University of Queensland threatens lawsuit over use of Cook's '97% consensus' data for a scientific rebuttal

Wow, just wow. Not only have they just invoked the Streisand effect, they threw some gasoline on it to boot. It’s all part of the Climate McCarthyism on display this week.

UPDATE: Ironically, Cook’s “97% consensus paper” was published one year ago today, under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

Cook_CCL_97percent

Data in the SI was added 16 days after publication, but not all the data, not sure if they have any legal basis to withhold the rest and still keep CCL license –  Anthony

Brandon Shollenberger writes:

My Hundredth Post Can’t Be Shown

Dear readers, I wanted to do something special for my hundredth post at this site.  I picked out a great topic for discussion. I wrote a post with clever prose, jokes that’d make your stomach ache from laughter and even some insightful commentary. Unfortunately, I can’t post it because I’d get sued.

You see, I wanted to talk about the Cook et al data I recently came into possession of. I wanted to talk about the reaction by Cook et al to me having this data. I can’t though. The University of Queensland has threatened to sue me if I do.

I understand that may be difficult to believe. I’d like to provide you proof of what I say. I’m afraid I can’t do that either though. If I do, the University of Queensland will sue me. As they explained in their letter threatening me: 

5-15-copyright

That’s right. The University of Queensland sent me a threatening letter which threatens me further if I show anyone that letter.

Confusing, no? It gets stranger. Along with its threats, the University of Queensland included demands. The first of these is:

5-15-demand1

This demand is interesting. According to it, I’m not just prevented from disclosing any of the “intellectual property” (IP) I’ve gained access to. I’m prevented from even doing anything which involves using the data. That means I can’t discuss the data. I can’t perform analyses on it. I can’t share anything about it with you.

But that’s not all I can’t do. The University of Queensland also demanded I cease and desist from:

5-15-demand2

This fascinates me. I corresponded with John Cook to try to get him to assert any claims of confidentiality he might have regarding the data I now possess. I sent him multiple e-mails telling him if he felt the data was confidential, he should request I not disclose it. I said if people’s privacy needed to be protected, he should say so.

He refused. Repeatedly.

Apparently I badgered Cook too much. I tried too hard to get him to do his duty and try to protect his subjects’ privacy. The University of Queensland needs me to stop. If I don’t, they’ll sue me.


So yeah, sorry guys. I wanted my hundredth post to be interesting, but I guess it won’t be. Anything interesting I might have to say will get me sued. And maybe not just sued. The University of Queensland apparently wants me arrested too:

5-15-hack

I don’t know what sort of hack they had investigate the supposed hacking, but this is silly. There was no hacking involved. The material was gathered in a perfectly legal way. I could easily prove that.

Only, proving it would require using the data I’ll be sued for using…

My Hundredth Post Can’t Be Shown

0 0 vote
Article Rating
420 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
May 15, 2014 11:41 am

Like many foreigners, they have no clue on US Law. An amusing letter. Publishing it would be a way to say “get a life”. They need to.

Dave
May 15, 2014 11:43 am

“Only, proving it would require using the data I’ll be sued for using…”
This is why they will sue you.

David Smith
May 15, 2014 11:45 am

There’s ‘open science’ for you…
Why are they so scared? What have they got to hide? Are they scared people will find out Cartoonist Cook’s ‘paper’ was fit for nothing apart from bog-roll?

Bob Kutz
May 15, 2014 11:45 am

Of course they can sue you. You can sue anyone for any reason.
It doesn’t mean they have a case, and trying to claim copyright over interpersonal communications is ludicrous. And they are fully aware of that.
Publish it then sue them for intimidation and infringement of your rights.
Data cannot possibly copyright, especially if its confidential or ‘proprietary’.
Can’t have it both ways.

Mark Bofill
May 15, 2014 11:45 am

:>
Did they provide any legal justification for their demand that you cease and desist from any further correspondence with Cook? Surely you can say without disclosing what their legal justification was.
I’ve never heard of such a thing. A threatening letter that demands you keep the threat secret. From a University?!? It’s the sort of thing you’d expect from a blackmailer, isn’t it?
Somebody’s panties must be in an awful wad down in Queensland.
Thanks Brandon, that cheers me, somehow. 🙂

May 15, 2014 11:52 am

Bob Kutz, they’re actually right to say they own the copyright to this letter. They do. That just doesn’t mean they can demand I not publish it. There are many reasons copyrighted material can be republished. Fair use is easy to argue in regard to a cease and desist complaint, especially when that complaint alleges criminal offenses.
Mark Bofill, not a one. They didn’t provide any legal justification for their first demand either. Even if I were somehow prohibited from disclosing the data, they cannot possibly require I refrain from using the data in any way.
By the way, I was actually in a bit of a bad mood for the last couple days due to personal stuff. That vanished as soon as I read this letter. I’m still struggling not to burst into laughter at random moments, half a day after I read it.
It’s so ridiculous, you have to enjoy it.

May 15, 2014 11:52 am

This is another example showing why intellectual property laws are illegitimate acts of aggression and should be abolished.

bevothehike
May 15, 2014 11:52 am

Call their bluff and up the ante by threatening them with international blackmail….or whatever is appropriate legalese.

Mark Bofill
May 15, 2014 11:53 am

Could this be FOIA’d?

Spartacus
May 15, 2014 11:55 am

Any article published in a scientific journal with some reputation, should yield the data so there is reproducibility by other scientists. In this case, I never had any doubts that the article by Mr. Cook has neither merit nor was posted fulfilling all the criteria that should guide any scientific publication. Probably one of the most cited pieces of rubbish I have ever saw published as science… I’m getting suspicious that the University of Queensland is threatening anyone that tries to rebut this article to avoid getting “burned” in reputation when people realise how such a piece of rubbish can be published by someone from that institution. I’m wondering If I could ever publish so easily similar stuff. That’s how climate “so-called peer review science” goes…

milodonharlani
May 15, 2014 11:55 am

This from a university (haven of free speech!) in a country whose PM is allegedly a CACA skeptic.

Marlo Lewis
May 15, 2014 11:55 am

Too funny! Reminds of the video where Minnesotans for Global Warming announce they are taking down their “Hide the Decline” video to avoid a lawsuit from Prof. Mann — and then show the video so the media will know what the threatened litigation is about.

george e. smith
May 15, 2014 11:56 am

Well IANAL but it seems to me, that if there is a breach of the copyright, it was either by the U of Q themselves, or by the very author of the information, so they should sue him, since that is likely a breach of his employment agreement with him.
In any case, there is some sort of “”” fair use “”” doctrine, regarding copyrights, and the use of such materials for legitimate research.
So why haven’t they sued the MSM for making this 97% statement go viral.
Maybe they are sensitive to the fact that the logo of the U of Q, now carries the appellation “97%” to it for all time.
They could fix the situation by telling the MSM and anyone else THEY disclosed their IP to, that it should be retracted, because it is both silly, and false.

sophocles
May 15, 2014 11:56 am

Threats have become Intellectual Property?
Hmmph!
Oops. Sorry, I’m going to have to go and uncurl my lip.
Hmmph.
Hmmph.

Bob
May 15, 2014 11:57 am

It’s not the crime (Cook’s paper), it’s the coverup that really reveals there’s something they are hiding. The University of Queensland is just a backwater school without academic purpose for being.

May 15, 2014 12:02 pm

FLASH!
Australia’s University of Queensland attempts blackmail of a US citizen.
Any US citizen has a right to seek protection by US police from Australian UQ blackmailers.
John

Alan Robertson
May 15, 2014 12:03 pm

Hey Brandon,
This becomes your one hundredth post and it is very interesting, indeed.

Walt The Physicist
May 15, 2014 12:03 pm

milodonharlani says:
May 15, 2014 at 11:55 am
Most of my working life I was in close contact with academia and I can attest that, this is most oppressive and least accepting and diverse environment. Look, they had to invent tenure to protect “academic freedom” that they still can’t enjoy as it is undermined by promotion, funding, and publication procedures. Universities are haven of free speech may be for students, but, definitely, not for academic faculty.

theorichel
May 15, 2014 12:04 pm

I do not understand. From the phrasing in the letter I see no reason whatsoever to think that IP means anything different then the IP-address that Cook uses to get access to the internet. Apparently they think that you used it to get access through that address, If they meant ‘intellectual property’ they would have specified what they mean by that. If as you can say that you obtained the info in a legal way, I think you have nothing to fear.

May 15, 2014 12:05 pm

This is amazing. Sounds like someone at the University has flown off the handle somewhat and I’m sure their lawyers will be saying, “What? You put WHAT in writing?”
They are trying to scare you, big time. What happens now, Brandon???

theorichel
May 15, 2014 12:06 pm

The last sentence was a mess, sorry, I meant: If as you say you can prove that you obtained the info in a legal way, I think you have nothing to fear.

May 15, 2014 12:08 pm

Mark Bofill, the letter to me could, as could at least some of the documentation related to it. At the very least, it should be possible to use FOIA requests to get a copy of any reports related to the forensic investigation and the contractual obligations. I imagine some (all?) inter-office communication would be exempted though.
bevothehike, I’m not sure I want to “up the ante by threatening them with international blackmail.” I try to avoid committing crimes 😛
More seriously, I’m in no position to threaten anyone. I wouldn’t even have the resources to file a libel lawsuit just to protect my reputation. As long as the University of Queensland doesn’t file a suit against me,* this will only play out in the public arena. Which, by the way, I’m happy with. I wouldn’t care to get involved with anything that requires lawyers.
*I guess the University of Queensland could also press the issue by trying to get criminal charges filed. I’d love for that to happen because of the IT angle. The worst that would happen is the FBI would talk to me then laugh when they hear what I did to “hack” the server.

samD
May 15, 2014 12:09 pm

Stalinist Science strikes again!

HGW xx/7
May 15, 2014 12:11 pm

Okay, can some one please explain what is going on in Australia? I mean, on one hand, the country’s geography seems akin to the US’s wild West, a wide-open land full of dreams and earnest hard work.
Yet, the politics of the Land Down Under are so hard left. I know there are skeptics from there and a government rarely is a true reflection of the governed. For crying out loud, though, the Aussies make most Europeans look like right-wingers, at least with regards to environmentalism.
All you Aussies who have held strong, this is not criticism of you. I feel for you. I just want to understand. I am consistently baffled.

tadchem
May 15, 2014 12:13 pm

Perhaps, if someone hacked YOUR computer and published it…

May 15, 2014 12:19 pm

A.D. Everard says:
They are trying to scare you, big time. What happens now, Brandon???
Good question. Maybe Mark Steyn has the right approach.
This looks like a completely empty threat. Only one way to find out, though.

Michael D
May 15, 2014 12:21 pm

Now, of course, we are all infinitely more interested to hear how it is that you got the information. You have said from the beginning that it was not stolen or hacked, which suggests that someone left it lying around. Your emails to Cook, however, suggest that you were somewhat concerned about the legitimacy of the way that you accessed the data. Please please tell us exactly how you got the data – your methods are your IP.

May 15, 2014 12:21 pm

drop Edward and Julian an email, I’m sure they can help in regard of the freedom (or lack) of this data, and tell you what you are really up against.
I would leak it if I were you, all the rage you know!

Gary
May 15, 2014 12:22 pm

Waiting for the Cartoon by Josh on this one.

Shawn in High River
May 15, 2014 12:24 pm

They do seem pretty desperate to scare you into submission.
You must have something good 🙂

May 15, 2014 12:25 pm

HGW xx/7 says:
May 15, 2014 at 12:11 pm
Okay, can some one please explain what is going on in Australia?
===================================
It’s not as black and white as all Aussies being hard left. There are (some parts) of each of the capital cities, then there’s everyone else. It’s much like the USA where the coasts are full of progs and flyover country less so. Go to rural Australia and you’ll find the people who subscribe to the “wide-open land full of dreams and earnest hard work” vision (with the exception of popular beaches, where a lot of welfare bums “struggle”).
Something about living in a high population-density area that rots the mind, I think.

LogosWrench
May 15, 2014 12:26 pm

Just send them a threatening copyrighted letter back threatening to sue if they disclose it.

Stephanie Clague
May 15, 2014 12:27 pm

Publish and be damned.
They are obviously trying to put the frighteners on you with what amounts to a blackmail letter itself a federal offence. They are making empty threats in the hope you will cave in, one short meeting with any legal council worth his salt will show this to be the case. And if you dont want to publish send it to me and others on this site and we will do it and let them sue us, I for one would look forward to it.

cbrtxus
May 15, 2014 12:27 pm

Perhaps in the future, when such hidden data are uncovered, they should be immediately sent anonymously by mail to hundreds of people in multiple countries who might be interested in it. The list would hopefully include some folks with the resources to defend against such SLAPP suits.

Aidan
May 15, 2014 12:28 pm

I would siggest contacting the Office of the Premier of Queensland, who is well known to be a sceptic of all things Global warming and may well be very interested in this unenforceable threat.
UQL is a recipient of plentiful State Funding and I am sure the Premier would love to find some legitimate cuts to make as he struggles to get the QLD economy back in shape after removing the Leftards in 2012. Well worth checking this route out: Campbell Newman, Premier thepremier@premiers.qld.gov.au

hunter
May 15, 2014 12:28 pm

Eff ’em. They cannot do anything.
Publish it all.

