Expulsion Threat 2008-Oct-18

On 2008-Oct-18, I was ordered, under threat of expulsion, to remove all OBC and ABC data from my site (http://www.drmath.ca/~obc/ ) other than my own personal results. I was told that even if a rider authorized me to put their data on my site, I would be expelled from the Ottawa Bicycle Club if I showed their data on my site.

Order to Remove Data or Face Expulsion - 2008-10-18

Request for Clarification of What Needed to be Done

From:  Celia McInnis
To:     club.forum@ottawabicycleclub.ca
Subject: [obc] Avoid Expulsion by Removing TT data?
Date:    Tue, 21 Oct 2008 07:38:30 -0600 (09:38 EDT)

Dear President Tom Stratton and other club members:

I wish to remain a member of the club, and in fact am interested in running for a board position at this year's AGM. Hence it is important to comply fully with the intent of the following note before Friday at noon, in order to avoid my expulsion from the club:


Clarification is necessary as to which data the OBC Board wishes me to remove from my personal tt web site, since in addition to supporting clubs and individuals of clubs other than the OBC, my software also determines special awards which are given to OBC members and my site provides the ABC 40km data for our BAR award. Some questions needing answers are listed below(*).

I have very much enjoyed providing a tt web service to time trialists in the OBC and other clubs for the past 11 seasons, and it is not at all my desire to cease doing so, yet, if it is necessary to stop providing this bonus volunteer service in order to remain an OBC member, I will do so.

I must admit that I am a little confused as to why the OBC has cited copyright and privacy violations in labelling me as a "member not in good standing", since I don't think that there have been any such violations committed by myself.

First of all, that there is no copyright protection for time trial data is made quite clear at
which specifically indicates that:

"facts, ideas and news are all considered part of the public domain, that is, they are everyone's property".

I am also a little surprised to be told that I am violating any privacy policy by having some birth years in my database since I believe that each of the birth years in my database was legitimately obtained. Some birth years are in my database because riders participated in ABC time trials which I officially provide a tt web service for. Others date back to the years when, as the sole provider of a tt web site service for the OBC time trials, the club Time Trial organizers gave me the birth years for my site. More recently, some were given to me by riders when I requested them, while others were determined by my software from publicly displayed data (eg., age handicaps and category changes). Finally, I just store categories rather than birth years for those whose birth years were not available to me in any of the above listed ways.

A quick reply is necessary to clarify what the board wants me to do, since the deadline for compliance is very soon, and, as I have already mentioned, I want to remain an OBC member and hence be eligible to run for a board position at the AGM on 2008-Oct-29.

Cheers and Thanks,

(*) Clarification in answering the following questions is needed, and perhaps input from the time trialists would be helpful:

1. All OBC time trial data from 1998-2002 and 2006, as well as all of the WTT data until this year was entered first into my site and then copied to the OBC site from my site. Can this data stay visible on my site?

2. The WTT special awards are calculated using my software and are not displayed on the club web site. Is there a problem with me showing these pages?

3. Am I allowed to show the BAR rankings and consistency measures which result from our collaborative web work (I manage the 40km ABC TT results)?

4. What about other summaries of the data which my software was written to show and which is not available from the current official site?

5. How about my comments indicating the noteworthy time trial performances? Can I continue to do this and show the supporting tables and graphs?

6. What about data of the ABC people - Since I do the results for the ABC series, is it ok for me to show the results of ABC people in OBC time trials so that they can query all of their results from one web site? Indeed, the OBC is already taking more liberties than this in making full copies of the ABC 40km results from my site.

7. I just completed my 500th time trial in my database ( http://www.drmath.ca/~obc/cgi-bin/ttq.pl?Q_name=celia ). Can I show this on my own personal web site without facing expulsion from the OBC?

8. What about other people who have authorized me to show their data? Can I show their results without being expelled from the OBC?

Response from President Tom Stratton

Further Clarification Requested

From:  Celia McInnis
To:      club.forum@ottawabicycleclub.ca
Subject: [obc] Update on expulsion info - still unclear what needs doing
Date:   Thu, 23 Oct 2008 06:39:41 -0600 (08:39 EDT)

Dear President Tom Stratton and other club members:

Thanks, Tom, for delivering a letter to my house last night which attempts to clarify what I am to do by Friday at noon if I am to avoid expulsion.


