Echo vows Litigation in Endeavor News Scandal; Commissioner says he will ‘Protect the People’ he serves

Echo seeks civil and criminal remedies against Endeavor News

AUSTIN – In the wake of a scandal that has humiliated the Endeavor News, comes official word via yesterday’s edition of the Cameron County Echo, that legal action is being pursued against the newspaper and its Publisher, Robert Hooftallen.

If the Echo has it their way, a judge will  determine whether or not Hooftallen violated copyright or criminal laws when he admittedly took typed and formatted files from the Echo‘s private server, and then printed them verbatim in the August 13 edition of the Endeavor News.

The full-page advertisement, which is paid for by Cameron County, contained gross amounts of misinformation and foul language; the result of a trap meant to catch Hooftallen in the act of taking the files from his competitor.

In Tuesday’s edition of the Echo, a statement issued by the newspaper says a court of law “will determine if his ‘pull’ of Echo work without permission, this year and last year, and called it his own, is equivalent to stealing, theft, copyright infringement, etc.”

The Echo gives a brief explanation of the events that led up to the Endeavor printing the false information; an explanation which contrasts with Hooftallen’s statements that he “pulled” the file from the Echo’s private server. The Echo maintains their server was password protected and that Hooftallen circumvented that security in some manner to obtain their files.

The following is a quote from Tuesday’s edition of the Echo:

Mr. Hooftallen would like the reader to believe he “pulled” a public document and that is why he did nothing wrong. However, there is nothing public about the document he ”pulled.” There is nothing public about requiring a password to enter a secured private server, which is where the Echo’s work is stored, to which Mr. Hooftallen covertly entered to ”pull” our document. He intentionally omits in his explanation anything akin to …”he took Echo property without permission”…to be sure, the Echo has never authorized Mr. Hooftallen to enter our private file and “pull” any documents.

If such allegations are correct, Hooftallen may not be faced with just a civil lawsuit, but criminal charges as well. Such matters of course will be decided by a judge, and whether or not charges are filed will likely be left to the Cameron County District Attorney’s office.

The Echo is quoted as saying, “We will not engage in a back and forth battle with Mr. Hooftallen in an effort to sell more newspapers, as he has attempted in the past. This matter will be handled by the district attorney and a court of law and not on the pages of the Cameron County Echo.”

The Bradford Era has also been reporting on the scandal, with articles pertaining to the situation appearing on the front page of that newspaper both today and yesterday.

In an article appearing yesterday, the Bradford Era quotes Cameron County Commissioner Glen Fiebig – one of those erroneously listed as owing back taxes – as saying, “as an official elected by the people, my first duty is to protect the people I serve, and I plan on doing that.”

The following appeared in yesterday’s edition of the Cameron County Echo and is re-printed in full, with permission.

—-

From the Cameron County Echo:

Two weeks ago the Endeavor News printed an incorrect Tax Sale Page and has proceeded to blame the Echo.

The simple truth is we thought our secure files had been violated.

If you read the Endeavor article you will recall Mr. Hooftallen used the words…. he “pulled” the Echo’s tax file….”he took a calculated risk”….”he did the same last year”….”the Echo had figured out what he had done.” It is clear to the reader, what Mr. Hooftallen had done was all without the Endeavor having received permission to use the Echo’s work.

Mr. Hooftallen would like the reader to believe he “pulled” a public document and that is why he did nothing wrong. However, there is nothing public about the document he “pulled.” There is nothing public about requiring a password to enter a secured private server, which is where the Echo’s work is stored, to which Mr. Hooftallen covertly entered to “pull” our document. He intentionally omits in his explanation anything akin to …”he took Echo property without permission”…to be sure, the Echo has never authorized Mr. Hooftallen to enter our private file and “pull” any documents.

Therefore, it is the court of law that will determine if his “pull” of Echo work without permission, this year and last year, and called it his own, is equivalent to stealing, theft, copyright infringement, etc.

