their work in order to avoid misunderstandings such as this one. Anyway, would you like to completely remove your listings or just the links from our servers?
Sorry for any inconvenience
Have a good day!

Best regards,
Stefan Fintea
mailto:stefan@softpedia.com
Softpedia Senior IT Manager
http://www.softpedia.com
Join the Softpedia group on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2366085
 

There stance being that if they can’t contact the author or ‘producer’, they will just go ahead and post the work any way. To hell with respecting any ones intellectual property.

As a skinner who has spent hours, weeks, and sometimes months on just one project and then chose where it was posted because it’s my right to control where and how it is downloaded, it truly burns my butt that Softpedia taked the approach that they do. And it gets even better.

The person who sent the email to the skinner, Stefan Fintea (Senior IT Manager for Softpedia) then joined the forum discussion.

 “Softpedia does not exploit anyone's work. We respect our producers, we give them credit for their work,
  links to their homepage/websites and we award the ones who deserve it.”

Keep in mind, the work gets posted before the artist can respond or even if they don’t. It’s posted even if they can not contact the artist.

 “We don't like the idea of going around their/your back, that's why we search for each producer's email.”

He doesn’t state if the search for the ‘producers’ email takes place before or after they post the ‘producers’ work.

  “If we do find it, they receive a notification message.”

If they don’t find it, they post the work any way!

“The idea behind this email is simple: the producer gets notified each time his worked goes online at Softpedia, he can see if the listing meets his requirements and acknowledges his wish to have that item on Softpedia.”

Again, he leaves out what they do with the work when they have no way to contact the author OR if the author never responds. Then goes further by insinuating it was the authors ‘wish’ to begin with to have their work posted on Softpedia.

He goes on to say should you be one of the unsuspecting authors who discovers your work has been posted on Softpedia without permission a simple email will resolve the situation. It would almost have to, because at that point ignorance is no longer bliss and they are forced to admit they DID go behind your back and stole your intellectual property and posted it without your consent. They don’t even have an email to say they tried to reach you in some cases.

But it gets better…..

“So, if anyone feels that having their work published and awarded on one of the biggest and most respected download portals is not in their benefit or puts them in a bad light, an email we'll easily solve the problem, “

Isn’t this the kind of attitude that cost Microsoft billions in Europe? It’s not the thief, but class of thief and you should be grateful that Softpedia wants to rape you of your hard work and devotion to promote their website and service.

The response from Softpedias Senior IT Manager set me off. I responded using the ‘F’ word in more than a few choice places. I referred to Softpedias download portal as a toilet since I felt they were all about accumulating the most sh*t. Mr. Fintea was to say..

“That's your opinion and I respect it. But if you think we're the bad guys, we're the worst download portal in the world, I think there are hunderds of download websites out there that never notify producers when they pubish their work, they don't check those programs for viruses, they don't install them and take screenshots, they never answer your emails and sure as hell don't care about what you want, not to mention replying on a third-party forum like I'm doing right now..”

The lesser of two evils. And because he took the time to admit it, all should be right with the world. Because they check the work they steal for viruses, they are better. Because when they get ‘caught’ stealing someone’s work to post on their site (and I don’t care if it’s ‘linked’ or not, it’s theft! If I wanted it on Softpedia I would try to post it there) and respond to the author, they are better. “Your honor, I only took the best stuff “ “Your honor, when they caught me, I offered to put it back.”

In the midst of all this, a few things crossed my mind. (Other than images of this guy being pummeled with athletic socks stuffed with bars of Zest until he was peeing brain matter in his jockeys) This guy is the ‘SENIOR IT MANAGER’ for Softpedia and he also has to be a member at WC to post in the forum. A click later and I see he has been a member for over a year! How could a senior IT manager from any where not know his way around the web or enough about it to not know any better than to do what they are doing? AND how could he be a member of WC for over a year and and say they could not find a way to contact ANY of the artists there? There are forums! All the members can receive Private Messages! Most have email links on their personal pages!

My next colorfully worded response addressed all of this. His response was …

“Misinterpretation 1: I'm a member because a while back I had a question to ask and needed an account to post it. Haven't used this account since then, because I'm not a frequent user of WC.
Misinterpretation 2: The content on Softpedia was not posted by me, as you can see I'm not an editor, so my membership is, once again, not relevant.
Misinterpretation 3: I've answered to her letter because I'm one of the people who offer users feedback when they have a problem, not WC users in particular.”