I guess it clarifies that the word "copyright" is being used in some way that is not at all in line with standard dictionary definitions (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/copyright) or the word as used by the Canadian Intellecual Property Office, since they clearly indicate that copyright does not apply:

Though it is clear to me that I am legally able to run my personal time trial web site as a citizen of Canada, it is not clear what the "private arrangements with other organizations and individuals that are outside the scope of the Club's rules and policies" which you refer to are, and in particular, how much I can leave on my personal web site in order to maintain my OBC membership, especially since, as indicated in question 1 below, the OBC is itself copying and displaying time trial data from my personal web site, and yet seems to be troubled by me doing likewise in the reverse direction.

Again, I wish to remain a member of the club, and to run democratically for a board position next Wednesday as I am entitled to do as a "regular" (i.e. paid) member, so here are the specific questions which require clear answers:

1. I see that the OBC has again this year copied ABC 40km TT data from my personal site and displayed it on the OBC web site, so why is the OBC Board seeming to say that I can't do likewise in copying data from the OBC site to my personal site?

2. Will the OBC expel me from the club for showing my own TT results on my own personal web site?

3. Will the OBC expel me from the club for showing the TT results of others on my personal web site when they authorize me to so?

4. Will the OBC expel me from the club for showing any publicly viewable TT data on my site, even though Canadian law allows me the right of showing it?

6. The WTT special awards are calculated using my software and are not displayed on the club web site. Will I be expelled for showing these pages?

8. Can I show the BAR rankings and consistency measures which result from our collaborative web work (I manage the 40km ABC TT results) without being expelled?

9. What about other summaries of the data which my software was written to show and which is not available from the current official site? Can I show this without being expelled?

10. How about my comments indicating the noteworthy time trial performances? Can I continue to show these and the supporting tables and graphs without being expelled?

With the nearness of the expulsion time, it would be helpful if replies to these questions, would be made to this forum. The issue is not "private" but rather one that involves all clients of my tt web service. Helpful comments from all are welcome.

Celia McInnis

Answers Received to Questions

From:    Tom Stratton
To:      celia@drmath.ca
Subject: Answers to you questions for clearity
Date:    Thu, 23 Oct 2008 15:25:08 -0700 (PDT) (18:25 EDT)

Celia, This will be our last communication to you before Friday Noon.

I am pleased that you want to comply to the wishes of the Board. I am not debating or negotiating the reasons as they have been explained before.

The Time Trial events are put on by the Club, the results are the property of the Club including the ABC as we have an agreement with them. You were given the results as a volunteer of the Club. You chose to create your own website and post those results to it for many years. Knowing that the Board made it clear to you at that time that it wanted to maintain that information on it's own website.

To your email questions:

1. The ABC results are not yours , delete them.

2. No.

3. Yes, the results belong to the Club

4. If it is related to the OBC or the ABC, delete them

5. _

6. Yes.

7. _

8. No, you can not.

9. No.

10. Comments yes, supporting data no.

These are the answers to all your questions.

Tom Stratton

Correction on Tom Stratton's Above Comments

The statements " You were given the results as a volunteer of the Club. You chose to create your own website and post those results to it for many years. Knowing that the Board made it clear to you at that time that it wanted to maintain that information on it's own website." are completely FALSE. The OBC board was NOT at all INVOLVED with my tt web site during its formative years and the OBC Board gave me no direction about it.

  1. I was the first person to create a time trial web site which showed results of the OBC time trials. This was done back in 1998.

  2. My web site was done with the approval/cooperation/enjoyment of the OBC WTT (Women's Time Trial) coordinator, Rosella Mac Neil, the OBC web master, Greg Franks, and all of the participants in the WTT series.

  3. Greg and I agreed that the club web site (which, at that time, was actually running off of his Carleton University account) would link to my pages, i.e., that I would hold the data. This is the beauty of the web - one doesn't have to hold all the data in one place! Interestingly enough, the club still seems to have no problem with the Cyclo-Cross data being stored upon the proprietary site which Bob Woods and Ian Austen run. Why is this? As well, there seems to be no problem with the Grand Prix results being stored upon the sportstats.ca site, even though that service costs lots of money!

