BCSE Revealed

The BCSE Versus Copyright Law

(This article was first published on my blog in December 2006).

In an earlier article, I examined the BCSE's attempts to respond to my research. Over the weeks, I have brought forward a number of what I'd say are fairly damning quotes made by the BCSE's leaders, about their purpose. Who could look at the BCSE's campaigning in the same light again after they'd read Ian Lowe, the convenor of the Scottish Atheist Council, saying this?

It should be relatively easy to rally against the fundies.

Pick an obnoxious trait, focus on what that would mean for the public at large, exaggerate it, and demonise that trait to the point that no rational person would consider supporting them. [1029]

Or Michael Brass, explaining why he would like campaigning against the right of parents to criticise Darwinism in front of their own children to be made a fundamental principle of the BCSE's operations ?

... a lot of problems come in because some parents believe they know better than educators on how their children should be educated.

Or atheists Timothy Chase and Lenny Flank, explaining their motivations?

I agree that we should avoid turning this into what appears to be a science debate. [1506]
This fight really isn't about science -- it's about political power. [1498]

The BCSE's Response

Well, the BCSE read my blog. But they haven't attempted to claim that these quotes are inaccurate - as I have a copy of the archive, that would be too easy to refute. Neither have they attempted to argue that these are the views of crazies who they are distancing themselves from - it has already been demonstrated that these people are the BCSE's core and leadership.

Instead, the BCSE (in particular, its leader - Roger Stanyard ) have put up some paragraphs designed either to intimidate me into stopping, or to discredit my person so that hopefully nobody will notice my arguments (a.k.a. ad hominem ).

As we've seen, the BCSE invents a whole new theory of copyright law, in order either to fool me into taking this journal down, or to blacken my name in general. The New Copyright Law

Under the BCSE's new theory of copyright, "fair use" rights - the right to quote brief portions of previously published works (such as the BCSE's public Yahoo group, or website, or forums), no longer exist. Instead, I am meant to have "approached [the BCSE] for copyright permission on any material lifted from any sites of BCSE or its forum participants or members." ( - since deleted by the BCSE).

A second innovation under the BCSE's new copyright laws is that the rights surrounding private copies for research purposes are also revoked. Apparently, I am "in serious breach of UK and international copyright laws" for offering researchers a copy of the archive for the purpose of verifying my accuracy.

Now, given that several BCSE leaders are known to read this blog, the fact that they haven't withdrawn those claims even though they know that I'm not fooled, points to the other alternative. It's an attempt to discredit me, hoping that those who read it will both be ignorant of copyright rights, and won't bother to come here to check my rebuttal. Given that the BCSE have characterised this blog as an attempt to "smear" them, the irony is fairly rich.

Today's Data

My point today is to now look at how the BCSE themselves handle copyright issues. They've raised the issue - so how do they do?

Given that Stanyard, in the paragraphs mentioned above, both claims to know about copyright laws, and to be very zealous for obedience to them, it will be interesting to look at Stanyard's own practice. Remember that Stanyard claims that fair usage rights don't exist, and that permission must be obtained for mere quotations. Does Stanyard hold himself to his own standard? If he doesn't, does he hold himself to the actual law itself instead?

Let's take a look at the BCSE's website. For exhibits A-C, I'll be a bit wordier - then we'll rattle through a few more just to give an indication of how much evidence exists. Then we'll conclude.

Exhibit A :

On the page "What is Creationism?" (after the main article), there are reproduced 3 A4 pages titled as being "from Associate-Professor Andrew Smith's 'Africa and World Prehistory' (1996, unpublished) in Part I, and Professor Arthur Strahler's 'Science and Earth History: The Evolution/Creation Controversy' (1999, second edition, Prometheus) in Part II." What new theory of copyright law do the BCSE invent in order to allow themselves to do this? Answer: They add a single sentence to the top: "All copyright is hereby acknowledged." Pardon? Are they really saying that as long as you acknowledge what you're up to, then it's fine - seriously? I wish I'd known this theory. Instead of offering researchers a copy of the BCSE's archive for a limited purpose, I could have just plonked it entire on the web for the general public. If only I'd thought of adding a line "All copyright is hereby acknowledged"! I wonder if I can apply this theory in other areas of life? Say, I rob a bank, but leave behind a little note: "All legal owners of this cash are hereby acknowledged" ? Can I carry out an assult, just as long as I also tell the victim: "Your personal rights to not be beaten up are hereby acknowledged?" Do you think? How far can we take this new theory?

Update 5th December: I have received an e-mail from Michael Brass of the BCSE, telling me that he received permission to post the material from Professor Andrew Smith. Michael was this week announced as the BCSE's interim chairman. For the record, this is the first time I have received a request for a factual correction from the BCSE. (I point that out so that my readers can know that the reason the BCSE haven't challenged any of the facts I've documented isn't because they're not aware of them).

