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TUEBL has recently come under fire from a small number authors and publishers who did not know about our service and thought we were up to something no good. Instead of replying to each problem individually on Twitter, we thought we would answer some of the most common questions here and provide our own statement.

On behalf of TUEBL and myself (Travis McCrea), I would like to start by apologizing to any author/publisher who found copyrighted material on TUEBL. While we encourage our users not to upload copyrighted material, we have yet to find a way to block the upload of copyrighted material before it’s posted. This is not an issue unique to TUEBL: Facebook, Flickr, Grooveshark, SoundCloud, and other websites are working to find ways to protect copyright holders while allowing the free flow of information.

Even YouTube with it’s parent company Google has had a problem with this, they only recently came up with a solution which cost them millions of dollars and impedes on the rights of countless people who are uploading fair use material, or even just random videos that get caught in the crossfire. Even if we wanted to use their system, it would be very difficult if not impossible for TUEBL to replicate.

Because of the load it would put on our servers, we don’t and can’t have a user system. Our “user system” currently is powered by another website who was kind enough to offer TUEBL integration solutions and a place for people to talk about TUEBL but other than that is not related to TUEBL.

As a published writer myself, and having a second book on the way… I know what it’s like to be attached to your writing. TUEBL disagrees with current copyright law, and I believe that authors who cling to copyright are misguided by an industry which wishes to hold them back… however, TUEBL is not the one to make that choice for an author, we are simply here for the authors who want to go somewhere new.

Our current copyright system was developed side by side with a Harper Collins UK’s Vice President who was in charge of copyright management. We developed the system for him so that his company could immediately remove books they owned the rights to. For everyone else we were using traditional DMCA methods, having a copyright holder email us and us manually approving the takedown which could take up to 72 hours. This is how most sites still do it.

We changed the system and opened up this instant copyright removal system to everyone. Even though other websites who tried to do this have had issues with bogus takedown claims, we wanted to assume good intent so we launched our system that we had built for HC for everyone. Unfortunately it was abused, heavily, there were automated scripts which were indiscriminately removing content from our website and authors were complaining that their books had been removed.

A few weeks ago we finally tackled this situation by redeveloping an entire DMCA system. This new system is still fully automated like the old system, but requires a bit more effort. Still above and beyond the complaince requirements set forth by the US DMCA system, we asked for the basic information that the DMCA requests of every person who submits to any site:

* Name
* Contact Information (inc Phone, Email, Address)
* Information about copyrighted work

To a new author, or an author who hasn’t submitted many DMCA notices in their life… these might sound scary. We assure you that they are very standard, you can look at the DMCA requests which have been submitted to Chilling Effects to see example DMCA notices https://www.chillingeffects.org/notice.cgi — also note how labour intensive it must be to file a DMCA notice like this.

To make the system easier for copyright holders to use — we made the site remember the information that you stored on our server so that if in the future you have to remove more copyrighted material (which we hope you don’t), you wont have to fill out any more information everything should just be done. Fill out your unique code at the bottom and Bobs your uncle.

While we are truly sorry that any copyrighted material has been uploaded to TUEBL — it is a part of the modern Internet. Community websites get copyrighted material uploaded, what shows the true intentions of those websites is what they do next. TUEBL has proven itself to be a top website in the realm of protecting copyright holders by giving them the tools they need to remove their work.

We are always developing new ways to help authors who upload their books to TUEBL, and we hope that many of you see the archic ways of copyright and decide to upload your books yourself. You get a wealth of knoweldge about how frequently your books are being downloaded, links back to your website, and soon a system where people can donate to you directly through TUEBL.

It makes us sad any time a person is upset. At the time being, we feel the best course of action is to leave this here… and take a step away so that cooler heads can prevail. Of course, we will still be here to provide support to any author who needs it.

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Shocker of the year, people: PayPal has blocked the Kopimist Church of Idaho!

Ok. It’s not the jaw-dropping scoop of the century. With their (admitted) politically-motivated blocking of WikiLeaks, PayPal made it crystal clear a long time ago that they are not exactly an equal-opportunity service provider. We can’t be surprised when they make life difficult. But we also don’t have to be ok with it.

And, this just in, we’re not.

Here’s the 30-second background for anyone who missed it: in September, Paypal blocked the accounts for the Kopimist Church of Idaho over the Kopimists’ connection to TUEBL. Despite attempts to resolve things peaceably – starting with asking (in vain!) about exactly what triggered the block – PayPal has proved to be uninterested in finding a solution.

This is a problem.

