One of the many great scenes in ¡Three Amigos! is the impassioned speech about rising up against the obstacles that all of us face in life. It’s a speech everyone should commit to memory. I like it so much I have the mp3 on my running playlist (right after Moby’s “Extreme Ways”), and my extended family watches the movie every Christmas eve, per tradition. I also play the clip whenever I lecture on how to confront Creationism in science classrooms (it applies, trust me). The movie clip is below, but if it doesn’t play on your device, here’s the sound clip and text. So watch it, and then continue reading below, where I explain why I need help and why you should give it to me.
My personal El Guapo right now is The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research (CPBR, to those in the biotech world). If you read my previous post, you know that they have demanded that I permanently delete my 15-page guide to making scientific posters for meetings (“Designing conference posters“), or else face litigation and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and such. This ultimatum was delivered via Certified Mail from Arnold & Porter, a prestigious law firm. This demand came only after I pointed out that CPBR’s “Call for preproposals” contains 2 1/2 pages of text lifted from my website. If you want to see it, there is a version here (though probably not for long). These 2 1/2 pages not only fail to mention that I am the author, they contain “Copyright The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research, Inc.” at the bottom. So, essentially, they have hired one of the most expensive law firms in the world to bully me into giving them the rights to my intellectual property. Some have argued that anything written about scientific posters is boring and not worthy of copyright, but I have been working on the content since 1997 and I rather like it: I have crafted it be a tad irreverent in the hopes that undergraduates might actually read it. So, naturally, I have absolutely no intention of giving my text to CPBR. And I have no intention of letting them get away with the bullying.
This is where you come in. Or could come in, if you want. My personal El Guapo has a budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and they apparently have every intention of pursuing litigation. So even though they plagiarized from me, they could ultimately get my site taken down if I run out of money before they do, a likely outcome of the litigation. So how can I defeat El Guapo? I can sew! Actually, that’s true (I own two sewing machines), but that’s not going to help me in this situation, regrettably. The only thing I can do is use this darn blog to defeat them. That’s where you come in. What I’d really appreciate is for people with influence to help advertise this situation so that CPBR feels the scrutiny of taxpayers, and, by extension, the scrutiny of politicians who give CPBR its millions in yearly allocations. That’s right: CPBR is using some of those funds to hire expensive lawyers to file fraudulent copyright infringement claims. If you pay taxes on April 15, you should be outraged. So if you can Tweet this post to your followers, my situation might eventually get known by those in D.C. who vote on such distributions of government funds. And if you don’t Tweet or Facebook, but know important people, please consider calling them. And then email me so that I can properly thank you.