The Echo and the Endeavor both use the same printing company to do the actual printing of the newspaper. All newspapers using this printer get their fully prepared, ready for print, newspapers to the printer the same way, by sending an electronic form of the newspaper to the printer’s secured, private server. Once on the private server, each newspaper opens its own personal file to download its respective newspapers into. Never has there ever been any allegations (let alone someone getting caught) of one newspaper entering another newspaper’s file and taking electronic documents… until now.

Removing files from someone’s private server is akin to an intruder coming into your home and taking something. Is it less of an intrusion because your door was unlocked and he was able to walk right in? Just as you would now lock your doors, the printer’s server has been locked down so this cannot happen to anyone’s property again.

We had suspected Mr. Hooftallen of “pulling” (his words) documents from our private news file without permission in the past, which he now has freely admitted.

So, in order to prevent Mr. Hooftallen from taking anything of ours this year, we decided to send him a message that we knew he was taking our work from our private folder. To further that goal, we destroyed our own work with the most obvious of errors on what was supposed to be our own private file; words that would stand out like a sore thumb upon an immedate review of the document. And then, as we sat there destroying our own work, we got pretty angry envisioning Mr. Hooftallen taking this page yet again this year. We allowed our anger to get the better of us and inserted random, inappropriate language that had no rhyme or reason as to its placement, believing all the while it would be only Mr. Hooftallen reading this destroyed document. We felt a sort of justice believing that he would be forced to do his own work, while at the same time realizing that the Echo knew, as Mr. Hooftallen had stated, “… the Echo figured out what (he) had done.”

As Mr. Hooftallen stated, the newspapers are paid well for this advertisement; it is a lot of work to prepare for print, hence the reason we get paid well. Apparently, he wanted his cake and to eat it, too; little to no work but still accept the pay check.

When we saw the tax sale page in his newspaper, we were mortified, as it was never our intent for this to happen. Looking back, we gave Mr. Hooftallen way too much credit, as never did we think for one minute that he would be so careless as to both take our document and not even bother to look at what he had taken. It is important to note that we knew he had to look at the document as he had to take the time to change the top of the page and add his own heading and remove any evidence that the page belonged to the Echo (removing our date line, page number and name).

Of course, his reason for not reviewing the document that he took from the Echo’s private files was because of his reliance on our high quality of work, yet he only admits to taking our work one time prior. His cavalier attitude makes us wonder if taking Echo work from the private server location has been a regular routine for him to the point where he has become too secure in the quality work of the Echo.

We definitely do not agree with Mr. Hooftallen that his actions are something which all people in business are familiar with.

Furthermore, not only did Mr. Hooftallen take a document without authorization, a document that was never meant to see the light of day, but now a court of law will have to determine if the copyright laws have been violated, also. Copyright protection subsists from the time the newspaper file is created. From then on, the work immediately becomes the property of the author who created it. Only the author can rightfully claim this work.

As he stated, our lawyer did contact him to relay a message, “let’s move forward… you do your own work and we do our own and let this end.” There was no threat, as there is no need to threaten; the law is clear.

Hindsight being 20/20, we, too, question why we didn’t use names such as Mickey Mouse, Daffy Duck and Goofy. But not being devious by nature, that just didn’t occur to us.

What we do feel deeply sorry for is destroying our own document with real names, stupid statements and inappropriate language. We are sorry for anyone who was offended. We apologize to those people who we used in that document.

This will serve as our official statement. We will not engage in a back and forth battle with Mr. Hooftallen in an effort to sell more newspapers, as he has attempted in the past. This matter will be handled by the district attorney and a court of law and not on the pages of the Cameron County Echo.


