Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Case of the Stolen Tylosaurus

Do the words "giant Antarctic mosasaur" get your attention? Sure they do. Why wouldn't they? Meet Kaikaifilu hervei. Everything Dinosaur has the story, or read Rodrigo Otero et al's original paper for the princely sum of $37.95 at ScienceDirect.

Unfortunately, the figure in the paper is yet another case of art theft in the scientific literature. And this time, LITC's own Asher Elbein is the victim. Compare the images below.

Figure on left from Otero et al 2016; figure on right from Asher Elbein's DeviantArt account, dated October 16, 2012. Images used here under fair use.

This is plainly an incidence of art theft. It seems that at some point, someone posted Asher's original to Dinopedia, changing the license to a creative commons license (hopefully by the time you're reading this, the site has responded to Asher's DMCA takedown notice by removing it). Then Otero or someone working on the paper found it one one of those two sites and traced it (looks like it is a slightly modified Illustrator auto-trace) without credit or compensation.

Scientists, you cannot just take art for your papers. Asher deserves to be compensated and credited in this paper. How do you people expect artists to produce the work you clearly depend on to illustrate your research if you're not willing to do the bare minimum to credit and compensate?

Some folks haven't liked it when I've said it in the past, but I'll say it again: there is no paleontology outreach without paleoart. Own up to it.


Update: 3pm EST, December 4, 2016

Well, this post certainly inspired conversation. In fact, it is by a long stretch the most commented upon post in LITC history. I appreciate all of the comments, critical and supportive.

There are some takeaways.

First of all, it's clear that the authors of this paper did not willfully infringe Asher's copyright. No one was trying to rip him off. In fact, Rodrigo Otero left a lengthy comment which explained how this happened, but it has since been deleted (more on this below).

So, the most charitable explanation is that the author(s) were unaware of what a Creative Commons license entails - at the very least, it would require attribution, therefore a misattribution would imply an understanding of the license. Since there was no attribution, there's a clear misunderstanding of ethical image use.

This is a misunderstanding many people share. It is not limited to the authors of this one paper. So, in an effort to add to the conversation in a productive way, I'll be putting together at the very least an "Introduction to Creative Commons" post, and perhaps a broader "Image Use Best Practices" post as well, with the goal of dispelling misunderstanding about exactly what a CC license is, and what responsibilities it entails. I have no illusions that this would fix the problem, but it may help. Note that I can be charitable and also call this stuff out. There's really no excuse for not understanding image use guidelines.

I allow that the image was used in a graphical abstract, if not the paper itself, though I had no way to peer over the pay wall to know that. Whether in a graphical abstract or a paper, the point remains. I understand that not everyone enjoys reading angry words from artists. This anger is rooted in a pervasive culture of devaluing artists' work, a problem that even occurs in the vaunted world of science. This anger is warranted, even if you feel blindsided by it. I've had my mind opened to societal problems by the anger of victims, so I'll maintain that muted civility is not the only tool we have to change an unsatisfactory status quo.

Regarding the deleted comment: I'd like to repeat here that I did not delete a single comment on this post. If I delete a comment, I will always provide an explanation. Any removed comments were either deleted by their original poster on purpose or by mistake, or by a Blogger glitch. If you had a comment removed by accident or glitch, I can easily email it to you. Just let me know! All comments are delivered to me by email, so there is record of them in their original form. Then you can repost it. If this seems to be a glitch that's happened repeatedly, I will report to Blogger (though I'm not optimistic that it will be fixed, thus my intention to move to WordPress).

Whoa, that update was longer then the original post! Anyhow, thanks for reading and contributing to the conversation in the comments.

Update: 4:10pm EST, December 4, 2016

Rodrigo Otero has written another comment below, please be sure to read it. Seems we have a good resolution here. Thanks for the comment, Rodrigo!

And yes, as Matt Martyniuk suggests in a comment below, Blogger's comment platform is garbage. I swear I'm intending a WordPress migration as soon as it's feasible.

