An announcement

This post is a private / public admonishment of someone on the palaeo scene. It’s private because I won’t name names and draw public attention to him. It’s public because I’m doing it on the blog. (and in case you were wondering, I’m not mailing the person concerned directly because I have had several unproductive exchanges in the past and have deliberately severed all contact with them and have no wish to resurect that).

Dear You Know Exactly Who You Are,

It has come to my attention that you have a new website up and on this you have used one of my images. This one to be exact. You do not have permission to use this, regardless of the fact that you (sort of) credit me with creating it. Take it down.

This is an especially egregious act on your part. When I first posted that image, you took it (without permission) and posted it on a site of yours. That, in large part, prompted this post which asked it be taken down and reminded people in general that images are mine and should not be used without permission. You removed the offending image within hours, so you must have seen my post and reacted accordingly. The fact that you have again taken my work without permission (and the same exact one!) is therefore annoying at the very least and shows an utter lack or regard or respect for me and my work (and property).

This is illegal at best and an exceptionally ill mannered, rude and utterly irresponsible act. For someone who considers themselves part of the scientific community, this is extraordinarily bad practice and un-collegiate. The fact that I have already been forced to call you on this before, when you should well know not to steal images without permission anyway (and there are clear indicators of this all over this site) only makes it worse.

I say again, quite simply and plainly. Take this down. Do not use this or any image of mine without express and explicit permission from me, directly. You do not have this and based on your activities to date, it’s hard to see me ever giving it for anything public like a website (a paper is another matter).

I would also add that there are other images on your site from institutes and collections that I know well and know those places require express permission to publish images of their work. You may find that they are less forgiving and litigious than I am and you might well want to remove them as well. I will come back in a week and if my work is still being used I will be forced to take further steps.

I know you subscribe to parts of this blog and I have a hard time imagining you will not see this or not have it pointed out to you by others. This is, and must be, a last warning about this behaviour on your part. I am very annoyed by this and I have every right to be. Take. It. Down.

15 Responses to “An announcement”


  1. 1 Crosbie Fitch 28/02/2011 at 2:44 pm

    Records of ‘illicit’ cultural copying among Homo Sapiens date from 50,000BC until 1709AD – when Queen Anne annulled the individual’s natural right to copy in order to grant this as a privilege for commercial exploitation by her Stationers’ Company.

    Copyright is actually the offensive intruder to polite cultural exchange.

    You have to ask yourself why you believe you have the power to dictate what other people do. Individuals (and publishing corporations) only obtain such power through royal grant (or via a corrupt state). They are not born with it.

    Why not just freely share and build upon mankind’s knowledge in harmony? If you want to keep anything exclusive to yourself then don’t publish it.

    • 2 David Hone 28/02/2011 at 11:01 pm

      “Why not just freely share and build upon mankind’s knowledge in harmony? If you want to keep anything exclusive to yourself then don’t publish it.”

      Sorry I just don’t get this. I’m going out of my way to make huge amounts of material publicaly available to be viewed at least and I DO specifically say that I am generally happy to give permission for this to be reproduced if asked. Where is the problem? Are you really suggesting that it would be better if I didn’t post anything than I posted stuff and then complain when people steal my work repeatedly? Note that I haven’t *actually* done anything to stop them (no formal complaints to societies, webmasters etc.) just asked them not to be a jerk about it.

      In science it is indeed important to share. However, it is also important to protect you own work and efforts and especially here to protect the rights of others by proxy when I am being ‘loaned’ images etc. to use here. People should respect that.

      You seem to be working on the principle that you don’t like the rule so it can be broken freely. I think that is wrong. If you don’t like the laws then fight to have them changed, don’t have a go at me for following international laws and that I clearly state my intentions and what I would like people to do.

      • 3 Crosbie Fitch 28/02/2011 at 11:33 pm

        ‘protect’ means in this context to protect a monopoly – one that was unethically granted in the 18th century.

        However, copyright is beyond protection and has effectively ended, despite remaining on the statute books.

        Bear in mind that it is not illegal to infringe copyright – since no crime is committed. It is always an option of the copyright holder to not sue the infringer. The police won’t arrest them on your behalf.

        Live and let live. Join the enlightened. You do not have to sue your fellow man for honestly sharing and building upon the work you have published. If a copyright holding publishing corporation wants to sue them, that’s up to them. They do not set examples for mortals to follow.

        All you need require is that those who copy and build upon your work do so honestly, i.e. do not commit plagiarism.

        It’s up to you whether you jealously, impotently, and ineffectually attempt to enforce an anachronistic privilege, or whether you recognise that the right to copy remains part of an individual’s natural right to liberty as it always has.

        Folksong, folktales, folklore – these are the vestigial words in the English language that refer to how culture and science evolved prior to copyright – and how it will after it, today and tomorrow, by the folk, by the people. People such as those who copy you, and so why not you too?

      • 4 David Hone 28/02/2011 at 11:53 pm

        You are reading what I;ve written here right?

        “Live and let live. Join the enlightened. You do not have to sue your fellow man for honestly sharing and building upon the work you have published.”

        But I haven’t? I’ve asked him to be respectful of my work and do the right thing. Something I should not have to ask of anyone if everyone was nice and enlightened. I;ve already had to ask him once and as I explained at length, he should know better already.

        “You have to ask yourself why you believe you have the power to dictate what other people do.”

        What planet, exactly, are you from? Are you really, seriously, suggesting that I can’t ask or expect people not to violate my wishes or what I clearly state I consider are my possessions? You may not LIKE that I am taking that line, but I don’t think you can call me unenlightened, or to be blunt, even an asshole, for expecting people to politely respect my wishes about simply asking for permission when i have stated I will generally grant any reasonable request.

