While we are on the subject of copyright, let me highlight another absurdity. When the first round of mockups were created for the cover for The Rough Guide to Evolution, Rough Guides included a design based on the image shown here, which was produced to accompany the 1968 movie Planet of the Apes. I thought it was a perfect image for the cover, with just the right amount of shock value (especially as Charlton Heston had also played Moses!). The image is in the Corbis database, which Rough Guides uses and which, I assumed, meant that it was available for use on payment of a fee.
A little while later, after I had enthusiastically endorsed the picture, it turned out that things are a lot more complicated when it comes to movie images. It seems that it is not enough to pay Corbis for the image. To use a movie image on a book cover, all the various stakeholders in the film have to agree or have died. But by late-2007, most of them were already dead, and then when Heston died in April, I thought we were in with a chance. But, alas, even after his death, it seems that there are too many complex dependencies for the image to be used.
We do now have an excellent cover image for The Rough Guide to Evolution (of a quizzical chimp looking the reader in the eye), so I am not too upset. But the silliness, or least unworkability, of copyright law in the Internet age is illustrated by the results of a Google image search, which turns up numerous copies of the inter-species kiss on the web.
Although the latter-day Heston is often viewed as right-wing NRA nutcase, it is worth remembering the earlier feisty civil rights version.
I wonder what he would have made of Obama? Or of McCain's misappropriation of his Moses to attack Obama, which surely exceeds any problem we could have caused enlisting Heston to the cause of evolution?!