SymPy documentation website down

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Aaron Meurer

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Apr 19, 2022, 5:48:54 PMApr 19
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Hi All.

As some of you may have noticed, the SymPy documentation site is
currently down. This is due to a complaint that has been filed to
GitHub under the DMCA by HackerRank. You can read the complaint here
https://github.com/github/dmca/blob/5de8f80b171afdc3741c9ab9d4c32ea32c44e59c/2022/04/2022-04-15-hackerrank.md

As a result of this complaint, GitHub has taken down our site. We are
looking into the claim and working on getting the site back up as soon
as possible.

Aaron Meurer

oliphant

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Apr 19, 2022, 10:50:16 PMApr 19
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By the way, because I get to work with Aaron, I was chatting about this with him.  I saw the CEO post on Hacker News and I've reached out to him asking him to rescind the DMCA notice.   This is likely the fastest way to get the site back up -- though it will still take a couple of days, I suspect.

I also suggested he make a donation to NumFOCUS to sponsor SymPy development for the trouble his vendor caused this community. 

Thanks for all of you who continue to make SymPy a very useful project.

-Travis

Jeremy Monat

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Apr 19, 2022, 10:54:40 PMApr 19
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Hopefully this can get resolved soon! So is HackerRank's contention that one of the examples on our solvers page was taken from their site, for example one of their quizzes?

Jeremy Monat


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Jeremy Monat

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Apr 19, 2022, 10:57:11 PMApr 19
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Hello again, Vivek, founder/CEO here. In the interest of moving swiftly, here are the actions we are going to take:

(1) We have withdrawn the DMCA notice for sympy; Sent a note to senior leadership in Github to act on this quickly.

(2) We have stopped the whole DMCA process for now and working on internal guidelines of what constitutes a real violation so that these kind of incidents don't happen. We are going to do this in-house

(3) We are going to donate $25k to the sympy project.

As a company we take a lot of pride in helping developers and it sucks to see this. I'm extremely sorry for what happened here.

oliphant

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Apr 19, 2022, 11:10:43 PMApr 19
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I would not be surprised if the opposite happened.  They likely copied a snippet from one of the SymPy examples on that page to use in a test question.  Then, their hired-gun using an automated tool found the similarity between their code and the SymPy example.   This is a clear example of not understanding the "downside risks" of automation -- and putting appropriate measures to mitigate.  

-Travis

Jason Moore

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Apr 20, 2022, 12:23:59 AMApr 20
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Aaron,

Can you share the email you are sent that says precisely what the copyright violation is?

Jason

Aaron Meurer

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Apr 20, 2022, 12:31:37 AMApr 20
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Hi Jason.

We were sent the same DMCA notice that is posted on GitHub's DMCA
repo, which I linked to above.

Aaron Meurer
> To view this discussion on the web visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/sympy/CAP7f1AhxJqgwPcEmt2K9fDi8cB%2BHWHcBcVUN5LopAx3%2BC8WF-Q%40mail.gmail.com.

Jason Moore

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Apr 20, 2022, 12:33:31 AMApr 20
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Aaron,

Thanks. That's surprisingly useless. They only say you violate copyright but not what that violation exactly is.

I'm sorry you all are having to deal with this. If you need help with anything let me know.

Jason

Aaron Meurer

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Apr 20, 2022, 3:10:32 AMApr 20
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The documentation is back online now. 

Aaron Meurer 

Peter Stahlecker

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Apr 20, 2022, 3:45:15 AMApr 20
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Dear Aaron,

Just for my understanding: What did HackerRank not like on the sympy documentation?
I checked for them in the internet, and I did not get the feel, their business is writing documentations (?)

Thanks, Peter 

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Best regards,

Peter Stahlecker

David Bailey

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Apr 20, 2022, 5:50:51 AMApr 20
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On 20/04/2022 08:10, Aaron Meurer wrote:
> The documentation is back online now.
>
Great news! Is it possible to say anything about the problem? I mean had
some proprietary information made its way onto the SymPy website, or was
it some sort of mistake?

I am sure receiving something like that was quite upsetting.

David

Oscar Benjamin

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Apr 20, 2022, 8:00:20 AMApr 20
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On Wed, 20 Apr 2022 at 10:50, David Bailey <da...@dbailey.co.uk> wrote:
>
> On 20/04/2022 08:10, Aaron Meurer wrote:
> > The documentation is back online now.
> >
> Great news! Is it possible to say anything about the problem? I mean had
> some proprietary information made its way onto the SymPy website, or was
> it some sort of mistake?

