Scientists: Respect artists copyright

Edit: 16/03/2017 – The author of the paper has responded and will contact the journal editor about providing credit to me and the artists involved – otherwise they will withdraw the paper from submission.

Back in 2013, I drew this picture of a red panda:


I was quite proud of it, so I posted it up on a popular art site.

Yesterday, I logged in to that same art site to find a private message from someone alerting me to the fact my art had been used in a scientific publication for red panda identification, without my knowledge, consent or credit to me.

Clearly, the adult red panda is the same image!

Although I am flattered that my art was chosen to be included in their scientific publication, I am frankly annoyed that the authors thought it acceptable to omit my name, and the names of the two other artists that had art stolen.

Not only that, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) cited this paper in their publication for Best Practise Guidelines for Keeping Red Pandas, and have included the same image, crediting only the journal.


Now I don’t consider myself an artist, more of a hobbyist, and still I am thoroughly pissed off. I can’t imagine how this type of theft feels if you’re earning a living from your artwork. So, I posted my frustrations over on Twitter and it turns out art theft for publications is nothing new.

And so on.

Fellow scientists, please, please, please give credit where credit is due. Just because an image is posted online, does not mean it is free for you to do what you will with it. Take an extra minute to drop the artist an email asking for permission. Personally, I would be very happy to contribute to publications, providing credit is given to me. If these guys had only messaged me, I would have provided them with a transparent, high-res version, rather than them having to badly cut out the background from my picture. I don’t want to think about how much time they spent editing out the background instead of simply emailing me to ask permission.

As it is, I now have to spend my time chasing up EAZA, the authors of the original publication, and the editor of the journal just to get my name on the image.


Copyright and Fair Use Policy Resources:

Can I Use That Picture? A Chart for The Terms, Laws and Ethics for Using Copyrighted Images

Copyright Fair Use and How it Works for Online Images

How Copyright Protects Your Work

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