Surprised to find photos I placed on iNat in the new Audubon mushroom guide

While I appreciate this reply overall, I agree with @damontighe on the grounds that professional, large-scale outfits releasing national-level print field guides are qualitatively different from individuals putting together powerpoints or single-use pamphlets for a local club etc.

It is a cultural norm I want to see reinforced here. Taking full advantage of a cut-and-dried algorithmic “yes/no” licensing term can feel dehumanizing, impolite, faceless. Not community-oriented. And that is inexcusable when so much of the value of this book * came directly from community scientists*.

We don’t need to avail ourselves of the legal system here. As you mentioned, it can be a nightmare to work in. The community is already powerful in the sense that it can provide a full-throated condemnation of the practices in this book.

In case no one has mentioned it yet, all the species selected for inclusion, as well as the all the text descriptions of the species were written by Jacob Kalichman. He is not listed as an author on the front cover despite ample (and ugly) white space, and his name is absolutely BURIED and glancingly mentioned in acknowledgements.

I contacted him to ask if this was his choice/preference. It was not.

This book is a disaster in many ways, and Fieldstone/Knopf should absolutely be dragged over the coals. This precedent cannot be allowed to stand.


You can’t go to court using “cultural norm” as the basis of law. Copyright law exists for a reason. You should NOT expect a vague, undefined and variable, cultural norm to be reinforced. That’s actually scary and goes against our system of laws. And yes, a publisher selling books is different (legally) than an individual putting together a powerpoint. That difference is made clear in copyright law.

If a member of the citizen science community designates their photos as being free for anyone to use for any reason without asking, then that person should not then turn around and expect to be asked. That should not be the cultural norm. If a person designates their photos to be free for use, without asking, for non-for-profit purposes only, then don’t expect to be asked to have them used for that purpose. If someone uses your photos for profit, in violation of the copyright that you have designated, then you should fully expect them to have contacted you.

We should fully expect the publisher to abide by copyright law. Nothing more.


yeahhhh thats how you end up with all autistic people in jail :smile:


If your point is that this book shouldn’t count as “noncommercial use”, then I agree with you. Distinguishing between profit-making companies and everyday people is largely the point of the NC in CC BY-NC.

But if you want companies to be obligated contact you for permission before using your work, then you absolutely must not license your work under regular CC BY or CC BY-SA. The entire point of these licenses is to allow anyone, including companies, to use it, including for their own profit. It’s not even just a legal technicality - it’s also a very clear message you’re choosing to send to people about what your expectations are. If your photos come attached with a license that says “you’re free to use this without permission, even for commercial use”, then the moral and culturally normal thing to do in fact is to stand by that promise.

CC in fact exists for the purpose of changing the cultural norms invented by copyright law within the last couple hundred years, in favor or more easily allowing free sharing of knowledge and artwork rather than having it all locked away by copyright by default. But it’s designed to give the creator a choice whether you want that or not, and under what terms - so use that choice. If you don’t like the terms of the deal, then don’t tell people you agree to it by attaching one of these licenses to your photos.


I don’t think @leptonia is arguing that the law should enforce a cultural norm or that one should “go to court” on the basis of a cultural norm. They explicitly say

and propose community action, not legal action, to reinforce a cultural norm. This in no way

A community is free to create and incentivize adherence to any norms it decides on (that don’t contradict law). A community is absolutely and legally within its rights to

if it doesn’t like them, even if the practices aren’t illegal per se.


Not to derail the thread, but to add context: the main implication is sharing of your data for research, such as through GBIF. GBIF only accepts CC0, CC-BY and CC-BY-NC observation licenses, and as GBIF is one of the main ways researchers access iNat data, observations with more restrictive licenses are less accessible to scientists.


I know that companies don’t have to reach out to people if they have a free copyright, legally they are not obligated to do this. That said, it is polite to give someone a heads up IE ‘Hey just to let you know your picture will be used in this upcoming book!’ or something to that extent. Or a proper credits section that lists which picture belongs to which photographer.

Like, come on, those attribution sections are a mess.


Were the photo attributions in the previous edition
Page 16 Sally Brown

Tangent: Does GBIF only use the observation data from iNat, but not the media files? If so, that must save them a ton in storage costs for the data.

Yes. My photos are CC-BY-NC or full copyright. I use the CCBYNC here to help iNat with storage costs. Everywhere else my images are copyright.

This book is a commercial work. This license would prevent my photo use (and i dont have any used here but it has happened before for other things). I have no problems with my work being used for non commercial purposes. if commercially they want to, they need to contact me and negotiate usage. Its commercial that i wont allow to profit freely from what Ive done. Now. If we fix capitalism, this would be a different convo. But i have to eat too as the saying goes. Im sure not everyone contacts me but i have very rarely found even noncommercial usage of my images without being asked. Simply put: individuals and other researchers seem to automatically assume to double check and offer copies even, which is lovely, and its always big companies who seem to use incorrectly in my experience.

I did notice GBIF needs CC-BY or such, so i just changed my observations to that. But my IMAGES are all one of the aforementioned two.


(This was supposed to quote the request for wildflower list of names)

I replied to their comment on the thread and asked them to. Maybe if someone from here goes by a bookstore they can share a list of names that way too.

As far as I know, that’s correct, yes. GBIF aims to be a central repository of data, but not of media.


that’s interesting. if you don’t mind answering, did Jacob Kalichman actually collaborate with the publisher on the field guide, or did they end up just copying his text from some other existing source?

(the book’s Acknowledgement section sure makes it sound like he collaborated with the publishers on the field guide, but then again, if you read the acknowledgements for the photos, it sort of makes it sound like the photographers collaborated with the publishers, too – which is another thing you’re not supposed to do when using stuff according to the CC license terms.)


Speaking as a regular contributor to both iNat and Commons, imports from iNaturalist go through an automated review process that verifies that the license is actually the one specified by the author. If the license is verified, a badge is added to the image page by a bot. If I upload an image with a wrong license, the verification process fails and the image is queued for deletion from Commons. So short answer: no, the review process on Commons is not a copyright laundering operation and you cannot modify or change licenses without consequences.


Pinging for more attention on this since I (and many others) have a lot of wildflower photos up. Apparently the Audubon Society Wildflower guide is currently the #1 new release in wild plant gardening on Amazon, it seems likely someone may have a copy.

Link to cover image if anyone hasn’t seen it:

If you have it and can upload photos of the Acknowledgements pages (Pg 911-9xx), it’d be much appreciated! Or you could also look through the preview to see if any photos look familiar (though obviously this isn’t particularly efficient). It seems mainly East-coast focused, but some CA wildflowers seem to be included as well.

On a side note, it doesn’t seem to be a particularly useful guide (for ID, regional use, etc), and now I’m wondering if the text could be checked as well to see if it’s just ripped off Wikipedia or other sources?

Just noting here that each page in the Amazon link says “copyrighted material,” so perhaps before uploading photos of pages from the book that should be looked into. It’s not my field, so I don’t have an opinion on it.

1 Like

it’s fine. it’s fair use.


This is a bit of an aside, but could you explain how/why the CCBYNC licence affects storage costs?


any license on your photos helps.


I will certainly check all of my uploaded observation images and adjust the licensing. Furthermore, I will, in the future, only upload low-res images with a prominent credit watermark visible.