Printed boards, 112 pages. Royal Observatory Greenwich, revised edition, 2020.
All 14 of my illustrations have been copied by one Paul Yeomans, a CAD computer operator working for Birmingham City University, as commissioned by the National Maritime Museum. This Breach of my Copyright was done without my knowledge or permission and, after lengthy correspondence with the museum, the book has now been withdrawn from sale and the remaining copies destroyed.
Unfortunately for me, around 400 copies have already been sold and will remain in circulation. I would prefer all copies to be destroyed but I realise this is not fair on those who have bought a copy, to keep or to perhaps give as a present. Instead, if you feel like making the effort you could return the book to the museum and request your money back, and if the museum will not do so, I will. Otherwise if you have or know of a copy I would be grateful if you would make a note on the acknowledgements page (facing the Contents page) of this book containing illegal copies of my original work.
This will certainly help to stop future reproductions of these copies being made. It will also, I hope, stop the damaging comments being made about the illustrations being created by Yeomans! This last comment (already made on the NAWCC message Board) really hurts; the more so in that the NAWCC refuse to remove it. Similarly, the Antiquarian Horological Society have also refused to alert their members to the breach of my copyright.
It becomes far more difficult to stop future problems once copies of the book enter the second hand market. If annotated, then there is at least a chance this book will not create further problems, either for me or for anyone who is unaware of this theft of my intellectual property.
If you are able and willing to help disseminate this information I would be most grateful.
Thank you, David Penney
PS: It has become clear that some people seem to think that the above is just an ‘opinion’ and are asking for ‘proof.’ All I can say is that, like most (90+%?) Breach of Copyright cases, it has not gone to court. Thus, there is no statement in law that can be pointed to as proof. However, the fact that the museum has withdrawn the book from sale, etc, is all the proof anyone could need as it should be quite clear that they did not take such action because I said “please”
The reason for the out of court settlement is purely down to the fact that there is no question that my copyright has been breached. At the very point that I told the museum that I had enough of their prevarication (they did not want to withdraw the book from sale and offered unsatisfactory alternatives) and told them that I was going to take them to court, I received the declaration (on August 4th) from the museum’s lawyers that I add below. All the ‘proof’ anyone should ever need is in this statement.
[The museum] “ceased all sales of the publication in question some time ago and have destroyed or are in the process of destroying all copies within their possession, custody and control.
We attach the certificate of destruction for the stock of the said publication held by our client’s distributor. We are instructed that the stock held by our client will be destroyed on the 16th August 2021. A certificate of destruction will be provided to you shortly after that.
Again entirely without admission, our client is content to provide you with reasonable undertakings confirming it will not without your consent publish, print or have printed, sell or offer for sale etc. the said publication or any other publication featuring the drawings under complaint.”
It would in fact be perverse of me to now take the museum to court in order to get them to do what they have already done, as well as be further a waste of time and money, of the law courts as well.
For those who are still interested (I don’t wish to bore anyone), I add the following Open Letter:
COPYRIGHT problems within the horological community: a plea for understanding
The law referring to the protection of any original artistic creation goes back to 1735. Often referred to as ‘Hogarth’s Law,’ its inception had a great deal to do with the artist and engraver William Hogarth who petitioned parliament for protection from copies being made of his work. These ‘rip-offs’ were denying him the opportunity to profit from his creations and thus earn any sort of reasonable living. For those interested to know more, see the Arts & Humanities Research Council website: www.copyrighthistory.org
In short, the law of Copyright bestows legal rights with the creator such that copies cannot be made without breaking the law, and from which redress can be sought If such copies are made. The law covers both the ‘actual’ and ‘moral’ aspects of the creative endeavour.
This law has since grown to protect UK artists, illustrators, sculptors, authors, etc, allowing them to benefit from any of their creative work for which customers and audiences see fit to pay. Without the law I, and most other specialist illustrators, would have to seek paid employment elsewhere and any incentive to create new and better work would be nullified. Books such as my work in Daniels Watchmaking, for example, would not exist.
I entered the world of freelance illustration in the early 1970’s and, while copying was not rife, it was a problem, especially regarding the book world where publishers regularly rode roughshod over illustrator’s rights, either demanding they be forfeited in order to get the work, or just ignoring the law completely. While I have always refused to relinquish my basic rights to any of my specialist architectural and horological work, my rights have been regularly abused, with both pirated and illegally created copies of my work appearing throughout Europe and America, not to mention on the internet. This theft has often been by individuals that know me and from within institutions that really cannot plead the usual “I did not realise”
At this point it should be made clear that ignorance of the law is never accepted as an excuse in court, and it must be said that the ingrained knowledge of copying without permission being fundamentally wrong is anyway something with which most UK schoolchildren will have grown up. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that those whose work has been copied are annoyed at having their legal and moral rights denied them by such behaviour – if we cannot profit by our labours, we cannot then feed ourselves and our family.
The situation for UK based illustrators took a step forward in 1973 when the Association of Illustrators (AOI) was formed. It promoted illustrator’s rights, improved their knowledge concerning adequate contracts and, via its ethics committee, provided legal help and representation when cases went to court. Having been heavily involved with the AOI at this time I look back on what now seem like the ‘good old days.’ The world-wide-web and almost universal use of the internet has changed all that. Stolen copyright material is now constantly being uploaded and re-copied, as well as being illegally used commercially and otherwise abused. Many, if not most of us, are unable to stop this or have any recourse, not the least because specialist legal help costs so much. Sums charged can easily be at the rate of £350 per hour, going up to £500 per hour if a senior partner is involved. Exercising one’s rights abroad can be even more costly, if not impossible.
