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In response to SOPA/PIPA, I am releasing some of my photographs to the public domain.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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With important sites blacked out today in protest of pending SOPA and PIPA legislation, we here at Compound Eye would like to voice our opposition with a different approach. Instead of closing down, we are opening up.

I hold the copyright to many thousands of images, mostly of insects and other natural history subjects. Copyright enables me to derive a modest income. By licensing permissions to commercial users I can afford lenses, travel to exotic jungles and, more recently, my mortgage and groceries. Copyright laws are important to me, enough so that much of my work couldn’t exist without them.

The images that sustain me now, however, are not the ones I started with when I picked up photography a decade ago. Some of my older images- even ones I used frequently at the time- are no longer doing anyone any good hidden in my archives and locked up under my copyright.

So I have released the following images to the public domain:

I have chosen these particular photographs because I have found them useful over the years for illustrating biological concepts. Ecological mutualisms. Caste differences in army ants. Life history. Behavior. I hope they will continue to be useful to others.

The way to engender public support for intellectual property laws, ensuring their future health, is to recognize when copyright has outlived its usefulness.

[gallery of Alex's public domain images]

Alex Wild About the Author: Alex Wild is an Illinois-based entomologist who studies the evolutionary history of ants. In 2003 he founded a photography business as an aesthetic complement to his scientific work, and his natural history photographs appear in numerous museums, books, and media outlets. Follow on Twitter @myrmecos.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. BETurner 8:05 pm 01/18/2012

    Excellent choice and well done. I hope more people that have copyrighted work will see things as you have.

    Well done indeed.

    Link to this
  2. 2. Alex Wild 8:30 pm 01/18/2012

    Thanks BETurner! I am pondering continuing with occasional releases of material.

    Link to this

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