Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Farewell 2016!

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

I made a New Year’s Resolution a few years ago that I would maintain a blog and try to write in it regularly for my own sanity. 2016 was an interesting year in that was plenty that I could have written about, but at times it seemed to smack you so hard that I felt I didn’t have time to sit and let it process or find the reliable sources that I wanted to construct an argument or make a solid case for a point of view.

From a political standpoint, I felt quite upset and frustrated at times that my generation doesn’t seem to be stepping up to the challenge. Voting figures are still down in UK & US and yet many don’t like the eventual results. In the London Mayoral elections and EU Referendum I made sure I put my vote in. With the nationalist angry mob seeming to be the ones holding the keys to several Governments right now I sometimes wonder what we can learn from our Canadian friends.

I am hoping that in 2017 some of the other nations that are holding elections in Europe find enough people won’t pick nationalist hate but progressive tolerance and continue to find ways together we can bridge divides and isolate those who wish to terrorise us.

Creatively I had some strong ideas that I attempted to implement at the beginning of the year and then they sort of fizzled out as other issues took over, such as moving house. However I am still optimistic and full of more ideas and keeping hold of others to try out when the time is right. Some of them I cannot do alone and already this year some of you have hinted at collaborations and ideas that I am really looking forward to developing on together.

My life really feels like it is in a different place now socially, I found a whole new group of wonderful people this year and my confidence in a social setting feels like it has expanded enormously. I am very thankful to a small number of close friends that I have made this year who have appreciated and supported me for who I am and encouraged me to build on my values.

I also have many friends who’ve stuck by me for some years and I thank you all for the time you’ve shared with me in the past year and I look forward to more new experiences and adventures in 2017.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Shoreham Disaster – What I Saw

Monday, August 24th, 2015

On Saturday 22nd August 2015, an aircraft crashed at Shoreham Airshow. This is my eyewitness account from the day.


Backing Our BBC

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Tomorrow the Government will release its Green Paper on the future of the BBC, here I want to write why we should keep it strong and independent.

The British Broadcasting Corporation was founded on the principals to “inform, educate and entertain”, in October 1922. Since its early days it has pushed forward the mediums of radio, television and developed new technology, blazing a trail for others to follow. As the World’s oldest national broadcaster it has now taken on almost mythical status, and often seen as a beacon of the creative freedoms that come with a educated and informed society. About 97% of UK adults use the BBC each week.

I do not believe that I would be the person I am today without “Auntie”, the affectionate name that call the BBC. The programming hooked me at an early age, especially the scientific and cultural programmes, often produced in association with the Open University. These kinds of shows gave me an appreciation and understanding of the wider world around me, and outside of my own borders. I often think I learnt more from watching these programmes than I did from studying the textbooks at school. I am sure the similar passions that the BBC’s factual programming fuelled me with were shared by many others who may have gone on to study science, engineering and technology.

My passions became media and the arts, which I went on to study and now work in. Those factual programmes encouraged me to be open minded, always be willing to learn and I wanted to share knowledge with the wider world. I made some documentaries at college and today I am a professional freelance photographer. Twice I have applied to work at the BBC itself in the past, I suspect I shall again in the future if the right situation presents itself.

Even now, the BBC’s factual programming continues to inform and entertain. Whether it be a historical biography or explaining the latest scientific theories and concepts. The programming often doesn’t feel dumbed down, it feels gripping and riveting, without the need to be overly dramatic. The BBC in 2014/15 broadcasted 8,211 hours of Factual, Music and Arts content on its four main TV channels.

However, a lot of good documentaries include a hint of investigative journalism. Certainly the wave of commercial feature-length documentaries in the world today are often the result of some critical investigation, whistleblowing or alternative viewpoint. Examples include Blackfish, Citizen Four and Bowling for Columbine. The BBC sometimes feels like it is not being as brave it its own investigative programmes as these films, however it will often air those feature-length documentaries after their cinematic release.

This feeling of less critical journalism could be due to a result of a perception that the BBC is towing to some invisible line that the State has set them. However the BBC is not controlled by the Government and its independence should be fiercely protected by its employees and the public at large. The Royal Charter has always stated and protected the BBC’s independence and its news programming is expected to be unbiased. This remains what I now cherish most as an adult…its accurate, unbiased news from across the World.

Having watched commercial network news programming in the United States, the alternative was very clear. Highly biased, sensationalised journalism, competing to be heard/seen by the audience where it was viewing figures not quality that matters. This sort of reporting often is lead by ego-driven reporters and highly selective about its content, full of speculation and jumping on internet rumours without verifying them first. The tabloid newspapers in the UK are the closest to this style of news here and we’ve seen it isn’t always ethical either after revelations in the Phone-Hacking Scandal.

The BBC News Services, domestically and internationally, attracts an audience of 283 million people. The corporation’s motto seems to embody the mission of its reporting, “Nation shall speak Peace unto Nation”. It informs and educates on the World’s current affairs, personally it feels like a great authority, especially during crisis’ and fast-moving stories, the BBC will often seek to clarify its facts before reporting them and make sure rumours are squashed. 