May 15, 2014 12:31 pm

Alan Robertson, that was the joke. I didn’t actually have a hundredth post written. I wasn’t even sure what I’d write about for it. I do have a post written, but it’s three or four posts down the road.
theorichel, they defined IP as intellectual property earlier in the letter. I didn’t show that part, but I made sure to define it in my post so people could understand what it meant.
Michael D, I’m not sure how you can say my e-mails to John Cook suggest I was concerned about the legitimacy of how I accessed the data. I’ve never shared the e-mails I sent to him. I assume Cook has shown them to some people (how could he not if he had a lawyer write a letter), but I don’t think you’d have seen them.
dbstealey, sadly, I don’t have the resources of Mark Steyn. I’m not afraid of the University of Queensland’s (baseless) threats, but I’m well aware of my limitations regarding them.

May 15, 2014 12:32 pm

I’d report these actions to the Australian Research Council resp. the relevant goverment department.

NoFixedAddress
May 15, 2014 12:34 pm

It appears the ‘university’ of Queensland has taken the same sort of action to protect Cook as the ‘university’ of Western Australia took to protect Lewandowsky.
Given that Lewandowsky and Cook appear to be busy submitting papers to prove that anyone that does not agree with the 97% has a ‘mental derangement’ then I am not surprised.

sinewave
May 15, 2014 12:35 pm

Have you contacted Mr. Cook to see if he agrees with the request not to contact him?

Man Bearpig
May 15, 2014 12:38 pm

The letter is bs. Ask them to provide evidence of the hack the are implying you made. Ask them under what US laws are they making the demands of non dislosure. Any non disclosure clauses are only usually applicable if both parties agree.
Anthony had a similar threat some time ago but the other party withdrew the threat after a single email so he may offer sone advice on the wording and the part of the organisation to send the email to. It seems this is a bluff and may not have the authority of legal department of the uni.

Carrick
May 15, 2014 12:45 pm

This is what I wrote on Brandon’s website:

As I understand it, it is John Cook and Dana Nuccitelli’s claim that they have published “all of the data” amounts to releasing “all” of the abstracts they studied.
To make an analogy with geology, if I were to go out and collect rocks for a study, these would normally be called “samples”. The only way they’d be considered data would be if, for example, the research paper was “My Pet Rock Collection”.
It is absolutely the case that the ethics of the release of data of these sort are spelled out in full by US funding agencies (Steve McIntyre has written on this).
So not only are John Cook and Dana Nuccitelli corrupting the scientific process, the University of Queensland is corrupting the scientific process as well. Since UQ has taken to harassing US citizens, I suspect your US Senator and Congressman would take in actions taken by an official arm of the Australian Government, especially one that involved the support of unethical research practices.

I find it really interesting how many people on Cook’s “side” think that discussing the scientific ethics issues are a joke.

John McClure
May 15, 2014 12:47 pm

File header information may contain the urls necessary to show how available it was on their site. You don’t need to show anyone the data. You may also be able to recover the urls from browser cache files.
They’re probably simply covering up how foolish Cook was to make the files publicly available in the first place or he lied and they think someone needed to hack the site. Either way, they don’t want every kid hacking their site so no news is good news.

faboutlaws
May 15, 2014 12:52 pm

How is this different from where an adult molests a child and then threatens the child with punishment if he tells anybody?

milodonharlani
May 15, 2014 12:54 pm

Walt The Physicist says:
May 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm
Not really for students, either.
Academics preach cherishing diversity, but only if the opinions of the student body diverse in origin are united behind the high-held banner of Progressiveness.

Harry Passfield
May 15, 2014 12:56 pm

Stephanie Clague beat me to it: Whatever happened to ‘Publish and be damned’? C’mon, what will it cost? You could always win…..

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
May 15, 2014 1:03 pm

You HAVE to give whatever you have to someone within the sceptic community who isn’t afraid of some silly Australian university. I fully understand you may well be put off doing anything yourself, but there will be LOTS of people who won’t be at all afraid of publishing everything you have. Give it to the GWPF, for example. Get in touch with them ASAP.

AndyL
May 15, 2014 1:07 pm

Refer them to Arkell v. Pressdram

Steven Hales
May 15, 2014 1:09 pm

What about leaving the info in plain view and then throw a party? Many variations on that theme. I was robbed I tell ya’ robbed.

Reply to  Steven Hales
May 16, 2014 6:42 am

@Steven Hales

What about leaving the info in plain view and then throw a party? Many variations on that theme. I was robbed I tell ya’ robbed.

(in my best Don Adams voice) – The old Skeptical Science Nazi Uniform trick!

Man Bearpig
May 15, 2014 1:10 pm

Ask the university about their whistleblower policies

John McClure
May 15, 2014 1:10 pm

Classifying Cook’s research as Intellectual Property is a bit like classifying dust bunnies as a new super computer?
Perhaps the scene from Ghost Busters where shock treatment is used to test for psychic ability would be a better analogy?

Eliza
May 15, 2014 1:11 pm

I am a MSc and PhD graduate graduate from this University I am totally ashamed of that institution these days.The rot started with Higher education schemes instituted by Keating and Hawkins in the 80’s (me being a labor voter at the time!!). Since then its being a down road hill for nearly all Australian Universities re Quality of Education. I personally would not send any of my children to an Australian University these days. I strongly recommend complainant write to BOTH Premier of Queensland and Prime Minister Abbot. to see if something can be done to start the revival of Australian Higher education. Very ironically Gillard was one to IMPROVE secondary schooling. LOL

Eliza
May 15, 2014 1:14 pm

Unfortunately all the handwaving re AGW will not work short term.What is working for skeptics is the weather/climate…no change now 17 years. This WILL work and is starting to. LOL

Merovign
May 15, 2014 1:17 pm

Published science is no longer science if we don’t have the data and the methodology.
It’s nothing but assertion.

JimS
May 15, 2014 1:18 pm

Well, remember what happened to Galileo – imprisoned for daring to advocate the heliocentric theory and not recanting of such heresy. Proceed with caution… please.

May 15, 2014 1:23 pm

Eliza says:
May 15, 2014 at 1:11 pm
I am a MSc and PhD graduate graduate from this University I am totally ashamed of that institution these days.The rot started with Higher education schemes instituted by Keating and Hawkins
============================
And, of course, Bob Hawke.

May 15, 2014 1:26 pm

sinewave, that’s actually a good point. The letter gave no indication the University of Queensland is serving as John Cook’s legal representative. As such, not only did they have no right to demand I not contact Cook, they could be working against his interests. One could argue I am obligated to contact Cook.
This is especially true as Cook told me I would be contacted by a specific person:

Brandon,
The Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research from the University of Queensland will be in touch with you

The University of Queensland lists that individual as Anton Middelberg, but the letter I received was from Jane Malloch. She is listed by the University of Queensland as the Principal Research Lawyer.
It is likely Cook’s e-mail was simply mistaken and this letter is exactly what it appears to be. However, from a legal standpoint, I have no guarantee of that, and as such, I need not assume that request represents Cook’s interests. The University of Queensland and/or John Cook could rightly claim this letter only represents one party.
I’d probably be forgiven by any court for believing the request was at Cook’s behest as it’s a reasonable assumption, but reasonable assumptions need not be assumed.

Manos
May 15, 2014 1:26 pm

Pretty certain that a lawyer can’t send you a letter and then tell you that you can’t publish said letter. That seems like a violation of ethics.

Don
May 15, 2014 1:28 pm

Publish the letter, they have NO case whatsoever ever on that point. When they sue you for it, courtesy use their asses off, because you will win!!!

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
May 15, 2014 1:30 pm

Just for fun:
Reply to the U of Q and request permission to show their letter to your attorney so he can advise you. The response to that would likely be amusing.
Who signed the letter?

Jean Parisot
May 15, 2014 1:33 pm

Forward it to Mark Steryn, he’ll provide it as an exhibit in a US Federal Court – thus the public domain. The University is encouraged to sue Mr. Sterryn.

May 15, 2014 1:34 pm

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley, at least in copyright and defamation laws, the act of publishing includes any communication of material to a third party. E-mailing someone the data is as risky as posting it online. The only difference is damages. Even there, there’d be no difference in damages if I e-mailed it to someone who published the material online.
Eliza, as a citizen of the United States, I’m not sure there’d be any value in me writing a complaint to Australian officials.
JimS, actually, that wasn’t what happened. Galileo was imprisoned not because of his scientific views, but because of his insistence those views disproved certain theological views. Had he only published his work as a scientific theory, he would have been fine.
Which isn’t to say the analogy doesn’t work. It kind of does if you think the global warming movement has become a religion.

Ken G
May 15, 2014 1:34 pm

I’m not sure if anyone suggested this already, but have you considered that maybe the letter is not actually officially from the University?
Think about it.

Magoo
May 15, 2014 1:35 pm

Definition of blackmail below. If they don’t have a legitimate case for suing I think they might be in the wrong side of the law:
‘blackmail (ˈblækˌmeɪl)
n
1. (Law) the act of attempting to obtain money by intimidation, as by threats to disclose discreditable information
2. the exertion of pressure or threats, esp unfairly, in an attempt to influence someone’s actions
vb (tr)
3. (Law) to exact or attempt to exact (money or anything of value) from (a person) by threats or intimidation; extort
4. to attempt to influence the actions of (a person), esp by unfair pressure or threats’
source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/blackmail

Nigel S
May 15, 2014 1:36 pm

Publish and be damned.
Are you sure the lawyer was named Malloch and not Moloch?

papertiger
May 15, 2014 1:40 pm

Grow a set. And if that fails, send me the data. I’ll leak it. I’ll leak it in such a way that you can that you can comment, absolved of any even trumped up, imaginary, wrong doing.
Let the Queensland Academy of Brain Dead Socialsm come and sue me.

May 15, 2014 1:43 pm

“you don’t frighten us you English pig-dog. go and boil your bottoms.. sons of a silly person. i blow my nose at you… you so-called Afri-King… you and your silly English K-niggets. I don’t want to talk to you no more you empty-headed animal food trough wiper. i fart in your general direction.
your mother was a hampster and your father smelled of eldeberries. now go away before i taunt you a d second time….” a french taunt currently used by Australia’s University of Queensland

2dogs
May 15, 2014 1:45 pm

Can someone send an FOI request to UQ? Ask for copy of the letter, the count of the total number of letters of demand sent by the university this year, and the portion of these which reserved copyright.

Chuck L
May 15, 2014 1:46 pm

Brandon, are bloggers considered “The Press?” If so this becomes a freedom of the press issue which is a whole ‘nuther can of beans.” Not a lawyer, just an outraged US citizen.

Hum
May 15, 2014 1:49 pm

Publish the letter as asking others for legal advice. The letter is addressed to you and is about you. They cannot get a copyright on that. The only thing to prevent your disclosing it would be if you signed an NDA with them. I’m guessing that did not happen.

J Martin
May 15, 2014 1:50 pm

One wonders if the uni of queensland has a published statement on openess of data and data sharing, which might therefore invalidate any legal efforts to muzzle anyone in possesion of cooks (ex) data.

jeanparisot
May 15, 2014 1:52 pm

Another mechanism to clear any claim of copyright is to send it to a Congressman. Who can express righteous outrage at the behavior of this foreign University. trampling on the rights of Americans – and read the documents into the Congressional Record.

May 15, 2014 1:53 pm

This is a classic problem of an institution with access to public money to pay its legal bills and/or an in-house counsel knowing that it can threaten legal action to stop an action it could not legally stop if prosecuted in court. Happens all the time. People have to cease and desist from things they legally have no obligation to avoid simply because it is expensive to defend against any claim where there is a dispute on the facts.
In the US currently the Offices of Civil Rights keep ignoring the case law and threatening to sue anyway just to force action they have no legal ability to command. They do it purely because the people who get to make a decision to sue do not personally bear the costs of litigation and they threaten people or entities who will have to pick up that defense tab.

mfo
May 15, 2014 1:54 pm

A false accusation of hacking would be defamatory. Were such a false accusation to be made to the authorities it could ultimately amount to perverting the course of justice, perjury and perhaps conspiring with another to make a false accusation.

F.A.H.
May 15, 2014 1:54 pm

Usually U.S. universities involve their intellectual property attorneys primarily to safeguard work of the university that may have financial value. I thought that was in fact the only rationale for a university’s asserting intellectual property rights, to assure that the university involved retained its rights to future revenue derived from the property. Is there evidence that this paper has generated a revenue stream for the university or its authors? Otherwise, what exactly is the damage to university would suffer due to the open release of the information? Are they asserting economic value?

Wayne Lusvardi
May 15, 2014 1:57 pm

Off topic item: New research shows that pollution from trees, mainly sulphuric acid, is what seeds the formation of clouds. I imagine this is the same sulphuric acid that coal power plants emit.
See: http://phys.org/news/2014-05-cloud-emissions-forests-stage-formation.html

May 15, 2014 1:58 pm

Have you checked with Snowden to see if he needs a roommate?

Magoo
May 15, 2014 2:02 pm

Just put a link on my Fartbook page to warn everyone not to study at University of Queensland. I suggest everyone else does the same – sunlight is the best disinfectant.

ConfusedPhoton
May 15, 2014 2:04 pm

Ah the smell of Lysenkoism in the morning!

