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:


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:


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:


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:


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…



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

    That seems a pretty passive clause. If they think it “appears” they have been hacked why don’t they just go ahead and report it to the relevant Australian authority – like SkS say they did when thought they had been hacked? Did they say they have in the letter to you?

    If they haven’t, then going past that requirement, straight to wibbling about “US law enforcement agencies”, implies they know the hack originated in the US, or they just want to scare a US citizen.

  2. I’m struggling to see how the word ‘intellectual’ applies to the paper in question.

  3. Guess you struck a nerve. 😀

    IANAL: do you know anyone with relevant research IP expertise that could provide some pro bono guidance? Not being a lawyer, I can’t offer any specific advice. It’s unclear to me what the legal basis for their claims is. Releasing data that was already publicly available for the world to see doesn’t SEEM like it would be actionable, especially if the information was anonymized as Shub suggested (meaning, you would be taking greater care of data than did the study authors!).


  4. tlitb1, that’s all they said about the supposed hacking. I doubt they’d contact any law enforcement agency about this. As for where the “hack” came from, I can confirm it came from the United States. I live in southern Illinois, and I am entirely responsible for finding the data.

    Shub Niggurath, now that I’ve been directly threatened by the University of Queensland, I’m a bit hesitant to release the data. They don’t have any sort of case, but I’d like to establish that prior to releasing the data. I doubt I’ll be able to, but it’d be nice given I’m already seeing accusations of criminal offenses by people posting violent imagery directed at me.

    bdaabat, apparently so. According to them, they launched a forensic investigation. That’s taking things seriously unless their idea of a “forensic investigation” is rather different than mine. Maybe it is. After all, they concluded a hack happened (it didn’t).

    On the issue of legal advice, I’m not worried about getting any. The University of Queensland has no basis for its threats. This is just your typical, exaggerated “threaten people to get what you want” letter. I could safely thumb my nose at them, publish their letter in full, release all the data without anonymizing any of it and say, “Bite me.”

    The only danger there is is the social danger. Judging by the reactions so far, if I release the data now, I’ll be labeled a criminal any time the data gets discussed. Given I could never afford a libel lawsuit against anyone, there’s little I could do about it.

  5. So let me get this straight. Naming bloggers, and diagnosing them with psychiatric disorders is ok.

    Publishing the names of the reviewers, not so bueno.

  6. The can’t reasonably sue you for publishing a let they sent you… can they?!!

  7. Let=letter

    I published a letter from the VC of USA.
    But he said nothing about suing if I did. . (He did copy legal counsel though)

    Perhaps Queensland learnt from that absence of threat.

  8. You know you’ve long ago left science behind when every dispute involves lawyers.

    Anyway, maybe talk to a lawyer before you proceed?

    But I suspect U Sussex would have the resources, and the stature needed, to handle this. I’d discuss that too.

  9. Les Johnson, this isn’t even a matter of publishing names. The names of the raters are already known. People are just complaining about the idea of me releasing information showing which raters rated which abstracts. It’s silly.

    Barry Woods, the tactic has been tried before by other people. To my knowledge, nobody has ever gotten close to winning a lawsuit with it. I don’t think anyone has even managed to get it past pre-trial motions.

  10. Rachel, I don’t need legal help with this (as the University of Queensland has no basis for its claims), but it might be worth talking to people about this. If nothing else, people might find it interesting.

    Carrick, could you explain why you mentioned Sussex? I don’t have any connection with it.

  11. Because Richard Tol works at Sussex, he might be interested in the data, and might have a different view as to whether raw data associated with this project really belong to UQ, or ethically should have already been released.

    I think if Cook was owed a courtesy before, he’s exhausted it now that he’s exposed himself to be a charlatan.

  12. Ah, gotcha. I don’t know if his university would be willing to get involved or not. I doubt it’d matter though. There’s no legal issues here. The only thing I have to worry about is possibly being harassed/libeled, and Sussex would probably have no reason to get involved with that.

    Quite frankly, my immediate inclination upon getting that letter was to publish everything and tell them, “Bite me.” I probably would have except as long as there’s open communication, there’s the chance I’ll be able to get more information. For example, the University of Queensland claims they conducted a forensic investigation. I would love to get a copy of that so I could see how they claim what I did was hacking.

    Similarly, they claim they have contractual obligations on the data, and if the data is shared, they’ll be exposed to civil actions. I’d love to know more about that. They’re claiming they’d be exposed to legal actions by illegally obtained material being disclosed. If that’s true, their situation is even worse if I obtained the material legally. They could risk a lawsuit without me even disclosing the material.

    I sent a prompt response to the solicitor informing them I require documentation relating to the above points. I haven’t heard back, and I don’t expect to. However, there’s a chance they’ll respond with useful information.

    By the way, it turns out my IP address is blacklisted at the Popehat forums. That’s due to my ISP sucking. It’s a shame because I think people there would have found this interesting. I can still e-mail Popehat, of course.

  13. Patrick Farrington, legally, sending material to a third party counts as publishing it. That’s why you can be sued for defamation for what you say to a single person in private even though defamation laws cover “publications.”

    The only people I could possibly show the letter to without the University of Queensland’s threats applying would be people like legal representatives. Even then, I believe their threat would cover me showing people like lawyers the data.

    It’s silly.

  14. 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.

  15. You can’t now just publish your post. You’ll have to publish all correspondence including the violent imagery you mention.

  16. Let’s treat this – your ability to obtain the data – as a science experiment we would all like to verify. I would like to reproduce the legal method by which you obtained the data. Is that possible?

  17. Ps why would a University have the right to command a private citizen from corresponding with another private citizen? If Cook doesn’t want to hear from you he should say so himself.

  18. omnologos, I’m afraid I may not be able to publish all the things I referred to. The violent imagery was over at Anders’s blog, and I know at least one comment I highlighted got deleted. I, perhaps foolishly, didn’t think to keep documentation of everything said there. I’d happily publish all correspondence though, if the time comes.

    tteclod, no. After I informed John Cook of the existence of a leak, he investigated and discovered how I obtained the material. He then added security to ensure nobody could repeat the process.

    Fortunately, I kept documentation. You learn the importance of that in forensic IT.

  19. If they refuse to release their data they are essentially admitting the paper is fraudulent.

    I suppose it would be nice to prove it, but what you can do is show what is wrong the paper without publishing the data, simply publishing the mistakes that were made. You cannot prove it by showing the data itself. But they cannot prove otherwise either. Considering that they refuse to release the data, it is obvious who is being truthful.

  20. omnologos, the University of Queensland can choose to act as a legal representative for one of its members. It’s common for legal representatives to demand all communication be sent through them.

    That said, the letter gave no indication that was the case here. It didn’t say a word about representing John Cook or his interests. Aside from that one sentence, it only referred to the University of Queensland and its interests.

    As such, it had no right to make that demand.

  21. scf, I actually wrote a post directly questioning the validity of the paper’s claims. I wrote it a day or two after I got this material. I just haven’t published it because it references material that hasn’t been released. I don’t need to reference that material, but it does make my case stronger.

  22. Dear Brandon,

    Why not forward these materials to Ken of Popehat?

    Getting pro bono representation for the victims of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation is his bread an butter.

    He won’t get involved unless you ask him, though.

  23. tarran, I’ve been considering writing him an e-mail. I was going to post in his forum to get people’s thoughts about this topic, but it turns out my IP is blacklisted there (because my ISP is bad). That means e-mailing him is the only practical option.

    The problem is just figuring out what all I’d want to include in the e-mail. Explaining everything could take a while.

  24. Please, stop teasing us, we want the data now!
    I fully understand you want the Bengtson affair to die down so you can have our full attention again before you give us the facts.
    But please consider the anguish at SKS, it is approaching cruel and unjust punishment.

  25. Sigmunb, my decisions have nothing to do with Bengtson affair, though the timing is amusing. The simple reality is I got this letter about half a day ago. Given the claimed legal risks, including my arrest, I think taking a little time is appropriate.

    As for this punishing the Skeptical Science crowd, that’s their own fault. They knew I had access to this data, and they did nothing to try to get me to withhold it. Even the people who claim they are obligated to protect people’s privacy regarding this data did nothing. That’s why there’s been this delay.

    The only reason this data hasn’t been released is the Skeptical Science crowd refuses to address the issue. They just (falsely) claim I stole the data and try to threaten/smear me.

    Which is pretty amusing if you think about it. I haven’t released the data because I’m worried about privacy issues and they aren’t.

  26. Bandon very sorry to hear of this flagrant bullying.

    I recall the Foreign Office against former Ambassador Craig Murray to prevent publishing of documents proving his innocence in their case against him (he spoke out against the use of torture and was punished). The FCO were fine to smear him but he was not allowed any defence (Flanders Pigeon Murderer – a Black Adder sketch – comes to mind). His publishers for his book the Free Orangemen of Togo were also threatened with suing and folded to the pressure – Murray published the book free on the web and to my knowledge never got sued). The web made sure the copyright docs were spread far and wide.

    That the Climate Mafia are so overt with their gross acts of intimidation – Hudson, Salby, PRP, Bengtsson, Pielke etc – and now this is worrying and deeply sinister act against you, but it is also encouraging that this is all they have. They ignored us now they attack us – we are winning.

    It is clearly is intimidation and bluster but not everyone has the time or ability to fight it which is quite understandable with the other things life sends us to get in the way. Should you not take this further then it is understandable, I only hope someone will take this up.

    Have you thought of getting a journalist, somone like Andrew Bolt (he’s quite Spikey! ) to take this forward? Or even a sympathetic govt official (if there are any)? Hopefully someone will pick up the chalice.

    Quite clearly the message to scientists, bloggers and general public by this overt act is to shut us up. This is what awaits any of us that dare question – which is fine if you are obscure(and can be ignored) but if you are in a position to cause damage (say by WUWT page picking up on the story) then the wrath will descend. One commenter at Bishop Hill said he stayed anonymous for this reason.

    If you did go ahead you’d most likely be character assassinated. 😦

    I wish you the best of luck whatever you decide to do.


  27. If the information was available from a website that was not behind a firewall, then it’s in the open domain and there “ain’t” a damn thing they can do about it.

