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The J. Michael Straczynski Message Archive

 

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 Message
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/1/1996 7:02:00 AM  

Message 1 in thread 

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All messages entered into the Compuserve system are copyrighted
by CIS, and the user; they cannot be posted elsewhere without the
permission of the sender, and the system. Mine are somewhat of an
exception, since they can be posted anywhere, but even there I had to
write specifically to AOL giving permission before they'd allow my
messages from here to be reprinted. It is always required to do this;
otherwise it's not only morally repugnant, it's illegal.

A user named Theron Fuller has just taken a great number of
your messages posted on the DS9 and B5 folders and reposted them to the
Internet (rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5). Among those users whose messages
have been taken without their knowledge or permission are Rae
Augenstein, Anthony Davis, and Jose J. Ortiz Carlo. There are
apparently more. To verify this all you need to do is go over to that
forum and look for threads with "so you miss Joe Straczynski's
dialogue" -- or words to that effect -- in the thread.

From Theron's own statements, these were excerpted from a
*mailing list* which some individuals maintain for the sole purpose of
forwarding messages they think will do me harm. Or in general, to keep
track of me, as stalkers do. (This statement by Theron is also in the
same thread there.) One individual has indicated that this mailing list
was maintained by the Hall Brothers. So apparently your compuserve
messages (and AOL messages, and who knows how many others) have been
circulated without your knowledge or permission, posted and reposted on
other forums, and mailing lists. And now he has begun posting your
messages publicly.

This is a violation of both your copyright and that of
Compuserve. It is morally and ethically repugnant. It is illegal.

If you object, I suggest you contact Compuserve and register
your displeasure with this, and also the postmaster at Theron's
account, since he was the one who publicly violated your copyright, and
took your messages without your permission. (The users cited, btw, are
only the ones noted in the current batch of messages he reposted; the
odds are good that virtually *everyone* here has been excerpted and
remailed/reposted since this mailing list has been going on for some
time.) I would suggest you demand to have access to the mailing list
of all reposted messages from Compuserve (and that those on other
services do the same).

Theron Fuller's user id is fuller@ix.netcom.com and the
postmaster can likely be found there. I would also suggest that the
sysops here lodge a formal protest, and get CIS to do the same, in
order to protect the rights not only of CIS, but of the users to post
here and know that their words will not be excerpted, reposted, or
otherwise used in or out of context without their knowledge or
permission.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/1/1996 12:35:00 PM  

Message 2 in thread 

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Mike Hoffmann <100321.2604@compuserve.com> asks:
> Wouldn't doing so vastly exxagerate their importance - and be
> just what they want? How could anything I or others on this forum
> write be harmful to you or the show? Put it another way: is it
> worth it? Is there any indication they have harmfully falsified
> the posts of this forum?

No, I don't mind if my messages get reposted all over; I've
long ago given permission for anything I write to get reposted
anywhere. It's just that others have been having their stuff reposted,
without their knowing, and I find it vastly inappropriate to do so
without the courtesy of even letting them know. It's a real breach of
trust.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/1/1996 3:32:00 PM  

Message 3 in thread 

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Mike Hoffmann <100321.2604@compuserve.com> asks:
> Only: what permanent remedy is there?
> Legal action?
> And who has the time or the means to pursue that?
> Physical violence?

There is no permanent solution; but people should be aware of
this, in case they do have a problem with it, so that they can at least
know it's going on...at most perhaps encourage those doing this to
cease by virtue of complaining about it to them or to their service
providers.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/2/1996 11:10:00 AM  

Message 4 in thread 

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Bernard F. Dowdy, J <76550.347@compuserve.com> asks:
> I probably know the answer to this already, but here goes: Have
> you ever provided fans or viewers with any such documentation?

"Have you ever provided fans or viewers with any such
documentation?" I think I need clarification here...documentation of
what?

Also, if you did get a copy of the original email "digest" of
messages from here, was there an address on the point of origin, i.e.,
who was sending them around initially?

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/2/1996 4:02:00 PM  

Message 5 in thread 

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Neil Blevins <102226.3566@compuserve.com> asks:
> Have you ever tried this tactic before?
> Do you think he will gladly hand over his list of contacts at
> C-serve?