88 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is not even remotely close to how science works.

      Delete
    2. Also, as an aside, the image doesn't appear in the actual paper.

      Delete
  2. Excuse my ignorance, I may need some education here, but if the image was uploaded under a creative commons license, did it specify that attribution is necessary? Don't most people assume that CC means free use?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every CC license requires attribution, except for CC0, which is essentially releasing an image into public domain. It doesn't matter if "most people" think CC = free. Each CC license comes with its own stipulations, and in this case an honest mistake would have seen *the wrong person* being attributed, not *no one* being attributed.

      Delete
    2. In this case the honest mistake is misunderstanding how CC works. I have met other people that think that CC = CC0. A lot of people don't understand how it works actually, which contributed to problems like these.

      Delete
    3. So regarding all these people who don't understand CC, they either didn't bother to read the text of the license, they didn't know that there was a license to be read, or they assumed they knew the text of the license based on being misinformed by hearsay. That means they are either a) lazy, or b) incompetent, or c) being lied to. If c), who is it spreading this misinformation?

      Delete
    4. Nobody denies that a mistake was made.

      Delete
    5. Of course they don't. I'm saying now that a mistake has been identified, apparently a mistake that is pervasive and systemic, we need to identify the source of such mistakes in order to prevent the same mistakes from being made over and over again.

      Delete
    6. But that's already been done, see other comments.

      Delete
  3. Sure--if *I* had uploaded it. Which I did not. The people who uploaded it under the license had no legal right to do so, which means that any derivative works done under the auspices of CC are still theft. Accidental theft, perhaps. But theft nonetheless.

    Also, even if the authors didn't legally need to attribute art, tracing over it and leaving off attribution (in effect, claiming it as their own) is still shitty behavior and needs to be aggressively discouraged.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Asher, this is an unfortunate situation, but I think the attack on the researchers is unprofessional. I understand that you are rightfully upset and may see things more black and white. But I think Vargas has a valid point. I think that people could be educated about how to do things better without being attacked. I definitely agree that all art should be attributed (" there is no paleontology outreach without paleoart" is so true!), but in the current case the authors did not know who the artist was. As I understand it, it is not listed on the site where they got it. They probably could have tracked it down, but we are getting into some grey area here because as Vargas points out they thought it was CC. I actually couldn't easily find the license info on the site... Anyhow, I don't like the tone of how this all came to light, either here or how people shared it on twitter. Your work was stolen, that is for sure, and this should not happen, but I think that simply laying out the situation/misunderstanding without the nasty accusations of "shitty behavior" would have been just as effective.

      Delete
    2. James- Excellent victim blaming you've got going on in this reply.

      You're entire apology on their behalf, outlines how unprofessional the researchers were. They clearly don't care about proper protocol, and this in an of itself is reason for rage on the part of we artists.

      Delete
    3. I don't think that's a fair assessment of my comment/intent.

      Delete
    4. What kind of person, seeing an image with no attribution, thinks it is then ok to use the image again without attribution? If you don't know who the artist is and can't be bothered to find out, DON'T USE THE IMAGE! Simple. The fact that the image was not only used, but modified, is suspicious. I have encountered people before who took my images and claimed that they were their own because they made some slight digital modification. This is either a poor attempt to cover up blatant theft of a staggering ignorance of how copyright and attribution work.

      Delete
    5. Which part of my post qualifies as harsh? The one where I point out that declining to use an unattributed image found randomly on the internet should be common sense? Or the part where I note that modifying an unattributed image is a common strategy for avoiding copyright claims among those who intentionally steal credit for online art?

      Delete
    6. "what kind of person" "suspicious" "staggering ignorance" "blatant theft" A mistake was made and you are ready to condemn them _as a person_. I could ironically ask what kind of person does that.

