Why Clarkesworld is no longer available on Magzter

For some time now, I have been trying to track down the source of pirated copies of Clarkesworld that would appear moments after subscriptions were filled. After some time, I was able to narrow the problem down to issues distributed through Magzter. On one occasion, I found a pirated copy after only two of their customers had downloaded that month’s issue. I emailed support and asked for assistance in identifying the source (providing the details I had discovered–times, customer numbers) and was ignored. (They don’t share subscriber information with publishers.) I emailed then again on two separate occasions–one directly to someone who had emailed me first–, but neither of those were responded to either.

Finally, at the end of May, I gave up on them. The best way to solve the problem was to cut them off. I logged into my account and discovered that there were no options to remove a publication or back issues from their site. I then emailed them the following:

Hi,
After failing to receive responses to multiple complaints about your platform being the source of pirated copies of our magazine, we have decided to terminate our relationship with Magzter and remove our publication from your site.
It appears as though you have made it difficult to do this, so please provide instructions by which we can do so, or remove them yourself and inform us when the process has been completed.
Thank you,
-Neil

THAT got their attention. Within three hours I had the following reply (which was also copied to several other people in the company):

Dear Neil,
Could you send us the URL.
We have all of the piracy issues fixed already and we don’t find any new magazines getting pirated.

Aside from the signature, that’s all there was to the reply.

As an aside, let me direct your attention to their publisher terms and conditions (www.magzter.com/publisher/terms), specifically this part of section 3.4.2:

Provided that in the event Magzter learns of any such piracy, Magzter shall inform the Publisher thereof and provide the Publisher with details thereof (to the extent such details are known to and available to Magzter).

The above email basically admits that they knew there were problems, were silently dealing with them in the background, and going by all  the emails I’ve received from them over the years, never telling publishers about it, despite the promise to do so.

My response:

You seem to think I was merely threatening to leave Magzter over this. You’ve already missed the opportunity to fix it. Please just answer my question and tell me how to withdraw our magazine and back issues from your site. That will solve my problem.

and theirs…

Dear Neil,
Sure, I shall assist on the removal process.
But I would request you to share us the link since our firewalls have been strengthened and there is no such issue as of now.
Since you have been our prestigious client we dont want to miss you.

This is interesting because it more or less says that their own poor security was to blame for at least some of the piracy. I can say it didn’t solve the problem as I had just finished filing the latest batch of DMCA complaints for copies I know came from their site.

We went back and forth with them one more time asking for links/files but not doing what I had asked them to. Frustrated, I told them they were only making the situation worse by dragging it out. They finally relented and said they’d end subscriptions. I had to remind them again that I had asked them to terminate all back issue sales as well. (It wasn’t part of the instructions to another employee that I was copied on.)

Twelve days later the subscriptions and back issues were still available for sale, so they got another email. They replied “This will be removed very soon and surely will update you on Monday EOD.”

Late Tuesday, it is still available for sale and there has been no update. I email them again and get an excuse that they had been on emergency leave. That explains the lack of email–at best, assuming I believe anything they say now–but not the lack of action by the other employees who had been told to carry out the action.

They finally remove the magazine the next day.

Three days later, I do another check of their site and find articles from some of our issues are available on their site for free. Another email. Another apology. Finally, we are free.

I know we’ll never eliminate piracy, but it was rampant while we were working with them. The number of DMCA complaints I’ve had to make this month–the first month away from them–is down 90%. That says something.

If you were one of the few people subscribing to Clarkesworld on Magzter, my apologies, but this had to be done. There are many other places you can subscribe that don’t cause problems for their publishers and I hope you’ll consider subscribing through one of them instead.

If you’re a publisher, I’m posting this in part for you too. Obviously they’ve had security problems and haven’t been communicating. You deserve to know.

2018 Balticon Schedule

I’m a Special Guest at Balticon this year!

My schedule is:

Friday, May 25

4pm – Freelancing in the Publishing Industry
Christina M. Frey, Neil Clarke, John Edward Lawson
How can one survive on their own in the wild, ever-changing world of genre publishing? Hear some stories and advice from people who have!

Saturday, May 26

11am – Kaffeeklatsch: Neil Clarke

12pm –  Dangerous Voices Variety Hour

2pm – Recognizing Predatory Business Practices
D.H. Aire (moderator), James R. Stratton, Neil Clarke, Rosemary Claire Smith, Lawrence Watt-Evans
How to look for signs that you might not be dealing with a legitimate company – including common tactics such as pay-to-play, signing over derivative works, and others.

3pm – Making a Good Book Cover
J. R. Blackwell, Starla Huchton, Neil Clarke, Jabari Weathers
What makes a cover eye-catching? How might different audiences interpret the same imagery? Our panelists will go through the design process.

