Monday, April 13, 2009

Legal Action

I am absolutely fuming today after receiving a ridiculous email threat of legal action. You might remember a few weeks ago dad and I saw some gorgeous owls from the Clyde Valley Birds of Prey Trust on display at a garden centre and I posted up some photographs I took of them? Well I just had this 'urgent' message from James Walsh, Clyde Valley Team Leader:

"I have been informed that you have pictures of Birds of Clyde Valley Birds of prey centre on your site http://www.woolamaloo.org.uk/labels/Clyde%20Valley.htm
. i have emailed you just to inform you that we have Privacy rights on the all the photos taken of the birds and is only allow for personal use. We have now contacted the Company lawyer and informed use that we can take legal action for have copyrighted pictures on your site. Could they be removed ASAP"

I am bloody furious at this. The birds were on display to people at the garden centre to raise awareness of the Trust, I made a donation and asked the man in charge if it was okay to take photos and he said yes. You'd imagine if you were trying to raise awareness of your work and funds you'd want members of the public to share their positive experiences with the world, its free advertising and its how the modern, digital world works - any organisation with a bit of common sense would be embracing that and using it, encouraging it. Not so the Clyde Valley Birds of Prey Trust. Please notice it wasn't even a friendly 'we'd prefer you not to post pics of our birds' email, it goes straight to the incredibly heavy handed legal threat. For taking my own photos of a public display that I had permission for (I wouldn't just take pictures of wild animals like that, even at this kind of display, I ask first. And James, those are MY pics, so no, you have no legal rights over them, be different if I had just taken images from your own site, but I didn't, these are my pics, I take many and share images of our beautiful country with readers and no-one has ever complained until your miserable, unfriendly lot).

I am extremely angry that they are using legal threats over my OWN pictures that I took MYSELF and with the PERMISSION of the person who was in charge of the animals. This does not promote a positive image of the people behind this trust - it makes them look insular, unfriendly and, frankly, rather abusive of the freedom of expression of others (and is this how they use the donations I and others gave them that day? To pay a lawyer to threaten people who were sharing happy memories of encountering some of the animals they protect? Surely they should have other priorities for their funds?).

I did not use copyrighted images from their site and resent their implication;, they were my own - a smart organisation would be encouraging people to share their experiences and photos on their sites and also with the official site; instead this is what you get. I certainly will never again offer any monetary donation to this group nor will I ever go to see any of their displays again if this is their ridiculous attitude. Why on earth take the birds out to the public to create awareness if you are then going to be threatening to anyone who talks about how they enjoyed that experience and shares their own pictures? Good god but you lot have a lot to learn about creating a decent public persona for yourselves.

Well, never again, I won't go near these people with their legal bully-type tactics and if you are thinking on going to see any of their displays you obviously better be careful if you take any pictures, even if you ask and are given permission beforehand, in case they jump on top of you with legal intimidation. This last year has been so damned hard for dad and me and little events like coming across these owls cheer the two of us up, something we both need badly, but now this heavy handed person has ruined that memory for me. Thanks for your heavy handed and utterly out of proportion (and wrong - as these images are mine, I didn't use any of your pics without permission, did ? Did you even look??) email, James, thanks for ruining what had been a happy experience and thanks for making me now change from having enjoyed and promoting the beauty of our country to regretting ever coming across you and your organisation and your despicable attitude to the very people you were supposedly trying to reach out to with this display of birds. If I hand you a second bullet would you like to shoot yourself in your other foot now?

Update: I've had a couple of emails further from others in the Trust in the couple of days following this original nasty email from someone else (who hasn't actually identified themselves and seems to have a number of spelling errors although not as many as the original message) in the Trust who apologised and said the initial person should never have sent such a message and has been reprimanded for it (it didn't really explain why on earth such a ridiculous threat came around in the first place though). And now I've had another saying that the person responsible has been removed from the Trust because of previous (unspecified) incidents and asking in that light if I would remove my post about the original email since the person was no longer involved with them. Frankly, having already deleted one post because of this lot I'm not minded to delete another so the answer is no, this post remains, but to be fair (which, let's be honest, they have no right to expect given their initial treatment of me) I've added this update, but no, I'm not deleting anything else.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Beer and guest blogging

I've been posting a handful of reviews onto the new Blog o'Beer (BoB) along with Darren (or Ariel as most in the SF&F community know him) and Ed Ashby, who have been seriously piling into the reviews with great gusto (or perhaps they are just piss artists, but if so they are piss artists with some flair). I've just added a new one on a local beer from the Clyde Valley, Old Mortality from the Craigmill Brewery, and this week has also seen our first guest blog from acclaimed fantasty novelist Tim Lebbon, who very kindly wrote us up a report on a local beer festival down in the lovely West Country.

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