      Delete
    7. James, it's much the same rage as you see in professional researchers when someone appears to blatantly use their idea (seen during peer review, read in an unpublished dissertation, seen in a conference presentation, etc.) in a paper without them and without credit or attribution. Researchers need to start taking the attribution of art and imagery just as seriously as they take misappropriation of their ideas, and the ones who don't will most likely continue to see this sort of pushback.

      Delete
    8. I absolutely agree that they need to take it as seriously.

      Delete
  4. I can understand how you feel, but your fury towards the scientists is misdirected. The main problem is with the people that uploaded your work under a CC license. It is them that falsely led the scientists to believe this artwork could be distributed with no need for attribution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tienes toda la razón Alexander. A veces esta actitud persecutoria tiene consecuencias inesperadas, como por ejemplo atacar el nombre o la carrera de los investigadores.
      Sí, se cometió un error, pero siempre se pueden encontrar soluciones que no afecten a nadie.

      Delete
    2. ALWAYS CREDIT ARTISTS. VISIBLY. PERIOD. ALWAYS. WE CAN'T EAT EXPOSURE BUT WE NEED IT TO FIND CLIENTS WHO WILL ACTUALLY FEED US. WE DO NOT HAVE SALARIES, TENURE, OR (in most cases) GRANT MONEY. IF YOU TAKE OUR WORK AND DON'T EVEN CREDIT US WE COMIN' FOR YOU. I'LL BREAK A FOOL'S KNEE CAPS WITH A MASTODON FEMUR. PUT SOME RESPEK ON OUR NAMES. FOR REAL.

      Delete
    3. Who goes to Dinopedia as a definitive source for anything?!?

      I'm highly suspicious of this being a well meaning accidental misunderstanding. This feels like they hunted around palaeo sites for a poachable piece of art of a Mosasaur, and that's where they happened to find one...

      Dinopedia?

      Delete
    4. The lead author has tried to explain but his comments here keep getting deleted.

      Delete
    5. If the authors merely took a CC image from a site they thought was an ok source, they still failed to credit the artist, and are in violation of the CC license. A DCMA takedown needs to be issued against their article.

      The fact that the image was digitally traced suggests they knew what they were doing was wrong and attempted to cover their tracks. Why not simply use the original if they thought it was a free to use CC image?

      Delete
    6. All of this is explained elsewhere. Not explained away, mind you, but explained.

      Delete
    7. Where? The comments from the author on this page seem to have been self-deleted.

      Delete
    8. As discussed elsewhere the author did not self-delete. Unclear what happened, but he has chimed in below.

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Researchers should double check on artwork they use.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a good lesson that can come out of this, for sure.

      Delete
    2. The fact that this basic lesson is one that many professionals apparently still have not learned is a sad indictment of the entire field. I was taught to give credit for the sources I use in grade school, before the Web even existed. If these authors had used data in their study without citing the original authors, it would be a major scandal. But because it's only artwork, the attitude should be to apologize and move on?

      Delete
    3. People should know better, I agree. But your characterization of them getting away with it does not ring true. The artwork is being removed, which is the equivalent to a retraction. Having this exposed and having to remove the offending artwork is a penalty.

      Delete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the response. I appreciate it. While the derivative above, found at Everything Dinosaur may not be in the paper, a figure at the Science Direct link (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195667116303123) does feature it. So I'm confused there.

      At any rate, perhaps contacting Asher directly would result in a favorable outcome for all parties.

      Delete
    2. its in graphical abstract and he feels bad and has asked that it be taken down.

      Delete
    3. I can help explain, many journals ask for a summary image to be used as a "graphical abstract" to help promote the paper. Sometimes this is a figure from the paper, but other times it includes more than one figure combined and even additional artwork. Sometimes there are bullet points of text along with it, though apparently not in this case.

      The modified version of Asher's image does not appear in the actual paper. I suspect/hope that it will be taken down from the website shortly.

