Mythic Monday – Nommo
Recently, I was reading about African mythology, I ran across the story of the sky god Amma and it’s creation of the half-human half-fish hermaphroditic creature Nommo, which split into four pairs of twins and, after normal mythical events, become the ancestors to the contemporary Dogon people. Due to mistranslations of early ethnographic studies, these creatures were identified as coming from Sirius, which if true, would indicate that the ancient Dogon people either had powerful telescopes (unlikely) or were visited by aliens (which some people seem to view as more likely).
Now, as I read this, I thought “hermaphroditic human/fish hybrid that some point to as proof as alien contact… I’ve got to blog about this!” Sadly, though, I just couldn’t come up with a good business or security angle (there’s something to the “one twin goes evil, so the other has to be sacrificed” story… but there are other such stories in myth that are far more accessible).
Shortly thereafter, I saw this page on the Sacred Sites of the Dogon, Mali. Well, that photo sure looks familiar, doesn’t it? It’s lightened up a bit, but it looks awfully close. And that link below it? Order Fine Print?
Now, it is quite possible that sunshinerythym was contacted by the people that run SacredSites.com and gave permission for the photo to be used in this manner. I know that I’ve gotten requests to use my photos in such a way.
However, I also want to point out that there are some untrustworthy people out there who make money by selling other people’s work. If you post a photo in full resolution, anyone can download it and do whatever they want with it. If you license it appropriately, you can take legal action against them… but you have to catch them first. Of course, if you screw up your licensing, you probably don’t have a leg to stand on (unlike Nommo, who being half-human had legs (look, I tied it back in!)).
The security lesson here is that if you are generating content, be careful with it. Though I have chosen to make my full resolution photos available, I do so with the understanding that others may steal them. To help mitigate this, I have licensed them for non-commercial use only. For me, photos are fun, but not my main business. I am fine taking the risk if it means that zoos and similar educational organizations can use my photos to help other people learn. The point is that I know I am taking the risk to begin with.
The other security lesson is that if you are a business, keep track of rights of the things you use. If such use is not previously authorized, it could be construed as intellectual property theft and could be quite costly.
The mythological lesson less clear. :)
(Before writing this post, I sent an email to sunshinerythym, as we Flickr users have to help protect each other. It is quite possible that by the time you read this, the links may be broken.)