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Did The Tidewater ASIS Chapter in Virginia Commit Plagiarism and Infringe on my Copyright? 

You decide.... 

Read the below information and then ask these questions of Jim Evans - VP, Finance & Administration and Chief Financial Officer – ASIS International. Perhaps consider sending your comments to the entire ASIS International Board of Directors. Send me an email and I will gladly send you all of their email addresses.

1. Why has the ASIS "investigation" taken over 4 months so far, first stating that they did nothing wrong, then offering a very poorly written and blatantly one sided settlement proposal? (see below)

2. Why does ASIS (and organization that is dedicated to protecting government secrets and intellectual assets) present itself as an organization that appears to condone violations of copyright law and outright plagiarism as well as ASIS Ethics Standards by its members, staff and chapters?

3. Why has ASIS not taken any action or investigated the "ethical" aspect of this issue - that two of its chapter officers were directly involved in obvious VERBATIM plagiarism and copyright infringement of another person's work?

One would think that "a prestigious group such as ASIS International would stand behind ethics and make a concerted stand against plagiarism and the lifting of an other's work in such an overt manner. Ethics has got to be one of the basic tenants of the foremost security-oriented organization that protects customer and government secrets, and overlooks the assets of a large portion of the world." (Direct quote from an email written by an ASIS Regional vice president)

4. Why does ASIS International still show that Tidewater was the 2008 Website of the Year winner, even after Tidewater has admitted to plagiarism. Are there two sets of standards?SEE BELOW

Here are the facts:

Spring 2004 My company was selected by the officers of ASIS San Francisco Bay Area Chapter to create a new website for SFASIS.org

Dec 1~2, 2004 The copyrighted website that I created for SFASIS.org is published on the World Wide Web. It contains dozens of pages and thousands of words, written specifically by me for the exclusive use of SFASIS.

Between January 26, 2005 and February 14, 2005 Archive.org, a well respected and independent “nonprofit organization dedicated to building and maintaining a free and openly accessible online digital library, including an archive of the World Wide Web” takes its first digital time capsule snapshot of the new SFASIS.org website, thereby establishing a record of first publication of the SFASIS.org site. All of its dozens of pages and thousands of words are forever recorded in its “snapshots of the World Wide Web.” 

Selected screenshots:  1  2  3 

Archive.org continued to take periodic snapshots of the SFASIS.org website from that time forward.

October 2, 2006 Archive.org takes its last snapshot of asistidewater.org for 2006. That snapshot, and those prior to that date, reveal a “plain-Jane” website, very simple design, with minimal information and text on it. There is no resemblance to any of the materials on the SFASIS site. Although there are sections related to officers, job placement, sponsors and sponsor information, the text is completely different than that of SFASIS.

March 16, 2007 Archive.org takes a snapshot of the new asistidewater.org website.  That site is virtually a mirror representation of the SFASIS.org site. Tidewater’s new site now has dozens of pages, and on each of them, paragraph after paragraph of text that is identical to that of the SFASIS site – with one exception:  all references to SFASIS have been changed to refer to Tidewater. The navigation structure is virtually the same as SFASIS’s and the terminology used in the navigation is identical to what I created for SFASIS. There are sections related to FAQ’s, and a number of forms that are identical in text and layout as well as structure.

COMPARE for example these pages for yourself & decide:

General Navigation - SFASIS on top, Tidewater on bottom

Copyright and Privacy - note how on the Tidewater site they forgot to remove one instance of SFASIS - could this be the smoking gun?

Sitemap - word for word, section for section

FAQs & Support - again, word for word

May 1, 2009 While doing research for SFASIS, I discover the Tidewater site and see that my copyrighted material has been used illegally and that Tidewater has copied / plagiarized virtually the entire contents of the SFASIS site for its own use and benefit.  I immediately create an electronic archive of the site, and make printed copies of all of the pages.  Additionally, I review every other ASIS Chapter website listed on the ASIS International site and determine that on first glance, it does not appear that any other chapter used any material, wording, forms, navigation or layout from the SFASIS site.  Finally, I determine that Tidewater was awarded the Website of the Year award for 2008, which I assumed was because of the new site they created the year before using copyrighted material.

May 4, 2009  I sent “cease and desist” letters (by email and surface mail) ASIS Tidewater Chapter officers Mr Leo and Mr Deans (click to read the letter). I asked for a letter of apology, restitution for the use of my thoughts and materials and demanded a response within 10 days. Online return receipts indicated that the emails were opened and read. USPS Return Receipts were later received with the signature of Shawn Deans.

May 6, 2009 I sent a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) take-down notice to the web hosting company – html.com – who, as prescribed by law, removed the offending website from the Internet.

September 11, 2009 At Mr Evan's request for a phone conversation, I called him. We had a very long conversation, where we discussed all aspects of the issue. At the end of the conversation we came to the following understanding and both agreed to these 4 points, and these points only:

1. Tidewater will issue a formal written apology to me.

2. Tidewater has / will admitted to ASIS that they used materials that were not theirs (copyright infringement and plagiarism) and that they did not have permission to use.