      Delete
  8. Hey all, thanks for the comments. I knew there would be people who disagreed with this post's tone or even its existence.

    If the price of raising awareness of artists' rights is making people uncomfortable or angry, so be it.

    The implication that calling out authors by name is potentially damaging is a joke. People get away with stealing art all the time. It's business as usual. Nobody's coming to apprehend the authors of this paper.

    Simply put, it is absolutely essential for authors to do their due diligence when finding images online. It is a bare minimum requirement. And quiet civility is not the only tool we have in our efforts to change the status quo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's great to bring this issue to light and so of course you have to name names. But I think it's possible to do all that and still be civil. Also, why did the lead authors comments here get deleted? I'm hoping that's a technical glitch.

      Delete
    2. James, Rodrigo is not deleting his own posts. Shame that he does not get to have his fair answer or share relevant information. Quite in line with all the unfairness on this blog.

      Delete
    3. I have never deleted a comment that wasn't spam or offensive. I did not delete his comment.

      Delete
    4. Additionally, I will say that I have Otero's original comment in my email - I get a notification of every comment here - so if Otero would like to post it here once again without re-typing it, I am happy to send it along.

      Delete
  9. Why Otero's comments were removed? I think ir is very important to have the author's opinion and points of view. Assuming this is a serios blog and aims to do good level outreach.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Exactly. Why would I delete a comment I replied to?

      Delete
  10. I'M NOT DELETING HIS COMMENTS. PERIOD.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is that so. Well even if you are not deleting, creating a stink around other victims is not "the price to advance awareness" . You might want to re-check your ethics. These are good folks and they do not deserve this. Right now the authors are requesting for that image to be removed, which is NOT an image in the academic paper, but is required from the journal for outreach purposes (maybe Rodrigo was trying to explain that).
      The only true culprits are those that knowingly uploaded and image as CC, that was not theirs to share. If then we say that scientists must double check, then I think it is fair to kindly suggest to the artists, pretty please with sugar on top, that they sign or mark their work somehow before uploading it. See? we can ALL be extra careful.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, that's so.

      Regardless of where the image is used, whether in the paper or provided to the journal for outreach purposes, the artist deserves credit.

      Neither watermarks nor low resolution are sufficient defense against theft. The only sufficient defense is not to share it at all. Especially in a case such as the one in this post, in which an Illustrator image trace was used to create a derivative, a watermark is easy enough to edit out of an image. And signatures are very easy to crop out. It's happened to me.

      I do understand that images can be taken and reposted without an artist's permission, and the proliferation of copies on the web confuses the process of tracing attribution. And I agree that the re-posting of an image under a different license is the greater sin here, which is why I also called out the Dinopedia poster. These are just facts of life in today's web, and it makes life harder for artists and for scientists both. So it's best if people seeking to use art educate themselves on how to best find CC images, and how to contact artists to commission work if needed.

      However, tools such as Google Image search and TinEye have come about, and they make it much easier to trace the original artist. Granted, these tools are not perfect. Google image search does return Asher's original in a short list of results, and a bit of common sense sleuthing makes it simple to figure out he's the original artist.

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  11. Hi, it is a nice discussion here. I'm a scientist and I love to do my own artwork. I understand how you might feel. I learned in the hard way that you MUST have your name in every publication that you want to show and share with the proper credit. My Pi always make me sign my public pictures as: Name©year.

    But here you are being offensive and appealing for sensitive topics of the scientific career: citations and credibility. You are blaming the scientists in public because they did not referenced your work due to lack of information. It is a fair accusation but I look your page where the 'original' was posted. And I have some questions. Where did the author get the info to make the draw? Can be consider an original if it is based in other works? Asher mentions google to get the colors and describe the animal and its evolutive relations as his own findings. He never cited any of this. Even more, he reply and explain things about dinosaurs to other people as his own. That is also stole the hard work of other people that spent years describing the fossils. He never gave the credit for that.

