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Creationists Violating Copyright 635

Posted by kdawson
from the lawyer-on-speed-dial dept.
The_Rook writes "The Discovery Institute, more a lawyer mill than a scientific institution, copied Harvard University's BioVisions video 'The Inner Life of the Cell,' stripped out Harvard's copyright notice, credits, and narration, inserted their own creationist-friendly narration, and renamed the video 'The Cell As an Automated City.' The new title subtly suggests that a cell is designed rather than evolved."
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Creationists Violating Copyright

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  • by badran (973386) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:10AM (#21469017)
    Harvard was created so that they would be able to copy it. You know part of a bigger plan.
    • by loganrapp (975327) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [pparnagol]> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @05:52AM (#21469985)
      Doesn't fair use handle satire?
      • Re:It was planned. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @07:17AM (#21470279)
        I doubt it was meant in mockery. Unfortunately, I think those guys are dead serious with this.
    • by Joebert (946227) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @06:43AM (#21470145) Homepage
      It all makes sense now.

      God didn't create the world, God stole the Devils' science project !
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @07:23AM (#21470309)
      You know, Jesus copied bread and fish for over 5,000 people and didn't give a shit about bakeries' and fishermens' lost profits or copyrights.
      • by maxwell demon (590494) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @10:03AM (#21471087) Journal

        You know, Jesus copied bread and fish for over 5,000 people and didn't give a shit about bakeries' and fishermens' lost profits or copyrights.
        What do you think was the real reason why he was crucified?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 3seas (184403)
        Actually he just gave the hungry people a way to eat and share the food they had brought with them, but hidden, and without exposure of what they had with them to those around them.

        Or do people really believe the people of that time were so foolish to follow someone teaching a better way of life than the dog eat dog world they were living in, without taking food with them and protecting it?

        As to the cell design issue, we do have the knowledge and ability to genetically design and create life today. Its only
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by melikamp (631205)

          Actually he just gave the hungry people a way to eat and share the food they had brought with them, but hidden, and without exposure of what they had with them to those around them.

          Right. And he did not really resurrect, he simply went into the deep coma on the cross, and then woke up in the tomb, scared away the guards by covering his head with a white sheet with holes for eyes, and went to hang out with the Apostles. And in the end he did not rise up to heaven, but rather collapsed from excessive bloo

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jcr (53032)
      Let's not forget that Harvard was founded as a bible-thumper school. It was basically the Oral Roberts University of its day, and as it became a secular institution, the one thing it preserved from its Puritan origins is the belief that Harvard graduates are entitled to tell other people what to do.

      -jcr
  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kierthos (225954) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:12AM (#21469025) Homepage
    It's a good thing they're a lawyer mill. Because Harvard's going to sue the shit out of them.

    Now, I'm not going to say all Creationists are dumb. I've met a few who aren't. But what in the hell were these guys thinking? "Oooo... let's use their video. They'll never catch on, and even if they do, what are they going to do about it?"

    Dumbasses.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AndrewBuck (1120597) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:22AM (#21469071)
      This is going to be interesting...lawyer mill vs the number 1 law school in the country. Not only that but the poster above makes an interesting point about fair use (although I think it was more intended as flaimbait). Probably not fair use in this case though as they didn't "comment on" the movie ,they simply took a part of it and worked it into their own creation, derivative work if I understand correctly. Regardless of the legal merits of the situation, I hope the media at large pick up on this, after they posted fake DMCA takedowns to silence their opponents they go and do this...not exactly ethical, even if it was "legal."

      -Buck
      • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by rm999 (775449) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:29AM (#21469123)
        I'm not a lawyer, but sue them for what? Don't you have to prove that you lost money when you are suing for damages? Clearly what the creationists did was illegal/immoral, but it seems like people are blowing this our of proportion. I think what will happen is the creationists will remove the video and "sort of" apologize for plagiarism - by sort of, I mean they'll blame some scapegoat who "didn't know better, and has been removed from the organization. "
        • by Entropius (188861)
          You have to prove that you lost *something*, not necessarily money.
        • also, i cannot be sued for illegal downloading because i simply have no money to buy this amount of movies (by your logic, not the MAFIAA's).
          • by kdemetter (965669)
            Well , they would still lose a certain amount , namely the amount you could have paid for .
            But it's not because you can pay for it , that you would ( you still have to eat , pay rent , etc )

            In truth , they can not know for certain how much money they lost . They only know they lose money , and they blame it on filesharing , but they can't prove how big that amount really is .

