J. Hutton Pulitzer Threatens "Consequences" for Using Photo of Now Almost Certainly Fake "Roman" Sword
Sunlight is the best disinfectant, so I will report that after my blog post about J. Hutton Pulitzer’s claims regarding an allegedly “Roman” sword found sometime in the past several decades off the coast of Oak Island in Nova Scotia, Pulitzer contacted me to demand that I remove my use of the small portion of a photograph of the sword which appeared in the Boston Standard newspaper for violating his copyright. The image in question was included in a side-by-side comparison of two similar swords created by Andy White, who also received the takedown notice. The comparison used a small portion of the Boston Standard photograph in a photo composite.
The claims about the sword are likely to soon be a moot point after the revelation sent to me, Andy White, and others that the “Roman” sword Pulitzer is promoting as a first-century Roman artifact is visually identical to an old reproduction antiqued sword apparently made for the Italian tourist trade. One such sword is currently for sale on Italian eBay. Given that the blades are slightly different lengths, it’s possible that the handles were cast from the same mold, with the blades hammered out by hand. I don’t know for certain since I haven’t seen them in person. This doesn’t prove that the Nova Scotia sword is a fake, but it casts doubt on claims that it could only be a first century Roman artifact, especially when Andy White received information about yet another version of the same sword!
I initially declined Pulitzer’s request to remove the image for several reasons, notably because courts have consistently ruled that the use of a small portion of a copyrighted work in a transformative work for the purpose of fair comment and criticism and/or news reporting on an issue of public concern is protected by Section 107 of the Copyright Act. The photograph in question is a transformative work in that it creates a photo composite for the purpose of generating new information (a comparison), and my use of that photo composite is explicitly for the purposes of news reporting and fair comment and criticism given that I both reported the “news” of the discovery and offered comment and criticism on the similarities between the Nova Scotia and Florida swords.
Pulitzer maintained that my reproduction of the photo composite violates his rights because it will limit his ability to license the original photograph to Getty Images, which he said is in negotiations to license 100 such photographs from him for what he hopes to be potential sale to textbook companies. (According to Getty Images, they do not contract to acquire photos on a case by case basis but rather invite photographers to become members of their image service.)
While I maintain that my use of the image falls under the fair use exemption, since I’m not in the business of purposely making people upset and the photo composite isn’t my work to begin with, I told Pulitzer that I would consider his takedown request if he would provide documentation that he is in fact the rights holder of the image. This is an important and necessary step to protect myself in the even that others should demand images be removed. In order to protect the rights of everyone involved, it is essential that only legitimate rights holders make takedown requests. After all, anyone one can make a claim or use false claims to suppress criticism. This, of course, set off Pulitzer, who spent the better part of six hours last night repeatedly insisting that he had no obligation to prove that the photograph belonged to him before demanding its removal.
During the conversation, which he copied to his lawyer, Steven L. Green of the firm of Richardson Koudelka in Dallas, Texas, Pulitzer made a number of confusing claims that called into question his status as the rights holder of record. He claimed that he was the photographer who took the picture (though he declined to provide proof of such), but then said that all of his rights to the photograph had been transferred to one of “our” unnamed companies. He did not provide proof that he had the legal right to engage in legal action on behalf of the unnamed rights-holding corporation, or who the apparently plural owners of said company are.
When I requested this proof for my records, Pulitzer became upset and insisted that it was my legal burden to prove I was not violating his rights. I informed Pulitzer that establishing standing is essential for any legal action and will be required by any court, at which point he told me that I as the defendant in a potential court case have the burden of proof. Pulitzer’s lawyer did not participate in the conversation except to say he would remain silent.
I don’t know why Pulitzer is being so cagey and resistant to the simple request that he provide proof that he owns the rights to the photo he claims to own; it seems like a fairly simple thing. After all, I have to do it every time I assert copyright infringement against individuals who have copied wholesale from my work and, unlike this case, sell it for profit. Anyway, the long and short of it is that I’m tired of dealing with him, and he knows it. He threatened Andy White by asserting that he would file a lawsuit solely to cost White money (“See, takes nothing to file the suit, [but it] takes a tremendous amount to get out of one”), and he implied the same to me.
It isn’t right or fair that Pulitzer can bully his way into positive coverage by making improper legal claims and threatening people with financial ruin, but that seems to be his method. So, what I’ve done is replace “his” photograph with a fair use photograph of the sword from Italian eBay. With none of the material in my blog post even remotely belonging to him, he now has no legal footing to harass me or complain about my blog post (which has not changed in wording at all), and, best of all, there is now another blog post detailing the lengths he will go to in order to control how the public perceives his tenure as TREASURE FORCE COMMANDER. I guess we now know what he means by treasure and force.