He admits he is familiar with the site and how it works and how the forums work. SO he is capable of contacting or posting to any artist he wants in the forums.. He excuses himself because he is NOT an editor for Softpedia and did not post the work..THEN…says he is “one of the people who offers users feedback when they have a problem”.

After I point out that the skinner in question probably was NOT a ‘USER’ until they stole their work and posted it WITHOUT permission and forced them to contact them…I say he’s full of…uh..something or other.

A random thought -*Softpedia….is your Senior IT Manager just spitting out a form letter you all have ready to send for these violations of intellectual property and copyright or does this dork-wad speak for Softpedia??? How can someone get that title and be so ignorant and so nonchalant about the blatant disregard they or Softpedia has for other peoples work?

I kept waiting for this guy to see that he might be wrong, but he obviously was holding to Softpedias stance of ‘we are THAT big so screw you’.

You may or my not agree with me that Softpedia is in the wrong here. The fine legalities of it could probably be debated for years. However, I do feel strongly that Softpedia, as one of the ‘biggest and most respected download portals’ should be more responsible about how they acquire their content. They don’t even link to the download but offer ‘direct download’ of the work from THEIR site.

Quoting a very wise member of WC who was involved in the thread…

..” The situation we have here …..that the author/owner of the work uploads his/her content to the site and retains physical access and control of that work when or if it is his/her decision to remove or alter it.  Such is not the case with Softpedia as the occasion clearly has arisen where owners are actually oblivious to the unauthorised redistribution.”

The icing on the cake for all of this would have to be Softpedias copyright page.

“Softpedia Online Content Copyright Information
The following applies to all content published by Softpedia via electronic means, such as Internet websites, email messages and so on, hereinafter referred to as CONTENT.
Most of the CONTENT is original, created by Softpedia staff and is protected by copyright laws. Any reproduction of these works, without Softpedia's written consent, is strictly prohibited and will be punished according to the laws in effect.”

Do you laugh or cry?

To quote the wise man again…because I couldn’t put it any better…

“The issue with an individual's property rights is that he MUST vigorously defend those rights at any and every opportunity....because....if at one time he says 'I don't care'...or shows no interest in their protection the horse has bolted for any future attempt at protection.  A subsequent 'abuser' can point to the prior indifference as what we call in the architecture game as 'first intrusion' [when a block of flats is hard to reject when a precedent was already set by - the first intrusion [block built]].

People need to keep a firm grip on their stable door.

If YOU do not care about your property rights then rest assured....no-one else will, either.”

So, please. If you are a fellow skinner, artist, graphics designer…OR someone who just downloads the afore mentioned and respects the time, talent, and love that goes into the art….and you want Softpedia to know that they need to stop and respect the artist or ‘producer’ as they put it…do it now. Email them. Link this post. Tweet it. And spread the word.

Original forum thread can be found on Wincutomize with the link below. Please excuse my ‘language’ should you read it. I have always believed the first person to snap and start ‘cursing’ loses the argument. I hope you can see past that and I haven’t necessarily lost this one.

P.S. Softpedia….with the economy as bad as it is, I know how you might save a few thousand dollars a year. Stop posting others work before getting or without permission! Then you can eliminate the person who has to field all the complaints from violated skinners. Say, for instance, eliminate the Senior IT Manager.

 


Comments (Page 1)
on Oct 27, 2009

Po, quit breaking things , if ur gonna break the foums, bugger on over to softpedia and do it

 

I do actually agree with u, just making light is all

on Oct 27, 2009

Please excuse my ‘language’ should you read it. I have always believed the first person to snap and start ‘cursing’ loses the argument. I hope you can see past that and I haven’t necessarily lost this one.

Po, yes you must have missed the bit where I mentioned that it is almost always better to politely seek a solution to copyright abuse/misuse/indifference....

I do recall a time several years ago when I went into bat [on Deviantart and Nullsoft] for Treetog/Pixtudio when a silly girl in the UK posted one of Renato's WinAMP skins as hers.

The CEO of Nullsoft called me a 'clusterfuck', successfully losing the debate.