  28. Carrick, I think only other people are arguing that. I think John Cook and Dana Nuccitelli are only arguing they’ve released all the ratings, thus they’ve released all the data. They acknowledge some data hasn’t been released, but they claim that is only due to confidentiality reasons.

    This has several problems. An obvious problem is the ratings for 521 abstracts were not included in any data files. A less obvious problem if they collected the time stamps of all their ratings. In e-mails with his university, John Cook himself denied those timestamps had any confidentiality attached to them. He justified not releasing them solely on the basis they weren’t necessary for replication. Even then, he contemplated releasing them because he felt they would bolster his position. Cook can’t sensibly claim all non-confidential data was released while withholding data he’s previously deemd non-confidential.

    Interestingly, the University of Queensland claims it owns this data. I’m not convinced that’s true, but if it is, that means Cook is under a host of regulations regarding it. I’ve previously assumed this research was considered independent as (to my knowledge) no funding was received for it. If I’m wrong, I believe a lot of things change. I think one should even be able to file an FOI request for the data if it belongs to the University of Queensland.

    You do raise an interesting point about the United States government interceding. I’m not sure, offhand, how closely the University of Queensland is tied to Australia’s government, but it’d be worth looking into. If there’s a strong enough connection, I think it might be possible for international relations to come into play. I think a number of Americans would be upset at the idea of a foreign government threatening Americans.

  29. Dave, because I’m an IT person, I need to point out being behind a firewall isn’t what matters. Most networks and servers are behind firewalls, even the ones you can freely access. Protecting data is more about access control.

    That doesn’t change anything you said, but…

  30. Brandon, once you’ve admitted the ratings are the data of the study, then clearly the averaged value of different measurements is no longer “all of the data”.

    That is every bit as brain dead as the argument that the abstracts represent data, or that researchers are under no obligation to ensure their data is either replicatable or even plausibly correct.

    It does bother me that UQ would go after private US citizens over what amounts to an attempts coverup of unethical behavior on the part of one of its employees, followed by gross incompetence and negligence on the part of said employees.

  31. My suggestion is that you send him a copy of the text of your post, and the cease and desist letter that you received. Tell him how you got the data and a brief description of what you are sitting on. If he needs more info, he’ll ask.

  32. I would suggest reading the content of the papers on the floor of congress. This will grant you automatic legal protection.

  33. I presume you could not be charged with distribution if some stranger copied the Cook data off of your machine in a similar manner to the way you copied it from Cook. Something to think about anyway.

  34. Carrick, I agree on all points.

    tarran, if the letter does represent John Cook’s interests, he’ll have the right to a copy of it. As such, I am allowed to send him a copy of it even if we accept the threat against publishing the letter is legitimate. The problem in this situation is I’m not supposed to contact him.

    Conversely, if the letter does not represent his interests, he doesn’t have an inherent to a copy of it. That means I could contact him, but I could not send him a copy of the letter.

    It’s a funny legal dilemma.

  35. @Brandon
    If you found the data by some security lapse, it is actually U Queensland who is to blame, not you.

    That said, I would not release the data without checking the maximum penalty. It can’t be very high. After all, no big embarrassing secret would be revealed.

  36. Perhaps we ought learn, instead, that it is not wise to treat with such men and to refrain from sharing our methods for obtaining data – and even our success – from those concealing it so that others can repeat the process.

  37. craigm350, thanks for your sympathy. Fortunately, there’s no risk to me other than being smeared in public. If I’m willing to abide that, I can post the data now and walk away.

    I’d love to get a journalist/government official interested. I suspect any fair-minded journalist who examined the facts of this situation would scoff at the University of Queensland. I don’t think any would say I acted unethically, and at least some would probably applaud my investigative technique. I just have no idea how one goes about getting people like them interested.

    Richard Tol, I don’t think the University of Queensland is going to cooperate with me regarding documentation of their claims. I doubt I’ll be able to find out what (if any) contractual obligations there actually were without them suing me (or someone getting such information via something like FOI requests).

    And I’m confident that will never happen. I just wish I knew what their obligations actually were. I’m not even convinced the University of Queensland owns this data as it claims.

  38. tarran, if the letter does represent John Cook’s interests, he’ll have the right to a copy of it. As such, I am allowed to send him a copy of it even if we accept the threat against publishing the letter is legitimate. The problem in this situation is I’m not supposed to contact him.

    Sorry! We are writing at cross purposes. 🙂

    I intended to recommend emailing that information to Ken at Popehat i.e. providing Ken a copy of the text of your post, and the cease and desist letter that you received. Tell him how you got the data and a brief description of what you are sitting on. If he needs more info, he’ll ask.

  39. Brandon, this is probably a silly question but is the data still available online and if so can you give directions for others to retrieve it also?

  40. tteclod, the reason I was cagey with my early comments (and e-mail to John Cook) regarding how I obtained this material was I didn’t like the idea of burning a source. I even considered not telling people about the data for that reason. Even after I decided to release the data, I wasn’t sure if Cook would figure out how I got the data if I didn’t give him information. Sadly, it was pretty easy to figure out.

    tarran, oh! That makes more sense. I hadn’t realized the context because of how many people I had responded to. I’m alright with that though. It was still an interesting point to consider, even if it wasn’t the one you intended to make.

    I think your suggestion is a good one. I’m a little unsure about sending the letter though. In terms of copyright and defamation, any distribution of material to third parties is considered publication. I’m not sure if you can argue exemption for legal counsel if that counsel hasn’t agreed to represent you.

  41. It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that their study was junk if they’re threatening to sue someone for using the raw data; they clearly have something to hide. Science, this is not.

  42. Magoo, that’s not a silly question. It’s an important one. Sadly, the answer to it is no. A while after I informed him I had the data, John Cook added security measures to ensure nobody can access it anymore.

    I considered telling everyone the location of the data all at once, like I did when I found the images where the Skeptical Science team had photoshopped themselves into Nazi imagery. That would have proved I didn’t hack anything. I decided against it though because I wanted to provide Cook and colleagues a chance to try to convince me the data shouldn’t be made publicly available.

    As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

  43. I am sure you already have but do alert Jo Nova and Andrew Bolt. Our friends in Oz keep being embarrassed by their universities.

    You might also want to get a bit of legal advice on the assertion by Queensland that it owns the copyright in its letter. Two points, while it may very well own the copyright, there are various exemptions in copyright law. I don’t have time to do the proper research but here is a Wiki listing to start with:

    “These purposes vary by type of work, but the possibilities are:
    review or criticism
    research or study
    judicial proceedings or professional legal advice
    parody or satire (added by the Copyright Amendment Act 2006)”

    I suspect your publication of portions of the letter could be exempted under one of more of these heads but you would want an Australian copyright lawyer’s view. (My non-legal view is they are blowing smoke.)

    (Publishing the whole thing as a “parody or satire” of how science should be done would be cheeky…and probably not quite exempt.)

  44. Jay Currie, I actually haven’t contacted either of those yet. I meant to contact Jo Nova, but there’s been a ton of people to respond to. As for Andrew Bolt, I’m afraid I know next to nothing about him. I don’t even have his e-mail address (though I may be able to find it quickly with an internet search).

    On the issue of them copyrighting their letter, you’re right. They do own the copyright on the letter, but that doesn’t prevent me from publishing it. There’s an almost exact precedent with a previous case. You can find it by searching for Dozier and copyrights. The company (Dozier) likes to claim the courts ruled in its favor on this tactic, but that’s actually a flagrant misrepresentation. Pretty much everyone agrees Dozier’s attempts to keep people silent with this tactic are not only wrong, but likely unethical.

  45. In terms of copyright and defamation, any distribution of material to third parties is considered publication. I’m not sure if you can argue exemption for legal counsel if that counsel hasn’t agreed to represent you.

    It is not distribution because when you consult with a lawyer regarding some matter, that consultation is privileged. The lawyer is not legally permitted to disclose what you said or provided him except in very limited circumstances. This is true even if the consultation does not result in the two of you entering into an agreement where he represents you on that matter.

    Thus no exemption is required. Communicating with a lawyer as part of searching for legal counsel isn’t disclosing anything to a third party.

    Of course, you need not take my word for it. You can email Ken and ask him. Describe your dilemma and see what he says. I would be surprised if he didn’t tell you the same thing.

  46. tarran, wouldn’t that only be true if the lawyer had agreed to the consultation? I don’t think I can give a lawyer material unsolicited then claim confidentiality.

    I was thinking the safe thing to do would be to contact him like you said, sans letter, while asking him advice about showing him that letter.

  47. I was thinking the safe thing to do would be to contact him like you said, sans letter, while asking him advice about showing him that letter.

    That’s an excellent idea.

    I would do it now, without further delay.

  48. My two cents: popehat and legal people may not be well versed in the climate debate, nor knowledgeable in scientific data practices. This is scientific data on a published paper.

    You could get bad advice from a person outside the climate debate because people outside somehow believe they owe the climate a mythical deference.

  49. Shub:

    My two cents: popehat and legal people may not be well versed in the climate debate, nor knowledgeable in scientific data practices. This is scientific data on a published paper.

    Yes, it would be worth going through e.g. the US NSF requirements for data sharing and showing that this paper failed to meet those standards, and to show their communications, where they have for all practical purposes lied about meeting them.

  50. Brandon
    Send it to me. I’ll publish it on my blog, and Queensland can sue me in France. Even if the 17th Parisian tiribunal who deal with these affairs finds me guilty of something (extremely unlikely) they’ll fine me a few hundred euros and ask me to apologise.
    (Oh; I see you already have. so you can’t be accused of maliciously avoiding Australian or US law. We’re in the clear).

  51. This is beyond ludicrous.

    As to copyright, the University of East Anglia also placed copyright notices on some of their FOI refusals.

    As I understand matters, the premise of copyright is the protection of commercial interests. Obviously, the letter from the University of Queensland has no commercial value. Thus, even if you breached copyright, there are no damages from the breach of copyright. The University has inserted such language as intimidation, not to protect any legitimate commercial interest in the lawyer’s letter. There’s been quite a bit of discussion about copyright at Lucia’s and at CA over the years.

  52. Since they are claiming IP, I guess they would argue a civil case with damages amounting to the commercial value of the data.

    I’m guessing here as I have not seen the data, but extrapolating its likely worth, it might end up with the University of Queensland owing you money.