3. Tidewater will relinquish their 2008 Website of the Year Award.

For item #1, please ensure that Tidewater's formal apology includes that they infringed / used my material, which they knew was not theirs to use, and that they did not have or seek permission to use it, and that they understand that in doing so, they know I was "wronged". Essentially - they need to admit to me the same things they are admitting to you. I would like to have a copy of the letter that they send to ASIS as well, please

4. Once all these things are done, I will indicate in writing that that I will not pursue any further legal / civil action against them.

September 16, 2009  Mr Evans sent me an email with an attached proposed settlement. He asked that I sign it and send it back to him, and he would notify both chapters that a formal settlement has been made and that the matter was closed. When I read the proposed settlement, red flags went up immediately. It contained a confidentiality clause and a very broadly written release of liability clause, none of which were a part of any discussions (written or oral) between Mr Evans my myself.

I replied back to Mr Evans that I saw a number of problem areas in the proposed settlement and that I would have to have my attorney review it. Mr Evans replied to me in part "Since the ASIS San Francisco Chapter is not a party to this agreement or this controversy, then the confidentiality clause should remain in the agreement.  The ASIS San Francisco Chapter may know the general terms, but they should not be privy to the specific terms in the agreement and the apology letter.

As for the admission itself, I believe that ASIS Tidewater should acknowledge that it used materials that it did not own. I can phrase the language in the agreement as follows:

"ASIS Tidewater shall issue a written letter of apology to Mr. Dourov.  Such written letter of apology shall be issued within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement.  In the written letter of apology, ASIS Tidewater shall include language: (1) acknowledging that the Web Site contained material that ASIS Tidewater did not own or had permission to use; and (2)apologizing for the use of this material, to the extent such material was owned by Mr. Dourov and/or Utkaduck."

October 2, 2009 I sent an email to Mr Evans stating "I found your version to be one sided and containing clauses to which I did not previously agree to. Nowhere in our emails or verbal discussions did we talk about nor agree on any type of confidentiality or non-disclosure period - and certainly not one that was in perpetuity. Additionally, we found that the release of liability was too broadly written. I look forward to closing this matter sooner than later. I'm sure that you will agree that this embarrassment to the Association should be put to rest."

October 8, 2009  Mr Evans sent me an email with another proposed settlement. In his email to me he wrote: "ASIS legal council, the ASIS Tidewater Chapter and I have reviewed your significant changes to the original draft settlement agreement. As a reminder, the original draft agreement was created based on the results of the verbal phone conversation between you and me.  Attached is a revised version of the original agreement which is as far as we are willing to go with the agreement."

October 13, 2009 I replied to Mr Evans indicating "In our phone conversation I NEVER agreed to ANY form of confidentiality, nor did I agree to the overly broad "release" statement that you have inserted into the settlement. I only stated and agreed to drop any further action against Tidewater. 

However, as a sign of good faith, fairness and equity, I am willing to keep the apology letter confidential for two years as indicated in both my proposal and your latest one. 

There are two areas of concern that need to be addressed by ASIS:

1. In paragraph 4, insert the word "only" just before "until September 30, 2011."  In the same paragraph, the wording of the allowable disclosure as worded can be misinterpreted on who infringed upon whom. It must clearly state that the claim was settled to my satisfaction, and that it was my content that was infringed. Hence wording must be changed to "Claimants reserve the right to discuss or otherwise disseminate to any third party at all times the fact that an unnamed “large international organization” settled to Claimants’ satisfaction a claim of copyright infringement of Claimants’ website materials."

2. The scope of the "release" in paragraph 5 needs to be narrower in terms of (1) parties and (2) content covered.  This can be resolved one of two ways: (1) if the “release” is limited to ASIS Tidewater, then I can agree to a general release that covers all causes of action that I have or may have had with ASIS Tidewater up to present (2) if the “release” includes all of ASIS, then I must have a much narrower scope of the release – it should only be “relating to ASIS Tidewater’s use of Claimants’ intellectual property without Claimants’ consent”. 

I look forward to reviewing your revised settlement by the close of business on Friday, October 16, 2009."

On October 15, 2009 Mr Evans replied with the following comments "ASIS legal counsel and I reviewed your latest comments as indicated below in this email, and I want to let you know that we do not accept any additional changes to the last version of the agreement. Again as stated in my last email to you, this is as far as we are willing to go with the agreement. The agreement you have in-hand has been signed by ASIS International and the ASIS Tidewater Chapter. By Monday, October 19, 2009 please let me know if you will sign the agreement or not. If you sign the agreement, then please return the executed copy to me electronically by the end of that day."

Sometime in mid to late December, 2009, ASIS changed the 2008 Website of the Year awards to show that there was no winner in the Group 4 category - it finally seems that ASIS  agrees that the Tidewater Chapter clearly plagiarised my material and violated copyright law.

So, Gentle Reader, What do YOU think? Send me an email with your thoughts

Virginia ASIS Tidewater Chapter

Tidewater virginia,  Tidewater, VA ASIS chapter Tidewater

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