          • by rm999 (775449)
            Are you referring to the RIAA/MPAA? If so, what they do isn't really legal. From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA#File-sharing_lawsuits):
            "In November, 2006, a Judge in a Brooklyn Federal court upheld the legal theory behind a defense claiming that the RIAA's damages theory -- which calls for aggregating statutory damages of $750 per song in its lawsuits -- is unconstitutional, since the record companies' actual damages are less than $0.70 per song."

            Again, I'm not a lawyer, but I was always under
        • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

          by belmolis (702863) <billposer&alum,mit,edu> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:47AM (#21469509) Homepage

          The Copyright Act allows the copyright holder to choose between actual damages and statutory damages, which may be as much as $150,000 per infringement. Furthermore, it is not out of the question that punitive damages will be awarded if the infringement is intentional and egregious, which is arguably the case here. Traditionally, it has been assumed that punitive damages are not available for copyright infringement, but courts have awarded them in some recent cases.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kierthos (225954)
        It was intended to be sarcastic, if that helps.

        The Discovery Institute is almost certainly going to claim Fair Use or something similiar, but I don't see how they can justify that when they stripped out the credits and copyright notice. Not to mention the narration.

        Actually, I think it's the new narration that's going to get it disqualified under Fair Use. By taking the "opposite" tack of evolution (i.e. design), they're in effect, diluting the value of the original work.
        • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Volante3192 (953645) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:38AM (#21469193)
          I thought Fair Use required attribution of the source?... Stripping it out and claiming it as your own, that's a case example of copyright infringement.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:28AM (#21469111)
      *in mr burns voice*

      Oooh, a lawsuit from "harvard"

      What are they going to do, row us to death?

      Oh no, I'm so scared!
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Creationists haven't even read their favourite book as far as the bit written by Paul. It's not about rejecting evolution, biology, geology etc - it's about taking things one step further than rejecting an educated clergy like these groups did decades ago, it's about rejecting education in general.
    • I agree completely, except the part where you claim that not all creationists are dumb.
  • by ross.w (87751) <rwonderley@@@gmail...com> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:18AM (#21469041) Journal
    (C)Copyright 4000BC God
    All rights reserved
    Reproduction other than by the means provided for in your licence agreement is prohibited
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:18AM (#21469053)
    Doesn't it make more sense to believe that Harvard stripped out the creastionist commentary from the video and slapped on a copyright notice? It would be far too complex to edit a Harvard video to add commentary, thus I must go with this simpler explanation and blame Harvard.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gzipped_tar (1151931)

      It would be far too complex to edit a Harvard video to add commentary,

      Haha. More complex than editing your (posted) /. post?
      BTW: You can watch the harvard video here: http://multimedia.mcb.harvard.edu/media.html [harvard.edu]
      That was a superb animation. I watched it for the first time 3 months ago. Another version goes with no commentaries but only music and you can find it from Youtube.

  • by DullTrev (533249) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:20AM (#21469061) Homepage
    God created everything.
  • Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:23AM (#21469077)
    They ignore common sense, who could have guessed they would ignore other peoples copyright?...
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:29AM (#21469121)

    ...the film was originally intelligently designed. Then it evolved.

  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:30AM (#21469129) Homepage Journal
    Fuck the creationists, those bunch of dumb-ass bitches,
    every time I think of them, my trigger finger itches,
    They want to have their bullshit...taught in public class,
    Stephen J. Gould [wikipedia.org] should put his foot right up their ass! ...
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:33AM (#21469159)
    Creationists stealing from scientists because they cannot intelligently design their own presentation? The Discovery Institute unable to discover anything on their own? Ignoring morality as a means to their own creation? Dishonest lawyers? (OK, that last one's obvious.)

    What to choose, what to choose...

  • by or-switch (1118153) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:35AM (#21469169)
    What's really strange is that the original version doesn't say anything that would negate a creationists argument, and the creationist version doesn't say anything that would negate evolution. What I find bizarre is that they dubbed over it with a new track and edited the sequencing. The result is that they look like idiots because they get some information wrong, and the guy doing the narration says, "Uh," a lot and stammers his way through it. It's like the edited the original video and gave him one pass to explain what was happening and it was moving too fast. There was NO reason to dub over it.

    What's worse than peddling religion in the name of science? Doing it badly! Come on, at least believe strongly enough in your own message to articulate it clearly.