  4. OBC OTT (Open Time Trial) participants wanted the tt web service as well, and, in 1999, OTT organizer Bram Moerman started giving me the OTT results. Again, it was well known that these were not being stored on the club's web server.

  5. I started serving as the webmaster for the whole of the OBC web site in 1999. newsletter editor (Board member) John Ford asked me to do this since he liked my TT web site, and I agreed to extend my help to the club web site.

  6. In 2000 I started doing the ABC results. This again was NOT arranged by the OBC Board. I merely spoke with Les Humphreys and he made the data available to me. I am astonished that the OBC Board considers that it has any say concerning results of the Almonte Bicycle Club's results. Other members of the ABC were equally astonished and had the OBC order concerning the results of the ABC time trials revoked. President Tom Stratton later admitted to Dan Montag (2009-Aug-10) that he had made a mistake in requiring me to pull the ABC results off of my site, but he certainly never apologized to me for his error which cost me time, energy and distress!

  7. The first communication I ever had concerning my tt web work with an OBC Board member was in 2000, and that was only about adding an Age Handicapped event. I added the handicap system as requested. The current OBC tt web site does not even have these old awards listed upon it, and, as a participant in this series, I feel that it should properly record our history of awards. As well, none of the awards for the WTT series are listed on the club web site, and indeed the software used to calculate these awards is on my site and not on the club web site. I am willing to help officially in this regard.

    By the way, in 2000, when President Avery Burdett asked me to add his new age-handicapping method to my web site, I did so and also added a gender handicapped rendition of the age handicapped results. I had tried unsuccessfully to convince Avery of the value of such a page in giving the women a chance to strive for the top ranking, but was ordered by Avery to take down such a ranking when I provided it as a supplementary result page. I'm not sure why he was so determined to prevent me from showing such a ranking as an extra page of interest! Now the British VTTA organization, from which Avery got his idea to provide age handicaps, does provide gender handicapping as well as age handicapping on their site. The organizers said that it was done to encourage the women to compete at a top level.

  8. Late in 2000, I asked board member John Ford if I could move some tt data onto the club web site, since with all my web work for the club, it was more convenient to have it there. Disk usage costs were very high in those years, though, so I only moved the current season's data onto the club web site, and continued to link to the older data stored elsewhere on the internet.

  9. Things went on very smoothly until a dispute on a technical issue not related to the tt web site developed.

  10. For some reason, this technical dispute (in which I was only trying to require that our web pages worked for the wide range of browsers which are members used), spread and has been sustained beyond my wildest imagination.

  11. It is a lot of work to check and enter the data, and believe me, it isn't interesting work to do. It makes sense to combine this boring, fastidious job with something that is fun, namely the tt web site. It also makes sense to treat those who are willing to do this volunteer work with respect and gratitude.
  12. I had put a lot of effort into my software, and so continued to run my site independently. The independence was not by choice. I am interested in and experienced at working with people and think that this would be a much more productive way for all parties to proceed. I remain flexible in doing so as the history indicates. As one example of this, when, in 2006, nobody else wanted to do the considerable amount of work it took to enter the time trial data into the club database, I typed in all of the time trial data in accordance with an agreement with former president Perry McKenna so that the club could load it from my site into the club database. I did this even though my site was not officially acknowledged. Members were happy that their results were posted quickly (same night service) and accurately, since the service had been very slow when the club had pushed me out from providing this service.

  13. I would like to be a part of the official OBC time trial offerings. The time trialists enjoy my service and I enjoy giving it... My service hurts nobody, is provided free of charge to members and provides mathematical analysis of the data which is not available on the OBC site.

  14. Above all, I would like the harrassment from the Board of the OBC to cease immediately, and instead to have us all focus, as I have always done, on following the objectives of our club. See the constitution.