What you're forgetting in the conversation is the issue of
copyright. As a poster here on this forum, everything that you write is
the joint copyright of you and CIS. Copyright infringement is
punishable by law. Now maybe one can't keep chasing down people who
take others' messages and shut down their access to various systems,
it's problematic...but for each time one engages in copyright
infringement, the *minimum* penalty under the law is $100,000 per
instance. If one chose to pursue it that far.

It'd be no different than taking a whole section of, say, a
Greg Bear novel, and posting it on the nets without his permission.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/2/1996 4:32:00 PM  

Message 6 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

Okay, I *think* I know what that refers to; I wrote a long
message on one of the services about the ratings system, but it's
nothing I saved, I just explained it that one time as best I could.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/2/1996 4:32:00 PM  

Message 7 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

Short version: anyone with even minor celebrity -- and there
can be no more minor a celebrity than a producer -- attracts a certain
number of what can only be described as stalkers. Stalkers range from
vaguely annoying to disturbing (and disturbed) individuals. I have
acquired about six or so who are dedicated to one singular goal: trying
to disrupt my life, my career and my show through a constant, chronic
pattern of abuse, insults, outright fabrications, disinformation
campaigns, and innuendo. Six doesn't seem like a lot, and in the
grander scheme, they're irrelevant; on the less grand level, because
they are singularly dedicated to this cause, utterly tireless, they
can, and have, paralyzed whole discussion areas, poisoned topics and
made places on the net unlivable for me and many others.

Several of them, if they were doing via other means -- mail,
phone, in person -- what they are doing on the nets, could easily be
arrested and prosecuted under any of a number of anti-stalking laws,
for creating malicious mischief, character assassination, and other
charges. But the nature of the net makes it easier for these
individuals -- who are basically cowards -- to do what they do with a
relative (though shrinking) degree of impunity.

Their behavior is pathological at best, and it was the exposure
on a daily basis to their virulent pathology, the necessity to respond
each and every day to the next new charge or rumor or lie -- which, if
unanswered, becomes assumed truth on the nets -- that in time drove me
from rastb5. As with most Internet newsgroups, it does not have the
same safeguards against chronic abusive personalities that are present
in CIS, AOL, GEnie and other systems and BBSs across the country.

A number of people who've gotten tired of the chronic abuse of
the system, and each other, recently resolved to try and create a new
moderated group whose purpose would be to ONLY restrict these chronic,
abusive messages from the petty dysfunctional, while allowing a) a full
range of open criticism and language, and b) not in any way affecting
or censoring the original rastb5 area. Any group of people can agree
to come together and form a group of their own, with their own rules,
which others may or may not choose to enter. When and if that group
gets approved, many of the users who left rastb5 will sign on with this
new group, myself included.

(I understand there's a discussion about this issue currently
going on over there, using the words censorship and nightwatch. Which
are loaded terms designed to elicit an emotional response and muddy the
waters. Censorship is enacted against an individual against his or her
will; anyone who joins the moderated newsgroup, should it be approved,
does so knowing the charter of the group, thus expressing a willingness
to go along with that, just as anyone signing on with CIS understands
the general guidelines here. If someone doesn't want to work under
those guidelines, they need not sign on, and hang out in the
unmoderated area. How this relatively simple logic gets muddied is
beyond me.)

In any event, to your question...if any of the less than
rock-solid individuals noted three paragraphs above are asking for your
cooperation, that decision is between you and your conscience.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/2/1996 4:33:00 PM  

Message 8 in thread 

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{original post had no questions}

Absolutely. You're quite right. The other digest of my
messages is a fine and fair thing, because I've said that my messages
can be reposted anywhere, anytime. It's others who have not given
their permission, and the messages involved, that they may need to be
made aware of. (Darn, ended on a dangling preposition....)

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/2/1996 5:04:00 PM  

Message 9 in thread 

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Mike Hoffmann <100321.2604@compuserve.com> asks:
> Is this sudden request related to the events of message abuse?

If Brent Barrett -- not one of the Demento Half-Dozen -- is
asking permission to repost your messages, then he's doing this
properly. So if you don't mind your posts being reposted, by all
means, give permission.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/3/1996 3:06:00 PM  

Message 10 in thread 

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They do it because they ain't wired up right, Joel....

