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Back To Discussion List Written: 2003.12.15 by: Jordan Peters

I have received an email from "webmaster" of informing me that the photos and text from a trip report I wrote for the first ascent of Back of Beyond Buttress are now up on his site, then asking me if this was okay.

Regardless of the grey legality of taking content from a pay-for-access site and using for a free site (undermining the draw for bivouac of having exclusive content), I am pissed that this was done without my consent. I notice that a trip report by Drew is also pasted there. Cease and desist?


#492 - 2005.05.10 Drew Brayshaw - Not surprising
The site had not been updated since 2003. Good riddance.

#313 - 2004.05.27 Michael Stanton - Wow, I never knew about this guy
I gave Mr. Spagnut permission to make a slide show of my images from a Bugaboo trip last summer. I didn't know about all this infringement he had done. That sucks.

#206 - 2003.12.22 Matt Gunn - Thanks Robin
I just want to say that I really appreciate the effort Robin has put into this website and the commitment he has shown. I can't imagine many people abandoning such a valuable project as bivouac to save $20, especially for a project based in theft.

#205 - 2003.12.19 Glenn Woodsworth - bcalpinism ISP
A quick check shows that his ISP seems to be NetNation here in Vancouver. It might be worth giving them a call and discussing the piracy issue with them.

#204 - 2003.12.19 Robin Tivy - Michael Spagnut Problems Again
The website called BC Alpinism is run by Michael Spagnut, who also has a webpage on Bivouac. The latest copyright infringements are just one of a long series of attacks on

He was first in the Bivouac office 3 years ago as a "volunteer". However, it seemed to me, he was just using the office as a research base and so I broke off that arrangement. For the next year or two, he would often phone up asking me for job recommendations.

In 2002 Bivouac we were attacked by a persistent hacker who was using every imaginable scheme to attack the Bivouac website and deface certain people's articles, in particular Drew Brayshaw. It took us a month of solid work writing all sorts of audit and IP address tracking software to get proof as to who was behind these attacks. Although the various hacking techniques were clever, I was in quite a bit of despair because it was wrecking my business and so I contacted the RCMP for some help. The RCMP were quite helpful, and outlined what I had to do to press some "mischief to data" charges, get logs from the ISP, etc.

Eventually we traced the hacker to be Michael Spagnut, and closed all the loopholes he was using, which took a lot of programming. About the same time, I received an anonomous email signed "momma's boy" saying he "didn't want to see us "working too hard" and so he was going to stop. So I told the RCMP I didn't want to pursue the case any further. I guess they were disappointed, but I didn't think it was worth the time if he was going to stop anyway.

Then a month ago, several Bivouac editors told me they had received emails from "webmaster" at BC Alpinism telling them to quit bivouac and come and support his site. Sure enough, the logs showed that someone had sent a big batch of these messages. So I investigated. Didn't take long to figure out that "webmaster" was again Michael Spagnut.

But that didn't work either. It seems none of the people wanted to help him. So now it seems his latest plan is to just steal the pictures and articles directly, and in that way avoid having to actually get people helping.

Apart from once again exposing himself to possible legal action, his plans are flawed for another reason.

When you look at the "mission" statement on his website, he says:

"Our guiding principle is to provide a website as a public service without commercial purpose..."

This sounds noble. However, trying to build anything long term without an income to pay expenses is a fool's paradise. Any website that doesn't have financial support is only a temporary project. It takes money to continue year after year.

Even more important is that any website of this type not based on principles of honesty is only temporary. Honesty and integrity are essential. I've tried my best with Bivouac and it has REALLY paid off. The type of people associated with Bivouac are not likely to associate themselves with something dishonest. And without them its pretty difficult to provide the noble "public service" so mentioned.

#202 - 2003.12.16 Andrew Wong - Action Through the ISP?
Most ISPs don't like it when websites they host generate controversy for using copyright material against the author's wishes and without permission. If you don't want your material on the site, maybe contacting the ISP will result in quicker action than Small Claims Court? A legitimately run ISP will quickly shut down any site that's causing them problems.

Just a suggestion.

#201 - 2003.12.16 David Wasserman - Make him pay.
If someone publishes something to which you hold copyright, you may send him an invoice requesting payment. Failing payment, you may make a claim in Small Claims Court, which does not require a lawyer, and therefore is cheap. Since you will have an open-and-shut case, you will then obtain a court order for payment. What happens next, I'm not sure, but probably you can have a bailiff seize his property, or perhaps work through his ISP to add it to his bill, since they have some responsibility. It's worth a try.

#196 - 2003.12.15 Drew Brayshaw - Deliberate Provocation
M i c h a e l   S p a g n u t   knows he is using information I provided to this site without my permission and against my wishes, but that doesn't seem to stop him. Apart from legal action, I don't believe there are many other options?

#195 - 2003.12.15 Jordan Peters
He has taken from many sources, including the CAJ by the looks of it. All text and photos uncredited. Ballsy? Dumb.

#194 - 2003.12.15 Glenn Woodsworth - Another stolen picture...
Jordan, I'd ask him to remove the material. It's yours, and you should retain control of it.

I note that the bcalpinism home page features a well known and very striking painting of Mount Lefroy in the Rockies by Lawren Harris. I wonder if the web site owner bothered to get permission to use this copyrighted image? Probably not...