Firsty, this is legal cowardice: PayPal is acting as judge, jury, and executioner over, not only a site, but an entire organization, because it is uncomfortable with a site’s content. Even if it were alright to cut off an entire organization for one outside site that it supports (hint: it’s not), there’s still the problem of that site itself not having done anything to get cut off in the first place. TUEBL is entirely DMCA compliant with a takedown process far more liberal than even Google or YouTube.

Secondly this is a denial of services based on ideological differences. Specifically, religious differences. And in case you were born yesterday or are from one of those (*shudder*) Not-America places, we take those differences kinda seriously around here. Had PayPal’s blockade held some legal water, it might be easier to overlook this particular problem. But with no valid legal concerns whatsoever, PayPal makes it clear their actions are completely ideological.

That’s not okay.

But, alright. We get it.

A lot of people can’t conceive of a religion that doesn’t involve dressing up in funny hats and weird robes. Or at least lighting some candles. A lot of people can’t conceive of a spiritual system where the sacred is not some external supernatural force, but rather something highly visible and relatable: the ubiquitous power of everyday people sharing information.

Yeah, it’s weird.

But Annie Edison was right: Everyone’s faith is weirdIs it really so much weirder to have seeds & peers instead of robes & candles? So, without weirdness as an appropriate measure of who gets to freedom of religion, what exactly is the extent of the First Amendment?

Of course, there is grey area. There are limitations on freedom. We recognize that the freedom of speech doesn’t extend to harassment. We recognize that freedom of the press doesn’t extend to libel. We recognize that freedom of assembly doesn’t extend to vandalism and mob violence. We recognize that freedom of religion doesn’t extend to human sacrifice. But the exceptions to the First Amendment all concern illegal actions, not individual’s ideologies. By and large, in the United States, individuals are free to believe what they want and practice those beliefs as they see fit.

So have we found the extent of the First Amendment?

Is it not just illegal actions that are excluded now, but disagreeable beliefs? And if that’s the case, then who gets to decide what is disagreeable? Do the entertainment industries get to decide what is and isn’t an appropriate belief system?

That seems to be exactly the authority that PayPal is deferring to in their decision to block the Kopimists. Without any illegal actions, they are drawing a purely belief-based line in the sand. And that line, in this case, is drawn by the copyright industry distaste for a perfectly legal site.

These industries are already fighting to put limits on our rights to privacy and communication. Are we really going to let them decide the limits on our beliefs too? Really?

PayPal seems to be okay with it.

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This was a guest post I did, originally published November 9, 2011, for the now-defunct online literary magazine Fiction Brigade. It’s that time of year again, and since Fiction Brigade no longer exists, I’m reposting this here.

Some thoughts on NaNoWriMo:

That’s right.

Writing 50,000 words in a month may be a walk in the park for the romance writer who turns out four books a year or the daily columnist who can sleep-write 1500 words before an 8am deadline. For everyone else, there’s sleep loss, stress, hunger pains, burns from spilled tea, glares from neglected friends and family, headaches from staring at the screen all day, and that nagging feeling that there you are forgetting things that need to be done–if only you could remember… but Chapter 2 keeps getting in the way.

The whole month is a painful rush to the finish line to end the mental and physical fatigue and rejoin the rest of the world.

So why a person would choose to do this?

Simple: November is cold.

At least, for much of the world it is. It snows and it freezes and it gets dark way too early. Some days it’s not too bad and we get tricked into putting on our sneakers instead of our boots, or the light jacket instead of the big puffy one, or putting out hands in our pockets instead of in chunky mittens. Then when the first flakes start to fall and our feet and our arms and our hands start shivering, we remember that, yes, winter is coming. And somewhere between the snowing and the freezing and the darkening sky we’re supposed to go on with life as if it were sunny and warm and everyone were cheerful.

It’s miserable.

But when you’re bundled up with a cup of tea and an overheating laptop, things get a little warmer.

When your busty protag finally seduces your stoic hero and they fall into a torrid affair, things get hot.

When your villain gets the drop on your hero and things aren’t looking so good, things reach their boiling point.

And when the pep talks from writers all over the world start coming in and there’s a warm glow in your heart that’s hard to dim or frost over, things look brighter.

When it’s three weeks in and the last ten thousand or one thousand or one hundred words tumble out onto the screen, the finish line blazes in the distance.

When the last word trembles on the keys, the light at the end of the tunnel is blinding.

And when 11:59 on November 30th expires, the victory dances and commiseration parties keep warm and bright the way till the next race.

November is cold and dark; NaNoWriMo isn’t. Which month do you want to spend these 30 days in?

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It is October 16th! What does that mean? It is OFFICIALLY halfway through October (Ok, technically, that’s like noon today, and I’m a bit early. Whatever. I’m excited.) And what does that mean? It is OFFICIALLY (totally) NaNoWriMo Countdown season.