  53. Also posted this over at WUWT.

    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.

    We have laws in Queensland against frivolous and vexatious legal actions.

    UQ would have to consider the risks in not being successful with its litigation, thus bearing costs.

    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.

  54. This is interesting. I’ve now read the article through to the end. I’ve had a private correspondence with Cook, in the course of which he lied to me. I’ve accused him publicly of lying, and he hasn’t responded.
    Cook is a liar. He lied to me. He lied to his co-author Lewandowsky. No doubt he’d lie to you. What can the University of Queensland do to prevent me from relaying this fact?

  55. Andrew Bolt is listed on WUWT under political climate list of bloggers second person mentioned influential but right wing newspaper columnist. Just below Lukewarmers with Lucia JC etc.

  56. geoff:

    Cook is a liar. He lied to me. He lied to his co-author Lewandowsky. No doubt he’d lie to you. What can the University of Queensland do to prevent me from relaying this fact?

    Have you disappeared I suppose.

  57. Send a copy of the letter to the Attourney General of Australia the Honourable George Brandis QC and ask him for his opinion.

  58. Of course, Brandon, you have no control over the many people to whom you gave the material.
    And no responsibility for what they might do with it.

  59. Hi Brandon, the comment above regarding privilege is correct. The university cannot prevent you from seeking legal advice. As a UK-qualified lawyer, you may send the document to me without infringing copyright. The letter is a cheap threat which has no basis in law. My email is if you wish me to provide some advice. Cheers. Simon

  60. Points to learn: if you find something, publish it. If Cook writes a paper, there is something wrong with it. If the U of Queensland sends you a letter, publish it. If you are thinking to deal with the SkS crew, bang your head 50 times against a wall.

  61. On behalf of my old alma mater, I am embarrassed and very annoyed. UQ is supposedly one of Australia’s top four universities and they should not be behaving in such a manner. Far from it, given the adverse publicity surrounding Cook, et. al., they should be investigating this paper and be very concerned about the medium and long-term effect of such rubbish on the institution’s reputation.

    Then again, UQ has fallen very far down the ethical rabbit-hole in recent years:

  62. Rachel, you stood and watched as Hartz, BBD and assorted members of the Skepticalscience inside group worked themselves up into a lather over what essentially is scientific data. It is under your watch that Brandon, Barry, Ben Pile and I and others got banned from the Andphysics forum. Do you know the Skepticalscience group never ventures out of their safe confines anywhere? When they do, they need the field cleared and the ball handed to them. If people were able to comment freely at neutral venues tiffs of this sort would get sorted out easily. The absurd claims of either ‘side’ would not survive for long. What we have now is unrestrained gutter rhetoric that is allowed to run amok and inflame. The same torches-and-pitchforks mood was on display on the previous thread on Andrew Montford. I hope you see by now that ‘moderation’ does not merely consist of lopping off words in comments from people you don’t like. The balance is in-built.

  63. Andrew Bolt is your man. Seems like the sort of issue he’d perhaps have some time for and if he does, U of Q won’t be looking any better than U of WA aka Lewandowski. Bolt has resources. Jo as well but her reach is limited to that of her blog. Just my two cents worth.

  64. Shub Niggurath, I believe there are legitimate complaints about Anders’s blog and its moderation. I’d wager I could successfully sue Anders, and perhaps even Rachel, for libel based on that topic. Not only do they allow libelous statements be made, prevent me from defending myself and allow violent rhetoric, they take an active hand in moderating comments. Active moderation in a conversation means any unmoderated comment can be treated as made with the approval of the moderators. This is especially true when the owner of the blog favorably responds to libelous remarks.

    However, that is not relevant to the question Rachel asked. As such, unless Rachel chooses to comment here about that comments thread or what was said within it, the issues are non-topical to anything she’s sad. I have no problem with you asking her to comment, but I do ask you respect her right not to answer should she choose to exercise it.

    Now then, to answer your question Rachel, 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.

  65. Thanks, Brandon.

    As for moderating AndThen’s blog, I really don’t have time for these games. Can you please just provide a link to a comment which you think is libellous and I’ll have a look and remove it if I agree. I’m kind of busy at the moment and tend to skim through comments so it’s possible I have missed some. There were quite a few made this morning which have already been removed.

  66. Brandon, I would take Simon up on his offer.

    If he gives the go ahead then publish the letter and make an official complaint to the CMC. It’s a very bad media look for the UQ to try to sue someone who has made a complaint against them. 😉

    Also let Bolt and Jo Nova know and keep them in the loop. Bolt is a widely read columnist who is on radio and has a weekly TV show.

    The bottom line here is that they are trying to silence you. If you are silent, they win. But once it’s “out” they lose.

  67. Rachel M, there is no game here. I simply don’t see the value in helping you protect the people who libel me. It’s worse for me if you delete comments as it destroys the public record. This is especially true when it comes to comments which have remained for an extended period of time.

    Deleting a libelous comment people have already seen, especially when doing so prevents me from showing a record of that comment, hurts my reputation more than it helps.

    Things might be different if people could access deleted comments for the sake of dealing with harassment and the like. However, when comments are relevant to lawsuits that might be filed against me, I don’t want to help hide them.


    Relevant legislation according to:

    I still say ask them if you can show the information–which you said they said you cannot show to anyone–to a lawyer so they can determine how best to approach this case, I would toss in that it may be necessary to consider the issue of malfeasance on the part of UofQ, particularly if this letter they sent actually qualifies as blackmail of some sort.

  69. Brandon,

    Suppose I go into a public library and check my hotmail on the public computers but find that the person who used the computer before me left their own hotmail account open allowing me to read all their mail. I don’t need to steal their password or hack into their account, their mail is open before me. I still think it would be wrong for me to read it without their permission.

    Regarding you suing me for defamation, I have never been sued for defamation or anything else before. But I was under the impression that if one wanted to sue another party for defamation, it’s customary to provide the defamatory statement and a request to have it removed.

  70. Andrew Bolt is either loathed or loved in Australia. As a journalist employed by Rupert Murdoch his extreme right personal views dominate his columns.He is also intolerant of other peoples opinions and ideas.

  71. Unilaterally binding you to action or inaction can not be imposed on you with any form of copyright or claim in an unsolicited letter, unless you know that the release of info to you was a mistake and you know that your release of the info could damage the sender. (Akin to spending cash in your savings account that you know was deposited by a computer error. ) Your right to free speech can not be removed either by their claiming a unilateral gag order. The Intel vs. Hamidi ruling demonstrates that it is a close call but UQ can not restrict you from contacting its people when you have indicated that you are only attempting to communicate and would stop at the individuals request, not the organizations.
    Lastly, in some locales it is considered unethical to legally act in a manner as to imply that they are representing someone without explicitly stating that they are.

    Disclaimer: This blog post is solely owned by the anonymous individual posting it and hereby binds Izuru (aka Brandon S.) to protect all my rights and property from here to eternity. Sharing of this blog post with anyone that the anonymous blog poster wishes denied such access imparts upon Brandon all necessary IT responsibility of restricting any ip access to this blog, now and in the future, that Brandon should have known anonymous does want to have accessed this blog post. Failure to perform such duties will result in a lawsuit in the district of FUNAFUTI, TUVALA. Unless, global sea level rise in the next months submerges the courthouse.

  72. Rachel M, of course I’d pursue other avenues of resolution prior to filing a lawsuit. If nothing else, any lawsuit I filed would fail if I didn’t do that. Saying I imagine I could win a lawsuit in no way implies I intend to file one. Most lawsuits that could be won are never filed.

    So to be clear, I have no intention of suing anybody. I think lawsuits are rarely worthwhile, and I think defamation lawsuits should only be filed in the most extreme of circumstances. On top of that, I wouldn’t have the resources to file a lawsuit if I did want to.

    All I’ve done is point out the legal liability incurred by tacitly endorsing libelous statements. Doing that in no way obligates me to do anything else. I’m perfectly content to simply criticize you for allowing violent rhetoric and libelous statements.

    On the issue of what you think “would be wrong,” that is largely irrelevant to the issue at hand. Even if people decide what I did was morally wrong, it was not remotely illegal.

    But since you brought it up, what I did was not morally wrong. Your analogy has an individual use false credentials. That is a form of deception. No such deception exists in what I did. I merely requested some pages from a server. It is not my responsibility to ensure those pages are hidden or blocked by the server.

    This is no different than if you went to a library, opened a filing cabinet and found documents which were not intended for public consumption. Reading material someone misplaced does not make you a bad person.

  73. Patrick, I know I’ve heard his name before, but I can’t recall ever reading anything by or about him. I don’t see that it’d matter much to me if what you said were true. I’d be happy to get this story to anyone in the media who was interested. I wouldn’t give anyone an exclusive, and I’d want to make sure they got quotes/facts right, but otherwise, I’ll talk to anyone. I didn’t see Andrew Bolt’s e-mail address on his website though, and I didn’t feel like trying to track it down.

    Timo Soren, thanks for your comment. I’m afraid your comment is junk though. No Brandon S. runs this blog. There are many Brandons here, including is a Brandon Schollenberger, but none with the name Brandon S. Are you sure you didn’t mean Brandon S?? Brandon S? has been known to comment from time to time.

  74. I noticed the issue with the selective moderation on Rachel M’s blog and noted that it might be violating terms of service. I wasn’t trying to be ugly or a know-it-all, just a friendly statement of concern. But Willard deleted the comment and posted one of his usual word-salad explanations and deleted the comment.

    Rachael–you do have to be careful when you are seen condoning a behavior. That is different than a single statement that is defamatory. When you do “in place” moderation, that can be seen as endorsing the portions of the statements that are allowed to stand.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I think some people need to put on their grown-up clothes here. Some of the things people are saying have gotten way out of hand. Actions do have consequences.

  75. Reading an open email account left on a public computer might be creepy, deleting emails would be jerkassery, changing the password and lost password prompts would definitely feel wrong, but in the first case it would be impossible to argue it was illegal.

    The second situation you could maybe argue, but there is no way one could win that, I’m pretty sure the terms of service in most email systems include injunctions about giving others your password and whatnot, staying logged in on a public system and leaving is no different, and thus the fault is yours.

    In the last case you would easily be violating the terms of service as it was not your account, though you could just as well argue that you were given the account by someone else, as that is effectively what is done when you just expose things to the public.