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/3/1996 3:06:00 PM  

Message 11 in thread 

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For starters, read the message I just left here regarding my
own email. To the question at hand...ask the reposter to please not
repost your messages. From what I saw from Brent, he's a very
reasonable fellow, and will oblige. Anyone else, tell them the same
thing, if that's your decision.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/3/1996 3:06:00 PM  

Message 12 in thread 

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Every once in a while, I get something along these lines,
though so far usually it's enough just to tell them to please back off
a little. Their desire is usually well-meaning, just...overly
enthusiastic. For a while, I was getting 7-8 messages a day from a few
different people, in email, asking extremely detailed background
questions, literally dozens at a time, every day. Eventually, I had to
ask some of them to just back away and stop it. So far they have, some
with greater grace than others.

A related problem I have sometimes is that people will send me
email with 5, 8, or 20 questions (literally), each question requiring
an elaborate explanation to be clear. I don't think they understand
the sheer volume of email I get on a daily basis. If a person sends me
one or two questions I can answer fairly briefly, they'll usually get
an answer. If it's something like this, I go into overload, and either
say "sorry" or just don't reply. If I were to engage in that kind of
detailed email correspondence, I'd a) never have time for the show, and
b) 2/3rds of the rest of my email would never get answered. It's hard
to fault them, because it's clear that their messages spring from real
interest in the show. I just think they don't really understand how
*much* email I get on a daily basis. (So in general, if it's a general
question of any sort, from which others might benefit from the answer,
*always* post it publicly instead of emailing it. This also saves me
from having to answer the same question in email 50 times.)

Then there was the one person I told to avoid sending me email
with 15 questions...who solved the problem by sending me 15 emails with
1 question each.....

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/3/1996 3:06:00 PM  

Message 13 in thread 

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Actually, casual copyright infringement has been dealt with
more and more lately; one of the reason you see precise instructions in
Kinko's Copier locations, and the reason they won't copy a full
manuscript unless you can prove you own it, is because they got hit
bigtime over the issue. It is, as you say, an area which has been dealt
with only casually, but which I suspect is going to get more attention,
particularly as the nets come more fully under the scrutiny of Suits.

(I think I just made an inadvertent pun...)

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/3/1996 3:06:00 PM  

Message 14 in thread 

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Well said, Cynthia.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/3/1996 3:06:00 PM  

Message 15 in thread 

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Thank you for your forthrightness, and your honesty, and your
dilligence in dealing with the situation. I think your approach is a
good model for anyone in this situation.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/3/1996 3:06:00 PM  

Message 16 in thread 

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Not per se, but it was interesting nonetheless.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/3/1996 3:07:00 PM  

Message 17 in thread 

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No, Brent seems okay.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/6/1996 10:32:00 AM  

Message 18 in thread 

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Philip Hornsey <74053.2101@compuserve.com> asks:
> Do you think that this is some innocent person that reposted a
> bunch of our material which was then grabbed by the Fullers, or
> is this some twisted scheme?

You must understand that because I'm not on rastb5, my info
comes secondhand. My understanding, from TF's own statements, is that
this last round came about because of a mailer generated by people who
like trying to "mind-phuque" me, of which he is one, and is thus on the
list. (The term is his, cleaned up for cis.)

There are, on the other hand, other lists compiled by people
who're fans of the show, for general information purposes. They should
not be considered in the same way, and as far as I can tell, they are
going to great lengths to do this the right way.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/8/1996 3:42:00 PM  

Message 19 in thread 

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{original post unavailable}

Thanks. If one watches the show "religiously," does that mean
one must angle the TV so one faces Mecca, or is simple genuflection
sufficient?

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/9/1996 6:13:00 PM  

Message 20 in thread 

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{original post unavailable}

As usual, Buzz Dixon's hold on reality is tenuous at best. He is
engaging in the same tactics that tore apart the Guild, in part because
he was one of those directly involved in the smear campaigns involving
the BBS in question.

It's ironic...a BBS is found in which messages from WGA users have
been slandered, their sexual, drug, personal and work habits not only
openly ridiculed but *catalogued* in library archive
files...constituting a de facto blacklist...and this is revealed...and
somehow by virtue of showing how a small group of people were
maintaining a system dedicated to slander, libel and character
assassination itself characterizes an attack on them is mind boggling
to say the least.

Yes, a user gave me full authorization to access a particular BBS,
where I found that members of the WGA Board of Directors, the head of
the WGA BBS and others were involved in actions against their fellow
members, outright libel, and in violation of Guild rules. I reported
this to the Guild, which for political reasons chose to do nothing,
leaving me with no choice than to go public with this. Because careers
of other writers were being systematically undermined. It was the
right thing to do, and I'd do it again.

