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Piracy: A Silent Plague on Ufology
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Piracy: A Silent Plague on Ufology
To quote a Chinese Proverb: "When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others", which is what I'll try to do in this article.
I have been working closely with my Webmaster, researcher Frank Warren, www.theufochronicles.com and Aztec researchers Scott and Suzanne Ramsey for the past 12 years, on various UFO cases, highly respecting them for their honesty and thorough investigations. We have dealt with debunkers, skeptics and critics of all sorts, and have even welcomed their comments, if and when, the information they presented was factually worthy of review.
There is another, quieter element in Ufology, aside from debunkers, skeptics, and critics. They are the hucksters who use other researcher's work without doing their own; those who take from other's research, or articles, and publish the work as their own (plagiarism). Then there are still other scoundrels who market or sell researchers' works, such as DVDs of lectures, books, or documentaries, without permission or financial arrangements made with the researchers (piracy). I have recently found that I am myself, a victim of piracy, and this is what I feel a moral obligation to share with my readers.
Until a few days ago, one could go to UFOGuy.com, an online UFO store, with the claim, "Discount Paranormal DVDs Direct from Producer/Distributor," and purchase an impressive compendium DVD set "Aliens Among Us: Stunning Secrets About UFOs and Extraterrestrials". Included in the set was my own DVD from my lecture series, "The Roswell Incident, Then and Now". Let me be clear: I had no agreements regarding the distribution and sale of my copyrighted material, nor had the owner of the site UFOGuy.com, Wm."Bill" Knell contacted me for permission to include my lecture in his compilation.
Bill Knell represents himself as a noted Ufologist, with an impressive list of credentials such as founding a UFO investigative organization in Long Island, NY; had his own cable TV show; claimed to be an advisor to the X-Files television program; and published a UFO newsletter. Knell's also been a guest on Coast-to-Coast, Paracast, and several other Internet venues, and has several published articles. It was one of these articles that first brought Knell to the attention of investigator Frank Warren, when in November of 2008; he'd published an article by mainstream journalist, Angelina Joiner, on his TheUFO Chronicles web site. She notified Frank a few days later, that it appeared Knell was plagiarizing her article, copy-and-paste-style, in his own published article. Frank's ensuing investigation into Knell uncovered a decades-long history of questionable activity, in which his plagiarism paled in comparison to his other disreputable deeds. In compiling the names of potential victims of Knell's DVD piracy (over a hundred in question), Frank noticed that one of the DVDs was a bootleg of the The Aztec Incident, owned by friend Scott (Ramsey) & Co. Frank then notified Scott of Knell's activity and they joined forces to inform other victims.
Being frustrated with the authorities not doing anything with the many complaints that had been filed, Frank Warren and Scott Ramsey alerted many researchers to what Knell was doing, and in fact, distributed a list of 80 names taken from Knell's website who were potential victims of Knell's tactics. Scott had discussed this with me, so when I saw my name on the list of victims, I checked Knell's website, finding my copyrighted lecture grouped in a 2-DVD set with 6 other researcher's presentations. I notified them, requesting that they file complaint forms with the IC3, a division of the FBI. None of them had been aware, nor had they authorized Knell to compile, distribute or sell their work.
My next move was to complain directly to Knell via email on Oct. 20, 2009, with a copy to his website host Bravenet.com. Not receiving a response from Knell within 24 hours as required by Bravenet in order to begin an investigation into my claim, I emailed a second complaint to Knell on Oct. 21. Knell responded with the same lame sob-story excuses he had sent to others in the past: times were tough, sales were not that great, terrible illness, etc.
Knell did remove the 2-DVD set from his site, which according to Frank and Scott, has been his method of operation in the past. When someone complains to him about his operation, he removes the DVDs in question, then later, when he believes the pressure is off, he re-posts the DVDs back on his site for sale. Of more importance to me in his response was his statement that, "most" of the DVDs he has sold were his own; a seemingly tacit admission of questionable activities.
We have been contacting the researchers that are verified victims of Knell's activities (approaching at least 30 at this point), who were not aware of what he was doing, nor had they given him permission to compile, distribute or sell their products.
A few of the law enforcement agencies that have been notified about Knell's operations, and Bravenet's unresponsiveness in curtailing his activities, are the Lebanon, Indiana Police Department, where Knell resides, the Rowan County Sheriff Department in North Carolina, FTC, USDA, VISA, State Attorney Generals of Arizona and Indiana, Western Union, Royal Canadian Mounties, and others.
We are encouraging those victims affected to file Complaint Referral Forms with IC3, at http://www.ic3.gov/ I have written to Amazon.com informing them that some of the DVDs being sold on their website by Knell are not authorized to be sold. Those DVDs are still on Amazon's website under a search for Bill Knell, with approx. 50 DVD titles.
We have been in contact with many websites that post articles by researchers on the subject of Ufology, requesting that any articles written by Knell should be removed, as another means of removing him from circulation. Frank had done this in the past with many removing Knell's articles after being informed of his questionable ways. This will be expanded in the future to more websites, radio hosts, and researchers in our attempt to support what Frank and Scott have made many of us aware of, by joining together and not allowing these types to get away with their activities.
All the researchers I have been affiliated with over the years are in the same situation; doing the best they can do with very little income for their devotion to the subject of Ufology. We don't need scam artists that are ripping off innocent researchers, or taking advantage of innocent people that have been buying his poor quality, unauthorized DVDs.
Bravenet's responses to my complaints were unacceptable, as they had been to other researchers that complained to them, while continuing to host Knell's website after numerous complaints had been filed. Finally, after several emails to Bravenet informing them that complaint forms had been submitted to IC3, they informed me on Oct 26, 2009, that Knell's website has been suspended until their legal department reviews the complaints. I have requested a copy of their findings and assurance that his website is permanently shut down.
This will not end the problem with Knell doing what he has been doing for several years, since he has had other websites shut down for the same reasons in the past. He's also had other non-UFO related web sites that many on the Internet have complained have misled them or cost them.
To listen to an interview on "The Paracast with Gene Steinberg and David Biedny", where Knell lied about his accomplishments, and hung up on the show hosts, as well as a response by Frank Warren go to: http://www.theparacast.com/podcast/december-28-2008-bill-knell-frank-warren/
Anyone believing or wondering if they might have been, or are a victim of Knell's piracy, can contact me at email@example.com or Frank Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org or Scott Ramsey at Scottr@ExpressWireServices.com It's imperative that all victims file a Complaint Referral Form with IC3. This will only take a few minutes, and the results will be a permanent end to his operations, and possible prosecution.
Dennis G. Balthaser
UFOINFO thanks Dennis Balthaser for granting premission to use this Editorial.