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I'm off to Europe for a two-week vacation, so don't expect that much in the way of posts during that time, though I'll be trying to check in from time to time. The itinerary is Loch Ness, Liverpool, Gloucester, Paris, Southampton, Canvey Island, and finishing up in York. So I'll be moving around quite a bit. Speaking of Loch Ness, I've haven't seen any word on how the Virgin sacrifice at the Loch went off. I'll try to find out when I'm there.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 08, 2004
Comments (14)
Any copyright lawyers out there willing to offer some free advice? I just received the following email from National Geographic (I'm sensing a bad trend developing here with emails like this... first the time travel mutual fund, and now Nat Geo):

One of our readers has informed us that you are featuring one of our
photographs on your website at [note: here's a more direct link].
We would ask that you either remove the photo immediately, or forward me
details of how long the image has been posted and how long you intend to
keep it posted so that we can determine an appropriate licensing fee and
send you a formal retroactive rights release and invoice. Please let me
know if you have any questions.

I'm not quite sure how to proceed. Nat Geo, unlike the time travel mutual fund, isn't someone you want to mess with. But on the other hand, I believe (hope) that my use of the image is protected by fair use. First of all, the image had circulated widely via email before I put it on my site. All I did was add some commentary to it in order to inform the public of the image's true source. Second, my use of the image hasn't deprived Nat Geo of any income since the image was too low quality to make print copies from. In fact, my commentary probably provided them with some free advertising.

I could just buckle under and remove the image, but this question of what is and what isn't fair use with regard to images that have escaped into the wilds of email is one that I'd very much like to know the answer to. Does a site such as mine, that tries to provide some information about random images that people find in their inboxes, have to request permission from the copyright owner whenever the owner is identified? Am I going to have to request permission from Touristguy to have his image on my site, or from that guy posing with the big bear? If so, that would potentially kill off large portions of my site.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 31, 2004
Comments (57)
Here's an interesting comment that was just added to my entry posted back in June about Eric Bruderton (that guerrilla marketing campaign involving mysterious video footage of a group of armed men being attacked by unseen assailants in a country like Afghanistan):

I'm a reporter for the business radio show Marketplace, heard around the
country on NPR. I'm working on a story about the advertizing campaign for
The September Tapes. If you have strong opinions about the ad campaign, I'd
like to chat. And perhaps do a short telephone interview. I can be reached
at [see the comment for the email].
Jeff Tyler

Being the suspicious sort that I am, I immediately checked out the IP address on the comment, and it did indeed come from someone at Minnesota Public Radio, so it appears to be legitimate. So if you have strong opinions about The September Tapes, by all means send Jeff an email.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 23, 2004
Comments (3)
I've now enabled the Hoax Forum message board with an RSS Feed. It'll send every new topic posted there straight to your RSS reader. Enjoy.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 19, 2004
Comments (1)
image After whining about the vacuum cleaner being visible in the picture of me that appeared in the NY Times yesterday, I got an apologetic note from the photographer, Alan Decker, which made me feel bad. The presence of the vacuum cleaner was, of course, my fault, since I was supposed to move it before he arrived. Anyway, as Alan pointed out, in the other pictures he took (a few of which he just sent me) you really couldn't see it... except in this one puzzling shot. And here I am in my 'Buy Dehydrated Water' t-shirt.

On another, more serious note, I got this email from Ken Deffeyes:

Mounting a small set of pronghorn antelope horns on a jackrabbit head is an ancient Wyoming taxidermist's trick. However, the horns in this morning's New York Times look like deer horns. You've been hoaxed. It's a jackdeer.
So my jackalope is a fake! I'm thinking of trying to get my money back.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 30, 2004
Comments (4)
image This is going to be an egocentric post, because it's about me. I got my picture in the New York Times today. So does that mean I'm famous? Can I walk into an expensive restaurant now and get a table right away? I'm not betting on it. I'm featured in an article by Daniel Terdiman about hoax weblogs. Not that I've ever created a hoax weblog, but I do write about them. My friend Odin Soli, who created the Plain Layne hoax, also got his picture in there (Odin and I studied American History together in Grad School at UC San Diego). That animal on the left side of the picture is a jackalope. And if you look closely you can see my vacuum cleaner behind me, partially hidden by my shoulder. The photographer swore to me that there was no need to move it, because he said it wouldn't show up in the picture. Guess he was wrong. Not that anyone would really notice it... except my wife. The first thing she said when she saw the picture: "And there's our vacuum cleaner."
Categories: Miscellaneous, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Jul 29, 2004
Comments (11)
image I've been visiting family in Virginia this week, so posting has been pretty light... and will continue to be light until July 11th. Just in case anyone was wondering. That thumbnail there shows part of the Chesapeake Bay visible from my parents' front lawn. It's a lot nicer than the view of a busy road that you get from my house in San Diego (even though I much prefer San Diego weather).
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 06, 2004
Comments (5)
I just updated the blogging software that the site runs on. I've been working on this the past few days (that's why I haven't posted much). I'm sure there are some bugs in it, but hopefully I'll iron them out over the weekend. I moved from pMachine to Expression Engine (which is actually a revamped edition of pMachine). Unfortunately this means that many of the links on the site have changed. For instance, if you read this site through an RSS reader, you'll have to resubscribe using the new RSS links (see the sidebar for the links). But the new software has an atom feed also, so that's an advantage. Plus, the new software has a lot of other bells and whistles that should prove useful, such as the ability to assign entries to multiple categories.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Sat Apr 24, 2004
Comments (0)
If it weren't for the inconvenient fact that no one has a clue who I am, I'd almost feel famous, because I was interviewed not only by Wired, but also by the Christian Science Monitor, for this article. My mother always says that she could have had a son who was a doctor or a lawyer, but instead she gets a son who's a hoax expert. Well, it may not pay much, but at least I get interviewed a lot once a year, every April 1st.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 01, 2004
Comments (1)
Wired published an article about net hoaxes today, for which I was interviewed. The increased traffic it brought promptly melted down my web host's servers, which has been causing quite a headache for me. But regardless, it's nice to get the visitors. Perhaps a few of them were even able to view some of the site's content.
Categories: Miscellaneous, Technology
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 31, 2004
Comments (1)
I've finally gotten my act together to enable the RSS Feed that comes built into the software that I use to run this site. So if you use an RSS reader to scan blogs every day, you can now add the Museum of Hoaxes to your subscription list. The RSS Feed is here. I'll also add a button in the navigation bar on the right.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 24, 2004
Comments (1)
Anyone who visits here regularly will notice that I've changed the design of the homepage. I do this fairly often, never being very satisfied with my layout skills. I thought the last design was a little too busy, and some of the images were using up too much bandwidth. So my goal this time was to make the page more minimalist and get rid of the bandwidth-hogging images. I also created a new seal for the Museum of Hoaxes (visible at the right of the banner above). It shows a vegetable lamb (a lamb that scholars in medieval times believed grew from a plant out of the ground), and beneath this has the inscription 'Lana Ab Oculis Liberetur.' If my high school latin has served me correctly, this should translate to 'Let the wool from the eyes be lifted.'
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 16, 2004
Comments (1)
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