Sharpshooter
May 15, 2014 2:05 pm

Aside from National Security research, everything else created from public funding is completely in the open. (IIRC)

Admad
May 15, 2014 2:06 pm

hunter
May 15, 2014 2:08 pm

Either publish at least their demand letter or just slink away and know that you could have been a contender.
What is their relationship to even have standing to claim to represent Cook?
Is this just another one of Cook’s fabrications, a la his dress up Nazi fantasy photo shoot?
What relevant juridiction are they claiming?
After the successful suppression of CG III, I am starting to lose faith in you guys.
The climate kooks do not hesitate to steal, cheat, lie and decieve. now we are being intimidated from simply telling the truth?
We won’t win with that attitude.
Start a legal fund. I’m in, and enough others as well to let you tell UQ to stfu with their slime ball bullying.

Dr Burns
May 15, 2014 2:08 pm

Queensland “open university” is now a closed and closeted university.

Papertiger
May 15, 2014 2:08 pm

Seriously, anything you can think of, senarios for clandestine distribution, the Cook team will have brainstormed ways to accuse you of it already, complete with faked evidence.
They are ankle biting, amoral, hitmen for the climate mafia.
So my thinking is you might as well go ahead and get the ugly over with.
That or retire from the field.
/ I am Foia. You are Foia. We all are Foia.

Joseph Murphy
May 15, 2014 2:08 pm

I would be very surprised if that letter was actually sent by the UQ. It is too ridiculous.

May 15, 2014 2:10 pm

I do not pretend to offer advice on what to do in this case. But I will point out that a famous man once said that all evil needs to prevail is for good men to do nothing. I think you need to find a way to get this data made public.

Cheshirered
May 15, 2014 2:10 pm

Brandon, firstly, marvellous work.
They are making abject fools of themselves. My, their egos must be sooo large, or maybe it’s just the information you now have at your disposal could crucify what has clearly been a pre-determined ‘consensus’.
In this internet age any legal suit would be very fair game for the sceptic community to defend on your behalf. To paraphrase the old adage, cash for your defence fund would be half way round the world before their writ had its boots on.
Publish fella, and be damned.

gbaikie
May 15, 2014 2:10 pm

“Michael D says:
May 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm
Now, of course, we are all infinitely more interested to hear how it is that you got the information. You have said from the beginning that it was not stolen or hacked, which suggests that someone left it lying around. Your emails to Cook, however, suggest that you were somewhat concerned about the legitimacy of the way that you accessed the data. Please please tell us exactly how you got the data – your methods are your IP.”
This nonsense. If want something , you could try to see if someone will sell it to you, otherwise shut up.
If Brandon were writing a paper then it’s expected the publisher would have the necessary material which is needed to support what ever evidence was needed to support the scientific asserts/conclusions.*
Otherwise the publisher is a moron. And likewise the publisher should also make these sources available to anyone who wishes to confirm that the paper was scientific.
So if you have publisher who audience is not idiots, but comprised scientist who are going to be interested in such sources, such a publisher should have a reasonable policy to deal with their customer’s predictable needs. Otherwise there is no sense to being a publisher of scientific papers. It’s not like you are some gossip newspaper or something. Of course even newspaper will provide evidence to other new paper reporters who also want to cover a story.
*which of course wasn’t case with Cook and Mann and other non scientists.
So obviously Brandon doesn’t need to prove anything- he is threaten by lawsuit.
Only proof needed for this story is the fact about whether or not this stupid university is actually threatening Brandon with a law suit, and is such a threat related to his desire to publish what should have be available regarding the pseudo science which Cook like to others to think is scientific.

May 15, 2014 2:12 pm

Irony from down under: Lewandowsky’s paper is pulled because of (spurious) litigation threats and then this article is stalled due to (spurious) litigation threats. It must be something in the water.

anon
May 15, 2014 2:12 pm

Joseph Murphy, my wife is a senior academic at UQ, nothing is too ridiculous for them.

matayaya
May 15, 2014 2:13 pm

Unlike any of you here commenting on this post by Schollenberger, I have read the almost book length account of the hack of the SkepticalScience site. They did a click by click forensic account and any fair mind would agree it was a serious malicious attack. They haven’t uncovered the hacker identity just yet, but they know exactly what he did. Mr. Watts should be the first to come to the defence of SkepticalScience as I am sure he would not think it was ok to have the same thing done to this web site. This was a criminal act.
Brandon Schollenberger may not be the hacker but he is not telling the truth by implying he came across this information innocently. Skeptical Science could be a publisher of uncontroversial art books and still demand their legal right to own their information. This hack was a serious criminal offence. Containing the hack is not simply about protecting some bit of information, but respecting the rule of law.

Doug
May 15, 2014 2:14 pm

I would send them a letter asking them if you received a genuine letter from them, or if it is a prank sent by Peter Gleick.

May 15, 2014 2:17 pm

Brandon Schollenberger,
Question: In writing that letter to you the UQ act like they have seen all the info you have, but exactly how does UQ know that unless you showed it to them?
John

Harry Buttle
May 15, 2014 2:17 pm

I believe you owe UQ an apology, here is an excellent template for that apology.

TheLastDemocrat
May 15, 2014 2:17 pm

wow – someone is definitely over target.

AndyL
May 15, 2014 2:17 pm

Are you sure they own copyright to the letter?
I believe you own it and have all rights to it, unless courts state otherwise. In UK the only legal letters that must remain confidential are some forms of injuction, and these are frequently tied to a libel claim. They are known as “super-injunctions”, as publishing the injunction would be the same as publishing the libel.

Reply to  AndyL
May 16, 2014 7:20 am

@AndyL – Interestingly, not in the US. They sent the letter to Mr. Schollenberger unsolicited. Ergo, he is free to return it or keep it without any contractual obligation. For UQ to retain any control over the letter, they would have first had to get Mr. Schollenberger’s agreement that the contents would remain th IP of UQ before he opened it (a pre-letter letter). Since they did not, and since Mr. Schollenberger did not solicit the letter in any way, shape or form, it belongs to him, free and clear.

Man Bearpig
May 15, 2014 2:23 pm

http://answers.uslegal.com/copyrights/4341/
It seems that there is a copyright claim, provided there is an agreement,. You could send the letter back and say that you do not agree to the terms of the letter and have returned it accordingly.

All the letters you write are copyrighted. However, letters are not, unless previously agreed, secret. You may report on what letters you are sent, and reveal what it says. If the message has no copyright notice and no commercial value, a person would be unlikely to recover damages for revealing its truthful content, but if you want to stay strictly in the law, you should ask first. Note as well that, the law aside, keeping private correspondence private is a courtesy one should usually honor.

harkin
May 15, 2014 2:25 pm

Where are the usual suspects who come in here to imply that the realist crowd (and not the alarmists) are the ones half a bubble off plumb?
These UoQ folks are around the bend.

Man Bearpig
May 15, 2014 2:27 pm

matayaya says:
May 15, 2014 at 2:13 pm
Unlike any of you here commenting on this post by Schollenberger, I have read the almost book length account of the hack of the SkepticalScience site. They did a click by click forensic account and any fair mind would agree it was a serious malicious attack.
—-
Nonsense, the material was in the public domain and even indexed by google. No hack was needed to get to the photos. BTW what is that photo of Cook in a nazi uniform all about ?
BTW you need to learn how to spell Shollenberger correctly.

Reply to  Man Bearpig
May 16, 2014 7:45 am

@Man Bearpig

BTW you need to learn how to spell Shollenberger correctly.

Mea culpa as well! It is all those German lessons I had coming home to roost! My sincere apologies for misspelling Mr. Shollenberger’s name in my previous post. And many thanks to Man Bearpig for pointing it out (even though his comment was for another poster).

Gonzo
May 15, 2014 2:27 pm

Ditto what Hunter says! [Start a legal fund. I’m in, and enough others as well to let you tell UQ to stfu with their slime ball bullying.] I’m in as well

David L. Hagen
May 15, 2014 2:29 pm

Does that make the UoQ complicit in Cook’s fraud?
Maybe this calls for the Steyn Defense?!
See: Michael E Mann: Liar, Cheat, Falsifier and Fraud by Mark Steyn May 13, 2014

It seems to me that in this particular case the bigger issue is the climate of fear that Mann and his fellow ayatollahs of alarmism have succeeded in imposing on an important scientific field. So we’re preparing a full vigorous defense in which an array of witnesses will testify to the fraud necessary to create the hockey stick as global climate icon. This is an expensive and time-consuming proposition, but I have an excellent legal team on both the free speech and the science, and I am truly gratified at the way SteynOnline readers have continued to support my campaign by your patronage of the Steyn store, and especially our gift certificates, which I hope many of you will use when my new book comes out later this year. . . .
If you’re older, tenured, sufficiently eminent and can stand his acolytes jumping you in the parking lot and taking the hockey stick to you, you’ll acknowledge that his greatest achievement is distinguished mainly for its “misrepresentations” and “falsifications”. . . .
That’s why I’m playing this one differently from the Maclean’s case: Dr Mann will be on the witness stand under oath, and the lies that went unchallenged in the Big Climate echo chamber will not prove so easy to get away with. I didn’t seek this battle with this disreputable man. But, when it’s over, I hope that those who work in this field will once again be free to go where the science leads.

copernicus34
May 15, 2014 2:31 pm

If you are going to be arrested and sued, just release it. LOL
I know, easy for me to say.

Steve C
May 15, 2014 2:31 pm

Publish the method used to obtain the data.
(Unless that’s also a forbidden act, of course.)

Editor
May 15, 2014 2:36 pm

Is anyone here resident in QLD, or even better in Campbell Newman’s electorate? Send him a link to this post, with a request to act. The more QLDers doing it the better, copy to their local MP.
Brandon Schollenberger – If you contact Campbell Newman or Tony Abbott they may well listen. Perhaps better if you can get your political representative to do it.

captainfish
May 15, 2014 2:38 pm

The only way the letter can be claimed copyright, at least in US, is for the dissemination of the university’s logo. The logo can be the only thing copyrighted. Usually that is termed TradeMarked. You can display the letter but block out the logo.

Jeremy Thomas
May 15, 2014 2:40 pm

Brandon
I agree with Eliza’s suggestion that you write the Australian Prime Minister, but suggest you focus on the specific issue of you, a US citizen, being threatened with legal action by a state-funded Australian entity. Explain how you got the data & make clear you did not steal it. Say you lack the resources to fight a law suit, and ask his help in protecting your free speech rights on this vital topic. Tony Abbott is a good man: he’ll at minimum shake a few trees to clarify your legal exposure and with luck may make this problem go away.

May 15, 2014 2:41 pm

Ken G, I can confirm it’s from a representative of the University of Queensland who would be authorized to handle a situation like this. That’s the best I can do.
Magoo, when Dozier used a similar tactic in the past to prevent people from publishing complaint letters, many people suggested it was unethical. I don’t think it rises to legal blackmail though.
papertiger, if I send it to you and you publish it, I’m as liable if I publish it directly. As for growing a set, my actions aren’t determined by fear. I just think if they want to make fools out of themselves, I shouldn’t stop them.
Chuck L, whether or not bloggers qualify as journalists is something of a hot topic. Courts have consistently ruled that bloggers can qualify as journalists, but I’m not sure where the lines get drawn. It’s something I want to look into a bit more.
Hum, they do own the copyright to this letter. I own the copyright on my response to them. The law just allows people to distribute copyrighted material under certain circumstances.
hunter, these things can take time. I’ve given the University of Queensland a little time to provide documentation for a number of their claims prior to examining the legal arguments they made (including documentation showing they even have standing to be involved). If they don’t provide that documentation, I need not bother even addressing their arguments. In that case, I’ll publish the letter as soon as the time period is up.
On the other hand, if they maintain an open dialogue with me, I’m not going to sabotage it to publish a letter when doing so wouldn’t contribute anything. I’d raise the issue of this baseless threat during the resolution process. Perhaps we’d resolve it amicably. I see no value in passing up the chance to have them admit they were wrong just to publish the letter a little earlier.
On the issue of a legal fund, I might start one if there’s any indication I’ll get sued. Until then, I’d just be taking people’s money for nothing. I wouldn’t mind the free money, but… 😛

jeanparisot
May 15, 2014 2:43 pm

Brandon, what Congressional district do you live in?

May 15, 2014 2:48 pm

I agree with Eliza’s suggestion that you write the Australian Prime Minister, but suggest you focus on the specific issue of you, a US citizen, being threatened with legal action by a state-funded Australian entity. Explain how you got the data & make clear you did not steal it.

THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA AND I AM APPALLED THAT YOU GUYS ARE SAYING SUCH A POORLY THOUGHT OUT THING!
These guys are threatening to file a criminal complaint. The Australian Prime Minister has 0 incentive to stand in the way of it. The University has everything to gain in trying to ask for a criminal complaint against Brandon.
What Brandon needs to do is to
a) Shut up!
b) Get legal counsel (I recommend asking Ken at Popehat who has a stable of lawyers willing to take on case pro-bono)
c) Shut up!
d) Not give anyone any more ammunition to file hacking charges against him
e) Shut up!
There seems to be some naive belief that the entities out there have some degree of integrity and a moral compass.
Government officials aren’t machines. They are human beings that react to incentives. And the incentives involved generally reward hurting little people and punish helping them when they confront big politically connected institutions. Police forces are incented to generate prosecutions. Prosecutors are incented to convict people.
At this point Brandon should be talking to an expert, not taking advice from strangers on the Internet who are oblivious to the dangers of the various legal systems and thus promote reckless courses of action.

Reply to  tarran
May 16, 2014 7:37 am

@Tarran – no, the worst thing he can do is shut up. Then he is quietly “disappeared”. As he has the right of free speech, and as he has not uttered any falsehoods, his best defense is the one he is taking. Mockery and derision.
I would not take an Internet threat seriously and that is all this is – a threat. A bad one at that. I doubt the barrister who wrote the letter has won many court cases.