 

If you don’t know about NaNoWriMo (and WHY the f–ok never mind, I’ll give you a break in light of the government shutdown. It IS kinda distracting) then take a look here: http://nanowrimo.org  NaNo is National Novel Writing Month where you write a novel (50,000) words in a month, and it’s pretty much the best thing ever.

I’m particularly ecstatic about this year, because it will be the first time in a LOOOONG time that I am actually, genuinely participating. Over the past few years, what with my own publishing and writing schedule, I sort of half-heartedly did NaNo.Yes,  I was a NaNo Rebel! Last year and the year before, I worked on my own projects that I started before November, and the year before that, I worked on a collection of short stories - breaking the cardinal rule of NaNoWriMo.  I still aimed for 50,000 words, but pretty much broke all the rules in the process! Plus, two out of the last three, I didn’t even get close to my goal.

But not this year.

NaNo Rebels, it’s been fantastic. But now, I’m off to join the rest of the NaNos.

This year, I’m starting anew with a true NaNoWriMo project and a true desire to follow all the rules!

This blog is home to a TON of NaNo posts (well, it happens every year…) and links to November-related guest posts elsewhere. And so because:

1) there are all the new people here (Hey TUEBLovers!), and

2) I’m going to busy writing my ass off,

I’ll be mixing in some links and addendums to my old NaNo ramblings, along with new NaNoWriMo commentary when I have the time!

So anyone joining me?

Posted by & filed under Publishing and Publishers, TUEBL. no comments yet :(

Hey world! Today after almost a year of work – on top of work on Skyland Book II, general blog transformations, and numerous other projects – today, I am FINALLY launching the new Extended Edition of Skyland I: Abominations

Extended edition? Extended edition?  Who does an extended edition of a novel?

I hear you.

This took nearly a year to put together because it isn’t just a few 15 second scene extensions here and there and it isn’t just a re-addition of the rambling pages that got cut in final edits. Over the last year, as I worked on Book II, I read, reread, reread, and reread again Book I, making notes and continuing storylines and growing the world that appeared in the published pages. This is world building. There’s more than what appears on the page, and I needed to make sure I knew every single corner of this world. If I was to continue their journeys, I needed to know every single corner of my character’s minds and every single dark and dusty corner on their path. I took notes. I rewrote them. I rewrote them again. And again. Then again. I worked on the off-the-page story and commentary until it was full, until it was a world, until I knew every step of the story I was writing – even the ones that didn’t make it to the page.

And I want to share this

This edition of SKyland has ~70 pages of this off-the-page world. It has the rest of Harper and Zara and the Sky worshippers and the Union. And it has snapshots of the thought and rational that grew them and their world.

Skyland is, and always will be, free for download on TUEBL (or anywhere else anyone wants to put it.) But I hope you will consider taking a peek behind these pages and deeper in to the world of Skyland. And I hope you will consider supporting a copyright-free indie author in the process. And for you, the Extended Edition is here.

Oh, and did I mention? When you get the code to download this edition, you don’t just get a few 1s and 0s – you getting a real, ink-on-tree-pages paperback of Skyland Book I. And it’s signedGo on, take a look. You are most welcome in my world.

 

**P.S.**

:-( I am so sad right now….

Who would’ve thought that the day that I finally finish nearly a YEAR’S worth of work would be the day that my computer would decide to go on strike? Today of all days I seem to be stuck between a computer and an internet connection that together only have occasional functionality and are seriously putting a stake into my plans for a smooth book launch. So if you’ve come here because something I said caught your interest, or because you wanted to support indie authors, or maybe because you just like books please SHARE this far and wide because I can’t.

**P.P.S.**

THANKS to everybody who’s helped to get the word out! :D <3

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Hey TUEBLovers :D

Wrote this for you!

New article on Medium:



 

Your Words Are Bad and You Should Feel Bad

Director Simon Klose has won his copyright battle. For now.

In case you haven’t been paying attention to this year’s drama in the pirate world, here’s the 5 minute summary: Simon Klose is not your usual Hollywood crusader fighting those damn kids pirating his movies. In fact, this year, he was fighting to defend his own film – the documentary on the Pirate Bay trial, TPB AFK – from overzealous DMCA takedowns. The takedown notices weren’t directed at the content – which he himself uploaded to YouTube and the Pirate Bay –they were rather attacks on Google for even linking to the content…………

 

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Recommend a tear jerker

 

This is one of the most difficult challenges yet. I really don’t cry over books. Or movies. Or TV. Or news. I guess that as with the book-throwing challenge, though, we could assume that tear jerker may be not literal in this challenge, and just assume it means a sad book. But it would be impossible to even begin to recommend a single book out of the many that are just sad! I mean, I don’t exactly read rainbows-and-unicorn happy tales.

