Thursday, May 19, 2011


This was a bust that’s not quite as spectacular as discovering John Loftus’ fake blog, but it was still fun.

The perpetrator this time is someone I don’t name here, because he’s a nuisance who likes seeing his name on the little screen – just like Farrell Till. Which fits, because years back he was one of Till’s groupies, and I alluded to him in an earlier entry here on the Forge as a benighted soul who thought Till’s ghost town forum was worth bringing attention to. (It is, if you want an example of unhealed fundamentalism in a collective setting.)

These days, he gets his adoration fix from his own set of groupies on YouTube, which total in number about the same as the number who read my article on Mithra every two months. They’re clearly quality people for the most part – such as one I alluded to the other day whose username was half deity names, half sexual slang words. Their fearless leader specializes in being not-creative and making high-level bungles in logic and understanding. Of the latter, perhaps my favorite was a time when I referred to a specific scholarly book, which he dismissed because he couldn’t find it in HIS local library. At other times one of his favorite excuses for ignoring arguments is, “That scholar is conservative/an evangelical.”

These days one of his dalliances is trying to answer my YT vids on 2 Kings 2:23-5. Previously he had had an answer up to another user there who had used me as a source, and was forced to issue an apology to that user when he falsely accused him of plagiarizing my material (he had in fact credited me). Answering me directly after I showed at YT gave him an excuse to obscure that embarrassing apology (as well as some other mistakes – for example, accusing me of just making up the idea that baldness was rare in the ancient world; I still recall his use of a picture of empty bookshelves to indicate that I had no source for that claim).

His newer reply to me directly is in terms of quality about 30% expressing amazement that Christians believe this crazy stuff (ha ha), 20% actual argument, and 50% emotional rhetoric.
To give you an idea the sort of backwards mentality we’re dealing with, his only “answer” to my point that the youths hassling Eiisha fought back against bears because bears could be used (like buffalo) as resources for food and other staples was to laugh and show pictures of – uh – products people made from bears. Yep, that’s the way to refute it.

Even better was the one where he refuted a point I made about honor being received in battles by cribbing a screenshot from Star Trek showing Klingons singing about receiving honor in battle. That’s a good answer, huh? “Hurr hurr. Honor. Funny. Let’s move on…”

Ah yes. Cribbing screenshots. That brings us to the main issue today. Our dilettante has another serious problem when it comes to his vids: if he ever had an original idea for doing one, it hitchhiked to Peoria. If he isn’t cribbing screenshots from someone’s website, or from a film, or from some old painting, he’s making an effort to find one he can crib. There’s not an ounce of originality in anything he produces (whether arguments or production values), and given that, it’s not surprising that I caught him at something which deserves notice as an example of just how much respect these guys have for the intellectual property rights of others.

His latest vid (now removed – see below) made a personal announcement in which he parodies one of my own characters used in reply to him. That’s legal, even if reflective of inability to come up with ideas of his own. But it’s not the character that’s the issue – it was the background graphic, which was a sort of global map designed to look like a news show background.

One of his group was impressed with it, so they asked where he got it from. To this he replied that he did not remember, but that he got it from a Google search of “news background”.

Oh really. He didn’t remember, eh?

As it happens, you can find that graphic with the very search he points to – it comes up second or third, and interestingly enough, it’s a graphic you’re supposed to PAY for – about $125 for a license to use it and an associated animation program. Not only that, the version on the site has a “watermark” to discourage theft. He didn’t mind though – he just used an object in the foreground of his vid, and some lettering, to cover up the watermark and hide his thieving handiwork.

There are a couple of stunning things about this. The first is the audacity of lifting a graphic with an obvious watermark – one you clearly saw and covered up – and using it for free. (Which he did, since he admits he just lifted it via a find from Google.) The second is the audacity of lying about it when asked directly where he got it from. The last is the arrogance of the theft in the first place – supposing that you have every right to steal someone’s intellectual property. It goes beyond fair use, I might add: the graphic was used in the background of all but a few seconds of the minute and a half vid, and that’s way over the line.

I’m not saying I never make mistakes on this. Sometimes you can’t do it right, maybe because some third party has used/edited a graphic, sound effect, or what have you, and left the impression that it is not from a paid source. But I do all I can to be sure I don’t violate someone else’s intellectual property rights. I don’t use graphics with a watermark or with a price. I stick with fair use. I try to use items found on educational or government sites, or places where no one is trying to make a profit. People work hard to create these things, and it isn’t our place to take them and use them wholesale.

And more than that – you sure won’t find me trying to cover my tracks, either. One day after I brought notice to this issue in a vid of my own, the Till groupie pulled his vid down, and told his thralls:

I'm back from the business trip early. Emergency with one of my clients forced me to cut it short.

Yep. Being caught red-handed is definitely an emergency.

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