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« Pump up the volume | Main | A mountain of evidence - Josh 135 »
Thursday
Dec152011

Helpful notice for the workplace - Josh 136

Following the Norfolk police raid here is a helpful notice for the office, corridor, train, airport, waiting room...

Cartoons by Josh

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Reader Comments (81)

or a tall bloke?

Dec 15, 2011 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

or even a short bloke!

Dec 15, 2011 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Of course, all sceptics ought to be suspicious.
Sadly, I suppose, few people these days are rightly suspicious of suspect objects or people.

Dec 15, 2011 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterDeadman

@dolphinhead

Fair enough, as long as 6'4" is the cutoff point.

Dec 15, 2011 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

If it's a denier, is a robot sent in to carry out a controlled explosion (just in case)?

Dec 15, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Recall the captioned portrait of an oppressed South African from the 1952 "Family of Man": "Who is on my side? Who?"

Dec 15, 2011 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Blake

Is a hockey stick suspicious?

Dec 15, 2011 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

I thought plod was after the Climategate hacker(s)? Hence the attempt (presumably) to get email correspondence with 'FOIA' from TB's machines.

How did this morph into a 'war on sceptics'? Isn't stealing email a crime? Hence police investigation?

Dec 15, 2011 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Josh - if you're reading, is it time for a cartoon of Cardinal Fang and the Climate Inquisition??

"NOBODY expects the Climate Inquisition... our chief weapons are fear, surprise, hockey sticks and an almost fanatical devotion to the IPCC.............."

It Tallbloke ready for the Comfy Chair?

Dec 15, 2011 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgooose

Timing, BBD, think of the timing. The police may have come under pressure recently, from outside or from their own realisation of little progress and perhaps little activity in this case. It does look a bit like a gesture of some kind. Since presumably there are those in the police who think they have more important things to do than trace the source of a set of academic emails released to a grateful world (well, a grateful subculture anyway - the world's gratitude will come later), I incline to the more interesting theory of outside pressure.

Dec 15, 2011 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Re: BBD

The police to not know whether a crime has taken place. They might never know. If they discover who "FOIA" is then they might be able to determine whether a crime has occurred.

Dec 15, 2011 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

John Shade,

Alas, much of what goes on in the world is very mundane. While "interesting" may draw our attention, it often isn't where the true story lies.

Dec 15, 2011 at 4:26 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

El Reg:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/15/climategate_police_action/

Dec 15, 2011 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered Commentersimon

"Isn't stealing email a crime? Hence police investigation?"

I am not sure you can steal something if the person you have stolen it from still has it. They were copied and made public.

The emails, the work of publicly funded "scientists", should have been available to the public in any case, in my far from humble opinion.

Frankly, I cannot see why a police investigation anyway. I cannot think why these people would object to us having a glimpse into the valuable work they do.* If this had happened in the field of plant genetics no one would have cared less. Scientists like their work to be well known.....oh, wait a minute, this is climate science....

*Torturing data, bad-mouthing rivals, hiding declines,unearthing travesties,gate-keeping blah blah...

Dec 15, 2011 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Josh! They have to find which country I am in first and then......

Dec 15, 2011 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Jack Savage

Then someone made an unauthorised copy and made it public without permission. It's still misappropriation if not exactly theft ;-)

Either way, plod is after the perpetrator of those acts, not sceptics in general. Some people are getting over-excited.

Dec 15, 2011 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Re: BBD

Then someone made an unauthorised copy and made it public without permission

"Unauthorised copying" usually refers to copyrighted material such as DVD's, music etc which are protected by the copyright act. The emails in question where not copyrighted and I have never heard anybody claim they are copyrighted.

If you are referring to somebody copying the emails then I'm not aware of any evidence that the person copying the emails did not have the authority to do so. Until the police find out who copied the emails they will not know whether a criminal offence has occurred.

Dec 15, 2011 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Thousands of people have copied the emails. Are they all guilty?

Dec 15, 2011 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The FreeDictionary (3.5 billion hits) defines 'whistleblower' as 'One who reveals wrongdoing within an organization to the public or to those in positions of authority'.

What is the legal definition? Does he have to work for the organisation, or is the operative 'reveals wrongdoing'?

By precipitating wide international media coverage and a plurality of 'independent' (ho ho) and parliamentary inquiries, the content of the exposed leak would appear to have been abundantly demonstrated to be of very considerable interest to the public and to those in positions of authority.

