The jerk replies…

Don’t you just love those posts on The Other Site that start with:   “A reader writes”,  allowing someone to get in a few backbiting remarks behind a veil of anonymity?  Here’s the latest in the genre:  

“Does Colin Berry really think that people will agree with his pompous demands for pictures from Barrie Schwortz? Doesn’t Barrie own the pictures he took and those given to him? Aren’t they protected by copyright?”

The answer to whether Barrie Schwortz owns the pictures of the Shroud depends on the circumstances  that led to him having privileged access. If he approached the custodians with a request to take pictures on which he would own the copyright, and the custodians agreed to that, all well and good. But it was my understanding that he was a member of the STURP consortium, a body of largely US-based and  self-selected individuals, predominantly scientists, who asked for and obtained access to the Shroud for scientific investigation, and while I believe they sought and obtained funding for that investigation, aided by some individual benefactors, they presented themselves as a disinterested group , commercially speaking that is, seeking only to assess claims and counterclaims re authenticity. Photography was just one part of a wide-ranging investigation, so how come an archive of photographic material has ended up in private hands? Ah, but  it’s not quite as simple as that: Barrie Schwortz set up STERA,  the Shroud of Turin Education and Research Associatio0n, a non-profit making organization  we are told that appeals for charitable donations of which he is the President. Its mission statement is to catalogue and gradually make available material to researchers and the media, although there are licensing fees where the latter are concerned. What’s more, BS and his STERA not only hold the copyright on photographs, and explicitly state that HD images will never be permitted to appear on the internet (hampering researchers like myself from publishing our views). They also have the copyright on the research findings of leading STURP scientists, now deceased, notably Alan D Adler and Raymond Rogers, such that Google books (for example) only give access to a limited number of pages, requiring one to shell out cash ($35 being typical) to read the full text of what these folk discovered some 30 or more years ago.

So STERA exists to promote research does it? Not from where I am standing it does not. Shortly after I posted my findings on the properties of scorch images (pseudo-negative characteristics,  encoded 3D information), Dan Porter did a cover post on his site, which drew a  highly patronising response from the President of STERA, stating that while he normally did not bother with blogs, he wanted me to know that scorching as a mechanism had been dismissed by STURP. The lack of uv fluorescence of the Shroud image meant it could not possibly be a scorch he said. Later he said that it was Alan D Adler’s hunch (and that’s all it was – a wild hunch, and an ill-informed one at that) re the bilirubin complex that had convinced him that the perennial red colour of Shroud blood could be neatly explained away, like Adler tried unconvincingly to explain so much away. Does that sound like the promoting of research to you?

I would not expect Barrie Schwortz to understand all the detailed chemical arguments and reasoning for rejecting much of Adler’s advocacy,anymore than I understand the technical side of commercial photography. Yes I know he said recently that while he went into Shroud research as a photographer he now regarded himself as a scientist, and we know he has a full programme of disseminating STURP findings., many of which I regard as wrong-headed and frankly misleading.  Yet this self-styled scientist who owns the copyright on crucial research findings describes bilirubin as “an enzyme” and attempts to swat me down with an argument about fluorescence, a topic on which I suspect his knowledge is no better than that of bilirubin (which I, a PhD scientist, studied for 2 years and was in fact the first to suggest photoisomerism as a mechanism in photo-oxidation).

Dan Porter today calls me a “jerk” for speaking my mind on this copyright issue. Yes, charming isn’t it, not so say hypocritical, given his regular description of my plain speaking as “rudeness”. Well, I have news for Dan Porter and for his close associate Barrie Schwortz, whose appeal for funds on behalf of STERA appears prominently on Porter’s website. I shall go on speaking my mind when I see things that I do not like, ones that hamper me as a disinterested researcher, someone  with no commercial or any other axe to grind.  And believe me, there is a lot about STERA and its modus operandi I do not care for one little bit

You can call me all the playground names under the sun, Dan Porter, but you will not shut me up. And I will never, ever, post another comment on that name-calling, mud-slinging site of yours. Anything I have to say will be said here.

Update: Monday 23 July   This comment has just appeared on The Other Site:

“For copyrights, Barrie Schwortz is an expert and could address this if he chose to do so. I doubt that he will, since the author is merely trying to goad Barrie into doing something he does not have to do. I really don’t understand why Colin feels the need to attack someone who is so upright and agreeable as Barrie Schwortz.

