Search Results for: copyright

Sorry Guys: No More Free Images for Scientific Papers

Dear scientists,

Owing to a series of recent incidents where my photographs have been used in technical papers without my consent, without credit, and released under Creative Commons licenses, I am sorry to announce I am ending my policy of free use of photographs for scientific papers.

Future use of my work will require a paid licensing agreement, the same as for most professional uses of copyrighted content. There are two exceptions. First, if I have photographed captive animals in your laboratory, those laboratories are allowed use of the associated images without additional permission, as long as those uses don’t involve releasing the images under a Creative Commons license. Second, use of the photographs as primary data should be considered fair use and is allowable.

Use of my images in presentations and classroom lectures is still allowable if credit is given, but please be aware that uploads of presentation slides to the internet requires a photo credit be given next to the image to prevent the appearance of being orphaned.

I regret having to tighten my policy, but my photo business has been my primary source of income for the past few years, and I cannot continue to afford producing and hosting natural history images for the myrmecological community to use if my guidelines are routinely sidestepped.

Thanks for understanding,


Tuesday Night Mystery: Test the Pest Chart

Extermination company websites often host a “pest library” to help customers identify their problem. But how useful are these guides?

For tonight’s challenge, you will match a series of ants from Terminix’s pest library to photographs of their real-world counterparts scaled to size.

Mystery_ants1Each pair is worth one point for the first person to correctly match it, for 10 total points, and the cumulative points winner for the month of January will win their choice of:

1) A guest post here on Myrmecos
2) Any 8×10 print from my insect photography galleries
3) A myrmecos t-shirt

Good luck!

[Note: my reproduction of the Terminix pest ant images is intended as editorial commentary on the taxonomic accuracy of the images, and as such is Fair Use under U.S. copyright law.]

Male ants demystified

The following is a guest post by Myrmecologist Brendon Boudinot.

The objective of this guest post is to raise awareness of and demystify, in part, the doubled secret of every worker and queen ant’s genome: male ants. It is well known that male ants are produced by arrhenotokous parthenogenesis, i.e. from unfertilized eggs. What is vastly less known is the male ant itself. Male ants are the dark side of the moon for myrmecology. We know full well that they exist, but we hardly know their diversity, ecology, and behavior, and we often willfully ignore males. When I had the pleasure of meeting E.O. Wilson, he said to me that it’s a good thing I work on male ants as, for example, when male ants come to one’s porch light, one’s first reaction is “not to collect them, but to turn the light off.”

Figure 1. Representatives of the adult castes of ants (Camponotus discolor, Formicinae). Alate queen right, worker center, male left.


This… I… um… What?

See how long you can make it through the photo caption with a straight face:

(this photo and associated misinformation is copyrighted by Adegsm/Solent. My reproduction of it here is editorial commentary and as such is Fair Use under U.S. copyright law).

Ant no love like a mother’s love…A mother ant shows off her strength and agility as she plays with her young child and lifts it above her head. The yellow ant stood on a delicate purple flower and balanced on her back two legs as she juggled the youngster, who is a third her size. Photographer Adegsm (real name Thanh Ta Quang), who took over 2,000 snaps of the ants in a month but only got a handful of pictures he was happy with. SEE OUR COPY FOR DETAILS…Main pic: The ‘mother’ ant lifts her youngster above her head…Please byline: Pic: Adegsm /Solent..© Adegsm/Solent.UK +44 (0) 2380 458800.


If you think that’s bad, the alleged newspaper Daily Mail went and ran with the concept, somehow finding space in the error-fest to interject more:

A spindly yellow ant looks bewitchingly human as she lifts her son high overhead in a game that will be familiar to any parent.

Photographers are people who know about cameras. We’re basically dumb as a sack of bricks about everything else. Smart editors know this and don’t trust photographers to tell them anything beyond the EXIF data. The Daily Mail, on the other hand…


“World of Ants” Store Sells Extreme Pest Insects (part 2)

Remember the German World of Ants store that traffics in dangerous invasive pest species and illegally collected ants? Now they’re offering yet another risky animal, the little fire ant Wasmannia auropunctata:

A screen capture from the World of Ants store, used here under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law

Wasmannia auropunctata is perhaps the most dangerous pest ant in the Pacific region, where it wipes clean native arthropod faunas and is a big factor in the decline of island vertebrate species like the endangered Galapagos tortoise. Governments are spending millions trying to contain it. It’s an insidious little creature.

The Pacific Invasive Ants group summarizes the problem:

Wasmannia auropunctata is native to South America, but is rapidly spreading across many tropical regions, including the Pacific Islands. It is well documented as causing devastating damage to ecological and agricultural systems, and also poses significant human health risks. Wasmannia auropunctata is considered to be one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world by the IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG). See their web page for a more complete review of the biology, impacts and management.

If a specimen collected from an uninfected region is identified as W. auropunctata, it is recommended that the sample be sent to a taxonomic specialist for confirmation. If confirmed, it is recommended that an emergency eradication or management plan be initiated as quickly as possible.

Can we send an emergency eradication program to the World of Ants headquarters?

