The Nameless Horror

Trestle Press, Art Theft

I know a few people with ebooks put out by one-man-band publisher Trestle Press, who have a stable of decent writers under some (apparently famously) deeply shonky typography. Now it seems Giovanni “G-Man” Gelati, the one man in the aforementioned band, has been using massive amounts of copyrighted images for cover art without the artists’ permission.

Gelati has responded to these detailed allegations like so:

Please not that these claims do not come from any artist or copyright holder, but rather a private individual. All the same, Trestle Press is more than willing to make the changes for the benefit of all involved. While there is a legal precedent, we feel this is an ethical issue at this point and Trestle Press strives to maintain strong ethics and morals.

We stand by the fact that if we have used any copyrighted artwork that we have contacted the artist or made every possible attempt to contact the artist. In many cases, we have requested usage permission and made payment when asked.

In cases where no contact was made or no copyright holder found, we apologize for the usage and have removed the identified images.

(More at the link, not much of it, though.)

Let’s take this briefly apart, shall we?

"We have contacted the artist…": Including the studio who produced GHOST RIDER? Or the one behind CREEP? The makers of the HITMAN games? Or BILL AND fucking TED? Really, how fucking stupid can you be, or would you expect others to be?

"We have… made every possible attempt to contact the artist": I’m no copyright lawyer, but I know enough to know there’s no presumption of permission. If a work is in copyright, you need explicit permission to use it. (If a work is, say, CC licensed, that CC license sets out the terms of that explicit permission.) If you can’t reach the rights holder, you don’t use the thing because you’re not allowed to. It’s not rocket science. It’s not even bottle rocket science. It’s a principle I’m 99% certain Aidan, 4 and 3/4, would grasp on the first time of explaining.

FWIW, 'L. Vera', the dA user doesn’t seem to have had a hard time contacting the other dA users whose work was being ripped off, so one assumes they weren’t too difficult to reach.

It could be that these were a string of genuinely naive mistakes and Gelati’s statement isn’t covering bullshit, that the dA artists so readily contactable by L Vera were all on vacation when he tried to email them (rather than leaving a message on their dA page or on the page the image is on, which isn’t time dependent and is very easy to do), and I’d hate to call anyone a deliberate thief without concrete proof, so I won’t.

(If I was to speculate, I’d suspect laziness, use whatever and forget about it, rather than malice; this isn’t unknown even in professional graphic design (where, for instance, the stock used for a comp mock-up to show the client ends up being used in the finished thing), and I think I can be certain Gelati isn’t a professional graphic designer.)

(Still, Bill And Ted? Really? Jeez.)

But if someone was so naive about copyright as to genuinely have no clue that poster art commissioned for a Hollywood movie, say, wasn’t public domain, they have absolutely no business being involved in a rights-based business like publishing. None.

I might add that if, and I don’t know why they would, but if someone used one of my photos for commercial work - even the ones I’ve CC-licensed are by-nc - without permission, and then waffled about how I was hard to reach, which I blatantly am not, especially on the websites like Flickr which host those images, I’d be pretty fucking pissed at the cheek of it.

Everyone I know involved with Trestle has pulled their books, and good on them.

I don’t give a fuck anymore. Whatever will be, will fuckin’ be. I didn’t break the publishing industry, it was this way when I found it. And while that might sound like learned helplessness, it’s more likely that I’m just pig-sick of the constant whine of feedback that somehow passes for intelligent speculative debate.
Ray Banks on the e-ndustry (if you see what I did there).

The Ghost Of Book Puns Past

I discovered this ancient list of change-one-letter-in-the-title book puns with associated blurbs buried in a long-disused, spider-haunted folder on my hard drive yesterday evening. I seem to remember doing it several websites and at least one pen name ago, based on what I saw on the shelves nearby. In fact, it must have been before BCon in Madison because I vaguely remember Lee mentioning he’d had a chuckle at The Billing Floor way back then.

Anyway, here they are. They don’t all deserve to vanish into obscurity. I’m especially partial to the Martyn Waites one.

Every Secret Thong (L. Lippman): Who is the masked killer preying on Baltimore’s cross-dressing elite?

Pope (S. Gran): Life in Hell’s Kitchen takes a turn for the strange when reformed heroin addict Joe Flannigan is called in by a mysterious patron to track down Benedict IX. The rogue pontiff is in town with something worse than Midnight Mass on his mind.

The Billing Floor (L. Child): Little did Jack Reacher realise when he got off the bus in the town of Baxter, Mississippi, that a want ad in the local paper would see him land a job with the local utilities company. Promised a corner office and a varied working life, he instead finds himself duped, trapped in a cubicle in the company’s accounts department, fighting to retain his sanity in the face of overwhelming mundanity.

The Mercy Seal (M. Waites): He roams the ice floes, seeking out the sick and the dying. In an unforgiving landscape where death comes slow and painful, you too will pray for a swift end beneath the flippers of the Mercy Seal.

People Pie (K. Wignall): Just what is in the delicious pastry foodstuffs coming out of Old Mrs Willis’s kitchen? Find out in this whacky cooking mystery where ‘having the neighbours for dinner’ has a whole new meaning!

Private Bars (G. Rucka): When Tara Chace walked away from MI6, she had nowhere to go and no idea what to do with her life. Like so many others before her, she finds herself caught up in the seedy world of Las Vegas’s strip clubs and VIP rooms in a book great for fans of SHOWGIRLS and ANCHORMAN.

Herd Rain (B. Eisler): On a trip to Texas to kill a ice cream magnate, assassin John Rain becomes involved cattle rustling. When it becomes apparent that his old enemies at the CIA are behind the cow thefts, he realises the operation is part of a wider plot to smuggle American bullocks into Cuba in order to kill Castro.

Lark Hollow (J. Connolly): Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker finds love, laughs and a new meaning to life when he stays in a Tuscan sanctuary for songbirds. A movie version is already in production, starring Hugh Grant and Diane Lane.

Fight Clue (C. Palahniuk): In the aftermath of a violent brawl at Mrs McKinney’s Grill and Massage Parlour, only one piece of mysterious evidence can provide Detective Ron Harvey with the truth of what happened on that bloody night.

The Burping Girl (M. Billingham): Tom Thorne’s niece Jessica suffers from terrible gas in this bittersweet comedy in the tradition of the great British musical halls.