However it could do better, in recent years I have turned to Al Jazeera for extra news reporting on the Middle East and European Union. Often the BBC seems to only report on Europe when it directly affects the UK, however the BBC World Service on radio does often still produce an amazing internationally diverse programme. When the World Service newsreader presents the top stories they often are completely different to the national news, making me aware of situations and politics outside the UK.

There is also great drama and comedy for those that wish to be entertained. Although I watch less of that content myself, the BBC has produced some high-quality productions, popular around the World. Although I think it won’t all be as memorable as classics such as Faulty Towers or House of Cards. But this is its strength, the BBC is there for everybody, and excels in almost every genre, providing the UK with some of the best filmmakers, artists, musicians and actors.

The UK creative industry is one of the strongest in the world, increasingly major Hollywood productions are being filmed on location and in the studios of Britain, recent films made partly here include The Avengers and The Force Awakens. These crew members and actors may have started in smaller TV productions, but their professionalism is often compared as second to none. Our culture is also one of Britain’s best exports, so much so that in 2012 Harvard placed the UK on the top of the Soft Power List. This success I think has to be attributed to the fact the BBC exists and has pioneered new styles of filmmaking, invented new technologies and been a showcase for fresh talent on and off the screen.

Why have I been making this long and passionate defence for the BBC?

Tomorrow the Government will potentially set out reforms for the BBC, in my opinion this would be an attempt to meddle in the internal affairs of the Corporation and violate some of the key principals of the BBC’s Charter. But the Charter itself is at risk, we are now entering the stage known as Charter Review, where the current 10-year Royal Charter is going to expire in 2016. The BBC and Parliament must now negotiate and agree on the aims and objectives of the Corporation over the next 10-years.

The Culture Secretary, John Wittingdale, is known to be no fan of the TV License, wanting to scrap it in favour of a National Tax. While some of the BBC’s commercial rivals, chiefly Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting would benefit if its online news influence were limited and a more commercial subscription model were to be introduced to the BBC. Potentially pitting it in direct competition to its Sky Television Satellite subscription model. I think I’ve seen enough of Rupert and James Murdoch’s way of doing journalism to know I don’t want even more of it than there is already.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has called the BBC Online “imperialist”, yet I would argue that the BBC is merely keeping up with the times and making its services available to the widest range of people in the country, who pay for its operation. However I will agree the TV License should be updated, to cover more of the BBC’s broadcasts and content than just live television. This should include on-demand services such as the iPlayer and I think you should for a small fee, be able to pay keep downloaded TV programmes indefinitely on your computer or device.

The Director-General of the BBC, Lord Hall has said, “The Public are our shareholders. Their view will always be the most important. We should be under no illusion that this is a period of high risk for the BBC. While no one wants to abolish the BBC, there will be some who want to diminish us for their own narrow interests.” We as the shareholders must make sure the government hears our voice and doesn’t dismantle a precious national institution that I treasure as highly as the National Health Service.

Earlier today, a range of celebrities signed a open letter to the Prime Minister urging him to protect the BBC. Many of them have worked with the corporation, the names include actors Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench and Rachel Weisz; writers JK Rowling, Steven Moffat and Richard Curtis; presenters Sir David Attenborough, Claire Balding and Graham Norton; comedians David Walliams, Miranda Hart and Michael McIntyre.

The letter says, “Nothing should be done to diminish the BBC or turn it into a narrowly focused market-failure public broadcaster. A diminished BBC would simply mean a diminished Britain. The BBC is a very precious institution. Like all organisations, it has its faults but it is overwhelmingly a creative force for good.”

I will be keeping a close eye on what the government announces tomorrow, I hope that people will not let a slight pesky irritation of paying the Licence Fee let them think the terms being offered are the best ones for everyone. We must not imagine that dismantling one of the greatest media organisations in the World will not have a profound effect on our national character. Whether that be in education, culture or entertainment. The BBC has the capacity at key moments to bring the nation together and to broadcast our values abroad with clarity and respect. 
Lord Hall sums it up best I think, “The BBC does not belong to its staff. The BBC does not belong to the government. The BBC belongs to the country.”

Film Review: Jurassic World

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

I was a big fan of the Jurassic Park films growing up, so how does the new one compare?


Furry Photography: Thoughts & Tips

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Does the Furry Fandom take photography for granted? Here’s some thoughts and personal photo tips!


Furry Photography: Your Rights and Copyright

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Last week, a friend on Twitter asked a question, “Who does the copyright on a fursuit photo actually belong to?”

As a professional photographer, and member of the furry fandom, I thought that it was a perfect opportunity to do some research on the law, the copyright of photographs and rights of models/subjects.

So here I present to you my thoughts and opinions on photography rights for fursuiters and photographers.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, if you seriously do wish to seek legal advice. Please speak to one!


So the simplest question of all: Who owns the copyright to a photograph?

The answer 100% is the photographer who took the image.

