“Wind and Water” is Tony Cuneo and Candace Czarny (self-styled “Feng Shui Masters”) , president of Wind and Water Inc., and proud holder of a copyright on a literary masterpiece analyzed about ten years ago (“Feng Shui Intuitively,” an “audit” of a New Age retail store in Scottsdale, Arizona, called A Peace of the Universe). Now they’ve incorporated even weirder material (just try reading that turgid piece of garbage about electromagnetic fields!) and plenty of worthless things for you to buy.
Candace was so upset that FSUR deigned to pull quotes from her material that she sent (by certified mail) the following letter:
February 7, 2001
Dear M. Bramble:
It has come to my attention that you are reproducing an article of mine in part or whole on your internet [sic] site http://members.loop.com/~bramble/fengshui/ww.html.
This letter is meant to bring to your attention that in fact this article has been copyrighted since its inception in 1995. This article is protected by law and it is illegal for anyone to reproduce it in part or in whole in any manner without my express written permission. Enclosed is a copy of that certificate of copyright registration.
Presumably, you were unaware of this protection and limitation. From this point forward, I would apreciate it if you would discontinue the use of this or any other copyright text by me in any and all of your works.
Blessings & Prosperity,
Wind & Water Inc.
To which, by regular mail, I replied with the following letter:
22 February 2001
Your letter was very touching. However, I think you have been misinformed.
The site http://www.members.loop.com/~bramble/fengshui/ww.html has been unavailable for quite some time. Perhaps you have confused http://members.loop.com/~bramble/fengshui/ww.html (a site last updated in 1998, the same date as the stamp from the government on your copyright form) and http://www.qi-whiz.com/ww.html (updated February 2001)?
While I appreciate that you went so far as to copyright your article, I’d like to draw your attention to something in copyright law called the “Fair Use Test.” I’m enclosing a very good article on that test with this letter. I am particularly fond of Factor 1, sub-factor 2, especially the topic “Criticism.” That is what I provide: criticism of claims made on Web sites regarding supposed fengshui benefits. Carefully read my commentary to excerpts from your article — it is criticism. FSUR is widely known as a consumer protection and education resource. Therefore I am within the bounds of the Fair Use Test.
Also, note Factor 2, “Nature of Copyrighted Work,” which explains the issue of some works being more deserving of copyright protection than others. Look at the bulk of writing on FSUR and decide whether your article is more worthy of protection than any of the other submissions. Please note that a variety of world-class fengshui people refer clients and others to FSUR, as do many skeptics groups.
Debunking and exposing scams and outright fallacies is a moral imperative; the U.S. government also considers whistle-blowing to be something of a fundamental right. I believe that, under current U.S. law and ISO 14000 standards, I am completely within my rights as a citizen and as a fengshui practitioner. You are certainly welcome to disagree.
Then I left on holiday out of the country and promptly forgot about it.
In the middle of April I received yet another certified letter (dated in March!). The return address did not match Ms. Czarny’s letterhead. She evidently felt she needed the protective cover of someone else’s address — but was too cheap to hire a lawyer, I guess.
Friday, March 09, 2001
Re: Copyright infringement
Dear Ms. Bramble:
Section 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use of copyright Law does allow for “fair” criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. However one of the determining factors in whether a particular use is “fair” is based upon whether the use is for commercial or nonprofit educational purposes. You may perceive your site(s) as educational, however, they are not nonprofit and are for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain, therefore your criticisms are not within the bounds of the Fair Use Test.
Please re-read Section 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair Use Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes:
Also, Please note Section 506. Criminal offenses
(a) Criminal Infringement.-Any person who infringes a copyright wilfully either-
(1) For purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain.
As stated in my letter of 2-7-01, discontinue the use of all of my copyright text in any and all of your existing and future works.
Based on her obsession with the part of copyright law concerning “commercial advantage or private financial gain,” Czarny desperately wants to believe that I’m making money off exposing their scams. Her letters merit no legal action because I have never made my living from feng shui — therefore, legal action isn’t warranted.
The irate Ms. Czarny forgot to quote the parts of Section 107 regarding “the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole,” and “the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.” Probably because she would not win in court under those conditions. (And if you are conducting a wee bit of fraud you surely do not want it to come to the attention of the legal system!)
The infringement argument hinges on the quantity, quality, and importance of the copied material. Some justices check to see that “no more was taken than was necessary” to achieve the purpose for which something was copied.
Keep in mind what I said about the “wee bit.” Pulling quotes for analysis is not generally deemed to qualify for copyright infringement. Pulling quotes to debunk — or to do a little whistle-blowing — doesn’t typically qualify for copyright infringement.
What Ms. Czarny objects to is not that I quoted her article, but that I deconstructed it and pointed out where it went wrong.
I can lift just a few sentences from Ms. Czarny’s opus to effectively illustrate that her concept of Feng Shui is woefully restricted in scale and scope to using “intention” (the Placebo Effect) and placing crystals and mirrors (magical thinking) because she and Cuneo do not have sufficient education to provide more profound suggestions.
But rather than improve her education and techniques, or obtain competent legal advice, Czarny concocts forms of intimidation in an attempt to silence her critics.
And now everyone knows about those, too.