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9 Comments

  1. Bob Hooftallen says:

    Hello, all.
    First, to say we are “humiliated,” as the writer did here in the first sentence, is an editorial presumption. We have never said we are humiliated. We are humbled, for sure, and sorry as well…. and maybe even “humiliated,” but the writer would have no way of knowing that and therefore should not have written it… it is an opinion; an assumption.
    I comment to make a point that changes everything entirely that has been written here: I did not get near any “private server” of the Echo. I doubt they even have one. The server in question is one owned, operated and administered by the company that prints each of our newspapers.
    They print several other newspapers as well– at least 9 others— and the people at those newspapers have access to EVERY newspaper file from EVERY newspaper that gets printed there.
    That is an absolute. There is no question about it. I used a file from a server that a minimum of 50 others can access at any time of the day and night….. and remove/use others’ files.
    It was a county tax document that gets sent to each newspaper EXACTLY the same from the courthouse. It is typed verbatim. I foolishly chose to use a file that was typeset by someone else, in an effort to save my team precious time.
    I never have done, and never would do, that on an authored piece or a piece that is in any way an original thought, idea or work.
    Finally, be assured that NO ONE owns information. Writers, publishers, artists, architects, engineers, and so on, own their original thoughts and ideas, to be sure, but the information contained in news stories…. i.e. the facts…. are not original works or intellectual property. They are merely information and are available to be used in any way by anyone who is interested in them.
    The talk of criminal or civil liability is just plain ignorance (in its truest sense… please look up the definition if you don’t know what it really means).

    My best to everyone.
    Bob Hooftallen,
    Publisher,
    Endeavor Media

  2. admin says:

    Bob, I’m glad you chose to respond here (where you cannot delete comments to control dialogue in your favor).

    Please allow me to address your comment:

    First, if you do not believe you have been humiliated by these events, then perhaps you are further detached from the reality of the situation than anyone thought. I must say, I find it ironic that you attack this article by referring to the word ‘humiliated’, declaring that it is an editorial presumption. This, from the very person who has made some grand editorial mistakes (the reason we’re here commenting).

    Second, the Echo still contends that you circumvented the security on their server. This has also been reported in the Bradford Era. As a web developer, all I can say is that yes, accessing a private portion of a shared or virtual server is the same as accessing a private server. As the Echo stated, just because you leave your door unlocked (if that were the case) does not give you permission to come into my house and take my belongings. The information may have been ‘public’ but the formatting certainly was not. You can argue all you like that you did not steal anything, but it is falling on deaf ears.

    Third, please stop mincing words. Anyone can argue the technical meaning of a word. That does not change what you did. This type of manipulative behavior and language is why this scandal has not gone away.

    Fourth, please elaborate on my ‘ignorance’. I have reported the story by quoting your own admissions and statements made by the Echo.

    Honestly, Bob, I am appalled at your behavior and the fact that you continue to defend it. Your ‘apology’ was not an apology, it was a cry that you were victimized. Your headline even included a statement declaring you were a victim. Please refer to my grocer analogy in the previous article if you cannot understand you were not the victim. Innocent people are the victim. The public is the victim. You are not the victim here, Bob.

    There are many, many people who want to see justice in this matter. There are many who want their day in court with you… and yet you have the audacity to tell me the matter will never see a courtroom, and you declare that any mention of civil or criminal liability on your part is ignorant. Really, Bob?

    Also, in regards to our conversation earlier, a message left with the Cameron County District Attorney has yet to be returned.

  3. Disgusted says:

    @ Bob – whether or not the files of all papers were open to everyone or not, it still does not give you the right to make use of someone else’s work without fair compensation. The typesetting is the intellectual property of the Echo. To use the typeset material without permission is still, at best, unethical, and at worst, criminal. It may not be copyright infringement, since the copy itself is publicly distributed. However, the formatting and typesetting work done by the Echo, is the intellectual property of the Echo.

    The more you try to defend and justify your actions, the more you turn off your potential readership.. It also demonstrates your personal and professional ethics.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hummmmnnnnn………………….. wow, is right!

  5. Pin Please says:

    Does anyone have a pin so I can burst Bob’s bubble.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I just don’t understand part of the argument. If this specific part of the paper was taken from the server owned by the printer, how could the echo have changed said article or had said article in that server without having that also printed in its own paper?

  7. admin says:

    The file was changed after the Echo was published.

  8. Bada Bing says:

    Bob- Look up “delusional”. And no peeking at anyone elses paper. heh

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