Peter
May 15, 2014 2:48 pm

My old Uni. Sent a link to my Alumni, explaining why I do not provide funds to the Alumni organisation, and why I discouraged my three children from attending UQ. Told them that I am disgusted with the ethics, have been for some time.

JJ
May 15, 2014 2:49 pm

Typical lawyerese bluff tactic. Claiming to do things that they cannot, in the hopes that you get scared and go away.
Call their bluff.
Start by publishing their “we own the copyright to this threat” bullshit letter.
Put it on your own website, in the context of an “open letter” to Cook. Claim “fair use” of their bullshit threat AND your own copyright of every jot and tittle of your full response, including their bullshit threat and John Cook’s name. Threaten to sue them for copyright infringement if they attempt to use any part of your response, including their letter to you, for anything, including legal proceedings. And as suggested above, definitely cite Arkell v. Pressdram as precendent.
Of course, if you turn their tactics against them, they’ll probably threaten to sue you for infringement of their soon to be filed method patent on bullshit legal bluffing tactics.
Soldier on, Shoylentgreenburger. Do not let them bully you.

MattN
May 15, 2014 2:49 pm

Publish the letter, publish the data, dare them to sue.
Call their bluff.

bevothehike
May 15, 2014 2:49 pm

Brandon Shollenberger says:
May 15, 2014 at 12:08 pm
“bevothehike, I’m not sure I want to “up the ante by threatening them with international blackmail.” I try to avoid committing crimes :P”
I meant accusing them of blackmail:-) It sounds like you’re resigned to acquiescing to their bullying. At the very least I would contact the president of the University to verify if what happened to you was sanctioned. Copy all the national and local newspapers as well.

jim2
May 15, 2014 2:49 pm

Here is the email address to make a donation to UQ. I’m going to donate a piece of my mind.
donations@uq.edu.au

May 15, 2014 2:51 pm

matayaya, I followed that series of posts as it was published. I wrote responses, pointing out many mistakes in them. It was only after something like six thousand words they began providing evidence for their claims, and that was two years after the fact. People’s skepticism was always justified. Had the Skeptical Science team wanted to be believed, they should have been open about things sooner. They also shouldn’t have written posts explaining the issue that made it clear they didn’t know what they were talking about.
In any event, when they finally provided (potentially) verifiable evidence they had been hacked, I accepted it. That has nothing to do with this topic though. That hack happened something like two years ago, before data I have now even existed. It was done by an entirely different person, targeted an entirely different set of resources, and obtained no material I obtained.
In the future, I’d advise you make sure you have some idea what you’re talking about before accusing other people of not knowing what they’re talking about. Failing that, at least try not to accuse people of lying based upon a complete lack or misunderstanding of knowledge on your part.

lb
May 15, 2014 2:53 pm

US Law vs International Law
Brandon, thank you for this very interesting post!
Some of the previous posts sound to me like the posters are mixing US law with international law, e.g. ‘with what amounts to a blackmail letter itself a federal offence’ or ‘Refer them to Arkell v. Pressdram’
Anyway, I would not recommend studying at UoQ. Sorry UoQ guys, so sue me.

D.J. Hawkins
May 15, 2014 2:54 pm

AndyL says:
May 15, 2014 at 2:17 pm
Are you sure they own copyright to the letter?
I believe you own it and have all rights to it, unless courts state otherwise. In UK the only legal letters that must remain confidential are some forms of injuction, and these are frequently tied to a libel claim. They are known as “super-injunctions”, as publishing the injunction would be the same as publishing the libel.

I have seen this question addressed elswhere. The author retains not only the copyright interest in a letter, but also a property interest. If “A” writes love letters to “B”, “B” does not have the right to publish or sell those letters.

Mike Tremblay
May 15, 2014 2:58 pm

Interesting item I found related to this – free legal advice (for US Citizens)
“Sixteen Things Writers Should Know About Quoting From Letters”
http://www.rightsofwriters.com/2011/02/sixteen-things-writers-should-know.html

Reply to  Mike Tremblay
May 16, 2014 9:17 am

@Mike Tremblay – Thanks for the link. I defer to the expertise in that.

Alan
May 15, 2014 2:59 pm

If this letter was sent through the US Mail service, I believe they have very stringent rules about what can and cannot be carried. Without the text, it is impossible to say whether this is an infringement of those rules, which carry thye force of law.

May 15, 2014 3:01 pm

Folks: Just think a minute. Try to defend a lawsuit in Australia…how? Lawyers in the US charge for their work and foreign lawyers are no different. So why open oneself to this needless expense…particularly when the institution is besmirching its reputation day by day by day …

Chris in Queensland
May 15, 2014 3:03 pm

Brandon, A few points you should consider.
From the comments above, I take it you are a citizen of the USA.
A legal threat is a long, long way from actually appearing in court.
The court appearance would have to be here in Queensland.
Any appearance would be held in a “civil court” not criminal.
The law enforcement authorities in Queensland would not be involved.
UQ would have to show good cause to the US law enforcement authorities why you should arrested and forcibly extradited to Australia.
UQ would have to meet all costs in getting you to, and accommodating you in Queensland.
Costs may not be recoverable under Queensland Law.
UQ would have to consider the risks in not being successful with its litigation, thus bearing costs.
We have laws in Queensland against frivolous and vexatious legal actions.
You will be a very old man by the time you get to Australia.
Publish the stuff and keep Australia out of your travel plans.

May 15, 2014 3:03 pm

Harry Buttle, that clip is what made me start watching Red Eye. It’s my favorite show on any cable news channel. In fact, it’s the only show I watch on any cable news channel. Andy Levy rules!
John Whitman, I sent them a sample of a data file which proved I had previously undisclosed material. I assume the University of Queensland looked at how I got it (it claims to have done a forensic investigation) and examined what material I could have obtained.
AndyL, I am. It’s well-established. It usually comes up in plagiarism cases where somebody copied a letter to use as a template. That doesn’t mean the letters have to be kept confidential. It just means there are limits on how you can use them.
Gonzo, I have a Paypal account. You can put money in it if you’d like. I won’t complain. I just can’t foresee actually needing money for any legal reasons so I don’t know why you’d be doing it.
Steve C, I believe giving details about it could possibly lead to the disclosure of some of the material. More importantly, I’m content to let people make false allegations and demand they provide proof. I believe in letting people make fools of themselves.
Mike Jonas, Jeremy Thomas, jeanparisot, there are a lot of people it’s been suggested I contact. I need to take some time and think about it. As for my Congressional district, I’d have to look that up. I don’t know which one covers southern Illinois (or if multiple ones do).
bevothehike, sure you were 😛 For what it’s worth, you need not fear me cowing to pressure. I expect I’ll be publishing the letter in its entirety in about half a day. I’m just allowing a short window for the University of Queensland to justify some of the things they said before doing so.

Boblo
May 15, 2014 3:05 pm

Hey now everyone let’s be a little more charitable here. Let’s consider for a moment the possibility that UQ and JC know for a fact that their data is so solid as to offer no useful information beyond what they have already reported. Maybe they are just trying to save you from wasting your time on it when they know you could be doing useful research elsewhere.
In fact, anywhere else.

May 15, 2014 3:09 pm

Im sure Drudge would be interested in the blackmail threat

Amr marzouk
May 15, 2014 3:09 pm

Be careful, The next step would be to have your racehorses head dumped on your bed as in Godfather 1.

May 15, 2014 3:13 pm

Brandon says:
…sadly, I don’t have the resources of Mark Steyn. I’m not afraid of the University of Queensland’s (baseless) threats…
I agree, they are completely baseless threats. Be a hero. Call their bluff.
A U.S. law was recently passed stating that foreign entities prevailing in a lawsuit against a U.S. citizen residing in the U.S. cannot collect. Period.
You don’t need the resources of Mark Steyn. That letter is not theirs, they gave it to you without conditions. It is now your letter, and you may do whatever you want with it. It is your property now, not theirs.
Post it. Show the world how impotent they really are.

milodonharlani
May 15, 2014 3:16 pm

Peter says:
May 15, 2014 at 2:48 pm
Not too many universities not in on the scam. I quit donating to my undergrad college Stanford & to my parents’ alma mater Oregon State. But my pittance is as nothing compared to federal CACA largesse.

hunter
May 15, 2014 3:20 pm

Brandon,
You are of course the final authority in making a decision on this. The rest of us are in the peanut gallery.
I appreciate your position and respect your analysis of it. I would counsel to look closely at what UQ could actually do about you publishing something that you found. especially if you simply told the truth about how you found it.
The climate kooks are in full shrill sissy fight mode.I see it sort of like this:

copernicus34
May 15, 2014 3:20 pm

I sense a consensus that what was done to this poor man is bad. It could be as much as a 97% consensus.

Lord Jim
May 15, 2014 3:22 pm
old44
May 15, 2014 3:22 pm

What do you suppose would be their reaction if you were to publish a made up set of data from a hypothetical university (say the University of Cheftown) in a hypothetical state of Kingsland.

May 15, 2014 3:23 pm

Brandon Schollenberger,
Thank you for answering my first question.
2nd Question: Because I see no risk or downside to you to provide to us on a thread at WUWT full details and context of how you obtained the info*** if it was obtained as you have said in a non-criminal way, then why haven’t you told us how you got it?
***the info you have being that which is the subject of the UQ letter you just received
John

RoyFOMR
May 15, 2014 3:24 pm

Posted earlier by me on Bishop Hill:
‘The ineptocratic wagon-train rolls on without regard to the increasingly hostile gaze of those who pay their salaries.
They actually believe that they are impregnable.
In the US they may still, fleetingly, be but not in the land down under!
Doctor Bruce and Professor Sheila, your ineptitude with PR is only surpassed by your inability to sniff the wind’
Brandon, it’s your ingenuity against their punitive pot of public cash.
You can’t win, mate.
Not yet!
(But you will)

Michael D
May 15, 2014 3:28 pm

Brandon,
I based my comment solely on your statement I corresponded with John Cook to try to get him to assert any claims of confidentiality he might have regarding the data I now possess. I sent him multiple e-mails telling him if he felt the data was confidential, he should request I not disclose it. which suggested that the data had been released to you unintentionally. That’s all that I meant, and thus I apologize for using the inappropriate word “legitimacy.” I have no concerns that your actions were illegitimate.
Michael

Lars P.
May 15, 2014 3:31 pm

One does not know if to burst into laugher or fall in despair. Amazing things happen.
Do I correctly understand that they try seriously to hide data from a so call “scientific” paper threatening with a lawsuit over trying to reproduce and verify the results? Do they try to forbit to comment on the results?
How about when a serious scientific research would do this? Should physic papers from now work based on this new rule? What about a pharmacy study, medicine or genetic? ROFL I want to see their faces if a gen modified crop is spread based on such new methodology?
What kind of university is that? Do they really stand on their heads on the other side of the Earth?
How far are these so called “scholars” away from the scientific method? Is anything that could go further? Have they never heard of reproducibility?
That fancy sentence comes to my mind: “why should I give you my data if all you want is showing me being wrong?”
I see a pattern here… on one side is science with scientific method, on the other side this parody. These 2 do not mix.
as ConfusedPhoton says above (May 15, 2014 at 2:04 pm) :
“Ah the smell of Lysenkoism in the morning!”

Louis Hooffstetter
May 15, 2014 3:36 pm

…sadly, I don’t have the resources of Mark Steyn.
Oh, but you can! Call their bluff!
Anthony:
1. Set up the ‘Tip Jar’.
2. Collect enough to hire Mark Steyn’s lawer.
3. Post the data.
4. Let’s dance!!
REPLY: I’m already working on something. Gotta love Google cache – Anthony

Admin
May 15, 2014 3:38 pm

From the University of Queensland document, Responsible Conduct of Research:-
https://ppl.app.uq.edu.au/content/4.20.02-responsible-conduct-research
7.3 Repeatability of an experiment in laboratories at diverse locations is generally regarded as one of the main criteria for its veracity. Similarly, the ability to verify, test or replicate facts and other data from documentary, archival, statistical, fieldwork, survey or observational sources is crucial and depends upon appropriate referencing of sources, methods and locations. When a researcher finds a major discrepancy in results reported in the literature, they should be encouraged to notify the scientific community of the findings without fear of censure or disadvantage. Timely publication may also prevent needless repetition of research.

jeanparisot
May 15, 2014 3:40 pm

Brandon, Hopefully your in Shimkus’ district.

A. E. Soledad
May 15, 2014 3:41 pm

Obviously Brian’s been intimidated into silence.

David Archibald
May 15, 2014 3:43 pm

I attended the University of Queensland once. They keep sending me letters suggesting that I send them money.

Reply to  David Archibald
May 16, 2014 9:46 am

@David Archibald

They keep sending me letters suggesting that I send them money.

So do Nigerian scammers. The similarity is amusing.

JEM
May 15, 2014 3:43 pm

If you decide to raise a finger to the UoQ and they get tetchy I’m in for $100 on the defense fund.

SteveT
May 15, 2014 3:45 pm

Brandon, you claim to have not infringed any laws obtaining this data. If this is the case could someone else have obtained said data in the same way? If so, could this data be released into the wild by someone else’s actions? Just a thought……
As long as you haven’t emailed it to anyone, they would not be able to sue you or any other anonymous leaker.
SteveT

May 15, 2014 3:46 pm

They’ll fight tooth & nail, to prevent Cook’s paper from being retracted. They see it as being absolutely critical to their credibility. For all sceptics, it’s very clear what needs to be done.