The issue was resolved once the person involved was 'located' to such an extent that a colleague in the UK asked if I'd like him to pop around and drop in on her place and 'explain' the error/s of her ways. [by that stage she was posting a bastardised version of one of my WA skins].

I soon had an apology, and no, I declined the offer.

********************

Some people just do it for 'fun'....others do it [violate copyright] through simple ignorance.

I would like to think that this instance is simply the latter.  Softpedia is simply unaware of International Copyright Law and how it pertains to the Graphic art industry, online and/or otherwise.

on Oct 27, 2009

I'm trying to 'fix' it but it won't let me edit it. sigh.

on Oct 27, 2009

Po...you used a word text editor that the site doesn't like.

If you copy paste any missing text into a simple editor such as notepad...and then copy paste it here....I'll reinsert it for you....

It was the first para or so...

on Oct 27, 2009

MS Word and the forums do not play well together.

Po...Nice job summing up the fiasco of the day.

 

on Oct 27, 2009

Think I got it fixed. Yeah, I was using Word. Should have started with Live Writer.

 

Thanks for the comments and support.

on Oct 27, 2009

I have seen Softpedia before but always thought it was just a software/program site like Major Geeks.  I guess we learn new things everyday. 

on Oct 28, 2009

I'm with you on this one, Po'. I confess that I didn't like you going off so strongly, but you're right. I would have thought Softpedia would have known better, but apparently not. You've presented the situation with great clarity. They should be made aware as politely as possible that they require the copyright owner's permission.

This thread is possibly going to go unnoticed unless it happens to be in the Recent Forum Activity list. It's in one of the "invisible" categories that doesn't show up in the general list (like Sneak Previews--I couldn't find that for the longest time). I think it's important enough to move into a category that is shown in the Forum Categories list so that it will show on the general lists.

on Oct 28, 2009

Thanks, Po! Good piece!!

on Oct 28, 2009

This thread is possibly going to go unnoticed unless it happens to be in the Recent Forum Activity list.

I originally posted it to JoeUser. Not sure how it ended up on WC.

 

Thanks for the support!

on Oct 28, 2009

I originally posted it to JoeUser. Not sure how it ended up on WC.

Cross-posting.

I absolutely support you in this (as in most all...). Great job of summing it up.

Admiral Adama: "Frak The Rippers. So say we all."

BSG Crew: "So say we all!"

on Oct 28, 2009

Interesting article. I do have a question or 2 though. I did read most of the article but failed to understand something. How did Softpedia get the product made by the skinner? And how did they not have an email from the person who's product they posted on their site? For that matter wouldn't the person they got the product from be registered with them and most likely have an email considering Softpedia is an internet site?

on Oct 28, 2009

Well said Po.  It does become overwhelming though.  I have tried to keep up and protect my copyrights but often it seems hopeless and just better not to post in the first place.  Friends are kind enough to advise me of sites illegally displaying my work and I try to follow up, but the suckers do wear you down!

on Oct 28, 2009

Interesting article. I do have a question or 2 though. I did read most of the article but failed to understand something. How did Softpedia get the product made by the skinner?

Softpedia obvoiusly downloaded the CONTENT from WC and other skinning sites and hosted it.

 

And how did they not have an email from the person who's product they posted on their site? For that matter wouldn't the person they got the product from registered and most likely have an email considering Softpedia is an internet site?

 

In these cases (I can't speak for all the CONTENT on softpedia) the artists were unaware that their property was being hosted and none of them were registered members of softpedia.

 

 

 

 

on Oct 28, 2009

How did Softpedia get the product made by the skinner?

Downloaded it from Wincustomize and posted it to their own site for direct download.

And how did they not have an email from the person who's product they posted on their site?

Claimed they could not find an email address to contact the skinner. Though they could have used WC's PM or forums to contact them if they really wanted to.

For that matter wouldn't the person they got the product from be registered with them and most likely have an email considering Softpedia is an internet site?

No. And if they 'were' and Softpedia still didn't contact them, that would just be salt on the wound.

I have tried to keep up and protect my copyrights but often it seems hopeless and just better not to post in the first place.

It does seem pretty hopeless at times.But if we don't keep up the fight, no one is going to do it for us.

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