Why doesn’t Colin visit and take a look at these very high resolution, publicly available images? With the zoom made available by Mario Landresse (sp?), he should be more than satisfied.”

Perhaps the writer is not aware that I have recently produced a series of numbered posts using Shroud Scope (link to the recent Shroud Scope 10). He is probably unaware of the background, with my attempting to learn the provenance of a particular HD image of the eyes of Man in the  Shroud that appeared  briefly as a banner on David Rolfe’s Shroud Enigma site, and my running immediately into problems of copyright permissions when I attempted to access the secret archive whence it came (though I hasten to add that neither Barrie Schwortz nor STERA was mentioned in a brief exchange of emails with David Rolfe). However, Barrie Schwortz’s name was mentioned in a different more recent exchange of emails with Dr.Thibault Heimburger, who disagreed with my interpretation of the Shroud Scope images. He wanted me to see images which he said told a different story, ones that had been obtained by Mark Evans. The only trouble is, he said, is that the copyright is held by Barrie Schwortz, surprise, surprise, so while I was urged to look at the Evans picture with a view to changing my stance, I was not allowed to publish the pictures.

Despite being a Mark Evans image, this is how it appears on a website, acknowledging (or having to acknowledge) the ubiquitous Barrie Schwortz/STERA Inc. as the copyright owners. Anyone for a game of Monopoly? This image a copy/paste from the www. site.

As a general rule I do not publish private e mails without permission, even when I find the contents irksome. So I invite Thibault to publish his emails that he sent me – or give me permission to do so – and then perhaps folk will get a better idea of the way in  which copyright issues involving Barrie Schwortz can act directly or (as in this case)  through a third party as a deterrent and/or tripwire for disinterested researchers such as myself.

Ironic, wouldn’t you say,  that I should be urged to make do with Mario’s Shroud Scope images when one looks at the aftermath of my having done just that, with some dozen postings no less …  Still, it’s an opportunity for me to repeat the key conclusions that I reached: the blood stains are confined almost exclusively to the ribs of the weave – having a painted-on appearance.

Epsilon-shaped bloodstain, forehead, Man in Shroud, from the M.Latendresse Shroud Scope archive, before and after adjustment of brightness and contrast.

That is hardly what one would expect of slow seepage of blood from  the wounds of a corpse, nor from  Alan D. Adler’s exotic  ideas on clot-retraction and serum exudation (accounting he said for  “no blood cells, little or no potassium, atypical porphyrin spectrum etc etc). What’s more I see no unequivocal evidence for wounds beneath bloodstains, and that includes the scourge marks as well. It was those claims that elicited Thibault’s problematical (for me at any rate) emails re alternative images (but not freely accessible and moreover subject to copyright) that told a different story he claimed.

Hopefully people now have a better idea of the difficulties that this “jerk” and this “Johnny-come-lately” faces when attempting to question the authenticity of the Shroud…  😉

Final word (where this post is concerned): added Monday 14:50 UK time:

The impression I get is of someone who, not content with making his own collection of Shroud photographs copyright-protected (despite their having been acquired under STURP auspices, which at least some of us thought was ostensibly non-commercial) has since gone into overdrive, and has been hoovering up every other STURP resource as it becomes available for one reason or another. That includes the Mark Evans archive of photographs as well.

STURP was predominantly US-initiated and US- manned, so maybe this is the US way of doing things. I also know that litigation is the US way of doing things, so shall choose my words carefully.

Stop treating Shroud resources as if they were your own personal property, Mr. Schwortz, or those of that ‘non-profit making corporation’ of yours, the one which presumably funds your extensive travels and lecture tours. Those resources are needed for new research.

You see, not all of us regard STURP findings as the last word on the subject. In fact, in some instances, they should never have been the first word either.

That’s all I wish to say on the matter. But if anyone else emails me to say I should consult a  Barrie Schwortz/STERA -copyrighted resource and then reconsider my position, then I shall not hesitate to publish that email in full, together with the sender’s name, and insist that the recommended item be placed into the public domain.



About Colin Berry

Retired science bod, previous research interests: phototherapy of neonatal jaundice, membrane influences on microsomal UDP-glucuronyltransferase, defective bilirubin and xenobiotic conjugation and hepatic excretion, dietary fibre and resistant starch.
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