An online writing collective going back 13 years is under legal threat by a Russian IP troll. The SCP Foundation is raising money for a legal defense after Russian Andrey Duksin filed for a trademark on SCP in the Eurasian Customs union and began issuing threats against the site’s Russian affiliate and stores selling merchandise based on it. So far, the site’s GoFundMe campaign has raised nearly $150,000 on a $50,000 goal to hire a Russian lawyer.

SCP began on 4chan in 2007, but since grew into a wiki of its own, and then multiple wikis in multiple different languages. “SCP” stands for “Secure, Contain, Protect,” and the wiki concerns an organization that hunts down and sequesters potentially dangerous paranormal objects. (The Wikipedia page about the project lists a number of examples.) These objects serve as the basis for user-contributed stories set in a shared universe, released under a Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license. (This license allows creation of derivative works as long as they include attribution of the original work’s author(s), and are released under the same Creative Commons license.)

Duksin had been working with the Russian SCP affiliate site on an art book and serving as a go-between for potential film licensing based on SCP works. However, according to a statement from that Russian affiliate, he secretly registered a trademark, and then began filing takedowns against stores selling SCP-branded merchandise. The Russian affiliate sees this as an attempt to circumvent the Creative Commons licensing restrictions.

More recently, writes the SCP, he has escalated to making direct threats against the Russian branch of SCP, attempting to gain control of it to use the wiki to advertise his own merchandise.

These actions threaten not only the Russian community, but every SCP branch, writer, and fan around the world. We stand with SCP-RU, reject these threats, and are organizing a lawsuit against Duksin to annul his false trademark and prevent his continued copyright infringement. As an organization of volunteers, this is a measure we do not often pursue due to the costs involved.

This should be a matter of concern not just for fans of the SCP, but for anyone involved in creative efforts that post works under Creative Commons licenses. If businesses are allowed to use legal tricks to work around the protections afforded by CC licenses, no one’s work may be safe. Fortunately, when these licenses have been tested in court, their terms have generally been upheld. Nonetheless, it’s worrying that people can try to take advantage of noncommercial community projects in this way. Hopefully, the SCP will prevail.

Featured image by Zhange, used under Creative Commons CC-BY-SA license.

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