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BCSE Revealed

What Are The BCSE Hiding?

(This article was first published on my blog in December 2006, and is a prelude to the main Leeds University story. In it, I called the BCSE's bluff. The BCSE used to have a section on its website, claiming that I couldn't be trusted because I never checked my stories with them for their take on it. So, before breaking the big story that a prominent university had threatened the BCSE with legal action, I asked them for their side. The response? Silence - and that section on their website disappeared!!)

If you've read this story, then you'll know that the BCSE's claim on its website (update 2007: since deleted) that I have never approached them prior to publication in order to check facts is also false. In that story, you can read for yourself the e-mails I sent to BCSE chairman Michael Brass in order to get his side of the story before going public. Brass chose to entirely ignore my questions about the BCSE's hypocritical stance on copyright.

But, accurate, verifiable statements about those they disagree with aren't the BCSE's forté, as we've seen. I've said before, though, that I don't want to point out all the BCSE's errors, as it would involve giving more publicity to allegations that just don't deserve the light of day. My approach has instead been to show the BCSE's general unreliability and agenda. (The age the BCSE put on their website for me (update 2007: now deleted) is also wrong).

Well, let's come back to the point. Today I am making my question to the BCSE public. I have previously asked Michael Brass, BCSE chairman, to provide me with his comments on this issue via e-mail - but he's ignored me. So, I'll put it here where everyone can see it. Here it is:

Dear BCSE,

I know that a certain UK university has threatened you with legal action over (now withdrawn) parts of your website.

Would you care to give me your comments before I publish the (already written) article about it? Obviously, I will be suggesting that this is pretty damning as far as your credibility goes. What are the facts according to the BCSE, please?

I will be pointing out that you were not willing to stand behind your own article when the solicitors called round - and that if you're not willing to stand behind your own articles, then why should anyone else take them seriously?

Also, I would like to draw attention to some statements on your "Contacts" page (http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/Contacts). There, it says that
"any letter threatening legal action WILL BE PUBLISHED. Do not under any circumstances contact this e-mail address with legal threats containing demands that correspondence be kept private. By contacting the above e-mail address, you are agreeing to these terms & conditions. If you do not agree with them - then DO NOT GET IN CONTACT."

Now you have received a communication threatening legal action. Why haven't you published the letters concerned on your website? I would suggest that the paragraph quoted above is just an attempt to bully your opponents into silence. But like the school bully when a real authority comes along, though, you slink away quietly. Why aren't you being true to your word? Isn't this more evidence that you can't be trusted? Isn't it true that if you posted the university's letter, it'd make you look bad? What does "WILL BE PUBLISHED" actually mean?

(Update and comment from many months later: The BCSE never responded to this challenge).

David Anderson

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