    Now, supposing there were pin numbers and account information which allowed you to withdraw money from an account you don’t actually own, THAT would probably be hard to do without being subject to legal action should your involvement be discovered.
    Having a website with less than obvious pages which aren’t properly gated implies that you didn’t think they were sensitive enough to be protected, or didn’t understand how the internet works perhaps.

    Arguing that Brandon did something wrong is like saying someone going to the xkcd forums is doing something wrong, there is no link on the main page, but you can find it with a quick search and the right terms, or dig around through the “About” link to find it.

    I’m not sure if he signed up for the site and would possibly be in some sort of breach of contract, but it sounds like he found information which was possibly supposed to be gated by requiring an account, and was able to access it without doing so.

    In such a case there are no obligations for him to keep this information private, claiming this would be like saying the hypothetical “hotmail account left logged in at the library” carries an obligation for you to sign out, delete passwords/cookies off the system, and notify the owner of the account.

    Walking away is just as valid, and snapping a screenshot of it for your own use before telling the owner about it may seem wrong to some, but the person who left the account signed in on a public system had no reasonable expectation of privacy, did they?

  76. I fear you missed the implied humor and lunacy of my disclaimer! But good luck and keep it up.

  77. Timo Soren, I think you may need to look in the mirror. I said many Brandons comment here, including one named “Brandon S?” and one which is a misspelling of my name.

    In case the joke isn’t clear, I’m the only Brandon I can remember having ever seen comment on any climate blog. I just have my name spelled wrong all the time.

    Incidentally, I actually used to write my name “Brandon S?”

  78. I would ask for names. This could be nothing more than a ruse. Continue making contact with their legal advisers, and get their names. Make them state their position, over and over again, until they screw up. They are harrassing you, and you have every right to ask questions and demand answers. Since they have sent you a formal letter, they are required by law to explain every little detail about that letter and the legal ramifications behind their accusations. If you have a friend in the law biz, have your friend speak for you.

  79. Sera, my expectation is they’ll simply cease communicating. They won’t respond to me, and they won’t contact me with any further threats. They also won’t pursue any legal actions. It seems the wisest course.

    Are you sure they have to explain anything about the letter? I know that may be true if they choose to stand by the letter, but I’d think they could just ignore the letter entirely. What would anyone be able to do to stop that?

  80. It’s worth pointing out Tom Curtis is continuing to spread misinformation at Anders’s blog in the comments section we’ve been discussing. From his recent comment:

    1) John Cook has released “all that data” except for that which risks breaching confidentiality.

    This is untrue. John Cook has refused to release time stamps despite having acknowledged they were not confidential. In fact, he has previously considered releasing the time stamp data to bolster an argument he wanted to make. If he was free to release the data when he felt like it, it obviously is not confidential.

    Less importantly:

    They did make some minor mistakes. For example they over stated the initial disagreement rate between ratings as 33% (it was actually 30.3%), but the methodology is sound and the results easily checkable from data they publicly released.

    Sorry, that should have been for 23.3% of abstracts, initial ratings disagreed.

    This is untrue. Of the 11,944 abstracts included in the data file released by Cook et al, 3881 disagreed. That is 32.5%. If we could add the 521 abstracts not included in the data file, I imagine we’d find the actual value was ~33% as claimed.

  81. It would be very interesting if the material you have was subject to a subpoena in USA.

  82. Too many useless words about Rachel, with whom it’s obviously impossible to have a meaningful dialogue. Suggest replacing her statements with “w” (joke).

  83. Brandon, you need to just grow some vertebrae and publish the full letter. Otherwise it just looks like there is information about your actions in the letter you don’t want revealed.

  84. You ought to email the famously libertarian First Amendment law expert, Prof. Eugene Volokh at UCLA School of Law.

    In the old days, not too many months ago, you could contact him via his eponymously named web site, But since then it – and his stable of similarly sympathetic minded (but not all libertarian) law bloggers have found a more prominent and prestigious home at The Washington Post. Therefore, simply google up his Law School email and send it there.

    Volohk is of second generation Ukrainian immigrant extraction, I believe, and is likeliest to take interest in the international as well as academic nature of this brewing conflict. Furthermore, given all the publicity surrounding global warming this month and the past year, undoubtably he’ll be interested in doing a blog post on this salient topic, since it involves policy, government and academic science conflicts.

    His libertarian co-blogger that may also be helpful is Prof. Jonathan Adler, en environmental and Con Law scholar at Case Western Reserve Law School (Cleveland, Ohio).

    Next, at Powerlineblog, John Hinderaker is a conservative law and policy blogger in private law practice in Washington, DC, and the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Hinderaker avidly follows global warming science and policy, appearing on cable news and radio programs in that capacity. His co-blogger, Steven Hayward, who, while not a lawyer, is thoroughly knowledgeable about global warming economics, politics, and environmental science (PhD in American Studies, Claremont Graduate School). He’s well-connected to policy making circles including the DC think-tank, The American Enterprise Institute, where he produces an annual reference work on the state of the environment. He taught environmental economics – especially referencing global warming, at the University of Colorado at Boulder – this past semester. (Ask Hinderaker for an Email contact address.)

    Finally, do email Hugh Hewitt, an environmental and con law prof at Chapman University in Orange County, California. He’s been in the environmental law business since the Reagan years and hosts a nationally syndicated political talk show five days a week, and privately does engage the EPA and other environmental regulators

    But answering your legal exposure needs are primarily First Amendment and international law related – not US environmental law related. Therefore, pursue Volohk, Adler and Hinderaker first, in that order to address your immediate needs.

    The others may be especially for “in process” or “after action” publicity outreach reporting – assuming you can take the time and energy to pursue it. They will be helpful for you, I’m certain. Remember, the Mann/Steyn affaire ought to have these politically and legally savvy people primed and interested to know your story.

    Anyone I’ve missed? YES. Attorney Chris Horner has been involved in global warming policy-making since the 1990s, as well as a couple of books touching on global warming science and politics. Now at Energy & Environment Legal Institute, where his expertise is FOIA-ing the government.

    Put counselor Horner among your top four, just below Professor Volokh.

  85. 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
    a lawyer oriented blog that went mainstream some years ago. He weighs in on first amendment issues.

    Have fun

  86. For What its worth..Andrew Bolt, the journalist in Australia is aware of this page/debacle. 🙂

  87. More Curtis:
    “The problem is that there is no reason to think that each category has the same error rate, or that errors are equally likely to be toward or away from the consensus for each category, Indeed, it is impossible that they be equal.”

    ( – the link may not take you to the comment. It appears as being made on May 16, 1:33 AM to me)

    Yes, certain errors are less likely than others. But, neither is their likelihood is zero nor is it negligibly small. It is actually quite large.

    For instance categories ‘1’ and ‘2’ should -not- be mistaken for any other categories because they are defined by explicit statements supporting global warming.

    Look at this graph, across both axes for ratings 1 and 2. These are two ratings given by their team for abstracts with explicit statements supporting global warming.

    How does one explain the error rate within these categories? How is it possible to mistake an abstract making an explicit statement that humans are responsible for >50% of the global warming seen since 1950? And vice versa!

    Look at the cloud of points for categories 2, 3, 4. It is well-evident the maximum error rate occurs in this area. Yet, this is the region containing the maximum number of papers – literally thousands – that give rise to the paper’s headline conclusion “97% of papers that took a position blah blah”.

    Tol is actually doing Cook et al a favour in his error calculation by taking this error rate and spreading it out equally among all categories. Who will tell Tom Curtis?

  88. Brandon – just look at all the aggravation your best behavior has brought you. Go for it, my friend. The only regret will be to think one did not give it a try.

  89. Brandon, I would suggest you contact Ken White at Popehat for help. ( He is a lawyer and a blogger who has many times sent out the popehat signal for bloggers whose first amendment rights are chilled by bumptious legal threats. Check out his blog and the work they have done in the past for bloggers.

    This is right up his alley, a vaguely threatening letter from an institution demanding the world but offering no legal evidence to an online blogger. Even if he can’t help you there is a good chance he can put you in contact with a lawyer who would be willing to look into this and help you.

  90. Brandon,

    Deleting a libelous comment people have already seen, especially when doing so prevents me from showing a record of that comment, hurts my reputation more than it helps.

    OK. I;m done giving you advice, because you seem determined to shoot yourself in the foot legally ie writing yourself into losing any lawsuit that arises out of your blogging.

    1) If someone asks you how they are libeling you, you need to tell them. Otherwise you are preventing them from making you whole. If you want evidence, your communication with her would be sufficient. You have wayback machine. You can scrape the site and save the source code etc. That comment you made to Rachel above pretty much eliminated any chance of you getting damages should it go to court.

    2) You need to stop making wild ill-considered comments until you have consulted with a lawyer who knows his shit. The law is arcane, complicated, counterintuitive, and designed to rip off the common citizen. But it is the only game in town, and you will be punished for mistakes you don’t know you are making.

    I strongly suggest you stop writing on this subject until you have spoken to someone who understands libel law and copyright law, especially when the litigants are in different countries. Otherwise, you risk blundering into a kill-zone where you will undergo the legal equivalent of a new replacement blundering into no man’s land, getting snared in razor wire and then machine gunned thoroughly.

    In wattsupwiththat, I advised you to shut up until you had spoken to a lawyer.

    I reiterate it.

    SHUT UP!


    The people who comment on this board have nothing to lose if you get into legal trouble. I suspect many of them have learned the law from watching shows like “The Good Wife” or “Fairly Legal”, meaning that they are not only clueless but dangerously wrong.

    And unlike saying something stupid where the consequences are only on the Internet. Real life screwups in a courtroom will cost you big. If you don’t have $20,000 to $30,000 to burn on legal fees, you need to shut up until you have talked with a lawyer.

    Did I mention the importance of shutting up? Because it’s very important you do stop writing.

  91. tarran
    Out of curiosity, why do you assume Brandon wants to, or is capable of, at least monetarily, pursuing a legal course of action here?

  92. Send me the letter and I’ll publish it. I couldn’t care less if they try to go after me for copyright infringement. This university needs to learn the meaning of the term “Streisand effect.”

  93. Shub – strategy-wise, Tarran sounds correct. Brandon either goes full steam in one direction, or in the other. The current inconclusive limbo can only spell trouble.