After riding the 2009 Good Friday (2009-Apr-10) race, I decided to put my results back up, as suggested by some of the riders. Even though there had been no change in the executive positions on the OBC Board, there were several new board members, and I thought that perhaps they would have an effect. I received a veiled threat from President Tom Stratton on 2009-May-09. It seemed that he was just saying that if I challenged the OBC Board legally, I would be expelled. I was not interested in challenging the OBC Board legally, but only interested in running my site. So I ignored Tom's note. One has to laugh at the cruel punishment of not being able to do data entry! :-) You'd think they'd require me to do all of this boring but exacting job if I was going to suck the data into my site!
Date: Sat, 9 May 2009 05:13:10 -0700 (PDT)  Download OBC results on your website.msg
From: Tom & Gail Stratton    Import addresses tomgails@yahoo.ca  Block email tomgails@yahoo.ca   Block SMTP relay web30408.mail.mud.yahoo.com
To: celia@drmath.ca
Subject: OBC results on your website

Hello Celia, The Board is disappointed that you has posted OBC results on your website again.
We all know you disagree with this decision by the Board. This appeal was to you as a member
of this club and it's wishes. Your rights to republish our events is a legal issue and we can
only conclude that your action mean you want to take it to a legal authority. Please be assured
that if it does, you will be defending that right as a non-member.

In the meantime, you will not be asked or allowed to enter, take or handle the results of any
club event.


Tom Stratton

Expulsion Threat dated 2009-Jul-22

I received a note dated 2009-Jul-22 from the OBC executive on 2009-Jul-29 threatening me with expulsion if I didn't remove results from my site by the end of 2009-Jul-31. I certainly don't have time to comply with the order in the 48 hours given, and I don't want to comply with this order because:
  1. I like and use my site, as do others. It is used to measure performance relative to a whole slew of measures, and hence motivates riders.
  2. I am not claiming to be an official site. I indicate where/when I got the data.
  3. The law permits me to do so.
    1. There is no copyright on published data.
    2. There is no violation of privacy law according to lawyer Pippa Lawson, whose area of legal expertise is the Privacy Legislation. She offered free advice to the OBC Board concerning this legislation in 2008. First of all, my offering is not commercial, so privacy legislation does not apply. Secondly, even if it did apply, I am only showing data which is shown elsewhere (either on the OBC web site, or in old newsletters which were available in the public library and in bike stores), so if there is any breach of privacy, it has occurred elsewhere - i.e., by the OBC who first published the data. By the way, Tom declined Pippa's free legal consultation concerning this issue, saying that the club was a private one and hence could have its own privacy code. This was stated at a meeting on 2008-Sep-15, with Peter James in attendance as a witness.
Here is the letter received:

So there we are. Again, I am not purporting to be an "official site", though I am fastidious with the results, and I don't have the kind of errors in the algorithms for the award pages that the official pages do! It is again worth noting that more than half of the data in the OBC database was copied from MY site, albeit with errors...

The Expulsion Letter

Well, here it is, the official expulsion letter!

Wowee, Zowee. In most clubs I'd get the President's Award for all my volunteer work (and my work in this area proceeds the petty politics by many years), but here I'm being told that if I sit on my ass and do nothing, I can be a member of the OBC whereas if I run an entirely legal personal web site which promotes every one of the OBC objectives as laid out in the OBC constitution, I cannot be a member of the OBC! Bizarre, and rather oppressive, eh? The actions against me by the OBC Board not only run contrary to the second objective of the OBC constitution, but they also violate my fundamental right of freedom of expression as laid out in our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Again, I am not breaking any Canadian laws. There is no copyright protection for time trial data:
specifically indicates that:

"facts, ideas and news are all considered part of the public domain, that is, they are everyone's property".

Also, if there is any privacy legislation problem (concerning the birth years of riders being determinable by the posted data), the OBC is as guilty as I am and should itself remove the categories and age handicapping pages.

Note that, as recently as 2006, there was an agreement with former president Perry McKenna that I type all of the results into my database and then that the OBC would copy from my web site. Tom Stratton cannot go back and change that history which does indeed make my site "official" as a data site for past data. Incidentally the club still has errors in the data which it copied incorrectly from my official data, and my offers to fix the errors were not accepted.

The silliest and most dysfunctional part of the whole thing is that those doing the job now don't even like doing the work... Libellous pieces of hate mail have been written by one former director accusing me of leaving him in the lurch with no time to train because of all the work he insisted upon doing without my help! I'd love to help here, and the results would be available quickly and accurately with my help. There have been some questionable postings seen on the OBC time trial web site recently, and I'd love to have all those problems fixed. YOU MAY SEE SOME OF THESE ERRORS HERE.