    I believe that the knowledge have to be free and public, unfortunately editorial do not think that. the scientist do not receive any money for that, just the personal and moral glory.

    keep enjoying the nature!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since you've asked: the illustration was not based on other works, but on my own photos of Tylosaur skeletal reconstructions; the color scheme was based on living animal. Casual discussion is not remotely the same thing as not attributing art in a public setting. To equate them is to render what is a very concrete complaint--i.e a lack of credit for work that took an artist a lot of time and effort--into a somewhat insulting abstraction. I'm sure you didn't intend to be dismissive, but it's hard not to read your comment that way.

      Delete
    2. Agree with Asher there. Totally not a fair comparison.

      Delete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Note that both the artist and the author of this blog have retweeted threats of violence regarding this issue. They are obviously jokes, but it informs on their desire/capability for professional discourse. The internet is not a place for such things, especially comments sections (See also all caps comment about breaking knee caps above).

      Delete
  13. A couple of points, since I'm wading back into all of this now and I've cooled off a bit.

    1.) I'll admit it: I could have handled this better. I'd like to apologize to Otero, since it does seem like there was an honest misunderstanding here (though I haven't seen his comment either? Seems to be a technical glitch, but I can glean enough from the thread to get the picture. So, Otero, if you're still around, I'm sorry. All I can say is that it's been a somewhat stressful month and this isn't the first time I've had my art stolen. Seeing it attached to a scientific journal felt like a betrayal, and I got steamed and flew off the handle. Shoot me an email at aelbein@gmail.com. Let's talk about it.

    2.) To those responding who didn't seem to get why I was angry--this has been something of an ongoing problem in the community, and the sad truth is that the majority of artists you speak to have seen their work get abused, either through malicious intent on the part of internet art thieves, or by carelessness on the part of fans, or by thoughtlessness on the part of researchers. And look, we all make mistakes. But the fact is, if the art matters, then you have to take the time to find the artist and credit them. Maybe not you aren't legally bound to do so, but it's the right thing to do. To do otherwise is to demonstrate a real disrespect for the art and artist in question. I get that people don't always think about it and it often isn't done with ill intent. But the end result is often the same: the art itself gets devalued, the artist gets erased, and the entire artistic field continues to suffer from being considered disposable and unimportant. Maybe consider why artists are so frustrated about this.

    3.) The thing is, paleoart is not my job, you know? Paleoart is a thing I do because I love it. But for other people, this is their livelihood, in whole or in part. That's why we take it so seriously--even if it's not my job, I don't want to undercut my professional colleagues.

    4.) Finally, if you want to use my art, ask! Please, just ask. I'm more than happy to share it. Just give credit where credit is due. If you take nothing else away here, please take that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I definitely get why you are angry, I would be too. In fact, I have been in parallel situations and so have felt it. There are a couple of my photographs floating around mis/uncredited and even more galling (for me) is when my published ideas are passed off as someone else's without citation. When these things happen its important to point them out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How is "pointing them out" without leveling any consequences on this kind of behavior going to help stop it? When someone uses you images or ideas without attribution, it's enough for you to point it out and then take no further action? "Look, this person misappropriated my work! See it? Ok, let's move on." We need to get to the root of the problem.

      Delete
    2. So after everything has already been laid out your solution is to repeatedly questioning their character? I don't think you are accomplishing your goal here. The image is being removed, the author apologized, people were informed about issues. I don't know what else you think can or should realistically happen here. Bringing these issues into the light is important, but we've reached an endpoint with the author. Meanwhile, do we even know who uploaded the image to the wiki? Maybe some energy should be directed toward the owner of that wiki as well? Then you can actually accomplish something new rather than rubbing the authors' nose in a mistake that they already admitted.

      Delete
    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    4. I now see an actual author comment all the way at the bottom of the comments section. I had been scrolling through replying before I got to what are apparently newer comments. So I blame the Blogger comments setup! Maybe an update to the blog post is warranted to catch people up before they also start reading this conversation in reverse.