May 15, 2014 3:51 pm

You received an email? Was it digitally signed with the published PGP/GPG key of the sender?
If not, I’d ignore it. It’s not on official letterhead and is unsigned. It’s as worthless as the paper it’s written on 🙂

May 15, 2014 3:53 pm

If the data shows a major flaw in Cook research paper, then publish in redacted form (no names or ways to identify). If the identity of individuals is central to major flaw, then better make sure the research is scientifically unsound because of involvement of redacted people.
It is in the public interest to expose deliberate scientific malpractice.
If there is no major flaw, don’t publish. If it is not obviously deliberate, then don’t publish. If the method can be replicated scientifically to achieve similar results without Cook’s IP, then don’t publish.
If this in some way needlessly embarrasses people, then don’t publish.

May 15, 2014 3:54 pm

funny they complain about the legal threats to the journal.

Lord Jim
May 15, 2014 3:55 pm

“9. Access to Research Data and Records
9.1 Subject to clause 5.1, Research Data and Primary Materials should be made available by Researchers for use by other researchers and interested persons for further research, after reasonable periods following the completion of the research. Preclusions on the basis of confidentiality include formal confidentiality agreements and situations where research/development is focused on achieving a defined piece of protectable intellectual property.”
https://ppl.app.uq.edu.au/content/4.20.06-research-data-management

May 15, 2014 3:56 pm

One thing Brandon.
I hope you dont leave a copy of the letter and all the data on CD laying on your desk and forget to lock your front door.

Leigh
May 15, 2014 3:58 pm

http://theconversation.com/billions-axed-in-clean-energy-renewable-target-is-next-26578
“This from a university (haven of free speech!) in a country whose PM is allegedly a CACA skeptic.”
Yes, the prime minister is a skeptic.
Those in America who are doing their best to expose this fraud would do well to research just how much of a skeptic he is.
And what his government is trying to do to defend free speech.
He is public enemy no.1 to the global warmists down under.
A good starting point would be a look at Prime minister Abbotts governments first budget handed down this week.
The link at the top is just a start.
And if you choose write to the government.
Address your correspondence to the attorney general, Senator George Brandis.

Konrad
May 15, 2014 3:59 pm

Brandon,
I believe the considered response of Pressdram Ltd.’s legal representatives in the Arkell vs. Pressdram dispute would be appropriate here –
http://www.lettersofnote.com/2013/08/arkell-v-pressdram.html

Robert of Ottawa
May 15, 2014 4:02 pm

Wait a minute. Ain’t Queensland University in Australia, not the US?

DP
May 15, 2014 4:07 pm

The following article may explain UQ’s over-protective approach to their academic reputation:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-07/uq-investigates-fresh-claims-of-research-misconduct/5077276

Jan
May 15, 2014 4:10 pm

“Publish or perish” has now become “Publish and perish”. These people are insane.

Lord Jim
May 15, 2014 4:16 pm

I guess this mean we should now write “97% climate science consensus (c) 2013 John Cook et al”

Gary in Erko
May 15, 2014 4:18 pm

Two ideas which so far haven’t been mentioned –
1 – Could someone reading this blog please notify the university’s student newspaper, Semper Floreat.
2 – Permission to use the Creative Commons licence should be suspended for all departments of the University of Queensland.

Truthseeker
May 15, 2014 4:20 pm

Amr marzouk says:
May 15, 2014 at 3:09 pm
Be careful, The next step would be to have your racehorses head dumped on your bed as in Godfather 1.
——————————————————————————————————–
We are talking about the University of Queensland here. There is no way those lefty eco loons would actually harm a real animal. The most frightening thing they could do would be to dump the top of a pineapple or mango on the bed. Messy nonetheless.

RoHa
May 15, 2014 4:22 pm

A few points.
1. UQ is not a foreign university. It is Australian.
2. As others have pointed out, a lawsuit would involve considerations of both Australian law and US law. Would UQ have a ghost of a chance if they tried using you in the US? If they sued you in absentia in Australia, could the penalty be enforced in the US? You really need the advice of our learned friends on this.
3. Tony Abbot is not a good man. He is a Prime Minister. The two concepts are mutually exclusive.

Theo Goodwin
May 15, 2014 4:23 pm

Check with a lawyer. I do not believe that the US and Australia have agreements on copyright law.

Graeme W
May 15, 2014 4:26 pm

John Whitman says:
May 15, 2014 at 3:23 pm
Brandon Schollenberger,
Thank you for answering my first question.
2nd Question: Because I see no risk or downside to you to provide to us on a thread at WUWT full details and context of how you obtained the info*** if it was obtained as you have said in a non-criminal way, then why haven’t you told us how you got it?
***the info you have being that which is the subject of the UQ letter you just received
John

I think Brandon has answered that already. He’s concerned that the information may be confidential, hence not only his emails to John Cook asking for confirmation as to whether the information could be disclosed, but also why he’s not revealing how he got the information as (presumably) the information is still available by the method he used. If it’s supposed to be confidential, he doesn’t want to assist others in making the information public.

James
May 15, 2014 4:28 pm

“The material was gathered in a perfectly legal way. I could easily prove that.”
Then you say:
“when they hear what I did to “hack” the server.”
Doesn’t sound perfectly legal. You don’t have to crack passwords or bypass security. It’s enough for them to prove you took information you knew you shouldn’t have access to. The quality, or lack, of security doesn’t matter. For example Andrew Auernheimer initially got over 3 years for taking data from a public server. It was over turned but on a seperate technicality.

May 15, 2014 4:28 pm

You have obviously stumbled upon a snake pit, and stirred them up. Find out what your legal rights are, and take it from there. This is a story that BEGS to be told, or they would not be fighting so desperately, to cover it up!

cohenite
May 15, 2014 4:35 pm

A letter of demand as a prelude to legal action is not confidential; full stop; this letter has no confidentiality to enforce; the threat is empty. In any event the letter of demand is based on the Cook data which is subject to a creative commons open distribution which in turn is subject only to attribution. So publish the letter with attribution.

May 15, 2014 4:44 pm

And just to add when I said
“If this in some way needlessly embarrasses people, then don’t publish.”
If one of the two “independent, anonymous” persons who sorted out the abstracts in Cook’s study turns out to be a relation of Cook, then this falls under the “needlessly embarrass” department.
There is a difference between legit scientific questions and a witch hunt….

Tanya Aardman
May 15, 2014 4:47 pm

I’ll publish it for you

Randy
May 15, 2014 4:48 pm

All I can say is I guess its lucky for cook the data didn’t show up at my door. They could sue me if they wanted, I would release it anyway.

May 15, 2014 4:56 pm

Brandon:
Take a deep breath, take several and calm down.
There are several issues at work here.
The first and foremost is that this is just a scare tactic. Quite likely it is a false scare tactic hoping you’d never check sources.
There really isn’t an international certified letter, so any truly official legal notice would’ve had to be sent international registered mail with personal signature required.
That is the only way to have you be the only person to read it. Otherwise anyone might’ve opened the letter.
Send a copy of the letter registered international mail signature required (not necessary to restrict it to the individual addressed) and request verification of authenticity.
You could ask what laws they are invoking if you are so inclined. As some others have pointed out, actual impact to you for taking care of your needs are difficult if not impossible to enforce.

“Brandon Shollenberger says: May 15, 2014 at 11:52 am
Bob Kutz, they’re actually right to say they own the copyright to this letter. They do. That just doesn’t mean they can demand I not publish it. There are many reasons copyrighted material can be republished. Fair use is easy to argue in regard to a cease and desist complaint, especially when that complaint alleges criminal offenses…”

Yes, no, maybe…
This letter directly addresses and accuses you! You own any inherent copyrights of this letter equally so long as your use of the letter is to your needs in addressing this letter. What do they expect you to do? Never fax it to a lawyer nor have that lawyer discuss it over their internal networks? Get real!
I agree with your view on the sks supposed hack analysis; nor has all of the sks trollites screaming how wonderful the sks supposed analysis is ever appeared convincing. Baffling with b—–t for the ignorant, yes. Legally valid? Not likely. UofQ convincing Holder to nab you for wire fraud? Also not likely as that’d probably have to be confirmed with the FBI pros for validity which then leaves UofQ again being forced to try and extradite you…
After all the above and much to the dismay of genuine UofQ students and alumni I am beginning to pronounce UofQ in my mind as… never mind.
But it does bring up a thought, check with JoNova on this.

john robertson
May 15, 2014 4:57 pm

Way too funny.
Good work Brandon.
Look forward to next move.

John Robertson
May 15, 2014 5:03 pm

The university of Queesnland appears to be partaking in OPEN DATA STRATEGY 2013 that states (bold added):

OPEN DATA STRATEGY
2014-2017
In response to the Queensland Government’s request, Queensland’s universities have developed an Open Data Strategy to guide the availability of data for other individuals and organisations.

Four Year Reporting Model
Queensland universities will approach the maturing of an Open Data culture within an initial four year reporting term.
• Year 1 (2014) – Strategy initiation and awareness
There is already a wealth of data in the public domain that may benefit from suitable promotion through the Queensland Government Open Data Initiative. Existing data sets in the public domain will be promoted through development of open data format tables that include links to relevant data sources.

and so on. Read the PDF. Interesting.

Jeff
May 15, 2014 5:05 pm

Ahh, UQ….the land of blunder, the land downunder (no offense to the rest of OZ)….

milodonharlani
May 15, 2014 5:19 pm

All data are equal, but some data are more equal than others. That is, not open at all.
Academic free speech has been replaced by NewSpeak.
1984 = 2014 in NewMath.

May 15, 2014 5:21 pm

Graeme W says:
May 15, 2014 at 4:26 pm

John Whitman says:
May 15, 2014 at 3:23 pm
Brandon Schollenberger,
Thank you for answering my first question.
2nd Question: Because I see no risk or downside to you to provide to us on a thread at WUWT full details and context of how you obtained the info*** if it was obtained as you have said in a non-criminal way, then why haven’t you told us how you got it?
***the info you have being that which is the subject of the UQ letter you just received
John

I think Brandon has answered that already. He’s concerned that the information may be confidential, hence not only his emails to John Cook asking for confirmation as to whether the information could be disclosed, but also why he’s not revealing how he got the information as (presumably) the information is still available by the method he used. If it’s supposed to be confidential, he doesn’t want to assist others in making the information public.

– – – – – – – – – – –
Graeme W,
If Brandon Schollenberger has said what you said on this thread, then I missed it on this thread.
To me that explanation raises more questions than answers. Like, if the subject info that he has was found in a file on their main webpage and that file was titled ‘”Confidential and Proprietary ‘Consensus’ Paper data” then telling other people on a thread like this that a file with that name is there is not unethical or illegal. So why not tell us the file location if the situation is even remotely like that?
There are many more questions arising from the answer you attributed to Brandon Schollenberger that I may address in comments later on this thread.
But, I must be frank with Brandon Schollenberger since I do respect him in this dialog. There is a nagging doubt in my mind that he may not have just found the file and data, instead that he may have got the subject info from another person. If that is the case then we have a whole new set of questions about the circumstances and who that person is and how that person got the info. N’est ce pas? We are skeptics after all even when (especially when) discussing the info provided by other skeptics.
John

noloctd
May 15, 2014 5:22 pm

Based on that letter, I believe it would be appropriate to henceforth refer to it as the “University” of Queensland.

May 15, 2014 5:45 pm

My understanding is under US copyright law, facts can not be copyrighted, only works of fiction; claiming copyright over scientific data is like admitting scientific fraud!

Eamon Butler
May 15, 2014 5:51 pm

So, you are trying to expose a fraud, and they threaten to sue you if you do. Maybe I’ve completely misunderstood. Can’t wait for you to do the right thing.
Best regards Brandon.
Eamon.

John Of Cloverdale WA, Australia
May 15, 2014 5:54 pm

Couldn’t help thinking of an Aussie song (You Better Get a Lawyer Son) by the Cruel Sea, a great Aussie band. Clip from YouTube

Gaylon
May 15, 2014 5:54 pm

Brandon,
Excerpted from Mike’s link for your consideration…
Mike Tremblay says:
May 15, 2014 at 2:58 pm
’14. A few interesting cases, such as Avins v. Moll, suggest that the recipient of a letter may publish a whole letter, if publication is necessary to defend the recipient’s reputation against charges made by the sender. In any event, fair use ordinarily would give the recipient the leeway she needs to deal with this rare circumstance.’
As accusation, threats and intimidation were employed by UQ this may provide a viable path to safety. Still, not sure about the international aspect of it and if the above would still hold true.

Rud Istvan
May 15, 2014 5:57 pm

Brandon, old co-author over at Climate Etc, clever post. Well done.
You need more serious legal advice, email. Plus my daughter is also a licensed attorney who specializes in IPR, even interned in Geneva. Maybe time we helped you open a second front v. Cook comparable to Steyn v. Mann. In the US, fair use doctrine goes a long way. And claiming that a threatening letter is copyrighted by the threatener so cannot be used is probably by itself a criminally threatening act under both federal and whatever state law you chose. Let’s see, ” this letter threatening to black mail you is copyrighted, so providing a copy to the police in order to go after the blackmailer is prohibited by copyright.” I think not.
U. Queensland stupidly just stepped into big dodo. Classic Streisand effect, and shows they are definitely hiding something. Maybe the WUWT team globally would be willing as a crowd sourced project to now take them on. You seem to have sufficient ammunition already from what has been said. And is more relevant to CAGW than saving a satellite. And there are undoubtedly experts who could volunteer time to help.