12/18/2015 11:16:52 am
It saddens me how you and Andy White are having to walk on eggshells with this guy but I certainly understand y'all's position. It is true that he can sue anybody for anything and that it cost time and money to respond. I think the best thing that is going to come of this whole incident is that he is going to be revealed to be what he is. See how careful my wording is here? Haha, I don't need him suing ME! I have a very gullible friend who is into all kinds of fringe ideas, Sitchen, UFOs, Lost Worlds, Huckstered X's, etc., and even he has had to reluctantly admit that Pulitzer is as we know him to be. This whole incident will not be good for the Commander.
I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that while people _can_ be sanctioned for frivolous lawsuits, the defendant still usually doesn't get their legal fees back unless there's a specific statute saying so. There are SLAPP* laws in some states that might apply, but I don't think they apply to frivolous copyright claims - they're usually applied to frivolous defamation cases - and only some states have them yet. But again, I'm no lawyer, I just read Popehat.
12/20/2015 07:10:15 pm
Mike; I wouldn't lose too much sleep about being sued by Pulitzer. He threatened to sue me for libel (even sent me a cut and paste definition of the word) because I quoted a section of public information about him and direct quotes he made in an interview.
Duke of URL VFM#391
12/18/2015 11:18:27 am
"I don’t know why Pulitzer is being so cagey and resistant..."
12/18/2015 11:30:03 am
I was going to say that Pulizer's attorney would tell him that it is up to the plaintiff to prove his case but then I realized, heck, that would mean that a lawyer would have to conduct himself ethically. Sorry you had to accommodate this bully.
12/18/2015 11:55:04 am
So this is how it's going to be with the fringe community? Bogus claims aren't enough, now there will be lawsuits aplenty for intellectual property that the likes of Pulitzer claim to own, but are unwilling to prove?
12/18/2015 12:10:53 pm
Brain geniuses don't have time to write their own work. They're too busy scoping the GILFs in the YMCA pool.
12/18/2015 12:01:41 pm
Truly a paragon of the modern dirt bag.
12/18/2015 12:15:37 pm
Oh, and don't forget: buy them directly from him, before those shady book binders make extra copies to leak his information onto the black market!
12/18/2015 12:51:11 pm
What happens when ...?
12/18/2015 12:02:50 pm
Here is an article about it on the front page of Yahoo
12/18/2015 09:07:31 pm
That's why Pullitzer made the effort to get the story into a regional newspaper in the first place. His followers and supporters will point to things like that as 'proof' that his claims are correct.
12/18/2015 12:04:58 pm
You and Andy are performing the most perfidious act possible - you are exposing his crap claims for what they are, no wonder he feels defensive.
12/18/2015 12:27:29 pm
In other "control how the public perceives his tenure" news, all of his open to the public facebook pages (meaning no account required to view) have all changed to requiring log-in as of this morning.
12/19/2015 12:00:18 pm
As a follow-up to my post; the sites are actually viewable (the ones that are still active). Apparently, depending on browser and state of Windows Updates, this us an issue that comes and goes. The solution is a simple hit of the ESC key to kill the pop-up requesting log-in. Windows Updates this week appear to have reintroduced the gremlin for some. Sorry for any confusion, but glad there is a solution.
12/18/2015 12:46:23 pm
Hutton Pulitzer pinched my original photo on Oak Island and had the odacity to mark it as copywrite for himself and post it on one of his sites. I have the original at home given to me by Kaye Chappell. He removed my stamp at the bottom - the nerve of him! I absolutely know it is my photo because I am the only one where there is a little boat in the water nearby. That is my testimony and note I can produce the original at any time .....he can't!
12/20/2015 03:51:17 pm
Joy Steele, I bought and read your book. Ive had previous communications with you on FB groups and we had some back and forth regarding some things. Good story Joy but I am extremely disappointed about how you went about this. You could have come and debated with us all about some of these facts in the book that aren't even true. Please dont take this the wrong way but I was really looking forward to "Not Another Oak Island Solved Story". I am not being critical and have no regrets of buying it. Attacking Hutton is not the way.
1/5/2016 07:23:41 am
Every single thing I said in that book is well researched and absolutely the truth. Point out what you have a problem with and I will gladly respond. I have a formidable collection of early records and will be happy to answer any questions. The fact is many notable publications and certified professionals are saying this is indeed the answer. This includes genuine book critics and increasing members of the general public.
12/18/2015 12:47:07 pm
Feel free to use pics of the one I just bought off eBay!
12/18/2015 12:58:47 pm
Why go all the way to Italian EBay when you can get one right here at Linen and Things.....
12/18/2015 01:11:35 pm
...and here, and here...
12/18/2015 02:21:03 pm
That is just hilarious. It shouldn't be too hard to track down the manufacturer given how common these swords apparently are.
12/18/2015 06:15:46 pm
12/18/2015 06:26:44 pm
However, their product page states the item is made from cast iron, whereas the "find" looks more like brass: maybe its a cast of a cast ...
