Lately there’s been murmurs about how progressive activism is cannibalizing itself. Complaints about “callout culture” and building one’s caché by tearing down others. So I’m writing an article on communities and how they change as they grow or their focus shifts. I wanted to look at what cannabis activism and the cannabis community can expect now and as we get closer to legalization.

Copyright Complaint or Con?

But while I was writing, we received this weird little email.

copyright infringement email

It contains an awful lot of “ignore this” red flags in just eight lines and one attachment. It’s from an unofficial address for an unknown company. The email didn’t come to our website/domain’s email address. And it came with a Microsoft Word “compliant report” that required a key to access. When that’s opened, it contains three Word files that require editing enabled to view.

An unknown email address sent an unknown attachment that requires changing settings to view. And the spelling and grammatical mistakes? Not professional. But scams aren’t really news, right? If this email ended up in my personal account for my personal website, it would be in the trash in one second.

Corporate Responsibility

But I have a responsibility to Twelve High Chicks and its readers to make sure. We have multiple writers, some without professional experience or education in referencing and citing, turning in multiple articles each. Any one of those articles could accidentally include unattributed copyrighted material. So I checked over our recent posts, and concluded that there’s no problem with our current content.

But what about less recent posts? We’ve got years of back posts, so I can’t check everything. Still, while I would expect complaints about our website to come to our website address, the email came to our M.O.M. Cup promo email address. And that address was all over our promotional posts. So I went through our M.O.M. Cup archives and I still found nothing untoward.

Then I had a harrowing thought. One that tied back to the point of the other article I’m writing. The cannabis community is made up of people with different belief systems beyond ending prohibition. Obviously not everyone who knows about or reads Twelve High Chicks agrees with all of our focus, ideals, or opinions.

What if, despite no actual copyright infringement, someone didn’t like one of our articles and maliciously reported us to some unknown agency that could act against us? Or the company contacting us is tied to someone with negative intent and they’re going to keep on us until I open that Word document and enable editing, or worse? Could we be in trouble for nothing?

That’s when I remembered that pot can make you paranoid.

Company or Creation?

So I looked into the company. Fun fact: “ornare” means “to decorate” in Latin and “to bedeck” in Italian. So maybe the company could be a decorator, perhaps concerned about something in our recent review of Cannaflage Designs?

Google showed me a design company called Ornare, but it’s not an “Institute”, not based in Rochester, and I can’t see a multinational using a Road Runner account for official business. (Although, English not as a first language could explain the spelling errors.)

There’s no record available of an Ornare Institute and no trace online. Still, I emailed the original sender requesting a PDF of that “compliant report” to check. The email bounced back from a full inbox. Case closed?

Twelve High Chicks takes accusations of plagiarism, copyright infringement, and copyright violation seriously. But we obviously require reasonable and adequate information to act. And mysterious emails from unmonitored addresses are not the way to provide that!

To paraphrase TV lawyers everywhere: if your copyright has been infringed by the actions of Twelve High Chicks, you may be entitled to have that content removed.

Just … send an email to the right address about the actual article!