This short note has been prompted by my suffering the worst ever theft of my intellectual property. This was at the hands of a national UK institution who commissioned and then published plagiarised copies of my original work. The museum initially denied that a breach of copyright had taken place, refusing to withdraw the book from sale. They even made the claim, or at least their lawyers did, that I was persecuting the museum who they described as a ‘charity with little funds’ and who were ‘losing a great deal of money due to my actions.’ As the only victim in this situation, and the only one paying lawyer’s fees out of their own pocket, this just added insult to the injury.
Thus to the point of this short note, which is made to all of those interested in horology and who are considering using other people’s words and/or images without permission: Please don’t. If you do, you will almost certainly be breaking the law, even if it is a law with which you disagree. More importantly, you will be depriving the original creator the right to benefit from their work. In my case, continuing internet and publishing thefts has long meant that I can no longer make a living as an illustrator. Worse still, I cannot see why anyone would want to enter this profession while such thefts, and the fact that the law belongs to those with ‘the deepest pocket,’ reigns supreme.
For all those readers who choose to know a bit more about the rights of copyright, I urge you to take the time to do so, but please know that these rights cover both the marks on paper (or screen) and the creative choices made in visualising the final image. Thus, the choice of viewing any object, what to and what not to include, how it is shown and rendered, etc, is all protected in law.
For example, if I were to take a Shakespeare sonnet and type it out myself, in a different colour and in a different typeface, making some changes of punctuation and the odd word or two, I could then think of publishing it as my own creation; the more so in that I could not be sued as the protection offered by copyright expires 70 years after the death of its creator. I would, however, clearly be showing myself up as being a thief and an imposter. In short, I would have made myself a public pariah of sorts, and rightly so.
This changes dramatically if the work copied is under the time limit of 70 years, I should then expect to be both shunned and sued.
The exact same situation arises if someone copies a creative image. Tracing or otherwise copying it using a computer or a different pen, in a different colour and perhaps changing the odd line or arrow, is not enough to evade the consequences of breaking the law. Similarly, hand copying someone else’s photographic or computer-generated image is also theft.
PLEASE do stop and think of the consequences, all of them, if you ever consider doing so.
Lastly, I attach just a few of the more damaging instances of copyright theft that have happened to me within the horological community. I do this not to plead ‘poor me’ but rather to show that theft and the breaching of copyright in this specialist field is far more common than many realise. Most, if not all, of these few cases (I could have listed many more) could have been avoided if those involved had bothered to think about the consequences of their actions:
– Orologi Antichi by B HUTCHINSON, published 1983. I supplied just a few diagrammatic symbols but, unknown to the author, the Italian publishers, Mondadori, had also commissioned some illustrations that were copies of my original work, stealing my intellectual property. Despite my complaining at their London office, nothing was done to rectify the situation and Mondadori refused to speak to me. The book was later translated and published in Spanish as well. The fact that I was sharing credits with the Italian thief was nothing other than being forced to share a bed with one’s rapist, a fate I would wish on no one.
– The National Trust Pocket Guide to Clocks by J BETTS, published 1985. The publisher, Octopus Books, “forgot” to credit me on the title page as agreed in the contract. Their subsequent apology has been of no help to me as the lack of any name associated with the illustrations has given many others the excuse to copy my work thinking that no name means no copyright. It does not, but it does make it doubly hard to protect one’s property, plus rights to claim royalties via the DACS scheme (The Design and Artists Copyright Society) has been forever denied.
– British Museum catalogue of Chronometers by A G RANDALL & R GOOD, published in 1990. As a freelance supplier of original work, my name was strangely omitted from the credits page, thus breaking the contract. Instead, I was mentioned only in the foreword, where my name was misspelt. The apology I received did not change the fact that the snub, intentional or not, is permanent. What’s more, the books designers, who did of course credit themselves, used and changed my illustrations to decorate the back of the (awful) dust jacket. This was done without my knowledge or permission, breaching my copyright.
– Time Museum catalogue of Chronometers by A G RANDALL, published in 1992. This was a much happier association for me but someone could not stop themselves from altering (messing up would be more accurate) my box chronometer illustrations which were then used on the endpapers. This was again without my knowledge or permission, as well as being followed by an apology. Well-meant as the apology was, the damage to me is permanent and more than one person has since mentioned that they did not think much of ‘my’ endpapers!
– The Practical Watch escapement by G DANIELS, published 1994. Containing a great deal of my line illustrations, this was published without my knowledge or permission (if asked I would have agreed), nor the offer of any payment. The author did at least credit me on the title page but chose to misspell my name.
– NMM catalogue of Chronometers by J Betts, published in 2017. No less that seventy (70) of my drawn and photographic images were either wrongly credited or not credited at all. The publishers, Oxford University Press, refused to include an errata sheet nor even to speak to me; the museum did finally agree to include an errata sheet but only with the copies that they sold at the museum. They even created a further error on the errata sheet after it had been agreed with me. It seemed to me at the time that no one in the publications department understood what copyright was or what it covered – this is as alarming as the breach of copyright itself.
– John Harrison and the Quest for Longitude by J BETTS, revised edition published 2020. All fourteen (14) illustrations created by me and used in the previous edition, in which they were correctly acknowledged as my copyright, were copied by a Paul Yeomans. He is a CAD computer operator working at Birmingham City University – they are both credited on the acknowledgements page. This most obvious breach of my copyright is not in question, and I am left wondering just how the publishing department of a national museum, and all those involved in the book, can have thought this was in any way a just and ethical, let alone legal, manner in which to act.
Perhaps the internet has changed the morals of the younger generation. If so, the present law should keep up with the times and do more to protect the rights that are both fair and worthy of respect, as well as being clearly laid out in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
“Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which they are the author”