Requests for action such as this to the OBC Secretary were basically ignored with the excuse that Bob didn't see things the way that I did. This was especially surprising concerning the request to fix some of the errors in the data which was copied from my site, or which was otherwise clearly wrong (handicapped results). Questions about WHY the OBC Board has proceeded as it has against a 25 year member and volunteer in the OBC have either been ignored or answered with statements such as seen in the 2009-Jul-22 letter to me signed by the OBC Executive:

"As noted in earlier correspondence, the reason is that we do not want these results posted to a separate proprietary site. Instead we want to maintain the OBC site as the sole and official source of Club information, including race results."

Control freaks, eh? - even to the extent of violating the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Wow, pay your 57 bucks to the OBC to have them suppress your fundamental rights as a Canadian citizen! Even ignoring the laws that protect my right to run a tt web site, I have to wonder why on earth Tom Stratton, Roger Marleau, Sean Pemberton, Jane Hammingh, etc., would be so determined to LIMIT/REDUCE the services available to the cycling community to their own skills/imaginations/interest/energies. Surely any group or club is the healthier and the more interesting for inviting all to the table to contribute their special talents. As well the OBC constitution specifically contains the objective of promoting cycling in the community at large, rather than limiting or controlling members who so clearly do so!

I am completely disinterested in politics and politicians, and have never in 30+ years in bike clubs seen anything like the petty politics in the OBC over the past decade. I produce a time trial web site solely because I love numbers and time trials. It's a match made in heaven. I will be happy when we get some people on the OBC Board who care more about PEOPLE (cyclists) than THINGS (their "portfolios")! A lot of the reason that I accepted a job in Ottawa was because of the fun I had with OBC people like Bruce Timmermans back in the 1970's. We could use some people like that leading, rather than controlling, the OBC... It is outrageous that the past few boards have constantly harassed, bullied and now expelled(!) a person who has been a member and volunteer doing good things for all of her past 25 years in the club.

By the way, attempts by Board members to supress my freedom of expression date back to 2001 when I was ordered to remove a gender-handicapped web page which I had posted as a secondary page to the 2001-Sep-06 age-handicapped results. Though the order disturbed me, I obeyed the order and made light of the matter, as did the rest of us. Fun reading there.

On Valentines Days for 2010, 2011 and 2012 (who knows when members of the BLOC will nod off and be replaced by new people who care more about cycling than their "OBC portfolios") I dropped off a membership application in the mailbox of the OBC office. Hey I love cycling so what better time to submit a membership application to a cycling club than on the day of love - but the office administrator was warned to not send me a membership card, and my cheque was returned. Being environmentally sensitive, I reused the old cheque, initialing changes...

Valentines Day 2013 was more fun - a new toy to play with - an online registration facility, so, as usual, I applied. I read the web site's "About Us" page which indicated that the club was "Open to cyclists of all ages" - Hey, I'm one of those - I have never even driven a car, preferring bicycles. I checked that I'm still in line with the objectives of the OBC and that OBC directors should certainly not be trying to get anybody to stop providing cycling services if they are in line with the OBC objectives! So I paid for an OBC membership. Exactly one month later, I received this letter from President Tregunno telling me that my membership was not accepted:

Again, the expelling president Tom Stratton (who is back on the board again) proclaimed that "You will not be allowed to rejoin until the Board is satisfied that you have complied with its wishes to not post results of any club events on your website or anywhere else.". It must be scary serving on a board of directors with people who believe that they can contravene the Canadian Human Rights Code with their membership requirements, and I really can't figure out why they are so intent on removing a cycling service which I donate at my own expense (time and money) to any cyclists who are interested in using the tool which I provide to them for free. It's not as if I'm forcing anyone to use what I produce. It's just there for those who want to use it. Needless to say, the OBC Board is impotent to shut down my personal site. I just ignore them and continue doing what the law allows me to do! Others might take more extreme action against them, but let's face it, I'd be embarassed to belong to a club that acts in such an ignorant fashion...