Sunday, May 27

12pm – Are Advances in Technology Making Spec Fiction Harder To Pull Off?
Carl Cipra (moderator), Larry Niven, Sarah Pinsker, Neil Clarke, Nicky Drayden, Catherine Asaro
Is it possible for writers to keep up with the rapid pace of technological development? Can we we “future-proof” the challenges our characters face so there won’t be an “app for that” by the time the book comes out?

1pm – Autographs: Neil Clarke and Ted Weber

3pm – Ask Me Anything: Editors & Publishers
Walt Boyes (moderator), Scott H. Andrews, Neil Clarke, Ian Randal Strock, Jeff Young
A panel of professional editors and publishers answer questions from the audience.

4pm – Kickstarter, Patreon, and Crowdfunding Your Novel
Tee Morris, Philippa Ballantine, Michael R. Underwood, Neil Clarke, Lawrence Watt-Evans
In the traditional model, an author is paid per book sold. How has crowdfunding changed the way writers work and publish?

9pm – Tales From the Slush Pile
Joshua Bilmes, Neil Clarke, John Edward Lawson
Editors share tales of some of the gems they’ve received, and give advice on how to avoid becoming fodder for future panels like this.

Monday, May 28

11am – Pitches We’re Sick Of (and Ones We Want to See)
Sarah Avery (moderator), Joshua Bilmes, Neil Clarke
Agents and editors discuss trends in submissions.

12pm – Writing for Themed Anthologies
Jean Marie Ward, Alex Shvartsman, T. Eric Bakutis, Neil Clarke
Anthologies offer an excellent opportunity for writers to get their work out to new readers. Writers and editors discuss where to look for submission opportunities, how to write to a theme, and tips on catching an editor’s eye (for the right reasons).

2018 Chesley Award Nominees

Here are the nominees for the 2018 Chesley Awards! (The Chesley, named for the great astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell, started in 1985 as a means for the SF & Fantasy art community to recognize individual works and achievements in a given year. This year’s awards are for works and achievements in the period from January 1st to December 31st 2017.)

Best Cover Illustration – Hardback Book
Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/dLNApxEe8czyUsoeA

  • Tommy Arnold Horizon by Fran Wilde, Tor, September 2017
  • Marcela Bolívar Julia by Peter Straub, Centipede Press, December 2017
  • Julie Dillon Final Girls by Mira Grant, Subterranean Press, April 2017
  • Donato Giancola Assassin’s Price by L.E. Modesitt Jr., Tor, July 2017
  • John Harris The Man in the Tree by Sage Walker, Tor, September 2017
  • Elizabeth Leggett Retrograde by Peter Cawdron, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 2017
  • Marc Simonetti The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, Grim Oak Press, August 2017

Best Cover Illustration – Paperback Book or Ebook
Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/MThpAouoVebnSZ3V2

  • Julie Dillon Beyond the Stars: New Worlds, New Suns – A Space Opera Anthology edited by Ellen Campbell, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, April 2017
  • Aly Fell Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire, DAW, March 2017
  • Jaime Jones The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera, Tor, October 2017
  • Miranda Meeks The Fisher of Bones by Sarah Gailey, Fireside Fiction, October 2017
  • Gene Mollica Call of Fire by Beth Cato, Harper Voyager, August 2017
  • Dave Palumbo Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor, Tor, January 2017
  • Stephen Youll Acadie by Dave Hutchinson,Tor, September 2017

Best Magazine Illustration
Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/2jF2th7EMhaC2PGb9

  • Julie Dillon Clarkesworld #128 May 2017
  • Ingrid Kallick Cricket Magazine January 2017
  • Eddie Mendoza Clarkesworld #130 July 2017
  • Reiko Murakami Lightspeed #82 March 2017
  • Sergei Sarichev Clarkesworld #126 March 2017

Best Interior Illustration
Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/JEWYafv1NidMuNcj9

  • Gregory Manchess Above the Timberline by Gregory Manchess Saga Press, October 2017
  • John Picacio “When the Devil Drives” by Melinda Snodgrass Tor.com July 2017
  • Dan Dos Santos The Name of the Wind: 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition by Patrick Rothfuss DAW, October 2017
  • Omar Rayyan Goblin Market by Christine Rosetti Donald M. Grant, Jan. 2017
  • Marc Simonetti The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks Grim Oak Press, August 2017
  • Sam Weber “These Deathless Bones” by Cassandra Khaw Tor.com, July 26, 2017

Best Gaming Related Illustration
Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/o6sjoSdFjZFJjJSG8

  • Kari Christensen Chandra Gremlin Wrangler Heroes of the Realm WotC September 2017
  • Melissa Gay Offering Sagaborn RPG Core Rule Book Lone Wanderer Entertainment August 2017
  • Piotr Jabloński Moaning Wall Magic card for Hour of Devastation WotC July 2017
  • Jaime Jones The Ur- Dragon Magic card for Commander 2017 WotC, August 2017
  • Sara Winters Compulsive Research Magic card for Modern Masters 2017 WotC, March 2017

