Rat Sues Corn! Rather, rat accuses corn of thought-theft! Or something!

Final Update: We covered this entire saga in last week’s DBAs@Midnight webshow, entitled Slightly Used Interview. We also had some serious fun to poke at the company in question. Easily offended audience members: Read, don’t go and watch.

We’ve had our fair share of plagiarists, and even one or two accidental plagiarists (see Rats in the Corn Again, Paw!), but we’ve now rolled around to the other side of the field: one of our community has been accused of plagiarism! And slander! Or something!

The best summary of what’s going on came from Geoff Hiten (@SQLCraftsman) on Twitter:

Company thinks it can copyright concepts in training sessions. Wrote letters to PASS and Adam. Getting public flogging now.

The longer version is this: Adam Machanic (blog, twitter) – author, MVP, community blogger, speaker and teacher, gave a presentation at PASS Summit last week titled “Query Tuning Mastery: Zen and the Art of Workspace Memory”. Great session by the way, Adam!

The company in question, SQL Workshops (TopSQL and SQLWorkshops on Twitter, blog) emailed Adam and PASS beforehand – based, apparently, on his abstract – to claim that his session contained copyrighted material of theirs…specifically, “concepts we explored and published in 2010 via technical webcasts*”. (Update: See SQL Workshop’s blogs Adam Machanic’s libelous statements, Email to PASS, and Email to Klaus Aschenbrenner for their extensive argument.)

Hands up: Who sees a problem with the concept of copywritten concepts? No, not products…concepts. Everyone? Yeah, me too. Now, hands up again: Same thing, but the concepts cover SQL Server, a product created and owned by MICROSOFT, which has the (c) and ™ on every single thing any of its employees ever dreamed about. Would any of you like to claim copyright on THOSE concepts?

One of Adam’s Twitter comments:

Apparently my ABSTRACT on a similar topic to that which @topsql teaches is enough to call that IP theft! #sqlpass

What’s more, SQL Workshops has their metaphorical panties in a wad – and asked for compensation -because Adam said negative things about some webcasts:

…you made a series of libelous statements concerning the webcasts that we published partnering with PASS in 2010.

I still hope we can find a solution. [Referring back to an earlier request for compensation.]*

Klaus Aschenbrenner (Twitter) has had the same problem with this group. They demanded that he remove a query memory spill demo from his sql troubleshooting session, because they had a copyright on it, and he had stolen that content.

So here’s what we’re gonna do: We’re gonna make lots and lots and lots of fun of this whole situation (done!!), and then we’re gonna calm down and see how things shake out. I’ve written SQL Workshops, in generic form, to see if they’d like to give their side of the story before Friday’s DBAs@Midnight webshow (live at 11pm CST, at http://webshow.MidnightDBA.com) . I can say with all honesty that I can’t WAIT to see what happens next.

Accusations: PITA for the accused, pure entertainment for the rest of us.

Happy days,
Jen McCown

P.S. Brent, it’s great that we know what to do when we’re plagiarized…how bout an article that tells us what to do WHEN we plagiarize?

*Quotes from SQL Workshops emails. Thank you, anonymous and public contributors!!

11 thoughts on “Rat Sues Corn! Rather, rat accuses corn of thought-theft! Or something!”

  1. Absolutely crazy, and IMHO, without basis. I’ll write about this more since I have had a little IP experience.

    Slander would be a statement made, not libel, and you can’t copyright an idea. You can trademark a phrase, copyright specific words/images/code/slides, or patent an invention, but I can’t imagine any of those apply to a company outside of Microsoft w/ regard to SQL Server.

    It’s a silly reaction by someone that thinks Adam’s work is somehow costing them revenue or they think they deserve the credit for researching this.

    1. I agree entirely, on each and every point. Somebody’s holding a little TOO tight to their business plan, and can’t recognize free and fair competition when they see it. A far, far better route would have been to try to join forces with Adam (or leave well enough alone).

      I’m getting new info that says this isn’t the first time they’ve done exactly this. With any luck, details to follow. Thanks, Steve!

  2. I attended Adam’s session on 10/14. On the same day, TopSQL posted a link to http://www.sqlworkshops.com/workspacememory.htm – that page was indexed by Google on 10/14 (‘site:www.sqlworkshops.com workspace’). The contents are not nearly as well developed as what I saw in person. If there is common knowledge being shared, it’s at the concept level.
    Based on how smoothly Adam presented the session, there is no way in the world Adam plagiarized someone else’s work, in my opinion.

    And, people can’t copyright an idea. They copyright a completed work – the actual queries, text, etc. If one could copyright an idea, every modern work of fiction would be plagiarizing each other. Adam’s queries were very different from what’s on the indexed page above.

  3. I was going to write this exact blog post, but didn’t. Please take down your post so that when I do my own, it looks better than yours (which won’t exist).


  4. WOW. I didn’t get in on the dog pile because it was a lot of he said she said kind of stuff but since they posted up the letters and everything I think I’m with Adam on this one. I’m not sure how to even describe this train wreck to non-SQL Server people. This is the craziest thing I’ve seen in quite a while.

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