    If I ever find publicly-available material, I will make it known. Tip-toeing around it makes no sense and precipitates unpleasant situations.

  94. +1 on contacting Ken White. The issue of foreign jurisdictions attempting libel and copyright suits on US citizens has been the subject of several court cases. I’m not a lawyer, Ken White is a good one, and you need a good one. Mark Randazza is another candidate; there are 1st amendment implications to trying to silence you.

  95. Orson, thanks for the suggestions. I’ve already contacted two lawyers who have been recommended to me, but I suppose a third wouldn’t hurt. I think that’s my limit though. I only want to have to re-explain everything so many times.

    Panzersage, I’ve read his blog a few times, and after a bunch of people recommended him to me, I decided to contact him.

    tarran, telling me to “SHUT UP!” while apparently not even reading what I say is silly. I made it clear I don’t intend to file any lawsuit. Why would you tell me to “SHUT UP!” when I’m make it so I can’t file a lawsuit I don’t intend to file?

    omnologos, I intend to, but given I just contacted lawyers yesterday, it seems silly to act now. After all, what’s the point of contacting them if you don’t give them time to examine the situation?

    As for tarran’s advice, given he apparently didn’t read what he yelled at me for writing, I’m not inclined to pay much attention to him. As for the “current inconclusive limbo,” my inclination has always been to publish everything right away. I’m just reasonably cautious when threatened with legal actions.

    And lets face it, the story wouldn’t be anywhere near as interesting if I had released the data from the start.

  96. Standard scare letter. Lawyers crank them out to bully people every day. My law firm sends them out to people our clients want to scare almost every day. As a practical matter, UofQ has neither the time or money to waste in going after a guy like you. It produces bad PR. Since they are clearly trying to suppress information that is embarrassing to the reasearcher, suing you to get you to shut up about it makes them look like bullies and liars who are trying to suppress public knowledge on matters of great public importance. Which is NOT a position that an esteemed, respected searcher-for-truth like UofQ wants to be in.

  97. RE:

    “Quite frankly, my immediate inclination upon getting that letter was to publish everything and tell them, “Bite me.””

    I for one wish you would. Any reasonable person following the climate debate recognizes you as someone to be respected. I do. Why worry what the midgets who may bite at your ankles think?

  98. Out of curiosity, why do you assume Brandon wants to, or is capable of, at least monetarily, pursuing a legal course of action here?

    He just received a letter threatening legal action and possibly being made the target of a criminal complaint. Whether he wants to or not, he could be forced in to court, and then he will have no choice but to engage in a legal course of action, unless, or course, he decides not to mount any defense and allow them to steam-roll him.

    The legal system does not care if you are guilty or innocent. It cares about process. It cares about how well you adhere to sometimes arcane rules. And a poorly though public statement can cost you tens of thousands in legal fees defending yourself. Look at Mann vs Steyn. Let’s assume ad arguendo that Mann is wrong and Steyn is right. It will be months before it goes to trial. One judge made a ruling that implied she was confused as to who was pleading what. It will probably cost ~$40,000 to demonstrate that his claim that he was exonerated by numerous investigations is without basis in fact. And, even if he wins, the court will likely not factor the legal costs into deciding how much money Steyn receives.

    Moreover, a public statement prior to the litigation can be used to prevent lines of defense or offense. They can be used to impeach the utterer’s credibility or motives. They can be discussed in depositions, in such a manner as to set the deponent up to look like someone who acts in bad faith or is dishonest.

    Steyn describes what he is going through as a trial by ordeal, and it’s over a 270 word essaylet. He didn’t want to take Mann to court, but ended up there anyway. And he will lose months of his life and tens of thousands (perhaps even hundreds!) in lost income and expenses despite being a veteran of this sort of litigation who likely has a good idea where the lines are and what bits of the swamp are safe to stand on and which bits are bottomless sucking pits of muck.

    I think Brandon is being reckless out of his ignorance of the dangers the court system poses to the unknowledgeable. If he’s lucky he will find a person who gives him good advice, and follow that advice… before he commits one or more gaffes that snare him in expensive litigation. I wish him the best of luck in this because he seems to be a good person who is earnest. But so far I am seeing reckless blundering and a poor situational awareness that will come back to haunt him some day.

  99. If they sent YOU a letter, then showing that letter to others is clearly well within “fair use”.

  100. Wow, so much about politics, so less about science. Either way it appears the letter has its desired effect. A big waste of our time.

  101. Please keep the ball rolling. A couple of days back, Brandon S was in full support of BBD who wondered loudly about him courting arrest 😉

  102. tarran,
    If you take it on yourself to give unsolicited legal advice, you shouldn’t be surprised it’s not taken. It’s silly for you to have a hissyfit if it’s not taken. My unsolicited advice: if people not taking your unsolicited advice grumpifies you, stop trying to shove unsolicited advice down their throats. Then you can be a happy camper, sit back and chill.

  103. lucia, I’m not grumpy. I’ve done my bit to warn him that he is playing with fire… as have other people. He’s a big boy. If he doesn’t take my advice and gets badly burned, it’s not my problem. And of course, plenty of people get away with reckless behavior without any bad things happening, so he has a better than 50% chance of blundering through this unscathed.

  104. But he hasn’t done anything yet. He has neither published the letter, not the data. Why will he sink in the swamp?

    They have hinted that they are going to try to criminally prosecute him. They could still sue him for getting at the data (it doesn’t matter that he hasn’t published it, the law is vague enough that they can make a case that doesn’t get summarily dismissed). He has accused people of libeling him, but refused to tell them how they can remove the libel. Such allegations can lead to a lawsuit where the subjects of his allegations force him to justify his claims in court.

    It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t want to go to court. Other people can sue him and take him to court.

    He is already in the swamp, whether he wants it or not. And trusting to luck is not a great strategy.

  105. Brandon:
    the story is front page on the Australian Saturday 17 edition.

    Reporter is Graham Lloyd, not noted as a supporter of AGW, but less obviously biased to the right as is Andrew Bolt (although Bolt makes bigger waves as he also has TV show).

    THE University of Queensland has threatened legal action to stop the release of data used in a paper that establishes a 97 per cent scientific consensus on ­anthropogenic climate change.

    The paper, lead authored by John Cook, has been the subject of debate over its methodology since it was published last year.

    The university said yesterday it was prepared to take legal action to protect the privacy of survey participants.

    Blogger Brandon Schollenberger said UQ had written to him claiming information he had received was illegally obtained and that the matter had been referred to US law enforcement authorities. If the material were published, UQ said, it would sue for breach of copyright.

    “UQ has therefore published all data relating to the paper that is of any scientific value to the wider community,” he said.

    “UQ withheld only data that could identify research participants who took part in the research on condition of anonymity. Such conditions are not uncommon in academic ­research, and any breach of confidentiality could deter people from participating in valuable research in the future.”

    The legal fight comes amid reports in London claiming that one of the world’s top journals rejected the work of five experts after a reviewer privately ­denounced it as “harmful”.

    Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading and one of the authors of the study, told The Times he suspected that intolerance of dissenting views on climate science was preventing his paper from being published.

    Regarding the legal position, try to avoid Australian libel Law, it is designed to protect persons in public life (designed by those in public life who may not want certain activities made public, as is now happening in the Commission of Inquiry into corruption in NSW). QU is waving a big stick which is normally enough to get an australian reporter to back off, and I think that is about the level they want to go to. Unless they can prove hacking they have very little to go on.

    There was a change of governments last year and both the Queensland State and the Federal governments are less inclined towards AGW than previous occupants; QU will find very little support indeed for trying to start a brawl with the USA. The Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt is a believer in AGW, the Attorney General George Brandis is not. The Federal Minister for Education Christopher Pyne is trying to shake up the Universities. As the Federal Gov. supplies the money, they carry most weight in this matter, e.g. Chris Pyne might like to know why they are spending any money on this matter.

    I would suggest that you think of e-mailing Graham Lloyd making it plain that you did not hack the data. Also that it is not the names of the survey participants that are at risk, as Cook et al. already released them in their since rejected paper. Good luck.

  106. “The legal fight comes amid reports in London claiming that one of the world’s top journals rejected the work of five experts after a reviewer privately ­denounced it as “harmful”.”

    Referring to the “journal rejects paper” scoop in the UK Times. It’s not doing anyone any favours to link that nonsense to this.

  107. tarran, have you followed this issue from the start? I get the data- related prosecution issues but everything else is way overblown. But, like you say, who knows!

  108. Tarran

    They have hinted that they are going to try to criminally prosecute him.

    First UQ can’t prosecute him. They have hinted they think they have some sort of evidence. But Brandon knows how he got the data– and I immediately guessed — and correctly– and there is nothing criminal in what he did. So, they can hint whatever they want. I could hint I’m going to send the cops to your door because I have evidence you pulled whiskers off a field mouse. I don’t think you would be quaking in your boots about this “hint” and deciding you have to shut up and become silent on the intertubes because of this especially if you know you haven’t been near any field mice.

    They could still sue him for getting at the data

    Ok, legal beagle. A suit needs to make a claim at law.

    On what legal theory could they sue him and win? What constitutes “getting” data and what law says you can’t “get” data? What would UQueensland’s claim be. In the US data generally can’t be copyrighted. It’s not going to be a trademark violation. It’s not going to be patent issue. Given the fact pattern surrounding this, they won’t be able to make a “trade secrets” case that sticks. So….. It may be that UQ can advance some theory whereby the data for this paper is copyrightable, but it would be quite an uphill battle for them given the general situation. (See more here. and From US copyright office: ” But in no case is the data itself (as distinguished from its selection, coordination or arrangement) copyrightable. The absence of uniform protection for noncreative databases is what has given rise to the calls for this legislation.” Note the act that might have given data copyright protection did not get enacted. )

    If you want to give useful advice, maybe you can explain what sorts of realistic risks Brandon might need to worry about. But vaguely alluding to possible suits is not very useful. Yes. People can sue. The suits might be summarily dismissed at the first blush, but that doesn’t prevent people from suing. And it’s not at all clear that everyone needs to shut up about everything merely because it is possible to sue a ham sandwich in the US.

    (it doesn’t matter that he hasn’t published it, the law is vague enough that they can make a case that doesn’t get summarily dismissed).