Best Product Illustration
Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Zif6qgngtQkyNjB02

  • Kari Christensen Call of Cthulhu, FilmQuest Festival, 2017
  • Julie Dillon American Gods Promo art for Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab/Trading Post, 2017
  • Annie Stegg Gerard Stormy Serenade, DragonCon Tshirt art 2017
  • Adam Hughes In a Galaxy Far, Far Away LE Art Print by Acme Archives, July 2017
  • James Jean The Shape of Water teaser poster FOX Searchlight, December 2017
  • Rachel Quinlan Knight of Cups, 78 Tarot Astral 2017

Best Color Work – Unpublished
Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/geXR3MLbGco6VQa89

  • Serena Maylon Erebor Watercolor and Gouache
  • Alessandra Pisano Kindred Spirits Oils
  • Cynthia Sheppard Deconstructing Wonderland Digital
  • Charles Urbach Not All Treasure is Gold Colored Pencil
  • Eric Velhagen Respite Oils

Best Monochrome – Unpublished
Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/XEWnQPNhy3ivGe1e7

  • Ed Binkley “Thistledown” Digital
  • Bobby Chiu “Romeo and Juliet” Digital
  • Karla Ortiz “Ada” Oil
  • Christine Rhee “Gumiho” Graphite
  • Shawn E. Russell “Release” Graphite
  • Ruth Sanderson “Dragon Drum” Ink
  • Kaysha Siemens “Pensive” Oils

Best Three Dimensional Art
Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/BWFvrV6pBwPxvOuf1

  • Skink Chen “Resentful Beast” Painted cast resin
  • Ellen Jewett “The Burden of Motion and Ambition” Cold porcelain and polymer clay
  • Colin & Kristine Poole “Gift of the Faun” Bronze
  • Forest Rogers “Octopoid Descending” Kato polyclay
  • Lisa Sell “Manifesting Orb Dragon” Aves Apoxie Sculpt
  • Vincent Villafranca “Fever Dream #17” Bronze

Best Art Director

  • Neil Clarke Clarkesworld
  • Christine Foltzer Tor.com Publishing
  • Irene Gallo Tor Books/Tor.com
  • Lauren Panepinto Orbit Books and for Muddy Colors blog articles
  • Cynthia Sheppard Wizards of the Coast

Lifetime Achievement

  • Richard Hescox
  • Alan Lee
  • Gregory Manchess
  • William O’Connor
  • Allen Williams

2018 Sturgeon Finalists

Just received this press release. Congratulations to all the finalists! (And a special cheer to the three from Clarkesworld!)

LAWRENCE, KS – 16 April, 2018
for immediate release

This year’s finalists for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction story have been selected, announced Christopher McKitterick, Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. The awards will be presented this year during the Campbell Conference Awards reception on Friday, June 22, 2018.

2018 Finalists for the Theodore A. Sturgeon Memorial Award

  • “Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue,” Charlie Jane Anders. Boston Review: Global Dystopias, Oct 2017.
  • “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance,” Tobias S. Buckell. Cosmic Powers, ed. John Joseph Adams. Saga Press.
  • “The Discrete Charm of the Turing Machine,” Greg Egan. Asimov’s, Nov/Dec 2017.
  • “Sidewalks,” Maureen McHugh. Omni, Nov 2017.
  • “The Martian Obelisk,” Linda Nagata. Tor.com, July 2017.
  • “The Secret Life of Bots,” Suzanne Palmer. Clarkesworld, Sept 2017.
  • “And Then There Were (N-One),” Sarah Pinsker. Uncanny, March 2017.
  • “A Series of Steaks,” Vina Jie-Min Prasad. Clarkesworld, Jan 2017.
  • “Fandom for Robots,” Vina Jie-Min Prasad. Uncanny, Sept 2017.
  • “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience,” Rebecca Roanhorse. Apex, Aug 2017.
  • “We Who Live in the Heart,” Kelly Robson. Clarkesworld, May 2017.

The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award recognizes the best science fiction short story of each year. It was established in 1987 by James Gunn, Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at KU, and the heirs of Theodore Sturgeon, including his partner Jayne Engelhart Tannehill and Sturgeon’s children, as an appropriate memorial to one of the great short-story writers in a field distinguished by its short fiction.

The Campbell Conference has been held each year since 1978 at the University of Kansas. It includes a Friday-evening banquet where the annual Theodore A. Sturgeon and John W. Campbell Memorial Award are given; a Saturday round-table discussion with scholars, scientists, and writers of science fiction; and other events.

Sincerely,
Jason Baltazar
Outreach Coordinator, Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction
http://sfcenter.ku.edu