Might the 'email liberator' not have a legitimate case for claiming the status of a true whistleblower regardless?

Dec 15, 2011 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Dellers now has a post on this, with Josh's cartoon.

Dec 15, 2011 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews

Pete H

Josh! They have to find which country I am in first and then......

Understatement. Whoever obtained the Climategate emails certainly would not be stupid enough to leave it laying about for the local gestapo could find them. That stuff is probably in Russia or China, or maybe even in Nigeria. Or just on a number of DVDs tucked away in some friend's house. Were I the "guilty" party, the computer that first collected them would have a shiny new drive with the original in a box somewhere outside of the UK or USA. Or cut up into little pieces and scattered in the sea. Whoever is behind it certainly understands all that and undoubtedly is far more computer savvy than me.

However, it is nice to see that the Norfolk police are actually getting out and getting some exercise -- what with all the money they spent so far.

Dec 15, 2011 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Hacked climate emails: police seize computers at West Yorkshire home

on the Guardian, from Leo Hickman, here

Dec 15, 2011 at 6:17 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Thanks for the link to Deller's latest article, he is on great form at the moment, "University of Easy Access", hilarious and inspirational, well worth reading.

Dec 15, 2011 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

I notice Leo Hickman's piece is comment-less.

How convenient.

Dec 15, 2011 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom

From the guardian (emphasis mine)

A spokesman for the University of East Anglia said today: "We are pleased to hear that the police are continuing to actively pursue the case following the release last month of a second tranche of hacked emails from the Climatic Research Unit. We hope this will result in the arrest of those responsible for the theft of the emails and for distorting the debate on the globally important issue of climate change."

At last something we agree on.

Dec 15, 2011 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Terry S

Well, judging from the quote you provide above, the UEA believes it has been the victim of theft. If the police disagreed, why would they investigate the matter further? They don't usually do much if they think no crime has been committed:

We hope this will result in the arrest of those responsible for the theft of the emails

Dec 15, 2011 at 6:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Re: BBD

My mistake, I assumed people might have a sense of humour.

...If the police disagreed, why would they investigate the matter further?

How can the police know if a theft has occurred unless they investigate? Until they find out who leaked the emails they can not know if a theft occurred.

Dec 15, 2011 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

@ BBD: 'We hope this will result in the arrest of those responsible for the theft of the emails'

Whether the emails were 'hacked' or 'released', they have not been the subject of a theft. They have not been removed from the UEA/CRU servers, and are still available to those organisations. They may have been circulated further than UEA/CRU may have wished, but they have not been stolen, and given that the UEA is a public body, it is a moot point as to where the ownership of the emails actually lies.

Dec 15, 2011 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterSalopian

BBD Dec 15, 2011 at 3:59 PM


Isn't stealing email a crime? Hence police investigation?

If data held on a computer is released without authorisation but the person releasing it was authorised to access the machine, I think you'll find that no offence has been committed.

If it had been accidentally or even intentionally stored on an ftp server with open access and someone found it and downloaded it from there, would any crime have been committed? Very doubtful

Just because the police are investigating something is by no means proof that a crime has been committed.

Dec 15, 2011 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Theft Act 1968 (emphasis mine)

1 Basic definition of theft.
(1)A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and “thief” and “steal” shall be construed accordingly.
(2)It is immaterial whether the appropriation is made with a view to gain, or is made for the thief’s own benefit.
(3)The five following sections of this Act shall have effect as regards the interpretation and operation of this section (and, except as otherwise provided by this Act, shall apply only for purposes of this section).

Dec 15, 2011 at 7:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Thousands of people have copied the emails. Are they all guilty?
Dec 15, 2011 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby


Somewhere I've got copies of CG1 emails which I downloaded at the time of their release..and no, I am not FOIA! Would anyone else like a copy?

Just ask and I will root them out for you. They are buried in my Global Warming folder somewhere. I am a squirrel and I also have a copy (PDF) of Nils-Axel Mörners Maldive Islands paper. Do you think that he will mind?

BBD, as has been stated, no one has been tried in court, so no one has been found guilty/not guilty etc. I would dislike it very much if I was being tried for something and discovered you were on the jury panel and had already made up your mind as to me being guilty

Dec 15, 2011 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Walsh

of all the conceivable scenarios, how about this one....a sys admin at UEA copies a backup tape onto a flash drive, takes a holiday trip to Moscow, goes into Starbucks and uses the free wifi to upload the contents of the memory stick onto various blogs round the world. How would you begin to track that down?