    Which law about what is vague enough about…what? US Copyright law is pretty specific and ideas and most “data” are not copyrightable. To make “data” have copyright protection in the US would be a pretty darn difficult uphill battle for U Queensland. If the situation is different is Australia, maybe there is risk of a suit in Australia. But if so, it makes more sense for you to bring forward specific info than to just wave around vague allusions like “people can sue”.

    He has accused people of libeling him, but refused to tell them how they can remove the libel. Such allegations can lead to a lawsuit where the subjects of his allegations force him to justify his claims in court.

    The subjects are unnamed. Even if some unnamed person can allege he libeled them by accusing them of libeling him, the plaintiff would first have to make a case that readers could tell Brandon meant their statements by explaining how what the plaintif wrote could be interpreted to be libel. In such a case, the plaintiff would practically be making Brandon’s libel case for him!

    It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t want to go to court. Other people can sue him and take him to court.

    Other people can always sue someone.

  109. I have a lot to catch up on. I guess tat’s what I get for spending part of my day outside the house.

    timg56, I’m not worried about what the people criticizing me right now may think about me. The only concern I have about public opinion is for people who aren’t involved in the climate discussion. Imagine if someone decided to do a search for my name when considering whether or not to hire me. If they got the impression I was a criminal, they probably wouldn’t hire me. What about people who meet me and might want to become friends?

    fromdownunder, I sincerely doubt this letter has had the intended effect. Not only has it done nothing to intimidate me, it has made a decent number of people laugh at the University of Queensland. Sure, it’s making me wait a while to release the data, but so what? Why would anyone complain about having to wait a copule weeks when it creates such a hilarious situation?

    cheryl, I can’t imagine how it would.

    Graeme No.3, thanks for sharing that story. I’m happy to know more people are hearing about this ridiculous situation. As for avoiding a libel lawsuit, I’m not worried. Even if I did somehow make myself liable, the University of Queensland couldn’t win anything from me. They’d be spending a lot of money on a case that couldn’t get them anything.

  110. Going back to the technicality of the discovery, there are free tools that allow downloading of an entire website – of its publicly-available pages, that is. I cannot imagine why would that be illegal, and even republishing the content is of course fair use when done for a specific reason and with full reference to the source.

    I also just discovered that internet archives have a very simple way to serve the links to all archived pages of a website, just by adding a * (star) to the request.

    It is not unreasonable to imagine that if person C is known for leaving his stuff publicly available on the web, person B would perfectly legally satisfy his curiosity about the repeat behaviour by C by exploring C’s websites.

    It is equivalent to B peeking into C’s house through the open main door when C is well known for leaving his house’s main door open. And just as legal.

  111. tarran, I don’t mind you being done giving me advice given your advice is terrible. As a rule, I tend not to listen to advice from people who won’t admit their obvious mistakes. For example, I find it hard to take advice from someone who goes on about how I won’t be able to get damages from Rachel even though I had already made it clear I don’t intend to ever file a lawsuit against anyone.

    On top of that, all your advice has rested upon completely vague or incorrect remarks. You could have just stuck with “SHUT UP!” and you’d have contributed about as much.

  112. It is equivalent to B peeking into C’s house through the open main door when C is well known for leaving his house’s main door open. And just as legal.

    Possibly, it’s more like me looking out my own front window and seeing my neighbors dogs in their front yard. (They are very cute dogs. The black one is has figured out that the invisible fence is either off or he isn’t wearing his collar. I need to tell Christie so she can retrain them. We don’t want the dog to risk getting hit by a car.)

  113. Brandon: I know neither you or Tarran but I have been through a couple of legal nightmares.

    With respect, as a litigant not a lawyer, there is no doubt in my mind that his advice to “Shut Up” could only be improved by “Shut the FXXX Up”
    Of course Tarran could have chosen softer words but his choice does give it the emphasis it needs.
    In the unlikely event this matter ever came before a court you may well be shot by the bullets you are making for the opposition.
    It would seem the best course of action would be to simply publish the letter in its entirety; from the excerpts it seems to do an adequate job of condemning itself. Then leave it to supportive others to run the ball.

    However I would question Tarran’s estimate of, what was it, $20-30K – if he hadn’t posted it twice I would have thought he left a zero off.

    Also PLEASE be careful in responding to troll type posts – who is to say it is not the interested parties from the other side setting traps.

  114. Unbelievable. I’m unfamiliar with Australian law, but the notion that anything you’ve done runs afoul of copyright or any other law is utterly bizarre. That said, it does seem prudent to keep your powder dry until the legal implications can be explored in detail. But the fact that Queensland even feels the need to issue such a threatening correspondence speaks volumes.

  115. GreyZeke, shutting up would be the absolute worst thing I could do. The entire point of making baseless threats was to force me to shut up. Shutting up would give them what they want, legitimize their approach and accomplish nothing. They are not going to file any sort of lawsuit. There is no risk in me talking. In effect, you’re suggesting I give them what they want in order to avoid a non-existent risk.

    Moreover, there is nothing I can say that will give them more ammunition unless I stoop to baseless, defamatory remarks. There are no opinions or facts to hide (on my end) in this case. Everything is in the open or will necessarilly be made open should any anything ever come of their threats.

    If you don’t believe me, here’s a simple test. Name one thing I could say or do that would expose me to any new risk tied to this topic. tarran offered two examples. One was contradicted by my comments prior to his, and the other (that I could be forced into court for saying I had been libeled) was completely unrealistic.

  116. Brandon
    IMHO, Eugene Volokh is a serious legal scholar who has offered to look at your letter and offer advice. I and one other have recommended him to you.

  117. Brandon
    I’ll offer one more bit of unsolicited advice because you have indicated you do not have deep pockets. STFU until you are completely confident you are on sound legal footing. From experience, (emotional but fortunately not financially serious) being right has little to do with legal correctness. If you are attacked by deep pockets you may suffer to the extant righteousness is poor consolation. My impression is you agree with me. If so, I encourage you in that direction.

  118. Brandon, when you accuse people of libelling you, refuse to give them the information needed to stop libelling you because “I simply don’t see the value in helping you protect the people who libel me. It’s worse for me if you delete comments as it destroys the public record. This is especially true when it comes to comments which have remained for an extended period of time.” and then follow up later with “All I’ve done is point out the legal liability incurred by tacitly endorsing libelous statements. Doing that in no way obligates me to do anything else. I’m perfectly content to simply criticize you for allowing violent rhetoric and libelous statements.”

    In theory, Rachel now has a course of action to sue you – specifically to seek a declaratory judgement that she hasn’t published a libel against you. Here is an example of that principle in action: CBS Tells Court: No One Could Possibly Read Our Statements ‘We Will Sue Aereo’ To Mean We Will Sue Aereo. And by the way SCO tried that trick of saying we won’t tell you how you are injuring us because you’d just stop when they sued IBM ~2001. It didn’t work out too well for them.

    And by the way, I should point out that the only comment any lawyer has made on the advice I gave you was to tell you that what I said about privilege is correct.

    Last but not least, my suggestion that you shut up is based not just on my personal experience as a litigant who lost his retirement savings in the course of proving the false allegations against him were false, but on the advice of Ken White of Popehat:

    Well, first, O’Keefe and Naffe are classic examples of nightmare clients. They are embroiled in litigation or threatening litigation and yet will not shut the fuck up. Here’s the thing — unless your attorney is a partner in a Kardashian-inspired approach to litigation and is helping you use the court system to get publicity, any competent attorney will tell you that you need to shut up about the subject of your lawsuits, criminal investigations, and prosecutions. Anything less makes your case vastly more difficult to litigate. O’Keefe is suing media outlets for harming his reputation by falsely reporting (maliciously or incompetently) that he had been convicted of a felony, but won’t shut up about it. The result is a wealth of statements that any competent lawyer will use to impeach him and tear apart his argument that his reputation has been damaged by the media.

    I’m not telling you you need to shut up permanently. I’m telling you you should talk to a lawyer, and listen to him when he tells you what you can and cannot say before you make any more public comments. And if you think this legal advice is “wrong”, God help you, because no one else is going to be able to save you from yourself.

  119. Brandon – I had already heard what you are again saying here. From your adversarial tone (which gives no offense) it seems you misjudge me as not being a supporter – nothing could be further from the case. Any doubt – check the Huffington Post for campaign under the nom du plume ‘glieckenspiel’ for campaign exposing Peter Gleick during 2010.

    If you truly believe the risk is non-existent, and I would agree with low probability, then go right ahead with making bullets – if you are totally sure there will never be a gun loaded, cocked and pointed at you.

    Mark Steyn probably thought the same. Now he is exposed to bankruptcy, the Nation Review may be forced to close and Steyn has broken with his lawyers as the outcome of Februaries court action in DC went against him. Steyn’s cause is righteous too – the Lords of Law work in mysterious ways as Tarran warns.

    You have done a great service in exposing the Fable of 97% and the UoQ. Do not risk paying too heavy a price for it. There are plenty of active folks of good will around the world, folks angry at the perversion of science, folks in contempt of ‘hide the decline’, of climategate, of misrepresentation by the IPCC. Let them willingly run with this in numbers too great and geographies too disperse for the UoQ to even contemplate silencing them. Find someone to feed – there are plenty of influential blogs around – Anthony Watts, Jo Nova (in Australia), ….

    In response to “Name one thing I could say or do that would expose me to any new risk ” I would simply conclude that you have not yet had the pleasure of having EVERYTHING you say, have said, or get duped into saying turned, twisted and forensically magnified by a skilled attorney in cross examination.

    Brandon we are with you; get hold of your justifiable anger, publish the letter in full, and let the foxes run.

    Who would have ever thought a largely state funded institute of higher learning could act in this way? The notion of IP has been so degraded.

    Either way all my best wishes – just hoping to see the Rooster crow not sizzle in the legal pan.

  120. RobertInAz, I am completely confident I’m in the right, legally and ethically. Not only is this obvious to me due to my knowledge of the situation, I am also a person who’s long been interested in the IT field. I am familiar with all the major legal cases surrounding “hacking” charges. I’ve spent time discussing the legal and ethical ramifications of various actions one can take over networks. I could write an essay explaining the legitimacy of my actions with references, from memory, even though I’ve been drinking.