Tetramorium bicarinatum

All this talk about copyright infringement is a real downer. It’s time to perk things up with pretty ants:

Tetramorium bicarinatum workers gather nectar from glands of an invasive mallow. Some plants use nectar to attract ants as a defense against herbivorous insects, as ants also eat insect eggs and caterpillars. (Orlando, Florida, USA)
A more field-guidey shot of T. bicarinatum. This ant is presumably native to Asia, but thanks to global trade is now found in warmer climates worldwide.

The infringement backstory

The last post was rather blunt. This was intentional. I wrote it as a statement to link from my sidebar and my “Image Use” guidelines, rather than as a stand-alone post.

Clarifying my infringement enforcement policies is overdue. I’ve been dealing in recent years with a great many commercial entities using my photos, without my knowledge, to sell all manner of pest-control services and products. The problem is bad and getting worse. More surprisingly, I am now getting pushback from a few infringers irate at being questioned, something that has never happened previously.

Five years ago, on the rare occasion when I’d find a pest control company selling their service with illicit ant photos, the owner would be unfailingly courteous and apologetic, immediately removing the image and/or offering to pay for it.  Most of my infringers remain polite and reasonable. But internet social norms are changing, especially in the era of social media and extreme SEO practices, and in the past few weeks I’ve had not one but several pest control operators claim that all internet images including mine are public domain, refuse to remove images, repost images after DMCA takedowns, question my ownership rights over my own photographs (even after I’d provided 100% crops, U.S. copyright registration certificates, and links to blog posts where I even explain how I took the photographs), and accuse me of being a predatory copyright troll out to hurt small businesses.

I needed a written policy to point to in my increasingly frequent conflicts with unrepentant infringers. I can’t pretend this will stop thieves from thieving, but having another tool in my corner can’t hurt.

Antweb: now with an extensive and growing fossil image database

Prionomyrmex janzeni, Baltic Amber (image:

The following announcement was sent in by Paleomyrmecologist Vincent Perrichot:

Fossil Ants (Antweb)

Regular users of Antweb may have noticed that a project named Fossil ants was added some months ago (; a few technical issues prevented the imaged species to show up correctly, however, resulting in only a few visible species fully illustrated. These problems have been fixed and the full catalogue is now available online, with 68 out of the 661 fossil species imaged so far. Additional photographs will be added with time, pending the access to the specimens (most of species are known from a single specimen housed in many different institutions). So here it’s also a call to curators who have fossil ants in the collections of their institute, or researchers who described an extinct species, to send me high resolution photographs free of copyright to be uploaded online. When possible with a fossil, I try to follow the standard used on Antweb for recent species, i.e. providing the profile, dorsal, and head views, together with a closer view of the wing for alates, and the labels. So folks, any help is welcome, you will be credited for your photographs of course!

In addition to the taxonomic history provided from Bolton Catalogue, you will find information on the depository of the known material and the distribution of the species (sometimes differing from that given by Bolton in taxonomic history because he considered the age in the original description while the dating of some fossil deposits has been updated since then – Ex: Florissant, Colorado, was originally dated as Oligocene, but is now Late Eocene). Hope this new tool will help neontologists to increasingly consider fossils in their studies!

-Vincent Perrichot

Lee Ann Torrans sends me an email

pharaoh ants

An actual email exchange, just now. The first bit is a standard DMCA form notice I send non-commercial copyright infringers:

This letter is a Notice of Infringement as authorized in § 512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The infringing material appears on the Service for which you are the designated agent.

The disputed images are here:

My original, copyright-protected photographs are here:!i=619427766&k=WqGSp

Please remove these files from your servers at your earliest convenience.

I have a good faith belief that the disputed use is not authorized by myself, the copyright owner. I hereby state, under penalty of perjury, that the above information in this email is accurate and that I am the copyright owner.

Thanks for your time,

Alexander Wild

Lee Ann Torrans responds:

Hey, buddy.

It’s down.

But if you look at the website you will see I sell nothing.  I only serve the public by drawaing attention to a significant problem in this country.

Just wondering, do you do any thing beneficial to society in a major way?

I get emails all the time, thanking me for providing an important service.  Maybe 7,000 to date.

This is the first complaint.

Good look with your copyright infringement crusade.

I have thousand of images on the web, my own.  People use them all the time and I am glad to permit that.

Lee Ann Torrans

Ah, the glamorous life of the nature photographer.

update: thread is closed.

“World of Ants” Store Sells Extreme Pest Insects

Planning to buy Fire Ants? You're not in luck today. The World of Ants is sold out. Until the next shipment arrives.

You wouldn’t think it safe to mail live Malaria mosquitoes around the world. You wouldn’t, I hope, market MedFly as a fun pet. So why would anyone in their right mind do this?

Here is a list of known pest ants for sale by the World of Ants store, based in Germany:

Say what you will about Gerhard Kalytta, the ant smuggler caught earlier this year leaving Australia. Mr. Kalytta at least has sufficient conscience to refrain from selling known high-risk pests. The World of Ants? Not even a shred of responsibility. This store needs to be shut down NOW.

Buy yourself some ants known to be a factor in several bird extinctions.

Note: I believe my reproduction of the screen captures of the World of Ants website fall under the Fair Use provision of U.S. Copyright Law.