      Delete
  15. Another way of thinking about this: A piece of paleoart, like a scientific paper, is a published hypothesis. The artist has done the research and presented a visual hypothesis of an extinct organism's appearance and behavior. Looked at this way, using an existing piece of art in your research is the equivalent of copying the conclusion from someone else's paper and inserting it in your text. The only time this is appropriate (for text or images) is if you were clearly commenting on someone's earlier work (e.g.: "Artist X restored this animal with these features, but our research shows something new or different.") If a researcher published text that was identical to (or only slightly modified from) someone else's work, I'd bet the response would be far more scathing than the original post or most of the comments here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see your point, and agree in principle, but also see the circumstances about how this particular instance came about. But perhaps more to the point, the graphical abstract is being retracted.

      Delete
    2. Glad we agree in principle--a principled approach to using paleoart would avoid a lot of these situations!

      The particulars of this instance are an interesting case, and certainly there is culpability for the person who reposted the image on Dinopedia without permission. But the principles still apply to subsequent uses, especially in a formal publication where an author is typically required/expected to have secured the rights to reproduce all text and images.

      Delete
  16. It's quite frightening how prevalent such ignorance and naivety regarding copyright law is. You can bet you'd hear from me if I saw my artwork used without permission as well.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hello all,
    I've tried here to be transparent about this trouble. As the first author of the paper, I assume all the responsability on this; I've contacted Mr. Elbein (author of the image) to offer him my apologies and the explanation of the case; I've also offered explanations through public domains; I've wrote to the journal and the graphic abstract will be changed. Then, I just want to say once again that this was a mistake. I feel I did all the politically correct things to do after this (non-premeditate) error. I've never made a competent draw of a dinosaur or a marine reptile, then, I cannot claim as mine any nice drawing (uncredited in several sites) around the net. There are many persons trying to see this as an attempt to self-credit an artistic work in the context of a paleontologic research; I shouldn't need to say that both are completely different things; I'm not a paleoartist; however, I do have some background on paleontology research; Also, many posts have been very offensive even before hearing any explanation from us. So, if you want to keep the idea that I wanted to become an instant artist, go ahead. It was never the point nor the goal of our research.


    And yes; I've failed in knowing about CC. Sorry, there are things that I don't know accurately (probably most humans are in the same situation); however, I've learned. No paleoartist will hear from me again regarding any work of their authory, that's for sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "No paleoartist will hear from me again regarding any work of their authory, that's for sure."

      That seems like a nuclear option. I mean, do what you want to do, but you could just ask and I'll bet you'll be able to find images to use and/or modify.

      At any rate, thanks for chiming in. You may find our upcoming image use best practices post(s) enlightening and useful.

      Delete
  18. A somewhat similar problem occurred last year when the graphical abstract for Bell et al. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1342937X15002026) failed to credit Julius Csotonyi for his art.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for letting us know. Seems a call for artists to report these instances is in order. Perhaps for a special post.

      Delete
    2. Rex, I just checked that paper and if the graphical abstract did not have a credit for it before, it certainly does now.

      Delete
    3. Apologies, I should have noted that the current credit was tacked on after Julius was informed about the situation.

      Delete
    4. No worries. It still does not reflect well on them that they did it only after they have been called out about it. I mean, it is good that they rectified the issue, but best practice is still to put the credit in on the first place, which would keep everyone happy.

      Delete
  19. One additional thought to add in here regarding graphical abstracts: since graphical abstracts are relatively new and don't include captions, it might not be obvious to some authors where an artist credit should be included. I make most of my own figure art in order to avoid any copyright issues entirely in my papers, but if I were using (with permission) someone else's work in a figure they would usually be credited in the figure caption or (less likely) in the acknowledgements at the end of the paper. Since graphical abstracts don't have captions, I could see people missing this inadvertently if it didn't occur to them to stick a credit right into the image file itself. I'm not excusing this, since it's easy enough to add a text line into an image file, but pointing out that there's a couple of ways I can see this happening that are non-malicious.