    I don’t say any of that to brag. This isn’t a matter of me being competent, much less good. This is a matter of the threats being so ludicrous they’d be laughed at by any legitimate examination of them.

  121. tarran, your claimed “risk” is ridiculous. Suppose Rachel did seek a “declaratory judgment that she hasn’t published a libel against you.” If she did, I could then raise the exact examples of libelous statements I chose not to direct her toward.

    But suppose I either did or could not point to any such examples. What of it? A declaratory judgment like you describe wouldn’t come with any costs. All it would do is preclude me from filing the lawsuits I’ve repeatedly said I won’t file. I could completely disregard the judicial proceedings, and it wouldn’t affect me in any negative way.

    That is the sort of stupid thing which makes me uninterested in what you have to say. Previously you argued I might be precluding myself from filing lawsuits I had said I didn’t intend to file. Now you’re arguing I might be placing myself in a situation where I’d be forced into a legal proceeding which (if I lost) would result in me being precluded from filing lawsuits I have said I don’t intend to file.

    Similarly, you offer a quote discussing how clients not shutting up makes it difficult to win their lawsuits. As I have repeatedly made clear, I don’t intend to file any lawsuits. Even if my actions would make it difficult to litigate a lawsuit I filed, that is meaningless if I would never file a lawsuit.

    If you can show any conceivable harm anything I might say would result in, I might listen to you. So far, you haven’t even tried to. Every example you’ve offered has been irrelevant and misleading.

  122. GreyZeke, if there is any adversarial tone in my comments, it’s because the exchange started with, “SHUT UP!” That creates an adversarial atmosphere. I don’t make the mistake of confusing “adversarial tone” with “adversarial views” though.

    In any event, you’re doing the same thing tarran does where obviously incorrect arguments are offered. Everything you just said about Mark Steyn’s case is wrong. Mark Steyn does not face bankruptcy, and there is no chance the National Review would be forced to close. They carry libel insurance for a reason. Even if they lost the case against Michael Mann, they would be able to go on.

    Additionally, you say “Steyn has broken with his lawyers.” Disregarding the issue of whether or not your reason for this is correct, the statement is highly misleading as Steyn has long since gained a new legal team. This new legal team is better for his case than his old one.

    You’ve painted a strengthening of Steyn’s position as a weakening of it, and you use that to suggest my view is dangerous. I hope you can understand why that makes me scoff at you. If we accept your argument but correct the facts within it, your example does nothing to indicate my actions are unwise. If anything, your example encourages my position.

    That is my problem with the comments from you and tarran. It’s not that I dislike your view. It’s that you justify your view with arguments which are obviously wrong.

  123. Brandon,
    “RobertInAz, I am completely confident I’m in the right, legally and ethically. Not only is this obvious to me due to my knowledge of the situation, I am also a person who’s long been interested in the IT field. I am familiar with all the major legal cases surrounding “hacking” charges. I’ve spent time discussing the legal and ethical ramifications of various actions one can take over networks. I could write an essay explaining the legitimacy of my actions with references, from memory, even though I’ve been drinking.”

    You misread my point. I agree with you 1000%. I am an IT professional making over 150K a year as a W2. Our expertise and knowledge is almost irrelevant in the legal system. If you have children or a wife dependent on you, please SFTU until your understanding of the legal situation is clear. Then go for it. I am 100% behind you. If I did not have dependents, I would challenge UQ. I do and I would not absent legal counsel.


  124. RobertInAz, I’m single, I have no dependents, and I don’t have any notable income. Even if I could conceivably lose a lawsuit, the loss would be almost completely negligible. I might hesitate to put other people at risk for my decisions, even if I could logically dismiss that risk as non-existent, but that’s not the case here. There’s nobody at risk except for me.

  125. ” even though I’ve been drinking.” – then at least stop writing until you sober up.
    Best wishes, goodbye.

  126. “RobertInAz, I’m single, I have no dependents, and I don’t have any notable income. ”

    Go for it!!!!! I’ll keep contributing1

  127. Brandon

    Some information – first as to Australian Court’s jurisdiction over a defendant outside the country:

    Basically it looks like they could attempt to commence suit in Australia however it would have no effect on you, even if successful, unless you had assets in Australia. You would also have the right to challenge their Courts jurisdiction over you.

    It also shows that the Plaintiff would very likely have to commence suit in the US – and US laws generally require litiagtion in a venue where defendant resides.

    It appears if they were to try to sue you in AU and prevailed, it would be generally meaningless unless you plan to go there an/or have assets there. You could challenge jurisdiction there, or simply file a US case alleging same.

    And IF they file in the US – unlikely it would seem when comparing costs and likelihood of success – US law comes into play. A somewhat recent case offers some seemingly very relevant insight:

    “On August 16, 2013, the Honorable Charles R. Breyer of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California issued an important decision under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) as to whether a publicly facing website can selectively revoke authorization to access that website.

    The defendant 3Taps used scripts to scrape ads from craigslist’s popular website in real time and then re-indexed the ads in different formats and made the information available to third parties. Craigslist was not amused and sent 3Taps a cease and desist letter and took steps to block 3Taps I.P. addresses. 3Taps ignored the cease and desist letter and took steps to circumvent Craigslist’s I.P. address blocking by changing I.P. addresses and using proxy servers. Craigslist sued under the CFAA provision allowing for civil suits and 3Taps moved to dismiss.

    On April 30, 2013 the Court denied the part of 3Taps motion that sought to dismiss craigslist’s CFAA claim. The Court held that access to craigslist’s website became unauthorized for 3Taps after the cease and desist letter and IP address blocking by craigslist. The Court, however, did not delve into a deep analysis of the issues and noted “[t]he parties have not addressed a threshold question of whether the CFAA applies where the owner of an otherwise publicly available website takes steps to restrict access by specific entities.” 3Taps moved for supplemental briefing on the issue that the Court granted.”

    The parties filed their briefs and the Court issued a more detailed ruling:

    “The Court starts off by saying it “makes sense” to assume that authorization to access information on a publicly available website is presumed. It cites Pulte Homes, Inc. v. Laborer’s Intern’l Union of N. Am., 648 F.3d 295, 304 (6th Cir. 2011) for this proposition. Pulte involved a disgruntled labor union bombarding the phone and email systems of a home building corporation with robo-calls and e-mails. The Pulte court rightly held that this did not constitute unauthorized access under the CFAA because Pulte’s systems were publicly facing. And the craigslist Court rightly followed its logic.”

    While the COurt did NOT grant defendant a dismissal the decision is still helpful for your instance. The Court held that defendant continued to access the craigslist public site after CL issued a cease & desist letter and as such the case can continue. By direct implication the Court decision also indicates defendants access to the publically available data on the CL site was not illegal until the cease and desist was issued.

  128. I conquer with statements of others that this is a lesson for the future. In this case it would have been helpful had you distributed the data immediately, and/or better provided the access info to a trusted group of others with an embargo on any release to protect your exclusivity.

    Dissemination of the data was much less likely to be problematic (not that I believe you have any real risk) prior to the cease & desist, AND there is strength in numbers – the more people they’d have to pursue the harder and more expensive.

  129. You might also note the case against Weev – Andrew Auernheimer – has been overturned on appeal. He obtained embarrassing info from a publicly available ATT server that they had improperly collected on its ipad 3g users and disseminated to Gawker. The US govt charged him and obtained a conviction which the Appeals Court threw out based on improper venue.

    He was released from prison but in the wake of his release he ‘expressed a willingness to return to court in order to force a ruling on the CFAA saying: “If I am indicted on this case in another district, I will not file a motion to dismiss for cause of double jeopardy”’ .

    He won’t get that chance. Last week, the government dismissed its indictment against Auernheimer, precluding a retrial in a more appropriate venue.

    Proving clearly the governments belief in success should they try to re-try him.

  130. Publish it anyway. Bullying only begets more bullying. If your information becomes public, the university would suffer far too much negative publicity if they followed through on their threats. They are the only ones with something to lose here. Being in the US (or anywhere in the Western world frankly), I think it’s fair to say that you can safely ignore them. A copywright on YOUR letter? Pish tosh; you didn’t write it on their behalf or on their time. Their copywright (dubious in any event given the time involved) is most likely illegal in and of itself. They are bluffing.

  131. Hey there….I found my way here via “Watt’s Up With That” so I’d like to be up front that I am not completely familiar with all the details, but im read the post a couple times, then worked my way through about 90 comments. What I haven’t seen is any real reason why Brandon isn’t publishing the “IP” he has. Brandon – you’ve written multiple times you don’t think the Univ. of QL has a legal leg to stand on….and from what I’ve read here, I agree. I thought your post was going to be a humorous way of printing the data, your analyses, etc….but you actually are abiding by the terms of what you state is a bullying letter that is full of empty threats.

    I confess, I don’t get it. Unless there are additional facts that haven’t been disclosed here, I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t publish & dare them to actually file a lawsuit. Many people lay awake at night & pray for the chance to get a bully in court so that discovery can be employed against them.

    If there are factors that make keeping quiet prudent, I think you either acknowledge them & shut up, or just have kept quiet about the whole thing. Whining about being bullied & then conceding to the bullies’ demands are just….bizarre. The cognitive dissonance is so overwhelming I keep reading comments, feeling that “maybe there’s something here I’m just not seeing…”

    But I’ve read until my fingers are sore from scrolling up & down. So….I decided to call bs. Either you think they’re bullies & full of empty threats or there’s some legitimate reason for you to not publish.

    If the former….print the damn things & have the courage of your convictions. I can’t tell from your “about” page if you’re in America or not. If you are, then exercise your rights & be a man, damnit. If you’re not, I’d encourage you to reach out to Andrew Watt; I’m pretty sure he’ll publish your data & give you a place to publish your analysis under the freedom of the press that we enjoy. There’s more than one way to de-fur a feline.

    If the latter is true…..well, if it were me I wouldn’t have brought it up in the first place. It seems bad form. But since you have, I’d say just let it go, dude. There’s no point whinging on about how they’re right, but you disagree with it….

  132. A. Scott, if I had been worried about there being risks, I could have collected (and/or released) the data anonymously. I didn’t because there were no risks. If anything, disseminating the data would have put me at a greater risk. I’ve gone to lengths to try to ensure issues of privacy are addressed. Those would have been mostly meaningless if I had given people the data from the start.