May 15, 2014 6:04 pm

John Whitman, the original reason for not explaining how I obtained the material was threefold. First, as a general rule, I try not to burn sources of information. I debated for a while about whether or not I should even talk about what I found because I knew it’d probably mean losing access to a source of information.
Additionally, I was concerned telling people how to find the data would make it impossible to address any privacy concerns people might raise. It would do no good for me to offer to anonymize data (or whatever) if I told people where to find that data. Finally, I figured if he didn’t realize how I got the data before I was comfortable releasing it, other people would be able to access it the same way.
By the time those concerns had passed, I had been accused of criminal offenses multiple times. I decided if people were going to make baseless accusations, I’d let them. Why get in the way of people making fools out of themselves?
I answered the question (in general terms) when asked by several people via e-mail. After a few days, when I knew there was no secret left to protect, I’d have explained to Cook or anyone else who asked in reasonable manner. Very few people did.
In any event, I recently said this in a comment at my site:

John Cook set up a site where work on his project could be done. That site’s home page required users log in to be directed to any material. However, it did not require users log in to access (some) material. Anyone could access that material if they knew the URL for it. I discovered URLs for several pages on the site. A couple required I provide credentials. A couple did not. When looking at those which did not, I saved what I saw.
Given the totality of action necessary to access this data was inputting a URL, it is absurd to call what I did hacking. It is not hacking to type in web address. I could have e-mailed the URL to dozens of people, and each of them could have done the same thing I did. None of them would have been any more guilty of hacking that server than I was.

hunter
May 15, 2014 6:07 pm

UQ are punks and know it. It is long past time to use legal tactics to push back on the climate hypesters. The more I consider the idea that a an entity other than a government in extreme and well defined situations could possibly demand in a civil matter that their target not even discuss the letter of demand/complaint in public, the more obvious it is that they are whistling in the dark.
Eff ’em. Take up Rud’s offer. UQ is is holding busted low numbers.
Cook is a tool and a kook and the sooner him and his gang of like minded twits get outed the better.

Pamela Gray
May 15, 2014 6:10 pm

I think we can safely say that Cook and Lew’s research designs “caused the effects”. We don’t need to press further. Their write ups can’t even be used to line a bird cage. Why? Already too full of sh*t.

Magoo
May 15, 2014 6:16 pm

When this plays out a bit more I think the following institutions might be interested in what has been going on at the University of Queensland:
http://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2013-14/world-ranking
http://www.australianuniversities.com.au/rankings/
http://www.shanghairanking.com
etc., etc.

May 15, 2014 6:23 pm

Reply to the U of Q and request permission to show their letter to your attorney so he can advise you. The response to that would likely be amusing.

This is definitely something to do.
As was said before though, non-disclosure agreements are generally something which both parties enter into, did you knowingly do this?

May 15, 2014 6:26 pm

Michael D, no problem.
Louis Hooffstetter, I’m not sure what Anthony is referring to in his response to you, but I’d be sad if I collected enough money to hire a high-profile legal team. It would feel like a waste if I actually spent it on legal advice, and I’d feel like a fraud if I just kept it.
JEM, thanks for your willingness to support me. I really can’t see any reason I’d wind up needing a legal fund though. Unless (or until) I do, I can’t see collecting money from people. What would I do if it turned out I didn’t need the money?
SteveT, unfortunately, John Cook has taken steps to ensure nobody else can access the data the same way I did. Someone else could have obtained the data the same way I did, but not after my e-mail to Cook alerted him and led to him finding the lapse in his security.
Ian Scott, it is on official letterhead, it is signed, and it is from an official University of Queensland account. Whether or not it was encrypted is irrelevant. This is a real threat.
Steven Mosher, that’s funny to me because that could actually happen. I live in a rural area, and the people here are all very friendly (save one house of crazy people). There are neighbors who can walk into my house without knocking. I doubt anyone would think twice if someone drove up to my house, walked inside and took files/CDs out.
ATheoK, I’m not sure why you think I need to calm down. The fits of laughter have mostly passed. I still giggle from time to time, but I’m mostly pretty calm.

May 15, 2014 6:33 pm

let me guess, ftp site accessible through browser and right out in the open.
only they didn’t know it so think it was hacked.

Streetcred
May 15, 2014 6:40 pm

I have sent an email message to my Federal Member for Parliament regarding this appalling behavior of UQ.

RobertInAz
May 15, 2014 6:45 pm

Brandon,
As I read it, U of Q threatens legal action against anyone who “publishes” the letter. I believe that means you may privately share the letter with carefully selected individuals with experience dealing with such things such as Mark Steyn. I’m sure Mr. Steyn would undertake to advise you, possible in print. Whether he publishes the letter in its entirety would be up to him. In any case, since you did not publish the letter, your would not be guilty of a copyright violation.
Have fun with this.

May 15, 2014 6:53 pm

I’d publish it in a HEARTBEAT…Because I’m too old to care.
Plus, being near the “end of life”…it wouldn’t matter to me. FiretrUCK’em.

May 15, 2014 6:54 pm

Wait a moment. I said “care”, I meant SCARE.. sorry.

Mike T
May 15, 2014 6:58 pm

HGW xx/7 says:
May 15, 2014 at 12:11 pm
“Okay, can some one please explain what is going on in Australia? I mean, on one hand, the country’s geography seems akin to the US’s wild West, a wide-open land full of dreams and earnest hard work.
Yet, the politics of the Land Down Under are so hard left. I know there are skeptics from there and a government rarely is a true reflection of the governed. For crying out loud, though, the Aussies make most Europeans look like right-wingers, at least with regards to environmentalism.
All you Aussies who have held strong, this is not criticism of you. I feel for you. I just want to understand. I am consistently baffled.”
From an Australian’s point of view, much of US politics is “hard right”, and amusing too that socialists and lefties generally are called “liberal” in the US when we have a rightish “Liberal” party in power. Climate scepticism is alive and well in this country, it’s just that we have media that are slaves to the “Global Warming” scam. Not all that much different to the US, I’d imagine. Personally, most people here would think I drift to the right, Americans might think I’m a raving liberal, the moniker I use to describe my politics is “centrist”.
As a current university student (for fun, interest and exercise of brain cells) it’s very disappointing to see rubbish papers emanating from our universities. However, just as the Guardian doesn’t reflect all newspapers from the UK, UWA and UQ are not representative of all universities in this country, although it has to be said that those I have experience of do lean towards the AGW camp, BUT it’s important to note that this will vary WITHIN universities too. I did some Geology a while back, and any mention of CAGW/AGW was enough to have the professor frothing at the mouth. Geologists know better than climatologists, it seems, that climate has always changed. The geography faculty has several “climate change” based units of study, but I’d be annoyed and alarmed if the lecturers turned out to be died-in-the-wool warmistas. I did some climatology in that faculty, years ago, before the warmistas had gained much traction.

May 15, 2014 6:58 pm

“…it is on official letterhead, it is signed, and it is from an official University of Queensland account. Whether or not it was encrypted is irrelevant. This is a real threat…”

Break any ribs? Stress any chest muscles from laughing? Have a hard time taking a deep breath? Take it easy…
Back to the section I quoted; if the correspondence did not arrive in hard copy via registered mail it is not legal. Yes, it is a real threat; a threat meant to frighten. Can it be followed by a legal threat? Yes; but that will be hard copy through legal methods (served, registered mail).
If it’s an email, send a copy via hardcopy requiring signature seeking authentication; valid accounts do not mean that all emails from that account is valid. The old secretary is out to the powder room and left their computer still logged on suffices.
Rud Istvan has offered valuable help, even if you haven’t stopped giggling which is likely. Others have framed the ‘copyright’ law quite well as it would apply in your case. You are part owner of that ‘letter’ and perhaps absolute owner if it’s an email, just so long as you include the ‘copyright’ statement and attribute correctly. Between laughs that is.
Good Luck and keep us informed. Your articles and posts have always been interesting and now quite entertaining also.
Between Bengtsson getting climate ganged and your getting threatened by UofQ, trolls and trollites we haven’t seen in a long time are sleazing the science blogs again (here, Bishop Hill, JoNova, Judith Curry’s). It sure appears that someone has funded hooligan trolligan efforts again. Shame they didn’t invest their incomes in logic courses.
We are with you; whichever way(s) you choose.

Adam
May 15, 2014 7:02 pm

Just ignore it and publish the embarrasing letter on every climate website and all of the data. This is ridiculous bluster from a bunch of idiots. My suspicion is that when their real Lawyers read what they have written, somebody is going to get a good old fashioned firing.

Ken B
May 15, 2014 7:05 pm

Images of the Kooka hiding in the Cowards castle bunker, a real 99 percenter if ever there was one, and that has a mannian orifice about it!

SIGINT EX
May 15, 2014 7:12 pm

Send your report to The Guardian and change your name to Edward Snowden.
😉

May 15, 2014 7:14 pm

Brandon Shollenberger on May 15, 2014 at 6:04 pm
@John Whitman
– – – – – – – – – – –
Brandon Shollenberger,
Thanks for your extended reply to my question.
John

Mark T
May 15, 2014 7:21 pm

Your response to this is more ridiculous than theirs. Consult a lawyer or continue to play the part of a fool. Your choice.
Mark

Mac the Knife
May 15, 2014 7:25 pm

Brandon,
OK. You have somethings ‘up your sleeve’ yet, so it’s ‘wait and see’ for now. A, our host, seems to be working on something ‘not quite ready for prime time’ yet either. Several folks here have advocated a crowd source defense fund and getting expert legal advice. Sounds like good advice.
Mac

May 15, 2014 7:30 pm

“Steven Mosher, that’s funny to me because that could actually happen. I live in a rural area, and the people here are all very friendly (save one house of crazy people). There are neighbors who can walk into my house without knocking. I doubt anyone would think twice if someone drove up to my house, walked inside and took files/CDs out.”
ya, Im aware that you live in rural area, and that leaving the door open is rather common.
It would be funny if you published every 3rd word.
it would be funny if you put it to music and sang it in a pirate voice.
Its seems clear under the fair dealing exceptions that you can publish portions of it for review
and for news.
In the end I suppose Monckton should come along and assist.
man are they stupid

talldave2
May 15, 2014 7:36 pm

Unbelievable. Keep fighting the good fight, keep us posted.

sophocles
May 15, 2014 7:37 pm

I can’t help but wonder if U.Q. has blundered given it’s involvement
with Queensland universities to develop `an Open Data Strategy.’
Your letter sort of flies in the face of that. It’s trumpeted from this
this page, which is readily and publicly downloadable from U-Queensland’s
web site:
https://www.library.uq.edu.au/blogs/sp/2014/01/09/release-arc-funding-rules-open-access
It may expose further avenues for you to pursue, such as engaging
the Australian Research Council with a complaint or complaints …

ossqss
May 15, 2014 7:42 pm

Mosher, you are too funny.
Brandon, the laws are different in other parts of the globe. It’s not the front door that data could escape through.
We live in amazing times folks!
Regards Ed

Pamela Gray
May 15, 2014 7:42 pm

Max, I love the way you think. I also am too old to care. Plus Oregon is a Stand Your Ground State ;>). Any Aussies wanting to come after me, they would have to get by a very big burley ex-cop and then they would have to get near enough to me to wrestle my defense out of my cold, dead, hands.

May 15, 2014 7:51 pm

Brandon,
This is nothing but a giant head fake. They are bluffing, hoping to scare you into submitting to them.
You write:
This is a real threat.
But before that, you wrote that it is a “baseless threat”.
I think it is baseless. And until/unless a lawyer corrects me, I believe that letter belongs to you. If I send you a box of chocolates, who do they belong to? The term for someone who wants property taken back once it has been given away is “Indian giver”.
Don’t let them bluff you. Good advice has been offered here. Take it. You control the situation, they do not.

Physics Major
May 15, 2014 8:05 pm

I have a good layman’s knowledge of IP law in the US (I have 7 patents and 5 registered trademarks) so I can say that in my opinion the UQ’s claims of Copyright are probably bogus under US law, but in any event, a claim of copyright does not prevent you from public comment.
A copyright does not prevent extended comment on copyrighted material. If you are writing a review of a novel or movie, you are free to describe the contents of that novel or movie in as much detail as you wish. That would also apply to any letter or collection of data where there is a claim of copyright. Copyright just means that you are prohibited from reproducing the work verbatim without permission.

j.arimathea
May 15, 2014 8:22 pm

Like Eliza I am a MSc-PhD from UQ, many decades ago. These days when I get their propaganda sheet I just bin it. Sad.

emsnews
May 15, 2014 8:29 pm

I have some similar experience here!!!
I suggest you give Cook’s email address to the readers here so they can write nice letters to him and to his lawyer. All of us. Simultaneously.
Have some fun.

Truthseeker
May 15, 2014 8:30 pm

RoHa says:
May 15, 2014 at 4:22 pm

3. Tony Abbot is not a good man. He is a Prime Minister. The two concepts are mutually exclusive.
————————————————————————————————————————
Tony Abbott is a good man. That is the problem. He needs to be a bit of a bastard to actually fix the mess that has been left him.

Streetcred
May 15, 2014 8:31 pm

May 15, 2014 at 4:22 pm | RoHa says:

[ … ] 3. Tony Abbot is not a good man. He is a Prime Minister. The two concepts are mutually exclusive.