    I don't think a lot of scientists (or non-scientists, for that matter) receive any training whatsoever in intellectual property stuff, and I think some of these things can be a bit opaque if you're not immersed in it all the time. Add in the fact that scientists generally have to transfer copyright in order for a paper to be published, and it all gets a lot murkier (this is also a good reason for artists not to give art freely for scientific papers - ask for payment if you're going to lose copyright to your work!).

    I think a guide to CC licenses and IP in scientific publishing is a great idea and will be a handy thing for people to be able to share with colleagues and students - let me know if I can help!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I would just stay clear from anything that has been posted on the internet. Artists themselves may be more cautious about posting their most priceless, high esteemed art on the web. I know some of the great artists always post on low res, or formats that can only be copied by screen saving. This seems like a good mechanism for uploading art if you are serious about its protection. And yeah, they also sign their artwork somehow. If you fail to do these things you are exposing yourself, so maybe you are not so serious about protecting your art (you don't care) , or maybe you shouldn't whine when, after being plagiarized by several sources, some poor scientist is misled into believing it is up for free use (and them burn said scientists at the stake)
    Many teams of scientists have talented illustrators that can make original work (Sergio Soto could have for that paper). I myself have hired an artist to make original art for outreach images, so I don't have to worry about someone whining about us plagiarizing their unique genius (even if this is a diminute, low res image or only a shadow-like silhouette. You know, no actual large, high res, high-dedication artwork. Usually all we need is something schematic)
    And yes, we did mark the artwork with the name of the illustrator. I see how this does not protect it from people that can edit it out of the image, and then upload it as their own under a CC license. You know, REALLY dishonest people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey dude, can you stop talking about people 'whining' about a totally legitimate problem? Reproducing art without payment or attribution, when those things should be given, is a serious issue. It sounds like the problem in this instance has been corrected, but it wasn't wrong for the issue to be brought up.

      It's also a bit silly to suggest that scientists steer clear of art posted on the internet. Places like deviantart and twitter are huge resources for finding artists you might want to work with (either by commissioning new art or licensing existing art), and it's not hard to work with CC licenses once you know how.

      Delete
  21. Artists have to market themselves online, period. That's a fact of modern life.

    As I've pointed out in a comment above, there are no sufficient defenses against theft. They can be circumvented by anyone with the skill. The only perfect defense is not to post at all. Concerning which, see above paragraph.

    It doesn't matter if a work is genius or not, and that's not the point.

    It's not hard to find CC artwork to use or adapt. It's just not.

    Anyway, I hope you'll tune in when we post our upcoming IP and copyright post. Then no one has to be "burned at the stake" for the sake of whiny artists ever again.

    ReplyDelete
  22. If your conclusion is that this happened because scientists don't know the difference between CC and CCo, allow me to remind you that the only difference that would have made, is that Otero et al would have credited the thief that uploaded the image as CC. Much better, hugh?

    Perhaps, asides from the abysmal ignorance of scientists, you should do not leave out from your future posts the fact that at least SOME part of the problem, or better said, the core, is caused by the people that actually STEAL. Unfortunately, I don't think any number of educative posts can prevent that from happening: No amount of education makes the difference to the basic message of "DON'T BE A THIEF". And yes, the only perfect protection against THAT, is not to post ANY artwork online. In this regard, your posts will hardly do anything to protect artists from actual thiefs. But your posts will be certainly helpful for scientists that they may then avoid being humiliated online by an inquisition of the internet community of artists. Thus I applaud and encourage you to write these posts, which will be valuable, if only to scientists. I know they won't change anything for the artists.