    Mark Gibson, you seem to be falling into the same false dilemma many other people have fallen into. You act as though publishing the data needs to happen right away in order to happen at all. It doesn’t. I don’t need to “be a man” and blindly rush into anything. Nobody is harmed by me waiting a couple weeks to release the data.

    Let’s be realistic here. I’ve had the data for little more than a week. I’d be justified holding it back for longer than that just so I could study it first. And what if I didn’t want to release it? Who’s to say I can’t just gloat about having data nobody else has? Or what if I wanted to try to sell the data, perhaps even back to Cook et al? There are hundreds of reasons I might not release the data which don’t involve any form of cowardice on my part.

    And for the record, standing up to bullies by mocking them isn’t whining. It’s just a good way to get people to dislike the bullies.

  133. I understand that talking about legal risks is getting boring, but make sure to not trust the courts too much. Even if the law and facts are all on your side, going to court is too often a coin toss.

    That being said, you might want to save the material on your site to make sure it’s properly backed up against a hard disk failure. You don’t need to password protect it as noone could guess the name and location of the zip file. It’s even unlikely that someone would try or bother guessing the urls.

  134. vieras, my belief in the lack of risk isn’t actually tied to the courts. I have little doubt I could win a lawsuit if it happened, but I know for sure I could make the University of Queensland regret filing one. The public backlash for filing a suit over this would be such the university couldn’t possibly benefit from the suit.

    On the issue of backing up the files, that’s a good one, but a simpler way of doing it is to just e-mail the file to myself. Google is a great way of backing things up, and there’s no chance of it being taken down during a lawsuit.

    If I wanted added security for it, I could e-mail accounts held with multiple companies. I think that’s overkill though.

  135. I have to ask this, Brandoon: Did UQ address the letter to you, or to this guy Brandon Schollenberger who has the files, according to the GWPF? 😉

  136. Brandon,

    72 year old non reservation 1/2 Apache here. EE degree from U of Texas Arlington, Navy, attached to Operation Igloo White, sensor install into Laos and on and near the DMZ for 3 years (critical skill) . Out then research and development at General Dynamics in Ft. Worth Tx on terrain following radar and later on high energy microwave defense projects. Some time at Sandia Lab etal. Yet a part time farmer/rancher on family operations the whole time. Some understanding of the sun shinning down and some walking experience in triple canopy jungles. Did get a some what bad view of the press, politics and leaders like John F. Kerry. When the Swift Boat Vets set up their deal I joined mostly to see what was going on. Met up with a U.S. Navy E-9 with the handle “Navy Chief”. He and I talked off line on the real way things went when an ambush took place in Vietnam/Laos ect. . He then told me he sure needed more info on the day to day operations of the Swift Boats. Just then my daughter was finishing up her Computer Science degree at Texas Tech University in Lubbock Texas and I remembered that Tech had gone to the U.S.Defense Dept. and bought/took over all the documents the Defense Dept. had on the Vietnam War which the Government no longer wanted to keep themselves. So I used the private e-mail of the Swift Boat blog and contacted him and sent him and others to the Texas Tech web site for the data and some like he and others went there to the Vietnam Archives Library there in Lubbock. Needless to say that evidence shows clear what went on and the evidence should speak for itself. Yet this man is still out and about still as he was and is still protected by the Press. Same will happen with these who bend the truth on temperatures ect. for the gain of themselves and governments on the take such as the U.N… Now to you and your problem. Let the info fit loose on you, do not defend your own computer, you know it might get hacked who knows. What goes around comes around. Long run you will have some trouble. Navy Chief was at retirement age and about to leave the Navy and get a job in “intel” with someone.
    He had his security clearance ended, he had real bad things put in his DD-214 upon Discharge. He could not get a job in his field after he left the Navy just because he was a main link in the truth of Kerry getting out. So it is clear they will attempt to harm you. Be careful and lay low and let events more along a bit before you act. Some one may come up with an idea. Heck even some low person with access within the University in question might have an IT job with access and follow the Climate Gate person and send it to a Russian server. You never know.
    The powers that be search for those who are a threat to their power and the access it gives them to our tax money.
    Good luck and be careful and for sure beware of any new buddy who wants to talk to you just cause he likes you. They are many and they use low means to attack all who resist.

  137. Brandoon,

    There are more people who have the data.
    But they like how it’s going now 🙂

  138. HaroldW, they began the letter with “Dear Mr Shollenberger.” Given they didn’t put a period at “Mr,” it must be a person’s name. I’m thinking they probably misspelled “Myr.” However you spell it, I’d be curious to know if we’re related.

    Bruis, are you sure? I can’t rule out the possibility that other people found the source of this data before I did, or that they found the data via some other way. I haven’t heard anything to suggest anyone has though.

  139. In ‘The Australian’ newspaper article, the University distill the nub of the issue down to this:

    The university said yesterday it was prepared to take legal action to protect the privacy of survey participants.
    “UQ has therefore published all data relating to the paper that is of any scientific value to the wider community,” he said.
    “UQ withheld only data that could identify research participants who took part in the research on condition of anonymity. Such conditions are not uncommon in academic ­research, and any breach of confidentiality could deter people from participating in valuable research in the future.”

    Interesting that nowhere have they justified trying to stop you publishing the letter they sent you. I believe you should go ahead and publish that. As others have pointed out, including Steve McIntyre, it is ridiculous for them to claim copyright over the letter – it was sent to you – you own it – there is no commercially valuable content!

    With regards everything else you want to publish, provided you anonymise the survey participants, the University of Queensland would have nothing to take you to court over because they have already stated publicly that:

    1. They have already released any data of scientific value, and
    2. Their sole concern is the anonimity of the survey participants.

    I have no idea what you planned to write about, but if it was for instance to reveal that certain survey participants should have been excluded for reasons which should have been obvious to the researchers, then it would be easy enough to talk about “Survey Participant A, B etc” and describe the type of conflict which existed. It would be clear to readers what the problem was with the paper. Then securely forward a file identifying the survey participants to the codes you used to:

    a) The Vice Chancellor of the University of Queensland
    b) The members of the Ethics committee of the UQ
    c) The editer of the publishing journal of the original 97% paper
    d) A lawyer acting on your behalf
    e) Dr Denis Jensen asking his advice on what he thinks you should do about the UQ’s legal threat. Dr Jensen is an outspoken climate skeptic and member of the Federal Government and the most scientifically qualified member of parliament. He is also able to raise any matter he considers in the public interest in parliament without any fear of being sued, Also as a member of the Government he is entitled to ask the University , a publicly funded institution, questions about their affairs through the responsible minister.

  140. If a journalist was to come into possession of the data and published it could they be compelled to disclose their source? Just thinking out loud.

  141. James,

    Events just past say that If it is James Rosen of FoxNews U.S. then the U.S. Justice Dept. would at last be on a job to compell.

  142. Brandon: “Dear Mr Shollenberger”, without a period, is common British usage, so it isn’t surprising from an Australian source. See, e.g., here. Of course, they’d say that we Americans add a full stop.

    At least they spelled your name correctly.

  143. That being said, you might want to save the material on your site to make sure it’s properly backed up against a hard disk failure. You don’t need to password protect it as noone could guess the name and location of the zip file. It’s even unlikely that someone would try or bother guessing the urls.

    Ohhh… the SKS method of protecting data!!!!

  144. As per James at 2:17 May 17. U of Q has stated their only issue is protecting the identity of survey participants.
    As far as their letter to you being copyrighted and they will sue you if you print it, this is just silly. You don’t need a lawyer to know that is bullshit.

    Again, put up or shut up. This is going nowhere.

  145. HaroldW, I refuse to acknowledge that even though it’s true, and I was aware of it beforehand.

    lucia liljegren, but how will I include a link to it the zip file in a referral link anyone can see?

    26south, I’m curious what you hope will happen if I “put up.” Are you so anxious to look at this data you can’t stand to wait even two weeks for it to be released?

    Shub Niggurath, I never saw data for that survey, and I never referred to it. It’d be fascinating if something like that was what the University of Queensland had in mind. About the only thing more ridiculous than their ridiculous threatening letter would be if the letter had absolutely no connection to anything I’ve ever done.

  146. Brandon, I rather suspected you knew that, but wasn’t 100% sure. Only 97%.

  147. one last thing Brandon…however you feel about this, it is going to create a “precedent”. If you (don’t) publish in some form what you’ve found, others will (not) be able to publish what they find by claiming you did (not).

    the other possibility is to publish first, think later. the most appealing to me, at the moment, for next time I find anything that is openly available to anybody that navigates to the right URL.

  148. HaroldW, I admit nothing.

    omnologos, I think “publish first, think later” pretty much requires you publish immediately. Once you take some time to think/try to resolve issues, I don’t think you can justify acting rashly. Either way though, I can’t foresee any reason I would not publish the material I found. The worst I see happening is it may take me a few weeks.

  149. Why do screenshots, that are show in PNG format, look like they’ve been save in JPEG first?

  150. Poptech has an excellent post on the SKS forum where he has the info about the ‘consencus’ planning.

    Phase 4: Repeat each year

    Fingers crossed, Phase 3 will be complete by the end of 2012. Then in early 2013, we can repeat the process for all papers published in 2012 to show that the consensus is still strengthening. We beat the consensus drum often and regularly and make SkS the home of the perceived strengthening consensus.

    This shows the purpose and therefore BIAS of what the survey is about. BTW I can not see anything there about QU.

  151. In this very relevant Volokh Conspiracy post, it is noted that a court ruled that a newspaper could not be held liable for publishing something that the government inadvertently let out/published itself.
    This is just the case with the data Brandon has from Cook’s paper: it was sloppily put in a public place (assuming no hacking) and thus copyright can’t be asserted since they are simple facts and not a literary or creative work.

  152. Well, how peachy….You just described in your own words, on your own unconditional angle, the double standard demonic cycle that contradicts itself repeatedly until the final result is madness, death, and then nothing within the swirling midst of constant pain, misery conflict and chaos. Lucifers kids are a bitch….You’re stuck in yet another catch 22 of lies and deceit ….The sniveling little cauldron cacklers who have you blocked are serpent seed…And we’re all on the cusp of Armegeddon right now…

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