  • What's the problem? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrKyle (818035) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:48AM (#21469233)
    I have used this video in my intro biology class, telling them it is an absolutely marvelous video and that by the time they graduate they will understand the complex processes depicted. I have spoken through it, thereby adding my own narration. Does this mean I am going to get sued too? In finding this video for my class I noticed many versions out there on youtube and other video sites, ones which had the copyright notice absent already, so does this mean I would get sued for showing those instead of the original? It's not like they posted the video on a site representing it as their own, it was part of a powerpoint presentation and I really doubt there is solid grounds to show they did anything wrong. Just because they are pushing their own agenda which the poster disagrees with does not mean they are any worse than other people making up a powerpoint presentation and not citing every graphic and video they find on the web.
    • I have used this video in my intro biology class, telling them it is an absolutely marvelous video and that by the time they graduate they will understand the complex processes depicted. I have spoken through it, thereby adding my own narration. Does this mean I am going to get sued too?
      Only if you proclaim you made this video in print, a Harvard lawyer is in your classroom, the author of the video is in your classroom, and your are a person of note.
    • by wickerprints (1094741) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:27AM (#21469417)
      That depends on whether you tried to pass the video off as your own creation. That, in essence, is the core of the issue with the Discovery Institute's usage. Despite the title of the summary, the copyright violation is not what lies at the heart of this matter--it is the plagiarism. Surely your students cannot reasonably assume you were the sole author of the video. The same could not be said of a large, well-funded organization such as the DI.
  • Those Bastards!!!
  • by Keruo (771880) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:01AM (#21469297)
    Isn't it better that they removed the logo?
    Otherwise it might appear to some person watching that the ramblings were actually created by harvard.

  • Why oh why (Score:2, Funny)

    by headkase (533448)
    They are obviously blinding themselves to the true nature of the Universe! God didn't create it, we did about 7.2 million years from now! And I can't believe nobodies brought up the instrument of the creation, his noodly appendage himself!
  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @03:12AM (#21469357)
    To call the Discovery Institute's use of the Harvard video merely "copyright violation" overlooks the more fundamental problem, because the DI did not just copy and redistribute the content without permission, but in fact (a) distorted and misrepresented the meaning of the content via overdubbed narration, and (b) knowingly misrepresented the authorship of the content. The former is fraud (though perhaps not in a legal context), and the second is plagiarism (which does satisfy the legal definition).

    Violation of copyright is really only the superficial issue, and only addresses the ownership of the original work.

    The creationist/intelligent design cabal is successful because since the time of Darwin, they have understood that their views cannot be defended through legitimate scientific inquiry, and can never be by definition. Therefore, they attack evolution by natural selection by appealing to and exploiting public passions, fears, and ignorance, and cloaking themselves in psuedoscientific legitimacy. They hope to insinuate themselves into rational discourse by invoking a false sense of objectivity and open-mindedness, appealing to the public to "hear both sides," which is merely a sophistic tactic to put their position on equal footing with decades of confirmed and verified scientific theory.

    In the end, what I truly don't understand is why the creationists are so hell-bent on disproving evolution. History has shown us time and time again that when religion fights science, religion ends up with egg on its face. (Galileo and his support of Copernican heliocentrism comes to mind.) If I were devoutly religious, the last thing I would want is to try to prove God's existence, because then such a proof would obviate the need for faith in the first place. Such a desire to enshrine one's belief in the language of science seems horribly misplaced at best, and ultimately, is a far greater detriment and threat to religion than science. Meanwhile, the scientists can only follow the path that nature reveals.
    • Doctrines of belief, whether they're "let's eat human flesh and blood of some poor crucified guy every Sunday and call it Mass", or "let's strap explosives to our bodies to kill children on a bus and go to heaven", fight dirty. They've always done so, and they've survived well enough to still cause mayhem and madness. So I don't think you can really say they always lose arguments with science and its kissing cousins, open debate and reasoning.

      But many religions are founded on a core belief that what the pri
    • by novakyu (636495) <novakyu@member.fsf.org> on Sunday November 25, 2007 @05:59AM (#21470005) Homepage
      Er, before you start foaming at your mouth, I recommend that you actually watch the original video with the original narration. Listen to every word carefully (I'm not a biologist, but I could understand most of it, so unless you are stupid or utterly unqualified to make the remarks you did, you should be able to also), and ask yourself: "Which part of that original narration supports Darwinian evolution?"