No detail was given in the original request and I haven't seen any
detail given later. The CEO of HackerRank said that this was
"unintended" but I haven't seen any further clarification. The request
is the only information that we have:
https://github.com/github/dmca/blob/5de8f80b171afdc3741c9ab9d4c32ea32c44e59c/2022/04/2022-04-15-hackerrank.md

I suspect that the company WorthIT who issued this claim on behalf of
HackerRank were just using something like a web-crawler and pretty
much firing out DMCA requests automatically. You can see an identical
DMCA letter against PHP's range function docs here:
https://www.mail-archive.com/php-we...@lists.php.net/msg14947.html

Presumably something in our docs page matches something in
HackerRank's code but it isn't clear if that's just because their code
uses SymPy or if they have mathematical questions that involve solving
the same equations shown in the examples or what. I've looked through
the page and I don't see anything that anyone else could reasonably
claim any ownership of. It isn't possible to see HackerRank's content
(the whole point is they don't want it to be public) so there's no way
to compare.

> I am sure receiving something like that was quite upsetting.

I was always confident this would be resolved. I think it's good
though that enough publicity was generated that this should be less
likely to happen in future.

I think GitHub needs to fix its process here though. They give one
business day to respond and the only possible response is to open a
counter claim as described here:
https://docs.github.com/en/site-policy/content-removal-policies/guide-to-submitting-a-dmca-counter-notice

Try reading those counter claim instructions and figuring out what to
do when countering a claim that gives no detail about what the
allegedly infringing content is. The original request is so vague that
it's simultaneously impossible to dispute the claim and also
impossible to comply with the request (short of deleting your repo).

GitHub's process is apparently that if you don't respond within one
business day then they will block your repo and take down any
associated website that is hosted through GitHub. If you do submit a
counter claim they will only unblock the repo after waiting 10-14
days. Note that I responded saying that this DMCA request was spam
within 2hrs of receiving the original email from GitHub but it took
longer than one business day to get legal advice and submit a counter
claim.

The original email from GitHub did not even seem genuine: at first I
thought it was some kind of phishing spam. It came from the address
sup...@githubsupport.com but that domain name has no other visible
presence:

$ ping githubsupport.com
ping: unknown host githubsupport.com

There needs to be a better way to respond to something like this.
Really there should be a simple template for responding to a DMCA
request that contains so little detail: a template DMCA request should
just be met with a template counter claim. GitHub also needs to allow
more time to respond.

--
Oscar

David Bailey

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Apr 20, 2022, 1:03:49 PMApr 20
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Oscar,

I am sure I speak for everyone when I say thanks that you solved this so
quickly.

Does the counter claim contain a claim for the costs of legal advise and
for the time spent dealing with the issue?

I think it is quite horrible that legal processes like this can be
initiated without any due care that they are genuine.

David

Oscar Benjamin

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Apr 20, 2022, 4:23:30 PMApr 20
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On Wed, 20 Apr 2022 at 18:03, David Bailey <da...@dbailey.co.uk> wrote:
>
> I am sure I speak for everyone when I say thanks that you solved this so
> quickly.

I don't want to give the impression that I solved this much less that
I did so on my own. The DMCA emails were sent to Ondrej, Aaron and Me
and we discussed what to do about it. We also involved Numfocus who
talked it through with us and brought in legal advice.

Ultimately though even without us really saying anything publicly it
ended up on Hacker News and the publicity from there just seems to
have fixed the problem.

> Does the counter claim contain a claim for the costs of legal advise and
> for the time spent dealing with the issue?

I don't think that's how the DMCA counter claims work. HackerRank have
said that they will give SymPy $25k though and it looks as if they
will follow through on that.

> I think it is quite horrible that legal processes like this can be
> initiated without any due care that they are genuine.

Yes, well DMCA was controversial when it came in. I still think that
the most immediate problem though is the way that GitHub has made a
very asymmetric process that is basically automatic and gives nowhere
enough time to respond.

--
Oscar

David Bailey

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Apr 21, 2022, 12:03:40 PMApr 21
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On 20/04/2022 21:23, Oscar Benjamin wrote:
> I don't think that's how the DMCA counter claims work. HackerRank have
> said that they will give SymPy $25k though and it looks as if they
> will follow through on that.

That seems to show some good will on their part, and should make them a
bit more cautious next time. I wonder if GitHub will make a similar gesture?

David

Chris Smith

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Apr 21, 2022, 12:38:39 PMApr 21
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Having had a similar experience before the most frustrating aspect of this is the lack of actionable material in the accusation. If I am reading correctly, "There is a problem. We can't tell you what it is. You need to shut down your site." It would be nice if github would not require a change on a site until an arbiter of theirs can determine that the claim is legitimate and then tell the site owner more specifically what the problem is and give them time to then appeal -- before requiring them to shut down.

/c

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