So, taken literally, there is one book and one book alone that has ever gotten to tear-jerker status with me: Harry Potter 6.

Yeah, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, which in case you’ve forgotten is the one where SOMEBODY kills SOMEBODY ELSE, which is the shocking part, and then there is a funeral, which is the sad part.

Yeah, Harry Potter made me cry.

Shut up. All of you.


~This confession brought to you by the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge :-)

15-Day-Challenge

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Confession #3:

Sometimes I like books because I like the authors.

This is the less mean corollary to Confession #2.

I’m not saying I like The Sandman or The Graveyard Book or Neverwhere  *  because Neil Gaiman has an enlightened view of copyright or because he is a shockingly (because he’s English…) ardent defender of the First Amendment. Despite the grudges I hold against books for their author’s foibles, I DO recognize that a work can very well be exceptional regardless of the person behind the words. Moreover, as someone with a pretty shitty personality who hopes to write less-than-shitty books, I REALLY hope that most people are wiser than I am and can separate the story from the storyteller.

So no. I’m not saying that I like books only when I like the authors.

I’m just saying.

 

~This confession brought to you by the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge :-)

15-Day-Challenge

 


*Yeah, I don’t like American Gods. So shoot me already.

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What’s the last book your threw across the room*?

This distinction must go to none other than @ajkeen’s #digitalverigo. Yes, that is a hashtag in the title and a twitter handle in the byline. Mr. Keen is just that clever.

#digitalverigo is intended as a counterweight to the techno-optimism of Silicon Valley and the twenty first century in general. Not a bad aim, actually. We could all do with stepping away from the reality distortion field long enough to realize that the tech giants are not our saviors. Cypherpunks, the book and the show, with Julian Assange, Jacob Appelbaum (Tor Project), Andy Müller-Maguhn (Chaos Computer Club), and Jeremie Zimmermann (2012 winner of EFF’s Pioneer Award for work against ACTA) had much the same message – warning readers and viewers of the panopticon nature of the internet.

But I didn’t throw Cypherpunks across the room.

In #digitalvertigo, Keen takes the panopticon metaphor to  ridiculous lengths.

He begins the book staring at the corpse of Jeremy Bentham, creator of the infamous prison design. He muses on the nature of the internet as a similarly lifeless display where people line up to show themselves off and for others to ogle at them. The internet is a “public exhibition of self love,” a narcissistic outlet where real connection and meaning goes to die. Throughout the book Keen comes back  again and again and AGAIN to the metaphor of a corpse, and this is where the rage starts to boil up.

I am not a corpse.

The artists, activists, budding politicians, struggling young academics, fellow bloggers, and friends I follow are not corpses.

And self love? Narcissism?  At this moment on Facebook, I am watching our Librarian-in-Chief at TUEBL talk about his upcoming Ted Talk as the youngest party leader in Canada, an activist friend brings on-the-ground news from Bradley Manning’s trial, and even my non-political friends are grieve in quiet shock over the Zimmerman verdict. On Twitter, the micro-blogophere chatters about Snowden’s asylum bids, the limits of a free press, and the dangers of trusting the cryptography provided by untrustworthy corporations.

Yeah, there are baby pics, pets, and dinner plates in there too.

And you know what? That’s GREAT. Because sometimes, after a day of fourth amendment violations, you need kitties.

When people talk about the shallow, narcissistic nature of the internet, I have to wonder what they’re doing here. If their social media experience is filled with shallow, narcissistic content, then why are they subscribed to shallow, narcissistic accounts and following shallow, narcissistic people? It’s like going into 4chan and complaining about all the smut. Or walking into a sports bar and complaining that there are too many jocks. Well, gee, if only you could have walked into the quiet cafe across the street or the independent bookstore on the next block or the art gallery or the foreign food festival or the secondhand clothing charity or the botanical gardens… The internet is interactive – it doesn’t work if you don’t interact, And we are as responsible for the content we experience as those who put it out there.

While it is essential for users to be aware of – and fight – the surveillance state and censorship regimes that infiltrate our digital homes, the fact is that the internet is not a prison. It’s a community, one that we walk in and out as our own whims and need dictate. When the powers that be overtly or surreptitiously seek to coerce or control or censor our community, we must stand up for it, and we must always be aware of the threats to a free online life. And when our community is threatened, the guilty party is the one doing the threatening, not the community itself. This is exactly the rage-inducing point that Keen fails to grasp. We shouldn’t blame the free internet for prison-like surveillance and censorship, we should blame the people doing the surveilling and the censoring.