      Your integrity ought to be questioned if your answer is anything other than "Nothing!" The video does look like a ... very sophisticated computer animation with probably biologically correct description of the cell. But that's where it stops. It describes what happens in the cell TODAY, not what might have happened over last couple billion years (or, in the interest of fairness, whether it just had to be designed by a creator).

      Given this fact, your characterization of the modified presentation as "distorted and misrepresented" is ... well, let's say over-zealous. I'm not saying that the creationist is right in not correctly attributing the Harvard biologist who made the original animation. But, given that the original says nothing about "Creation vs. Evolution" debate, would his presentation have been any less effective if he made the correct attribution? No. After, all, creationists also claim to be (I'm not supporting or denying their claim) scientists, and it is no shame to refer to another scientist's work.

      As for the copyright aspect ... well, I am not a lawyer and I wouldn't be able to make a cogent argument for or against this particular use. But let me just say, what the creationist did looks very similar to what some people do to make those anime "music videos" on the YouTube. If you condemn him as "distorting and misrepresenting" the original work, by the same measure, you should condemn the people creating those music videos because they are putting the animation together with music that was never designed to be put together and creating possibly misleading atmosphere. Is that what you want to do?

      The whole "creation vs. evolution" argument has an effect on people that makes them utterly stupid and unable to make intelligent, rational arguments (yes, that goes for rabid creationists, as well as rabid evolutionists). If you want to save what is left of your intelligence, I advise you to take a step back and look at the debate from a distance. That's what I do as a believing scientist.

      As for what copyright ought to allow people to do and ought not, I invite you to watch Lessig's wonderful presentation and make up your own mind: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/187 [ted.com].
      • by wickerprints (1094741) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @06:31AM (#21470111)
        You might want to read my response [slashdot.org] in another thread before you jump to conclusions about what I am or am not saying about intelligent design. I am hardly brainwashed.

        I stand by my claim that the DI misrepresented and distorted the original content of the video, precisely because the original narration does not make any statement about how these biochemical mechanisms came into being, and because it is reasonable to presume that the video's content was developed by scientists, they could not legitimately believe that intelligent design furnishes a valid scientific framework for these mechanisms' existence. The logical conclusion is that the subsequent use is a distortion.

        Furthermore, to compare this misrepresentation to an AMV on YouTube may be valid from a legal standpoint, but invalid from a sociopolitical standpoint. For instance, you would not want the media to similarly play fast and loose with content they did not author or to fail to cite or document their sources (though quite unfortunately, they often do--hence the introduction of the word "truthiness" in our modern lexicon). It is not reasonable to hold all such forms of content manipulation to the same standard, as those with a background in journalism and/or art history could point out.

        I find it interesting that so few people seem to have a problem with the failure to make the proper attribution, and the implications thereof. There is no reason not to, unless the intent is to mask the true authorship of the original work. That this is something that happens on YouTube does not make it less egregious, or any more justifiable. Perhaps these increasingly lax attitudes towards plagiarism is an unfortunate reflection of the great ease with which information is replicated and manipulated nowadays, and the corresponding difficulty in determining the original source.
      • Um... all of it? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NIckGorton (974753) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:07AM (#21470777)

        and ask yourself: "Which part of that original narration supports Darwinian evolution?"
        The entire thing supports evolutionary theory. This is because biology - in all its manifestations - cannot be understood without an understanding of evolutionary theory. It would be like trying to discuss or explain organic chemistry while denying the existence of the atom.
  • kdawsonisatroll? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qmaqdk (522323) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @04:21AM (#21469659)
    If you're a creationist, everyone in here is a troll. What, with the science-voodoo and all.
  • Wow. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crowbarsarefornerdyg (1021537) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @04:23AM (#21469665)
    First off, this post is made in good faith; this is not intended as trolling, flamebaiting, or anything equally as offensive.

    I truly want to apologize for the criminal stupidity that perpetrated this.

    No, I don't work for DI or have any association with that particular group. I've been down this road before on Slashdot, but it bears repeating: I am a religious person. But I am not a "Christian", in fact, I am scored by Christians for the most part. I don't particularly believe in "intelligent design", because it doesn't make sense to me. I prefer to see God as a scientist rather than a "Creator". Anyone who has studied any kind of religion in college (most people at my old community college took comparative religion for an easy humanities credit) will realize that the Bible is full of allegories and euphemisms. Who are we to say that Adam and Eve were the first creations of God? Maybe they were the end result of an experiment being run by God; the first to understand, so to speak, what they are and their place in the natural order of Earth.