Dec 15, 2011 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

The only actual crime committed so far was the UEA's refusal to honour the original FOIA requests but though found guilty by the ICO they had managed to drag the issue beyond the six months statute of limitation and so got off on a technicality. If they had acted legally in the first place no whistlelower would have been needed.

Dec 15, 2011 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterstanj

From the Leo Hickman article:

"During an interview with the Guardian LAST week before the seizing of his computers, Tattersall said..."

Odd timing. Probably just a coincidence.

Dec 15, 2011 at 7:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

... judging from the quote you provide above, the UEA believes it has been the victim of theft. If the police disagreed, why would they investigate the matter further?

We hope this will result in the arrest of those responsible for the theft of the emails

Dec 15, 2011 at 6:42 PM | BBD

For someone who makes an art form out of pedantry, BBD, you seem strangely cavalier about legal definitions.

For the umpteenth time - the legal definition of "theft" in this country includes "...appropriating property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it".

Whatever crime you think may have been committed by the release of the emails - it certainly couldn't qualify as "theft". Leo Hickman makes the same stupid mistake in his Graun piece today.

It's hysterical that the newspaper which collaborated in the biggest release of confidential government information in the history of "leaking" (until they fell out with Assange) can be so blatantly hypocritical.

Dec 15, 2011 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgooose

I am truly shocked by this.

Who would have expected that the Norfolk Plod are able to find Yorkshire?

Their tractors must have been upgraded with satnav.

"Now boy, at the Great North Road you go turn roight..."

Dec 15, 2011 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterArgusfreak

@ TerryS

"Unauthorised copying" usually refers to copyrighted material such as DVD's, music etc which are protected by the copyright act. The emails in question where not copyrighted and I have never heard anybody claim they are copyrighted.

You do not understand copyright law. It applies irrespective of whether something handwritten, printed, or typed on a computer and it does not matter whether it is a published or unpublished document. Therefore unauthorised copying of email messages could be regarded as a breach of copyright. However there would be absolutely no point in the writers of the email messages suing for breach of copyright unless they could prove that the copying had caused them financial loss.

Dec 15, 2011 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

This is almost as funny as Josh, and I am fairly certain libellous

http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2011/12/computers_of_criminal_cyber-th.php

Dec 15, 2011 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Tallbloke - here's a nice "academic" slur!

15 Dec: ScienceBlogs: Greg Laden: Computers of Criminal Cyber-Thieves Seized
Thieves who broke into Unviersity of East Anglia computers in 2009, stealing thousands of private emails thus compromising years of expensive scientific research and causing a fabricated and unnecessary political doo-doo storm, as part of a much larger campaign of harassment, have had some of their computer equipment seized by UK authorities…
Tattersall later whinged on his own blog that “an Englishman’s home is his castle … [but] not when six detectives form the [Met] … arrive on your doorstop…”
So, apparently it is OK for Tattersall and his band of thieves to unilaterally play vigilante and break into your computer or mine, but when authorities investigating a crime, with proper search warrant, show up to investigate his misdeeds, suddenly he’s an “Englishman” in his “Castle.” I don’t know whether to laugh of to go medieval on him…
http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2011/12/computers_of_criminal_cyber-th.php

About Greg Laden:
I am a blogger and writer and independent scholar who occasionally teaches. I have a very fancy PhD from Harvard (written in Latin and everything) in Archaeology and Biological Anthropology, as well as a Masters Degree in the same subjects (also from Harvard). I was awarded a Medical Doctorate from Harvard as well, but that was a clerical error and it was quickly revoked, much to the annoyance of my patients …
My undergraduate degree in Anthropology is from the Regents College of the University of the State of New York, which is an individualized degree program. My academic advisors were Dean Snow and Bob Paynter, which probably gives you a good idea of what I was into at the time…
http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/about.php

Dec 15, 2011 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

@pat - snap :-)

Dec 15, 2011 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Okay. The view here is that there may or may not have been a crime but until the police have found more evidence we don't know. Fine.

In my original comment, I asked how this morphs into a war on the sceptics. It was a response to the cartoon itself. And remains a valid question.