The material from Andrew Smith covers less than one of the three A4 pages referred to above, so I am happy to make the correction - but the "exhibit" as a whole still stands, unless Michael has some more information. Though, Michael, it's not necessary to call me "boy" or "arse" in order to get a correction made - I'll do them quite happily without any of that. See, I even made this one without even asking you to show me any proof at all!

Exhibit B : The BCSE has a page on the director of schools at the Emmanuel Schools Foundation, Nigel McQuoid. Now, Mr. McQuoid is obviously an extremely competent man, as the flagship school of his foundation has just gained the highest possible commendation in an Ofsted inspection - one of only 20 schools in the entire country to be graded as "excellent" by Ofsted three times ( ). However, as the schools have a Christian ethos, this piece of reality doesn't stop campaigning atheists such as those at the BCSE from targetting them - as though they were some of the worst schools on the planet.

In its piece on Mr. McQuoid, about half way down, Stanyard takes it upon himself to insert the entire transcript of an interview between Rod Liddle (who I previously mistakenly described as a humanist) and McQuoid, from a Channel 4 program from March 2006. Not just a quote. Nothing that could be described as "fair use" - the whole interview.

Exhibit C : It's not just Channel 4 who have had their copyright rights ignored by the BCSE. BBC Radio Manchester, the Observer and the Independent newspapers have had the same treatment.

On this page, the BCSE reproduce the entirety of an interview involving Terry Christian, Roger Stanyard and Andy McIntosh. (This is the already-celebrated occasion where management consultant Stanyard, a man with no qualifications in physics since leaving school, accuses Professor McIntosh, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, of believing that "physics is wrong"). Not only that, but they also provide a pirate audio recording for you to listen to it! Further down the page, there's an entire article from the "Observer" newspaper, copied and pasted in for us. Scroll down again, and there's the whole of a (two A4-page) article from the Independent. Not just a few words - the whole lot. The Observer and Independent websites contain clear copyright statements forbidding such actions.

Exhibit D : Let's rattle through them now. I'll be as brief as possible. I think we've established the princple - now let's see the extent to which this is going on. This page features the whole of two separate press releases put out by "Creation Research UK" copied-and-pasted in. The website contains a copyright statement as follows (emphasis mine): "All the material is subject to copyright restrictions.You may make complete copies for yourself, but you may not alter the material or publish it in whole or in part without our written permission. "

Exhibit E : Reproduces the whole of a lengthy article that appeared in the Northhampton Chronicle & Echo, apparently in April 2005.

Exhibit F : Reproduces an entire article from the Examiner newspaper (1997). (It is not made clear precisely which newspaper this is).

Exhibit G : Reproduces an entire article from the "Freethinker", April 2003.

Exhibit H : Reproduces an entire paper from Stephen Layfield from a 1998 conference. Again, the website that it is taken from has a statement: " All the material is subject to copyright restrictions.You may make complete copies for yourself, but you may not alter the material or publish it in whole or in part without our written permission. Exhibit I : Reproduces a long list of creationist scientists copied and pasted from Answers in Genesis' website, in violation of the site's copyright statement.

Exhibit J :

Reproduces in full a long article from the Leicester Mercury from the 17th of October.

Summing Up

Well, there are plenty more. But 13 examples of copying pages at once, or entire articles, ought to make the point pretty clearly. What, then, have we seen? We've seen that Stanyard and the BCSE routinely and flagrantly ignore copyright law, and over-ride copyright statements on the articles, lifting them wholesale.Going far beyond any "fair use" rights to reproduce small extracts, they routinely copy-and-paste whole articles without permission and in direct violation of the copyright statements on the sources they list from.

And yes, this the is same Stanyard/BCSE who have tried to intimidate me into silence by suggesting that I have no right to quote the tiniest amount from them without their permission. The same Stanyard/BCSE who claim to know a great deal about copyright law, and have great respect for it. All I can say is, Stanyard/BCSE certainly ought to know a copyright violation when they see one! The Verdict There's some data then. It helps us to easily resolve three questions:

  • Are the BCSE abiding by the law (the law that they have drawn attention to), or breaking it wholesale? Are they legal?
  • Do the BCSE have consistent standards in regards of copyright and "fair use", or are they obvious hypocrites?
  • Are the BCSE trying to silence me with valid reasons, or with falsehoods, intimidation and bullying tactics?

The BCSE need to be revealed for what they are - in case anyone takes them seriously. That's why we're here.

David Anderson

Numbered quotes above are the the BlackShadow Yahoo group post with the same number. The BCSE have now removed the public archive from the Internet, but a copy is available from me to any researcher who wishes to verify the accuracy of the quotes above.

Home - Print - Search