Rubbish, Tony Abbott is an excellent, moral, and high credentialed man … attributes that have been lacking in past 2 Australian prime ministers.

Tim Obrien
May 15, 2014 8:40 pm

So much for the open discussion of scientific data. They may as well put on medieval robes and start telling fortunes with chicken bones…

Russ R.
May 15, 2014 8:48 pm

“…John Cook set up a site where work on his project could be done. That site’s home page required users log in to be directed to any material. However, it did not require users log in to access (some) material. Anyone could access that material if they knew the URL for it. I discovered URLs for several pages on the site. A couple required I provide credentials. A couple did not. When looking at those which did not, I saved what I saw. Given the totality of action necessary to access this data was inputting a URL, it is absurd to call what I did hacking. It is not hacking to type in web address.”
Brandon,
You could put them in a Catch-22 situation by doing exactly what Cook did.
You’ve already set up a website. I presume that just like Cook’s website, some pages require credentials and others do not. If you, just like Cook, left “the IP” on a webpage that did not require credentials, and left the URL to that webpage on another webpage, and “the IP” was accessed and saved by an outside party simply by inputting a URL… well, you see where this is going.
If they claim that you disclosed “the IP” by placing it where it could be accessed by an outside party, then they’re arguing that Cook disclosed “the IP” first on his own website. And if they claim that inputting a URL is hacking, then they’re arguing that you didn’t disclose “the IP” because your site was obviously hacked.

DR
May 15, 2014 8:55 pm

Why didn’t you use an anonymous IP address, release the “data” to the pubic anonymously, and become FOIA #2?
Also, I’ll throw in a donation to get legal counsel just to find out if UQ is just blowing smoke. Anyone else?

May 15, 2014 9:04 pm

Rud Istvan, thanks for your kind offer. I’ve already contacted two lawyers who were recommended to me though. That already seems like overkill for such baseless threats. I’m always happy to receive advice, but it takes time to write to each person. I’d rather not spend too much time on it if it’d serve no purpose. I’ll likely change my mind if anything actually comes of this threat.
Max™, the only sort of agreement I ever entered into was one where I’d temporary delay releasing the material. And that was with John Cook.
RobertInAz, in copyright law, publishing refers to any communication of material to a third party. That includes privately sending a copy to a single individual. I am curious how Mark Steyn would react to this though. I may need to see if I can find his e-mail address.
Max Hugoson, at least your comment made sense despite the typo!
ATheoK, no, but I did nearly throw up from laughing so much. Could I have sued for damages if I had?
John Whitman, no problem.
Steven Mosher, on the other hand, pretty much everyone around here has a gun. It might not be so wise for a stranger to just show up and barge into a house.
dbstealey, all I meant by “real threat” is it is a threat issued by the University of Queensland. It’s baseless, but it’s not a hoax or anything like that.
emsnews, no thanks. I find tactics like that are usually counter-productive.
Russ R., I like that idea!

May 15, 2014 9:06 pm

Brandon:
One question: Did John Cook share your communication with others, hence publishing it, and hence violating your copyright of communications with him?
Just asking. 🙂

May 15, 2014 9:08 pm

DR, the material is nowhere near as interesting or useful as the Climategate e-mails. I don’t think most people would care about this topic, save for the absurd its triggered.
On the issue of a legal fund, what would I do with any money in it if no legal problems ever arise? I don’t expect any to, so wouldn’t I just be ripping people off?

May 15, 2014 9:10 pm

I work with IP. I write and review contracts, design R&D programs — negotiate supplier contracts for “secret stuff” so I have some passing familiarity with copyright and IP law.
I often get emails with these types of notices. If you are dealing with a party that could or might get some advantage from privileged communication — you may want to use something like the following: (Choose one)
****************************************
Confidentiality Notices
A) This message is from CYZ Company (or Person) and may contain confidential business information. It is intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender and delete this message and any attachment from your system. Unauthorized publication, use, dissemination, forwarding, printing or copying of this e-mail and its attachments is strictly prohibited.
B) The information contained and/or attached in this message is privileged and confidential. This message and the information attached is intended to be reviewed only by the individual or organization named above. If you are not the intended recipient or an authorized representative or agent of the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any review, dissemination or copy of this message, its attachments and/or of any information contained herein is prohibited. If you have received this message by error, please immediately notify the sender by returning this message to the original sender and delete this message from your system
C) The contents of this email and any file transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.  The content may also contain legal, professional or other privileged information. If you received this e-mail in error, please destroy it immediately.  You should not copy or use it for any purpose nor disclose its contents to any other person. The views stated herein do not necessarily represent the view of the Company.
Please ensure you have adequate virus protection before you open or detach any documents from this transmission. The company does not accept any liability for viruses contained within.
D) The preceding e-mail message (including any attachments) contains information that may be confidential, be protected by the attorney-client or other applicable privileges, or constitute non-public information. It is intended to be conveyed only to the designated recipient(s). If you are not an intended recipient of this message, please notify the sender by replying to this message and then delete it from your system. Use, dissemination, distribution, or reproduction of this message by unintended recipients is not authorized and may be unlawful.
E) This message is solely for the intended recipient and may contain confidential or privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, use, or distribution of the information included in this message is prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please notify and immediately and permanently delete this message and any attachments. Thank you.
F) Warning: This E-Mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended for the use of the addressee only. Any unauthorised dissemination of its contents is prohibited and may be illegal. Please let us know immediately by telephone if you have received this e-mail in error.
***************************************
There are times when we have successfully enforced the provisions of our notice — which is inserted in the group as well.

May 15, 2014 9:30 pm

Brandon Shollenberger says:
May 15, 2014 at 9:08 pm
On the issue of a legal fund, what would I do with any money in it if no legal problems ever arise?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
I don’t think you need a legal fund at this point, but the answer to your question is that it is a common practice to name a charity to which any unused funds go. That way you can collect money if it is needed, and if it isn’t, nobody who gave is going to get excited if the unused funds wind up going to (for example) cancer research.
One amusing thought did occur to me btw. You’ve seen the data, you cannot erase it from your mind, and of course you can draw any conclusions you see fit from it. If it were me, trouble maker that I am, I’d come up with something as outlandish as possible from some cherry picked subset of the data and publish that conclusion. Then challenge them to prove me wrong, which they could only do…. by publishing the data.

Chris B
May 15, 2014 9:37 pm

JimS says:
May 15, 2014 at 1:18 pm
Well, remember what happened to Galileo – imprisoned for daring to advocate the heliocentric theory and not recanting of such heresy. Proceed with caution… please.
—————————————————
Unlike Brandon, Galileo was biting the hand that fed him, which, after all, only earned him house arrest. The new Inquisitors seek harsher punishment, via the state, for climate heretics.

hunter
May 15, 2014 9:46 pm

Brandon,
Here is how it seems to be, bottom line:
They sent you an unsolicited letter. You have no legal or ethical obligation to do anything they tell you to do with that letter. Period.
As to the data. You seem to have run across from that idiot having yet *another* procedural bit of idiocy that left still more of his super secret decoder ring clubhouse open to the world. So not only does Cook fib about climate, and fib about science studies, and create creepy photos of himself and his pals dressed up as nazis. He is also a nincompoop in managing websites. And he promotes himself as a website professional.
As if.
Publish it all. The sooner the better. He and UQ can do nothing on either legal or ethical grounds. They are fools.

May 15, 2014 9:50 pm

I live near UQ, and my children variously have degrees in arts, science, engineering and medicine from it, but I can not deny that it is prone to parochialism and paranoia. Maybe I should saunter over and sort them out.

TBear - Sydney, Australia
May 15, 2014 9:52 pm

Here is my email to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Queensland, today.
I have not redacted the VC’s email address as it is publicly listed, by UQ.
So I suppose all should feel free to send a message, if you are so minded
If I receive a reply, I will update everyone.
________________________
To vc@uq.edu.au
Today at 2:48 PM
Dear Vice Chancellor,
Although the full contents of the UQ legal letter to Brandon Schollenberger re his criticisms of the Cook et al paper on the supposed `scientific consensus re global warming are not know to me (apparently UQ threatens to sue Schollenberger, if he so must as releases the UQ letter) sufficient of its content have been published as will cause me, a concerned citizen and taxpayer, to write to the Education Minister and register formal complaint.
My take on what has occurred is this: UQ is attempting to shut down legitimate debate in this important area by intimidating interlocutors (through inappropriately asserting I.P. rights) with which the UQ, or its researchers, disagree. Such tactics are antithetical to the traditions of open research that a respected university, such as UQ, should uphold.
I urge UQ to resist further such efforts to close public debate through legal intimidation and immediately withdraw the legal letter, to Brandon Schollenberger. If I see no evidence of that happening in a timely manner, I will proceed with a formal complaint to the Education Minister and will write to the UQ Council, in the same vein.
Best Regards,
XXXXXXXX

May 15, 2014 10:09 pm

Mike Tremblay says:
May 15, 2014 at 2:58 pm
Interesting item I found related to this – free legal advice (for US Citizens)
“Sixteen Things Writers Should Know About Quoting From Letters”
http://www.rightsofwriters.com/2011/02/sixteen-things-writers-should-know.html
Writers Rights

More people should be reading that blog. It’s quite helpful!

bushbunny
May 15, 2014 10:10 pm

I can’t see what is wrong in being critical of a scientific article. If it has been published and in the public arena already. If you reproduce it in its entirety, then of course they can object. Usually there is a 10% only on any books in our University library can be photocopied. But few don’t abide by it, because of the cost of photocopying a whole book for goodness sake is very expensive. But you can reference his article, using the Harvard system. I can’t see what is wrong with that. You are giving him credit anyway. (Well?) Send it to someone in authority, like Chris Pine, minister for education.
Cheers must go, be back later.
Patricia from Oz.

May 15, 2014 10:26 pm

I can’t seem to find the last comment I typed up. I’m not sure if it is stuck in moderation, or if perhaps I failed to send it. In case it’s the latter, I apologize to anyone who commented recently but didn’t get a response.

Cold in Wisconsin
May 15, 2014 10:31 pm

I hope Brandon consults a lawyer soon. I agree with much of the analysis that the TRUE risk of being found guilty of something is very slim, but obviously who needs a legal headache?
I would also add that sometimes a legal claim (for example a Confidentiality Agreement) will be declared null and void or unenforceable if the enforcement would be “contrary to public policy.” The classic example is attempting to protect the secrecy of illegal acts with a confidentiality clause. That is how this letter strikes me. Intellectual Property claims being used as protection against disclosing academic incompetence? Copyright protections of an extortion letter? Please. Would any prosecutor in the US bother with this? In the civil courts anyone can sue anyone at any time, but the case probably would not survive a Motion to Dismiss.
Sometimes you just have to have the courage of your convictions. If you are honest and blameless, trust that you will be vindicated.

Nik
May 15, 2014 10:32 pm

“Scientific skepticism”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_skepticism
http://vorige.nrc.nl/international/article2527930.ece
So to be a Skeptical Scientist forms one of the basic pillars of good science. It just shows how far from good science Nuccitelli and Cook’s 97% (loo) paper is. they don’t release all the data, publish under a licence which they do not adhere too and you cannot question their results.
Surely the paper should be retracted for being released under the terms of the licence in question.

thingadonta
May 15, 2014 10:34 pm

The more they have to hide, the more vitriol they use. They are a bunch of first class quacks.

Cold in Wisconsin
May 15, 2014 10:35 pm

What is the higher purpose? I believe the public’s right to know supersedes the privacy or property rights of the author or the University. If it EVER got to that point, I believe at least 1 person in a jury of 12 would agree.

May 15, 2014 10:35 pm

We are here, now.
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because
everything would be what it isn’t. And contrarywise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t
be, it would. You see?” —Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you reverse evolution

ferdberple
May 15, 2014 10:52 pm

It is not a crime to threaten to sue someone. It is however a crime to threaten to call the police unless someone meets your demands.
someone sends you a first class letter, the letter itself becomes your property the moment they post the letter. they have no claim. they cannot go to the post office and ask for the letter back. they cannot go to the police and ask for the letter back. it is no longer their letter.
The letter is no longer their property. period. the letter became the property of the recipient, not the sender, at the moment it was posted. any claim of copyright is transferred along with the ownership. otherwise, criminals could use the copyright laws to send threatening letters with impunity.

ferdberple
May 15, 2014 10:56 pm

copyright is the property of the owner of the letter, not of the writer. The University no longer owns the letter. They could not go to any court and ask for its return. It would not be granted.
Thus, the only person that can legally say whether a letter may be published or not is the owner of the letter, who is the recipient. The sender has no say in this matter. They legally gave up this right when they posted the letter.

May 15, 2014 11:03 pm

The UQ people might be hankering for a case so they can pile into a plane and come here for a break; maybe they all have Island Fever. The jurisdiction would be in the US, wouldn’t it? That’s where the server is, as I understand it, so that’s where the ‘crime’ was committed. There, and in Brandon’s unlocked house. Further, the Creative Commons license governing a good portion of the content is US-based. It’s the start of winter downunder. I think they’re hankering to get off the rock.

Non Nomen
May 15, 2014 11:05 pm

Science has settled itself in a closet now and locked and sealed the door tightly. And that is that else the stench of their faking and tampering will waft around the world. They are a band of cowards trying to hide their decline.

Non Nomen
May 15, 2014 11:07 pm

Write to their PM. I’d like to know what the mad monk has to say!

May 15, 2014 11:13 pm

ferdberple says:
May 15, 2014 at 10:56 pm
copyright is the property of the owner of the letter, not of the writer.