Dec 15, 2011 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

James Annan's comment seems to be on the button

Dec 15, 2011 at 8:38 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Isn't it interesting that in the pursuit of "criminals" a peron's private life is copied off to a foreign power (his disk cone is almost certainly on the way to the states as we speak.) Where this data will be used in a closed environment, not the blogosphere.

This is in fact a greater crime that the original expose of work emails that had every right to be viewed by taxpayers.

If the plod turned up on Phil Jones door and did this to his PERSONAL laptop I would defend him and right to privacy.

I perhaps am the only one who sees it like that...

Dec 15, 2011 at 8:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Josh

Delingpole's video you linked on unthreaded earlier is a keeper. He sure has taken off in warp drive compared to pre- November 2009. Reminds me of the Mark Knopfler Heavy Heavy Fuel lyrics.

Dec 15, 2011 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Roy

You do not understand copyright law. It applies irrespective of whether something handwritten, printed, or typed on a computer and it does not matter whether it is a published or unpublished document. Therefore unauthorised copying of email messages could be regarded as a breach of copyright. However there would be absolutely no point in the writers of the email messages suing for breach of copyright unless they could prove that the copying had caused them financial loss.

While I don't know the in's and out's of British copyright law, I do know the Berne Convention and US copyright law -- I have to, I am a publisher.

You put your finger on the salient point -- did somebody make money out of this breach in the form of lost income to the authors of this material? Answer, no. Then what is the lost? as you point out. Nada! Hard to collect.

And then there is the very messy and sticky issue of "reasonable use". Generally, the more money made (or lost) in the "infringement" the more illegal it becomes. Since I know of nobody selling these emails, just where does the monetary issue come in? And please note that the authors of these copyrighted emails (which they are as you point out) were not selling them either, so they can't claim loss of income due to lost sales because of copyright infringement. My point here is if you give away copyrighted material that is for sale, you are still in infringement if it is large enough. This is the basis of much litigation regarding movies and music being "ripped off".

Sans that, it is -- at least in the US -- the release of those emails was clearly under the "reasonable use" doctrine. I assume as much in the UK, but I don't know that law as well as US law.

Now there is the entirely separate issue of liable law, but since the defense of liable in the UK as in the US is to show that the statements are true, where does that go?

The Norfork police really need a solicitor to explain what they are doing is pointless -- and probably illegal because they do not have material cause to do these searches.

Dec 15, 2011 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Roy I am fully aware of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

If the emails where to be considered as copyrighted material then every time anybody forwarded an email they would be in breach of the copyright act irrespective of who sent the original email, who received it and who it was forwarded to. It would make criminals of us all.
Also, the UEA can not claim emails written by Michael Mann and Steve McIntyre are copyrighted and those who distributed them should be punished without suffering that punishment themselves. There are plenty of examples of them circulating emails, written by those two, amongst themselves.

Dec 15, 2011 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

TerryS, DPdlS;

Please could you clarify, as I am unclear on this matter. I understood from my Dad, who was in the music industry, that copyright was something that you actually had to pay for, rather than something that was an automatic (and free) right?

Dec 15, 2011 at 9:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterSalopian

Ah, ZED, my Dragon must have taken spelling lessons from you.

Dec 15, 2011 at 9:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Salopian

TerryS, DPdlS;

Please could you clarify, as I am unclear on this matter. I understood from my Dad, who was in the music industry, that copyright was something that you actually had to pay for, rather than something that was an automatic (and free) right?

Actually, your dad is correct. But in a special way. There are two forms of copyright: the first, which is automatic and covers everything TerryS listed is usually indicated with the copyright © mark although that is not necessary. It is free. There is a second form called the registered copyright which does cost money. If you wish to sue someone in the US for copyright infringement, then you almost have to have a registered copyright. That costs money which 99.99% of the people don't do. Only books and music that is likely to ripped off are registered. That is why your dad sees it as an expense.

Read about it here Registering a copyright

Dec 15, 2011 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Re: Salopian

Copyright applies to original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works. To cater for the modern day literary works has been expanded to include such things as databases, compilations etc.

It is not necessary to register a work, but if you don't you then risk having somebody claiming it as theirs and yours being a copy. In a situation like that you would have to prove who was first.

In general, if you want something to be copyrighted then mark it as such. You can do this with digital works via the meta-information most files (word documents, jpegs, mpegs, mp3 etc) have. This doesn't mean that anything without a copyright notice in the meta-information isn't copyrighted, it just makes it clear that that work is copyrighted.

Dec 15, 2011 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

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