    To think that we sprung up out of the ground is preposterous to me. Fundamentalist Christians will point to the Bible saying "God created Adam from the dust of the earth" as proof of intelligent design. Is it at all possible that "the dust of the earth" is the primordial ooze scientists refer to? Could, as Robin Williams said, the passage "God said 'Let there be light'" be a euphemism for the Big Bang?

    I do believe in science as well; we have made some amazing advancements in the last 20 years. I am excited to read of a new scientific breakthrough or a new understanding of something that seemed miraculous not 10 years ago. Now, if you will all excuse me, I'm going to go back to reading. Putting something as ethereal as my religious beliefs into words is not nearly as easy as it might seem. And thank you for reading what to most would probably seem to be a psychotic episode put into words.

  • by jgoemat (565882) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:12AM (#21471507)

    ID arguments fall apart under their own theory. Their theory basically states that some things in nature are too complex to have come about randomly, therefore someone must have designed them. It's notable that this is a logical argument, not a scientific one. There is no testable statement here. The only valid test would be to put an empty jar in a room and wait for "the designer" to place a new form of life in it. I haven't heard of any successful experiments of this type :).

    Their current argument though would look at a tree's cells and all of the complexities that go on and say that there is no way it could have evolved. ID just says evolution is false, it doesn't try to explain anything itself. Take just the leaf of a tree though. If you just look at it, you would say someone designed it, placed everything exactly where it was and made this beautiful design. If you know anything about biology, or if you just watch a leaf grow from spring to summer, you will see that it wasn't placed there, it grew out of the tree. ID proponents would say that is hogwash. There's no way that a seed could turn into a tree. Just look at them, the seed is so small and the tree is a complex structure with many types of cells. Someone had to design each leaf and place it there, there's no way a single seed could become a whole tree with all the different leaves.

    ID proponents don't claim this that I know of because they can see it happen. Everyone can observe a tree growing and we know that it ends up the way it is because of a natural process that begins with the DNA encoded in the seed and that is modified by the environment the tree grows in. They can't 'see' evolution occur so they dismiss it in favor of something written in a book thousands of years ago with no proof that most of the world's population doesn't even believe. In reality, we've observed DNA mutations and even speciation events. They can't comprehend the size of the Earth and the billions of years that it has existed, so they claim evolutionists just "throw billions of years at the problem" to explain it.

    My favorite is when an atheist in a debate claimed that our large brain size was proof of evolution because prior to modern medicine, 20% of women died in childbirth due to the size of the babies' heads. The "true believers" claimed this was proof that natural selection was false because it caused the woman to die. If a larger brain gave even a 10% advantage to survival though, it would prove to be a total benefit to the species, and we can see now it has worked since we've become the dominant species on the planet due largely to our intelligence. If you look at it from a designer's perspective though, there is no plausible reason not to just make the woman's hips a little wider. From an evolutionist's perspective, the change just hasn't happened yet. Now of course there is little selective pressure since we have modern medicine and C-Sections available.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by werdnapk (706357)
      Nova covered ID/Creationism recently... http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/program.html [pbs.org]
  • by brennz (715237) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:26AM (#21471621)
    Dear Slashdot community,

    The Discovery Institute would like to thank you for raising the visibility of our organization and our fight for justice. For many years we have fought to enable creation theory in the classroom alongside evolutionary theory. Your efforts have assisted us greatly in getting the word out on our issues. It is important to acknowledge that for too long, Christians have lacked legal representation. Now our law firm 'The Discovery Institute' fights for them in the courtroom. We would like for everyone to think of us as like the MPAA/RIAA, but motivated instead by "heavenly profits".

    Sincerely,

    Fun. D. Mental
    Esquire
    Director of Outreach
    The Discovery Institute

    * disclaimer - I love the potential for satire in this situation but I think darwinian evolution is a seriously flawed theory *
  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @11:56AM (#21471829) Journal
    Get the DI version. This time give it a narration about the Flying Spaghetti Monster and J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, and name it something like "Free Sex Money" so that everybody downloads it. Credit it to the Descovery Instantoot to make it obvious (at least to DI) where it was taken from. Add a text file to the torrent saying what was done and why.

    Since it's making fun of an existing work (whether stolen or not) it's a parody, and so protected as free speech from both Harvard and DI.

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