This should clear up any misunderstandings: http://www.rightsofwriters.com/2011/02/sixteen-things-writers-should-know.html

May 15, 2014 11:21 pm

Copyright only protects the expression of an idea or fact; that is, the writer’s expression of said idea or fact.
Copyright does not prevent the same facts and ideas from being discussed.

Keith Minto
May 15, 2014 11:21 pm

policycritic says:
May 15, 2014 at 11:03 pm
It’s the start of winter downunder. I think they’re hankering to get off the rock.

QLD experiences a very mild winter compared to the southern states but there is a false sense of superiority, isolation and complacency summed up in their tourist slogan “Beautiful one day, perfect the next”.
The more light that shines on this issue, the better.

Hilary Ostrov (aka hro001)
May 15, 2014 11:22 pm

davidmhoffer says: May 15, 2014 at 9:30 pm

If it were me, trouble maker that I am, I’d come up with something as outlandish as possible from some cherry picked subset of the data and publish that conclusion. Then challenge them to prove me wrong, which they could only do…. by publishing the data.

David, I’ve always (mostly silently) admired your approach to so many issues in the almost 4.5 years since I inadvertently stepped onto this virtual “battlefield”. But your suggestion above is definitely one of my all-time faves!
It just made my day 😉 Thanks!

Non Nomen
May 15, 2014 11:23 pm

“Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war”
If you do not want to relese the data, then consider releasing the way how to obtain them so that everybody with the the help of a step-by-step guidance can figure it out for himself? Maybe there is even some sort of wikileak to store the data? If, by mishap, it then leaks out…
And your conclusions are, of course, your own intellectual property.

Sceptical Sam
May 15, 2014 11:31 pm

Take tarran’s advice
@ tarran says:
May 15, 2014 at 2:48 pm
Especially A). B). and D).
And start a fund. Like Hunter, I’m in too.

Oracle
May 15, 2014 11:40 pm

How is the science supposed to be tested if the data is kept secret(so that nobody test it?)?
Cook isn’t doing science, just disgusting propaganda!
This all reminds me of this http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/07/epic-fraud-how-to-succeed-in-science-without-doing-any/

KNR
May 15, 2014 11:43 pm

Has there ever be a case like this before , where ‘settled science’ has needed to use so many legals threats, obstruction and outright lies ?

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
May 15, 2014 11:51 pm

Brandon, if you start a fund, then I’m in too, mate.

May 16, 2014 12:01 am

Given how many people have commented on the idea of me starting a fund, I have to ask, how do you start one? Are they just accounts people can donate money to, or are they some sort of legal entities you have to register somewhere?
I tried searching online, but there are so many results about specific legal funds I couldn’t find any information about setting one up.

lee
May 16, 2014 12:05 am

I sent an email to UofQ before reading all the posts.
‘I understand you are threatening to sue any disclosure or use of Cook et al.
I didn’t think there was any IP in a puff piece of no merit.’

Larry Logan
May 16, 2014 12:10 am

Brandon, lots of advice here, but one thought is to ‘not’ publish the letter if you’re concerned, but get a sympathetic reporter/columnist in Australia, such as Andrew Bolt, to ‘describe’ with GREAT nuance the entire story. A copyright (I’m not an attorney) only covers the specific wording as put into a ‘form’ such as publication. There aren’t copyrights for concepts/ideas/verbal storytelling,etc.
So you could tell this story and have Andrew cover it in GREAT detail, simply not using lengthy quotes, and you should be fine. (Would be a very funny radio interview, also.) The audience will all ‘get it,’ which is what you want. (You could likely be fine with any short quotes under fair use law.) The goal is to create awareness down under and hold them up to mockery.

Man Bearpig
May 16, 2014 12:15 am

Brandon Shollenberger:
On the issue of a legal fund, what would I do with any money in it if no legal problems ever arise? I don’t expect any to, so wouldn’t I just be ripping people off?
———————–
Donate it to a charity or a group like GWPF if you make that clear on the tip jar, then you are not ripping anyone off 🙂

Pethefin
May 16, 2014 12:19 am

Brandon, by reading this analysis of the legal strategies behind cease and desist-letters you will understand that their letter is mainly BS:
http://www.smithhopen.com/litigation_cease_and_desist_letter_strategies.aspx
They do protest to much and have clearly decided to destroy science in order to save “climate science”.

Man Bearpig
May 16, 2014 12:22 am

Lewis P Buckingham Says ….
The Commonwealth is looking at University funding at the moment.
——————–
Ahh! Now we are getting close to the knuckle. The University do not want any bad publicity in case their funding is reduced or completely withdrawn.
I say, that we should make those that need to know about this be aware and let those with real power at the university be made fully aware of what their charges are doing with the University’s credibillity.

Man Bearpig
May 16, 2014 12:26 am

TBear – Sydney, Australia says:
——
Good letter, but I would leave the kisses out.

May 16, 2014 12:26 am

when anything to do with the scientific method ends up in law courts you know its no longer science. if using the method someone has proved something then people are usually delighted to share the info so it can be repeated?

Paul Westhaver
May 16, 2014 12:33 am

What is the jurisdiction?
A little out of their reach are you not?
Is their some treaty at play?

Non Nomen
May 16, 2014 12:34 am

>> Brandon Shollenberger says:
May 16, 2014 at 12:01 am
Given how many people have commented on the idea of me starting a fund, I have to ask, how do you start one? Are they just accounts people can donate money to, or are they some sort of legal entities you have to register somewhere?
I tried searching online, but there are so many results about specific legal funds I couldn’t find any information about setting one up.<<
Get a PayPal accout and publish the Email address it is linked to
here and on your HP and wherever you think appropriate. Give a short explanation and that’s it.
Doing it this way (only this way) will save a lot of trouble with cheques and cash management.

Streetcred
May 16, 2014 12:40 am

May 15, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Faustino aka Genghis Cunn says:
—–
Holler if you need any help, I’m not far from the citadel of academic corruption in Queensland.

ANH
May 16, 2014 12:45 am

I suggest Mr Schollenburger refer the University of Queensland to the precedent of Arkell vs Pressdram.
http://www.chapmancentral.co.uk/blahg/about/arkell-v-pressdram/
This is one of many links which explains what this means.

May 16, 2014 1:04 am

I happen to be in the Sunshine State and as a concerned QUEENSLANDER, I rang the UQ media department twice today. I asked only that they confirm if they have indeed threatened to sue Brandon Schollenberger. I was given no comment except that a release will be forthcoming.
I can not except that UQ would issue such a threat. In my opinion the letter is not official. If it is, I’ll be very surprised and shocked! If it isn’t official but did originate from UQ, it is a smoking gun for certain nefarious affairs taking place there!

May 16, 2014 1:04 am

I tried to go to sleep a little while ago, but I found I couldn’t because I was wrestling with the idea of a legal fund. I’m exhausted, and I’m tired of thinking about this. As such, I ask anyone who is interested in contributing to such a fund read the post I just uploaded. I’d like it if it could be my last word on this matter.

asybot
May 16, 2014 1:04 am

UQ is that Un stable Queens?
[University of Queensland. The Queen is said to be stable, but is not stabled therein. 8<) Mod]

Alan Wilkinson
May 16, 2014 1:07 am

Simple fact – copyright protects form not content. You are perfectly at liberty to paraphrase the content of their letter, just not quote their exact words. However there are also legitimate purposes for which you can quote their exact words which I believe include critique, research and public debate.
This lot deserve all the ridicule that can be mustered.

Björn from Sweden
May 16, 2014 1:17 am

You cant just “copyright” an intimidating letter like that. Copyright is reserved for trademarks, patents or works above “threshold of originality”. Their “copyright” of the letter claim is an empty bogus threat. As for the data I have no idea.

Leo Smith
May 16, 2014 1:32 am

Your name [isn’t] Yossarian by any chance is it?
🙂

Björn from Sweden
May 16, 2014 1:33 am

Oh, you may want to report the person sending the letter for misconduct.
Anyone trained i law knows this is really bad.
http://www.lsc.qld.gov.au/complaints
Think about it, if it was as easy as attaching “this is copyrighted, do not show to anyone or…” to an email, heck, every email from major organisations woud have the text by default on all letters.
Now its your turn, show you are not a push-over.
Good Luck.

Gordon Walker
May 16, 2014 1:34 am

In a just world the Australian Government would dispatch an army regiment to this university to expel staff and students,and then burn it to the ground

oMan
May 16, 2014 1:35 am

I wonder if the U of Q has a public charter that it would violate by sending threats to those who ask questions about the work done with taxpayer funding and published under a Creative Commons license. I wonder if an enterprising politician or journalist in Queensland would like to take a closer look at who decided to send this letter, who approved it, whether other letters have ever been sent and to whom and why.
These people fear sunlight. Name them.

Patrick
May 16, 2014 1:59 am

If you obtained the IP legally, and can prove it, then publish. The actions of UQ are simply all bluster.

William Astley
May 16, 2014 2:05 am

The fact that the University of Queensland has moved beyond resisting providing access to data which would enable a person to validate or invalidate Cook’s paper’s analysis and conclusion, to threatening those attempting to validate or invalidate a scientific paper, provides proof to support the assertion that Cook’s paper is flawed and an embarrassment to the University which appears to the true issue, not ‘intellectual’ property.
It is pathetic that a University would use threats to attempt to stop discussion of a flawed ‘scientific’ paper.

Privacy in Queensland
May 16, 2014 2:07 am

Australian organisations are required to protect personal information under various state and federal laws. Hopefully Queensland based organisation are meeting their obligations under the IP Act including transfer of personal information outside of Australia. http://www.oic.qld.gov.au/guidelines/for-government/guidelines-privacy-principles/transferring-personal-information-out-of-australia/personal-information-disclosure,-the-world-wide-web-and-section-33

Jimbo
May 16, 2014 3:01 am

If the University of Queensland owns the copyright to the letter then can you FORWARD it to others teaching or studying at the University of Queensland (using the university’s email servers) without breaching copyright?
Did they ask you not to FORWARD the letter? Is forwarding the letter a breach of copyright? Maybe you can forward the letter with a note stating that the recipient should NOT publish the letter. 😉

“…this is a matter that requires referral to US law enforcement agencies.”

In say 10 days time ask them whether they have referred the matter as required?

mobihci
May 16, 2014 3:20 am

As DP has said earlier in this thread, the UQ have had reason to worry about the spotlight in recent times –
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-07/uq-investigates-fresh-claims-of-research-misconduct/5077276
http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/cmc-aided-uq-while-investigating-nepotism-scandal/story-fnihsrf2-1226662805286
the Queensland CMC (crime and misconduct commission) will investigate the waste of public funding if it could be proven that the research grants afforded by the Cook et al papers were gained by deceit, and i dont think that would be a problem. Cook et al have failed to meet the standards required by the Australian Research Council and the university is defending them without concern for the consequences, just as it took more than 2 years to actually check whether a medical paper actually existed before gaining $300K in grants from the Australian tax payers.
The question UQ and the CMC will be faced with in the future is – did the university actually have full knowledge of the lack of evidence in these papers to achieve the grant, or were they just incompetent.

RobertInAz
May 16, 2014 3:23 am

Hi Brandon,
Eugene Volokh said in response to my question can a letter be copyrighted and not publishable:
“A letter generally? Yes. A demand letter from a university? There’d probably be a very strong fair use claim under American law. If you can get me a copy of the letter, I’d be glad to have a look at it in more detail.”
Eugene Volokh is the lead author of http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/
a lawyer oriented blog that went mainstream some years ago. He weighs in on first amendment issues. VOLOKH@law.ucla.edu.
Have fun

izen
May 16, 2014 3:28 am

@- Brandon
The key finding of the Cook Et al study was the Gold Standard finding that 97% of the scientists publishing in the climate field support the claim that AGW is the dominant factor in recent climate change and future warming.
The extended dispute about how the raters derived that level of support from just reading abstracts begins to look like a reluctance to accept the core finding of 97% of scientists self-declaring their support for the IPCC position. Quibbling about how the raters rated the abstracts is a storm in a teaspoon. Stolen data that might risk the privacy of the participants is not going to overturn the ineluctable reality that the vast majority of scientists self-declare their support the role of AGW.

Non Nomen
Reply to  izen
May 16, 2014 8:03 am

There is no such ‘consensual science’ and hence there is no gold standard. Cook et al cannot tell me why they claim that those 97% are right and, more important, they don’t tell why the alleged 3% of dissenters are wrong. Remember: they have nothing at hand but the abstracts. They are just juggling with numbers of highly questionable compilation. And they do not disclose their methods and weightings fully. To me, they are just pseudo-scientific cowards hiding behind an alleged wall of a 97% consensus.

May 16, 2014 3:33 am

Looking at the notes from my phone calls to UQ, I never mentioned John Cook by name but the media contact directed me to, and I quote: “look up the Global Change Web Institute”. Googling that exact term, lead me directly to the smiling face of one J. Cook himself, on the UQ bannered GCI web site. I was also advised to contact him directly! Make of it what you will, it seemed a little odd to me.

Siberian_Husky
May 16, 2014 3:49 am

I think you should *definitely* take the legal advice of all the denialists on this blog. After all, they’ve been right time and again regarding the Michael Mann case.

steverichards1984
May 16, 2014 4:03 am

This gives a good description of how to deal with the legal letter….
http://www.rightsofwriters.com/2011/02/sixteen-things-writers-should-know.html

David A