Skip to content


Copy-rights… and -wrongs

A long while back now, Daniel Dib and I put together a collection of blog posts and new material, and released the collection as Unintended Features. Yes, this little book needs a serious update with more recent material, but … Anyway, after setting things up so you could purchase electronic copies on Amazon, things went well for a while.

Until Amazon decided I had violated the copyright on the material published on our blogs by republishing some of the same material in a book form. It’s not that anyone actually investigated if the copyright holders on the material were the same people, it was just assumed that the same material being in two different places at the same time must be a copyright violation. After I received the first take-down notification, I patiently wrote an explanation of the situation, and the book was restored. I received another take-down notice a week or so later, to which I also responded. And another a week or so after that, then two more on a single day a bit later, finally receiving a dozen or so on one day a month or two after receiving the initial notice.

At this point, I gave up. Unintended Features is no longer available on Amazon, though it is still available here.

What brought this to mind is this—I received another take-down notice today, this time for violating the copyright on a set of slides I shared on Slideshare. Specifically, an old set of slides for a presentation called How the Internet Really Works. It might be useful to recount some of the history of this presentation to give a sense of the situation.

When I worked for Verisign Labs, I was asked to create a set of slides that could be used to explain the importance of the DNS and generally how the Internet really works for various uses. I built the slide set, used it a couple of times, and then kind-of put it on the back shelf. After some time, I doubled the length of the presentation and gave it at conference. Some other folks, most notably Alvaro Retana, used a modified set of slides based on the originals to present in several places. Since then, I’ve created several versions of these slides, mostly a half an hour to an hour in length. I have the original version I developed at Verisign sitting around, as well as a version I developed while at E///, and versions I developed for several conferences.

Most recently, I’ve developed a three hour version which I present every six months or so as a live webinar over on Safari Books Online through Pearson. I update this version regularly (every six months, in fact), to account for feedback from past presentations of this material, new developments, etc. It has become packed enough that I will probably need to make this a four hour webinar in the next iteration. The quantity of information is so different that these two versions of this presentation are only related in their general outline and some common slides.

What is odd, to me, is that someone, or some system, has apparently flagged that older one hour version of the presentation as a copyright violation against some later recording. I’m being called out for copyright infringement against material I originally developed, and many people have picked up on and used in a lot of different places. This shorter version of the presentation, or ones similar to it, have been recorded and presented many different times, by different people; I doubt the concept of “copyright” against the slides (as opposed to some specific recording) holds much water. Yes, there is a difference between copyrighting a recording of a presentation and the slides used in the presentation. They are two separate works, and you can intentionally maintain the copyright on one while not maintaining the copyright on the other.

As a content creator, I’m all for copyright and protecting copyright. But in this case, there is no copyright violation I can figure out. And yet, there is no way for me to effectively argue against this sort of take-down notice. I can respond, but there is more than one notice—they are already piling up in my inbox, threatening me with legal action if I do not remove this set of slides. Each notice will require some amount of my time, and once these notices begin, experience tells me they will not end. Instead, they will pile up like that woeful pile of paper sitting in the corner of that little table that I really need to get around to looking at, but probably never will.

What I’m going to do, at this point, is pull all my presentations off Slideshare—there’s no point in using a system that won’t tell me who has complained, nor give me any real way to address the issue with a permanent solution. Most of the presentations I have uploaded there are really old anyway. Instead, I will probably upload some shorter presentations I’ve used in a lot of places over the years here on for folks to use for reference and to draw from for their own presentations.

But I’m not going to argue with an automated system that does not, will not, understand what is actually going on. Automating poorly thought-out systems almost never produces a good result. Taking shortcuts in the way things should work because the shortcut is easier to automate is always a bad idea. A fool with a tool is just a faster fool.

I don’t know when we are going to learn these lessons, but they are worth learning.

Instagram and Friday Photos

I’m making some changes to the Friday Photo series (which is why I’ve not posted any of these in a bit). I will be posting a small copy of each photo to Instagram, and a fuller image over on my smugmug page. I will be including a link to the smugmug version in the instagram post, but because of the way instragram sets things up you’ll have to copy the link out and paste it into a browser separately.

I will be going back through all my images and reprocessing them, so you will probably see duplicates from time to time.

Upcoming Safari Books Webinars

I have two webinars on Safari that might be of interest to folks who read here.

Network Troubleshooting Theory and Process

In this course I related by formal training in electronics into the networking world. The primary topic is the half-split method of troubleshooting, which tends to be much faster than the “hunch, hunt, and peck” method most folks seem to intuitively use. This is a course I give on a regular basis, though I suspect I am moving to giving this course twice a year in the future.

How Networks Really Work

This is a course I just started developing. Essentially, this will be split into two pieces. The first part will be walking through packets traversing a network; the second will be walking through various routing protocols converging on some common topologies. The aim here is to connect some of the theory I talk about to the “real world,” so this is not about covering the material, but also about covering the mindset.

I also have two more LiveLessons in production, one with Dinesh Dutt on disaggregation, and another on various forms of abstraction and the tradeoffs around abstraction (such as summarization and aggregation). I hope to have one more LiveLesson ready to publish by the end of the year, and three new live webinars, so watch this space for updates on these.

Hope to see you in one (or all!) of these webinars.

The only thing constant is change

Several things of note for the near future.

As of today, I have moved into a role at Juniper networks. You will probably hear more about what I am working on over time, both here and there, and probably other places as well.

I hope to be changing platforms from WordPress to Craft in the spring; work is currently underway. This will likely mean some things about the design of this site will change; others will remain the same. Content wise, I am going to continue highlighting interesting research, soft skills, and networking technologies, but I will be trying to focus a bit more on disaggregation in all of these areas, rather than just floating around all over the place.

More as 2019 develops.

Scroll To Top