If Buzz is saying that these messages were "selectively edited," then
he is lying through his teeth, plain and simple. The entire text, with
every single comma in place, was made available to the WGA, and if
anything had been taken out of context, all the sysops of this system
had to do was to give the WGA access to the message base to prove it.
They never did this, and swiftly wiped out the libraries in question,
purged the message base, and quickly changed the name of the BBS
itself. Becuase they'd been caught doing something utterly
reprehensible and indefensible...except by those people directly
involved, who're still trying to cover their butts, and smear others in
order to protect themselves. As is being done here. Every so often,
this thread reappears, the same BS stuff gets posted. Ain't no big
deal.

I have not "deliberately lied about scores of other writers." This is
an outright lie itself. If I had done so, I would have been sued out
of business.

The majority of the other points raised are the usual distortions,
fabrications, petty lies and bigger ones, which are trotted out on a
regular basis by a very small group of dysfunctional individuals bent
on revenge because I exposed their little smear-club in front of the
whole of the WGA. The story was reported upon in the trades, in the
local press, even some national press. And, in fact, it led to a
"writer" who was in fact NOT a writer, but a convicted felon who'd
snuck into the WGA on fake credits, being exposed and removed from the
WGA.

And yes, absolutely, several Guild members took the WGA BBS to court
because it was engaging in illegal business practices. It issued a
User's Agreement which was against labor law, in that it restricted
message topics and discussions on the WGA BBS, which as a union house
cannot legally control or restrict information by union members on its
property. This prior restraint was tacitly illegal, and a simple
attempt to restrict criticism of Guild officials. So if you've got
something illegal...you take it to court. And the court was about to
rule that it WAS illegal when the WGA abruptly dropped the UA and shut
down the BBS in a move not unlike the current situation in Utah, where
to avoid one student group existing, the state shut down ALL student
groups. The fee asked for in the suit was to cover the expense of
filing a suit against the Guild, which is more than $1, as Dixon well
knows. But, again, the facts aren't at issue here.

The tactics of the BBS I stumbled upon were to assemble a series of
outright lies, innuendo, misinformation, disinformation, and bile into
a collected form, which they could use at whim to discredit, harm, or
otherwise smear their fellow WGA members. I'm not at all surprised to
see that those who were involved in that practice are still continuing
it, and that they have dragged this out into the public again. They
got caught with their genitalia in the door, and they will never
forgive the public humiliation that came when the facts came out.

If I had done anything amiss, the Guild or other members had the right
to file charges against me. Nothing has ever happened. Because they
were in the wrong. The Guild shut down its own BBS rather than allow
members speak openly about Guild policies *as required by union law*,
engaging in the kind of censorship and prior restraint which any writer
must abhor.

So now, all we have left is the sour grapes, bile and hatred from
those who got exposed. These are sad creatures, really. I feel great
pity for them, and do hope they seek counseling for this sometime soon.
They know that what they say isn't true; they just hope that by putting
it out there, that this will be enough to cause trouble, which is their
fondest hope. To smear.

What actions I took in this were legally, morally and ethically
correct, and it's all very old news. Buzz should get a life.
Preferably one that does not involve the continued habit of his peers
of smearing other WGA members, as he does here, with half-truths,
untruths, distortions and nonsense. This particular act has gotten
*real* old.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/24/1996 5:36:00 PM  

Message 21 in thread 

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{original post unavailable}

As I understand it, CIS claims compilation copyright to all
messages as a whole, but you retain the rights to your own specific
messages, so you can repost your own stuff anywhere you like, and if
someone wants to repost yours, all they have to do is get your
permission, as folks here are now doing, and it's all kosher.

jms
    From: J. Michael Straczynski <71016.1644@compuserve.com>
 Subject: Violating Your Privacy
      To: CIS  
    Date: 3/31/1996 6:04:00 AM  

Message 22 in thread 

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(blocked) asks:
> At that point, I guess I would wonder out loud what difference it
> makes if my public words are seen merely by the hundreds in here,
> or the many hundreds or thousands "out there"? But the messages I
> wrote with the expectation of their being read by hundreds of
> strangers anyway??? Does the idea that hundreds *more* might see
> them bother me?

Which is exactly the point. If you're not bothered in the
least, then it isn't an issue. It just seemed fair and proper to
notify those who *might* have a problem with it, and some did. It just
allows people to make informed choices.

jms

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