        “It’s up to you whether you jealously, impotently, and ineffectually attempt to enforce an anachronistic privilege, or whether you recognise that the right to copy remains part of an individual’s natural right to liberty as it always has.”

        This is also I would say again, mostly NOT about copyright. This is about basic collegiality, politeness and respect. This ‘enlightenment’ you want me to join is what is being ignored here. I would be live and let live, but the other party is not.

        This is patronising and confused in the extreme. I AM going a long way to giving stuff away (free viewing, use with just a simple polite request) and all with the best intentions of making information available, yet apparently it is deeply unreaonable and even aggressive of me to politely have to repeatedly ask someone not to impinge on my publicaly declared wishes. I am entirely in the wrong by the looks of your definition, yet this state of free love and sharing and enlightenment you want don’t work when other people violate it at will. And I am not and have not aggressively or otherwise pursued him through the courts or anything else, or even threatened to. This is borderline trolling and I’ve no great wish to discuss this any further. Feel free not to bother replying.

      • 5 Crosbie Fitch 01/03/2011 at 12:06 am

        This is very much to do with copyright since it is only copyright that grants you the power to prohibit others from producing copies of your published works – the power to demand they seek your permission before doing so.

        Man is not born with such power over his fellows. Science progresses just fine without such power. Only the press and the state coveted and thus arranged for the power to prohibit copying.

        And this is nothing to do with giving your work away without payment. No-one is saying you do not have a right to exchange your labour, your intellectual work in a free market – for whatever price the market will bear.

        This is not ‘property vs theft’, but privilege vs liberty.

        It is privilege that makes you indignant when people fail to respect it – privilege that should not be respected.

      • 6 David Hone 01/03/2011 at 12:24 am

        “It is privilege that makes you indignant when people fail to respect it – privilege that should not be respected.”

        Or alternatively, it is a privilege not a right that I should give up my time and efforts to make this stuff available and other people are violating that.

        I’ve put this stuff up and said, hey guys, thought you might like to see this, Just let me know if you’re going to hand it onto your friends. Someone didn’t do that and I asked them not to and reminded them this was mean. They did it again and I have reminded them again. But apparently according to you, I am acting like an over privildiged jerk for expecting some respect for doing this for other people for free. But you don’t seem to have any problem at all with their complete ignorance of my clearly defined and stated and exceptionally mild conditions. Riiiiiiight. Well, good luck with your utopia. I think you’ll find a great many artists and researchers on there and indeed, people in general, do not agree with your sentiments.

  2. 7 Nick Gardner 28/02/2011 at 3:56 pm

    Getting horribly bent out of shape over a crank isn’t a productive use of your time.

    • 8 David Hone 28/02/2011 at 10:49 pm

      Well perhaps. But then I shouldn’t have to. People who have been going to meetings and publishing papers for a decade should know better than to steal the work of others, especially when they have been called on it already. When said person has publically accused me of ‘unprofessional behaviour’ it does rather stick in the craw.

      • 9 mattvr 01/03/2011 at 12:27 am

        I’m using every erg of my will power not to buy in to this.

        The attitude on display is one in which the liberty of the consumer outweighs the work and originality of the originator, all dressed up as ‘anti corporatism’.

        He’s also doing a wonderful job of ignoring your substantial free contribution to science and education and fails to recognize this is a situation where your goodwill is being abused to the detriment of your free contribution.

      • 10 David Hone 01/03/2011 at 12:33 am

        Thanks Matt. Yes, this is my point exactly. Apparently by putting stuff out there for free and occasionally defending the rights of publicaly funded (or unfunded!) museums, I’m supporting ‘the man’ and keeping down the people while reaping the corporate benefits of errr, by, errrrm, yeah….

    • 11 mattvr 01/03/2011 at 12:49 am

      Irks me when people appear to think that making a work only takes the same amount of time and effort as copying it.

      I think I’ll take Nick’s advice and go back to painting Quetzalcoatlus!

  3. 12 K. Capach 01/03/2011 at 12:36 am

    Wow… that is wicked unprofessional. It’s not like it’s all that difficult to ask permission.

    And a simple “woops, my bad” wont kill.

    Good luck with this guy.

  4. 14 Andy 02/03/2011 at 3:12 am

    1) It is good manners to ask for permission to use a photo that someone else has taken. As a scientist, it is important to my career that I be credited for my work (or Dave for his). I think Crosbie is missing the importance of this (looking at his blog, he seems to be a non-scientist, so this is somewhat understandable). Dave never granted permission for uncredited (or even credited) reproduction of those images (there’s no CC license on the blog, for instance).

    This is a separate issue from. . .

    2) The laws and regulations (or at least the perception of these laws and regulations) surrounding specimen photography and distribution of said photographs are largely unproductive. I actually had to sign an agreement for a publicly funded museum, holding specimens in trust for the American government, that I would never ever distribute my own photos of specimens belonging to the American people. Even if I wasn’t profiting off of the distribution. Another person I know was told to take down all photos the individual had posted from the _public_ displays at their own museum!!!! I understand the sentiment to maintain some control over images of a museum’s collections, but this philosophy is holding back science. It’s time for paleontologists – not just lawyers – to take back ownership of our specimens. I would love, love, love to post the greater portion of my photo collection for others to use. But, pretty much every photo waiver I’ve had to sign has implied that Very Bad Things will happen if I do so.

    • 15 David Hone 02/03/2011 at 3:35 am

      Well said Andy. I didn’t want to get into the details but yes, there are multiple issues here. Some of my images are reproduced with explicit permission from individuals (like Helmut Tischlinger) or organisations (the BSPG in Munich, or the Fukui Dinosaur Museum) which complicates the *general* thrust of this for me (I really just want to know who is using my stuff and why, and want the right to refuse this if I suspect people want to use them for nefarious purposes).


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