Near the beginning of the book, Keen relates an experience with his tech invading his offline life that really hits on this lapse of understanding. He says:

Digitalvertigo

“The RIM electronic device wasn’t called a smartphone for nothing. I had been wrong that nobody knew my location that afternoon. As I was about to send my tweet, an uninvited message from Tweetie popped up on the screen. It was a request to give out my Bloomsbury location, so that the app could broadcast where I was to my thousands of Twitter Followers.

TWEETIE WOULD LIKE TO USE YOUR CURRENT LOCATION –

DON’T ALLOW or OK

The BlackBerry device, I realized, wanted to betray me my broadcasting my location to the world.”

Betray?

Really?

He’s angry that Blackberry asked to share his location with his friends.

And he said No.

Nobody betrayed him. He wasn’t being spied upon, at least not without his explicit consent.

That’s not to say that phones don’t have information on us that can be used against us without our consent. Of course they do! They’re tracking devices that make calls. That’s also not to say that we shouldn’t be extremely skeptical or that we shouldn’t hold accountable those companies who keep our information. We should. It is essential to maintaining a free internet instead of a digital panopticon. But there is a massive difference between a forced environment of surveillance and being asked the question:

DON’T ALLOW or OK

I wanted to read #digitalvertigo because I needed to articulate what exactly bothered me about the author’s viewpoint, and I particularly wanted to examine why this book bothered me so much more than something like Cypherpunks or the many other respectable panopticon analogies and warnings to netizens. And I get it now: The fight for a free internet does not need to reduce users to passive lifeless corpses locked up for the world to ogle at. 

I’m not a fucking corpse.

My friends aren’t corpses.

People aren’t fucking corpses.

If that’s how AJ Keen sees the internet, I think he needs to get better friends. (Or, you know, learn how to use the internet…)

 

15-Day-Challenge


* Can be a figurative “throwing across the room”, as is the case with my copy of #digitalvertigo. As previously mentioned here, I squeeze in most of my reading around my work throughout the day… and most of my work takes place on the free McDonald’s wifi. They really don’t take kindly to books being thrown into people’s big macs. (That would squish out all the sauce, which is the best part.)

Posted by & filed under Reading and Reviewing, Writing and Writers. 5 comments

It’s Day 3 of the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (I’m catching up!) Day 3′s challenge was:

Who are your blogging BFFs?

I’m going to take some liberties with this one (shocker, right?) by changing blogging BFFs to blogging inspirations. Not to take away from the friendly relationships I have with other bloggers. But BFF has such a personal connotation in my mind, and I don’t know how personal ANY of my relationships in the blogosphere are. I spew way more of my personal drivel on Twitter, and even there I’m not sure I have BFFs. Me and my tweeps are more like fellow news junkies. Or book club buddies. Plus, it just seems a bit highschool to hand out ranks to friends. So I’m not doing this Facebook-style, I’m doing it Klout-style.

So. Forget friends. Who are my influencers?

There are two of my fellow writers who I’ve been following since SUPER early in my baby-step years of blogging:

Carrie Rubin

Carrie’s the traditionalist, a writer published with an actual fucking publishing company. But she’s been blogging since she was a lowly aspiring writer like the rest of us. Her stories about life in the medical profession and family life with teenage boys and poop stories were a light, funny retreat from the moody work of writing. She ended up getting a contract for her book The Seneca Scourge and has since been chronicling her adventures in the publishing world. From my vantage point on the selfie’s side of the publishing fence, it’s an enlightening anthropological study of the initiations into ye olde writer life – a life, I’m not likely to share.

Plus, she had some nice things to say about Stories About Things! (And I owe her for causing her to forget about dinner-making…) <3

Becka Sutton

Becka is the fellow free-spirit doing her own thing in the webfiction world from before I even knew the world existed. her Dragon Wars saga was one of the first web fictions I got into. It’s super long, and not only is it a great story, it’s also fascinating insight into the development of a webfic author with some real staying power in this world. She also wrote the Haventon Chronicles which are currently on my reading list.

And Becka’s has a thing or two to say about crowdfunding and Flattr – two things I’m passionate about but which aren’t terribly popular in the writing community yet. Granted, crowdfunding has really started to take off lately – even among the old fashioned bookworm crows! But two years ago, when I started out in this world, there weren’t too many folks excited about it. It was nice to hear another voice curious about the same things I was, and bold enough to try the out and teach us a few things about the experience.

15-Day-Challenge