If you borrowed a friend’s camera and took the photo, it is owned by the person who pushed the shutter button.

Only time a photographer does not own the rights to their image is if they are the employee of another organisation, such as a publication or media company that pay for the services of the photographer.

Let’s say a fursuiter pays for a photographer to take images, unless it is in writing that the rights are forfeited by the photographer, to you (the fursuiter) than the creator of the image (the photographer) still owns full rights to the image.

Now I can just hear all the fursuiters reading this letting out shrieks of horror. But I am afraid it is true, most fursuiters in legal terms would almost never own the image and it could technically be used for editorial or commercial purposes.

In the cosplay community, they do have one right, “the right to publicity” in the US. A right to privacy exists in the UK law, as a consequence of the European Convention on Human Rights. However this applies more to cosplay than fursuiters, because most people participating in cosplay are showing their faces and have to consent if a photograph is being used commercially under most circumstances.

This however is forfeited in a public place, this is why street photography is legal. There is no need to contact anyone, anywhere in order to commercially sell photographs taken in public. Photography on private land is similarly unrestricted. However, landowners are permitted to impose any conditions they wish upon entry to a property, such as forbidding or restricting photography.

However in my discussions with members of the community, many are arguing that a photo of the fursuiter constitutes a derivative work. A photograph can also be a mechanism of infringement of the copyright which subsists in another work. For example, a photograph which copies a substantial part of an artistic work, such as a sculpture or painting. This why photography is banned at Art Shows in conventions, for example.

This is really the grey area that needs to be addressed, many of us as fandom photographers will respect the wishes of our fellow furries and understand the value that a character may have for an individual. We therefore have an informal code of conduct which is often agreed to by attendees at a furry convention.
The photographer Tom Broadbent, famous for his project ‘At Home with the Furries‘ follows similar attitude to many photographers within the fandom of keeping an open and honest dialogue. Letting the costume owner know what the purpose of the photoshoot is, if it isn’t just for personal use. This generally is the only protection that fursuiters have, is talking to their photographers for an understanding and if they really want to be safe then get a model release form.

But then we have to picture a scenario where you (the fursuiter) are photographed by, a freelancer in the street entertaining people, and then goes on to sell it to a international photo library. Your rights to privacy have been made void by the fact you covered your face with your costume. The costume itself isn’t trademarked and is not connected to any copyrighted brand. There’s almost nothing you can do except to contact the photographer and politely request the image be removed.

“Most furries would likely be very disappointed to know how few rights, if any, their characters have,” stated Wylde Rottie, who hosted a panel at MFF on copyrighting. “Fursuits would likely be considered Useful Articles, like a costume or piece of clothing, which are not copyrightable.”

Wylde then went on to explain why the trademarking of fursuits would drastically change the open and creative atmosphere of the community:

“It’s important to acknowledge why those protections don’t really exist legally. Imagine the bad precedent it would set by allowing someone to have copyright to a suit. What’s to stop someone with one fursuit from claiming rights over a suit made subsequently and/or of similar design? At most, someone could attempt to have their suit/design trademarked in some way, but the bar for that is so much higher that I have a hard time thinking of any circumstance in which someone could successfully get a suit design trademarked.”

So to summarize:
“Under law, it is the photographer who will own copyright on any photos he/she has taken, with the following exceptions:

  • If the photographer is an employee of the company the photos are taken for, or is an employee of a company instructed to take the photos, the photographer will be acting on behalf of his/her employer, and the company the photographer works for will own the copyright.
  • If there is an agreement that assigns copyright to another party.

(Source: The UK Copyright Service)


My thoughts on this subject first came up in August 2014 when Getty Images sent a photographer to capture images at Eurofurence for editorial/press use. It demonstrated that there was a loophole, photographing in public areas of Berlin and the hotel where the convention’s media policy did not apply and by not being an attendee they hadn’t agreed to the terms and conditions of entry associated with being a badge-holder.

Conventions need to be very clear to point out where public and private land is to their attendees, and fursuiters should ask photographers if they are suspicious of their intentions before they take images and afterwards will need to seek permission to copy/print photos outside of personal use.

Meanwhile us photographers, who create and hold the copyright, must make sure to defend our works from theft/illegal publication and always be clear with fursuiters about what we are doing with our images and continue to uphold our informal agreements to contact and ask owners of fursonas/characters consent before images are used for commercial or editorial/press use.

However we must never feel that we cannot continue to have fun and collaborate together to create amazing images which document this colourful community and its energetic costumers who bring life to lovingly hand-crafted fursuits.

Written by Mike “Mikepaws” Garnett


Detailed Links/More Infomation:

The UK Copyright Service

The US Copyright Office

Music Review: Come Find Me by Fox Amoore

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Come Find Fox playing at Abbey Road in his latest album.


Furries & the Media

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

What should furries do about mass media?


Should we reform the House of Lords?

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

A recent governement defeat reminds me of what I value in our unelected upper house.


Music Review: Lights by Wolfgun

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Wolfgun voyages across a universe of sounds in his new album ‘Lights’.