12/18/2015 11:04:02 pm
Just one of A Cast of Thousands, like one of those old sword-and-sandals movies!
12/18/2015 02:31:29 pm
It's a good thing for Pulitzer that the Boston Standard doesn't still have a whole bunch of photos of the sword up in the article, including the one Jason and Andy posted.
12/18/2015 02:43:20 pm
Those were officially licensed, according to Pulitzer, though again declining to explain who did the licensing since he won't reveal who is the legal representative of the rights holder.
12/18/2015 02:50:57 pm
Pick any online or meat world seller of the things - they seem to be everywhere except maybe Babies R Us.
12/18/2015 03:12:25 pm
If his real beef is with copyright infringement, sure. But if (as I think is more likely the case) he just wanted you to stop showing people that his "artifact" looks suspiciously similar to a cheap modern wallhanger, then he's going to have to try a tactic that isn't foiled by a simple link to the original article.
12/18/2015 03:29:30 pm
I now have written permission from Dave Kenney to use his sword photo, so it's back on my site. I've blacked out the Nova Scotia sword half, in mourning for all that is right and good with the world.
12/18/2015 04:08:47 pm
It is depressing that the story has been run by bigger new outlets like Yahoo and Daily Mail.
12/18/2015 04:29:01 pm
Now it's coming out that these swords are available through Amazon and even at Walmart. This is beyond awesome. Go Commander, Go!
Libel for all
12/18/2015 04:37:34 pm
You and Andy are not the only ones he has threatened with lawsuits. There are others, if you have my email fire me a direct message with it.
12/18/2015 04:54:01 pm
I'm interested. If you have time to send me an email, I'd appreciate it. firstname.lastname@example.org
1/22/2016 07:49:45 pm
I literally had to block him on fb because of threats. He is a bully that doesn't quit!
12/18/2015 05:23:13 pm
Posting here as well as Andy's site:
12/18/2015 05:36:39 pm
This Pulitzer guy sounds like a real dirk.
12/18/2015 06:08:40 pm
Lawsuits or no lawsuits these people are irrational who do not put their own claims to the critical test and that alone leaves them pretty empty.
12/18/2015 06:23:04 pm
Jason said, "Pulitzer’s lawyer did not participate in the conversation except to say he would remain silent." Must give him some credit, he knows where the butter for his bread comes from and in order to keep his cash cow producing, he chose silence rather than to correct him about who has the burden of proof in a legal action.
12/18/2015 09:45:21 pm
From the first time I saw that bafoon Pulitzer (opinion), he sized himself up for what he is, a small man with a need for greatness. My "opinion" of course.
12/18/2015 10:34:24 pm
12/19/2015 10:08:05 am
Jovan philyaw pullitzer and treasure farce are a bunch of lying gaywad faggots that lick Roman assholes. May the farce shit all over them
12/19/2015 01:36:19 pm
What a pathetic waste of broadband.
12/20/2015 03:15:06 pm
Do you all have better things to do, or is your one and only thrill trying to prove JHP wrong 24/7? Why don't you go after the 200 other people who have theories and post their research? Why not attack them too? It makes you all look jealous. Move on. Go outside. Live life.
12/20/2015 10:16:35 pm
Commenter above just went full retard. Remember, people, never do that.
1/22/2016 07:51:33 pm
Bwahahaha! I love it!
12/20/2015 07:02:32 pm
Why is it that when these nutters get caught making fake claims their first reply is 'I am gonna sue you!'? It's like, come on. No, you aren't going to get sued. This person is defaming the name Pulitzer. Sad. And yes, that sword is faker than a plug nickel (the wooden kind of arcades, also called slugs, which were metal, usually aluminum foil).
An Over-Educated Grunt
12/21/2015 03:32:27 pm
Probably because, as Pulitzer mentioned, it costs relatively little to initiate a lawsuit, especially in small claims court, small claims cases receive significantly less attention, and failure to appear or respond can be used against you, while the legal judgment is just as binding whether you show up or not. At that point, it really doesn't matter whether he has anything more than a lawyer and the filing fee, because the judgment stands regardless of which side is right. The nuisance lawsuit isn't as easy as it once was, but as he said, it's fairly easy to initiate and a pain to evade.
12/22/2015 06:19:27 pm
a case of what's good for the goose is not good for the gander..
1/22/2016 07:54:44 pm
Jhp is such a bullying worthless artifact himself! He has threatened myself and several friends to a point that we have had to block him in various ways from our social media sites. A man of virtue would be more inclined to deal with issues instead of running prior into the ground and using legal terminology to intimidate people that see him for the con artist he is!
3/1/2016 03:13:21 pm
VOLUX, I think I love you
3/23/2017 12:50:57 am
This whole thing is moot. . .the sword has been identified as a cheap knockoff and his pictures valueless.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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