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RE: GSP statement on use of my dinosaur restorations (follow up)
On the one hand, I think Paul is absolutely right to want to get paid for his
work. I remember seeing a supposed skeletal reconstruction of
Krzyzanowskisaurus that was just Paul's Lesothosaurus, and it was even
copyrighted to the paper's author! Then there's that new reptile website that
uses all manner of illustrations, including Paul's Lesothosaurus and others,
without attribution. So as far as that goes, I'm in agreement.
On the other hand, I think Paul goes too far in his expectations/demands. In
particular, this applies to his apparent desire to exclusively use the "classic
left foot pushing off in a high velocity posture" which he popularized in PDW
and other works. I myself have used this posture, and indeed it's used in the
Scipionyx illustration on my website's homepage. Was I inspired by Paul when
choosing that pose? Certainly. PDW was one of my favorite books as a kid, and
the coolness associated with "the GSP look" never faded. Yet there are aspects
to Paul's reconstruction style which I don't like. He idealizes the bones to
an extent, adds cartilaginous sterna and such, adds the missing elements to
most, and uses the black flesh outline. So my reconstructions only end up
somewhat like his, and indeed when Paul came out with his own Scipionyx recon,
I liked mine better. Honestly, I don't think you can copyright a pose. It's
something the animal itself displayed thousands of times, and which running
birds continue to show every second somewhere on Earth. It's not something I
(or probably any paleoartist) have the funds to dispute in court, but it seems
akin to patenting a gene- something natural which a human merely popularized or
found an application for.
On the question of others using your reconstructions for help with their
restorations, again I think you have a point but take it too far. Simply
coloring in a life restoration over your skeletal reconstruction- unacceptable,
I agree. But using your reconstruction to get proportions and shapes right in
a life restoration- understandable in my opinion. If you're going to claim
your work designing the skeletal reconstruction entitles you to credit, why
can't the museum worker who designs a mount say the same about their art? Are
we doomed to only freely be able to draw dinosaurs known from naturally
articulated specimens unless we want to scale bones ourselves (from photos, not
drawings?) or visit collections?
> Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2011 11:18:12 -0500
> From: GSP1954@aol.com
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
> Subject: RE: GSP statement on use of my dinosaur restorations (follow up)
> I would like to thank all who provided supporting statements on my post.
> Some responders (incl firstname.lastname@example.org) brought up some very pertinent
> points and questions.
> Assume that some person is being hired to produce restorations of
> prehistoric animals for some form of commercial project, or gratis for a
> such as the National Park Service for that matter (why, because if not
> provided the art for free the NPS might have to hire a qualified person,
> said person needed income).
> The basic rule needs to be that that an artist produce their own skeletal
> restoration based on original research. This would include using photos of
> the skeleton, or an illustrated technical paper on the particular taxon. This
> then goes into your files as documentation of originality, and you can
> publish it.
> Do not pose it in my classic left foot pushing off in a high velocity
> posture. Not because I am inherently outraged -- it would be rather nice if
> for some practical issues. For one thing I have succeeded in getting some big
> payments for unauthorized use of this pose by major prjects that should
> have known better. Aside from the financial issue, there are other concerns if
> you think about it. It is widely assumed that any skeleton in this pose is
> mine, but what if it does not meet my level of accuracy? The trust in and
> value of my work is degraded. There are gigillions of poses a skeleton can be
> placed in. Be original.
> Lots of original skeletal restorations do not look much like mine -- I
> suspect because they are not necessarily as accurate. If someone's original
> skeletal restoration is close to mine that is OK as long as they have the
> documentation of originality. A reverse example of this is my skeletal
> of Hypsilophodon. When published it has sometimes been credited in
> publications as based on Galton's earlier restoration even though I did not
> tell the
> publisher that this was so. In fact, my restoration is entirely original, I
> used the illustrations of the individual bones in Peter's monograph, I did
> not redraw and repose Peter's version. The reason they are so similar is
> because Peter's was very good and I did not turn up major differences in
> proportions or posture -- a rare event.
> Perhaps you are thinking that it sounds like a whole lot of work to have to
> go to the trouble to do original skeletal restorations for all these
> dinosaurs, all the more so when a set of excellent skeletal restorations is
> already available.
> Exactly. That is the whole point.
> I do a whole lot of work for every dinosaur I do, and it requires
> considerable time. Traveling hither and yon. Digging up all those old obscure
> Cross scaling elements. Raising my blood pressure trying to cross scaling
> elements when it is not working out for some damn reason. Years of becoming
> familiar with animal anatomy and function (notice how I turned out to be
> right about giant theropods having flexed legs after all). Keeping up with the
> increasingly massive literature. Reworking old skeletal restorations as new
> information comes in and the occasional oops about a prior effort.
> For another artist to take one of my skeletons, and then get a job at a low
> rate because they did not do the work is obviously not a workable
> Paleoart is a distinctive subset of wildlife art because of the very large
> amount of preliminary research that is required. It is not like illustrating
> lions or penquins because their form is known and well documented. It is
> also unlike fantasy art because one can make up anything without original
> technical effort comparable to paleorestorations. Same with speculative
> Because paleoart does require extended original research all participants
> who wish to produce technically accurate art need to go through the process.
> Here's why.
> If a person no longer uses my restorations but does their own then they
> will have to go to a lot more time and effort. This is good because it should
> compel said person to require higher payments for a given number of
> dinosaurs, which will reduce underbidding on projects that those who do the
> preliminary work cannot and should not have to match. Or said person might
> decide it is not worth the trouble and will leave the business, reducing the
> number of competing artists to the needed advantage of those remaining.
> So the choices are these --
> Do your own researched and produced skeletal restorations in an original
> pose. If some of these turn out it is very similar to mine that's OK as long
> as the documentation exists.
> Do not do your own skeletal restorations, but do not copy my art either (i.
> e. stay away from the Greg Paul look). There are some current artists who
> do this and they are not violating my copyrights. I of course prefer to think
> such work is not as accurate as mine but what do I know.
> If you do wish to base your work on mine first make arrangements.
> If you are thinking that gee wiz doing your own technical research and
> restorations sure sounds like a pain in the butt, or may be beyond your
> knowledge base, and you don't want to risk doing inaccurate restorations or
> do not
> think paying me a fee is workable, then there is another alternative. Perhaps
> it is better if you do something else. I know, it's lots of fun
> illustrating dinosaurs. But if you cannot produce high quality, original
> paleorestorations is it really a good idea to be in the business? If you for
> example like
> the Greg Paul look do you really want to be underbidding me? Does not make
> sense when you mull it over.
> If I were getting all the work I could handle then I would not be upset
> (except in certain egregious cases). But the situation has gotten ridiculous.
> And as has been pointed out in the discussion it is not just me, a number of
> long working paleoartists are getting little work because those in charge of
> projects have gotten into the very bad habit of turning to newer artists
> despite their work often being derivative. So someone had to call a halt to
> the situation.
> G Paul