Tensik (tensik) wrote in artists_beware,

Uncredited "Usenet" Archives being hosted on Furnation

This is being posted as a heads up to anyone who may have used Usenet in the past 10 years or so, or who may have had their work unrightfully distributed through those means in that time period.

Recently, I was a tester for Furnation's ( www.furnation.com ) new gallery system ( http://furnation.com/index.php?act=module&module=gallery viewer beware: adult content is hosted there, not all hidden behind maturity filters as there is currently no true moderation system).  While the site was in testing, Nexxus uploaded 27,000 + images, stories, etc.  from Usenet servers to the gallery systems, saying it was a test to see if the gallery could handle massive bulk uploads.  I left the site for a while as no work on it was progressing, and recently returned to find it open to the public, and the Archives (as the bulk upload was termed) still hosted in the new Gallery system as the last folder entry, with the following text as a disclaimer:

"This is a read-only directory of archived works that are available freely on the Internet.  Some of these works are updated in real time, others are static as the original archives are no longer in service. We provide this archive so that the original works will not be lost to time."

I contacted Nexxus and over several posts on his public forums and his private PM system, told him that there were several legal and ethical problems with what he was doing there.  Firstly, there is no copyright information for ANY of the 27,000+ works posted.  Also, his gallery system also acts as a storefront; artists who are also selling their work on Furplanet get a "buy it now" button on images that are prints, etc.  I informed him that the original intent of the posters uploading to Usenet most definitely was never to have their works posted without credit on a for-profit site.  Myself and other posters offered him several suggestions for making the Archive gallery both legal and fair to the artists whose works appear.  My own suggestion was, as he was saying that he was hosting them as a virtual history of the fandom, was to allow the fur community to take it on as a project, to research and post the copyright information, and to encourage folks to contact the original artists for permissions and to alert them that some very old art files had been saved if they were missing any, and remove any that were requested as quickly as possible.  Another poster suggested offering a locked archive drive where all of the original Usenet information was hosted, including the poster information, and any subsequent comments, so that it was a true Usenet archive.  That poster even offered to write a program for it that would allow it to be searchable, including by poster or mentioned names, so that it could act as credit.  He was ignored.

Nexxus has given several conflicting accounts as to his intent with the Archive.  First he stated that he would happily remove any artist's work who requested it, but later said he had no idea who any of the artists were and it was beyond his ability to provide such information.  He has also said he has on his servers all of the original Usenet information and knows for a fact that every single piece there was posted by the copyright holder, but has also said he has no way of correlating the Usenet information to the art files to give credit.  When asked what he would do if I myself told him that I wanted any of my work removed from the archive and that he would have to find it and remove it, he had no answer. 

Much of this exchange took place on his public forums, and after the suggestions for making the Archive legal and fair were posted, he locked the thread and stated he had removed the Archive and the next day would be deleting all subsequent files.  (BTW, yours truely was going to be personally responsible for wiping out ten years of fandom history, thank you very much.)  I took him to task privately and reminded him that all that was being asked for and offered was a way to help him and do exactly as he was claiming to do - preserve the works, in a way that also preserved the artist's wishes and credit - and his response was to delete the public exchange entirely.  The next day, he rehosted the Archive; due to the posting date reflected, it appears he had never deleted it, he had hidden it temporarily.

It was difficult for me to post this . . . I asked for a lot of outside opinion and advice on legal issues and the history of Usenet (uncluding whether it was considered public domain) and everything else that came before my time in the fandom before going this route, and I tried to give Nexxus every benefit of the doubt and chance to correct his actions.  It was also especially difficult as his new gallery system had a lot of potential to be very helpful to the fandom at large, and I am a firm believer in the basic conecpt behind the new community.  But he has made it very clear that he intends on hosting those works as is and has no intention of giving any artist credit.  He considers it too much trouble, and the works bring too much traffic to his website for him to take them down.

As such, artists may wish to check the Archive to the best of their ability (again, beware, mature content) to see if their work appears, and take appropriate action as they see fit to protect themselves.
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