    And with this, I end my existence in this blog. Farewell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's worth pointing out that posts like this one, and like David's planned guide to IP and copyright, are helpful to scientists who value ethical conduct, and who want to see their palaeoartist colleagues thrive in their careers, too. This isn't the sort of thing covered during typical undergrad or graduate coursework in research science, so artist-run blogs like this one might be one of the only places to learn this kind of information.

      Your point is valid that the blame for this incident lies first with the people who wrongfully uploaded Asher's art under a CC license. I'm also sure it didn't feel good for the authors to have found out about the image problem in this manner, but that's how things go sometimes, and hopefully they, and others reading this blog, have learned how serious a problem this is for palaeoartists trying to make a living at what they do.

      Delete
  23. Replies
    1. You should credit Carlos Anzures for use of his Pelagornis as your profile pic.

      Delete
    2. For that reason, burn the damn scientists!!!

      Delete
  24. When did being professional become equated with "muted civility"? Also, note that people equate questions about the tone with wanting people to say or do nothing or else being an apologist for bad behavior. I think its possible to be firm and use anger constructively without calling out someone's overall character. **I realize that I am saying this in a comments section on the internet**, and how absurd that might seem to some people. But also, we are all working in the same field and are passionate about the same kinds of things and I think we can be civil. I may have a unique view in that I have known both the authors and the artist for 6-7 years (Asher from when I was a curator at Alabama and I've been to Chile three times). I have either published with or been in the field and collected fossils with almost everyone involved. I may have been one of the first people to commission artwork from Asher.

    Anyhow, as has been pointed out by many, and well said by Victoria, "I don't think a lot of scientists (or non-scientists, for that matter) receive any training whatsoever in intellectual property stuff, and I think some of these things can be a bit opaque if you're not immersed in it all the time." And we can quibble about how easy it is and how dumb people are for not knowing, but ultimately that just puts people on their heels. Better to show people how easy it is. CC is pretty straightforward, but people still misunderstand it.

    I am not denying anyone a right to their anger, as I said, I have been on the artists' side of it. I am not saying that people should do nothing either. I have no issue with this mosasaur image issue being pointed out, in fact I think its great/important. But I do have a problem with the unprofessional tone of the blog post and many of the comments. I would have preferred to see a writeup after the author had been contacted parties had a chance to speak. Probably a personal blog doesn't count as journalism, I don't really know, but probably many of the same code of ethics could be useful (e.g., " Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing"). I think that we need to avoid the rush to public shaming. I feel like the ire directed towards the author should have been reserved for someone that was unrepentant or a repeat offender.

    I realize there is a lot of justified anger in the paleoartist community, but I urge everyone to work together. I'd like to be an ally, and promote this issue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, James. I appreciate your comments and your critiques. I understand your disagreement with my methods here. A blog like this does indeed live in a journalistic limbo. I'd consider a post like this to be a form of protest, which understandably fits oddly within a journalistic model. I'm not a trained journalist, either. As you can see by perusing the blog over time, I personally tend to play the part of a cheerleader for paleoartists and paleontologists both. So it's not necessarily my goal to do "call outs" all the time. I think your suggested approach is great. Maybe I'll change my mind about this post in the future. At any rate, thanks again for your comments.

      Delete
  25. Anyone offended by the tone of the blog post or the comments in this thread needs to thicken up their skin and grow some osteoderms. Whether you're offended is not something of any material consequence to anyone anywhere, so swallow your coddled sense of etiquette and assess the facts like actual scientific thinkers. If you don't credit an artist you stifle the ability of that artist to keep making art, and subsequently the continued development of art and the discourse it generates. These are actual, broadly reaching, real-world consequences that affect the visual imagery that surrounds your field, and therefor public awareness and your ability to find funding for your projects. Funding, which by the way, rarely includes paleoart as a necessary part of the budget.

    P.S. Professional/publically visible artists eat public criticism all the time and nobody contacts us first to see if we're ok with it.

    ReplyDelete

Trolls get baleted.