An interesting lawsuit; continued discussion of immigration

Chaos Manor View, Thursday, September 8, 2016

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.

James Burnham

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983

Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Migration without assimilation is invasion.





I have enough interesting new mail to continue the discussion of immigration, and I will do that. Meanwhile, things are approaching the normal state of chaos here. The plumbing works, the phones work, our life saving assistant is over her health problems, I can shower properly, and in general things are reasonable again. We had to postpone the weekly Wednesday conference, but we can make up on that later this afternoon.


For your amusement:






Now for a diversion:



Carol Highsmith. Public Domain

I saw an AP release today that intrigued me, and on looking farther, determined that it raises a matter of some interest to writers. The LA Times page C5 header said “Photographer gave up image rights, firms say”, which is not very intriguing, but for some reason I read it. It didn’t make a lot of sense, and the story was much more complex than the header indicates.

Carol Highsmith (ne McKinney) is one of the best known photographers in America, and her donation of her works to the Library of Congress and thus into the public domain.

Carol Highsmith is a distinguished photographer who has traveled all over America, aiming to chronicle for posterity the life of the nation in the early 21st century. She’s donating her work to the public via the Library of Congress, which has called her act “one of the greatest acts of generosity in the history of the Library.” The Carol M. Highsmith Archive, which is expected ultimately to encompass more than 100,000 images, is accessible royalty-free via the library’s website.

So of course she gave up her image rights. She quite generously did so with full knowledge and intent. Why is this news?

Well, it turns out that Getty Images, among others, is selling copies of her photos. That’s certainly legal: I published copies of the California Sixth Grade Reader, and I think Amazon charges about four bucks, of which I get 70%. You can, as Getty Images notes in its defense, get copies of Dickens or Shakespeare, certainly public domain, from many places, some free and some for nominal sums. I think I just paid two bucks for the Kindle edition of Bleak House, although I was given a copy by Mr. Hertz, my lawyer, some years ago. Bleak House is a massive work, and I find it easier to read on the Kindle these days. Of course it’s legal to charge for copies of public domain works, else sellers of old book would all be out of business, but in fact a few remain. I doubt that one could make living publishing public domain books and images, but there is nothing illegal about it, as I am sure Ms. Highsmith knows. So why is she suing Getty Images? And for a billion dollars at that?

This is where the story gets more interesting. Enter now License Compliance Services, apparently acting on behalf of Getty Images. Ms. Highsmith used one of her own photographs on her own web site, whereupon License Compliance Services sent her a bill for $120 which was to purchase a license to her own photograph.

I do not know Ms. Highsmith although I think I may have met her at some social or fund raising event at one time or another, but I have no problem at all imagining the fury generated by that demand that she license her own photograph from a company she probably had never heard of. In any event she filed a suit:

Photographer Files $1 Billion Suit Against Getty for Licensing Her Public Domain Images

In December, documentary photographer Carol Highsmith received a letter from Getty Images accusing her of copyright infringement for featuring one of her own photographs on her own website. It demanded payment of $120. This was how Highsmith came to learn that stock photo agencies Getty and Alamy had been sending similar threat letters and charging fees to users of her images, which she had donated to the Library of Congress for use by the general public at no charge.

Now, Highsmith has filed a $1 billion copyright infringement suit against both Alamy and Getty for “gross misuse” of 18,755 of her photographs. “The defendants [Getty Images] have apparently misappropriated Ms. Highsmith’s generous gift to the American people,” the complaint reads. “[They] are not only unlawfully charging licensing fees … but are falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright owner.” According to the lawsuit, Getty and Alamy, on their websites, have been selling licenses for thousands of Highsmith’s photographs, many without her name attached to them and stamped with “false watermarks.”

Actually, she received the demanding letter from License Compliance Services acting on behalf of Getty Images (who, I suspect, now wishes it had never heard of License Compliance Services). According to today’s paper, Getty Images claims it has every right to charge for public domain images it distributes; I have not found their defense of requiring the author of the work to license its reuse.

I must say I wish Ms. Highsmith well. I also confess to being one of her admirers. If any of you have used one of her public domain photographs – there are thousands – and received a bill from LCS, you have my sympathies. She didn’t cause it to be sent.

See also

A neat montage of some of Ms. Highsmith’s photos can be found at 


The “Undocumented” Problem


There appear to be some stumbling blocks in the way to reaching a consensus on how to handle the problem of people in the US without proper documentation.

The words Illegal, Alien and Criminal seem to trigger violent reactions from a large number of our Citizens and Elected Officials.

We should try to reach agreement on using the word Undocumented and using three categories Undocumented with US Citizen Children, Undocumented and Undocumented Felon.

I believe that adopting these three classifications will go a long way to reaching agreement on what to do to solve the Undocumented Problem.

These priorities for action may help to ease the path to consensus.

First, adopt a policy of immediate deportation of Undocumented Felons at either the completion of the incarceration or capture if not incarcerated.

Second, adopt a system of Work Visas for the currently Undocumented with US Citizen Children. Acceptance of such a Visa would allow Documented residence of a non-working spouse. A working spouse would be eligible for their own Work Visa. These Work Visas would require a longer than normal residency to be eligible for Citizenship (perhaps forever.)

Third, properly enforce the existing laws against the hiring of the Undocumented. Legislate increased penalties for violating these laws including significant periods of incarceration if necessary.

Fourth, address the porous border with Mexico. This is not just an Undocumented problem, but a real and extremely dangerous problem of Terrorism!

This can be addressed with a combination of technology and appropriate staffing. The Technology part MUST go outside of normal Federal Government Procurement Practices to ensure success.

Fifth, deal with the Undocumented without suffix population by giving them the option to return home and get in line for Work Visas and a possible path to Citizenship. Those that choose to stay will be deported when found and will not be eligible for either Visa or Citizenship.

Bob Holmes

Well, I disagree with none of your points, but I do object to their order: it seems to me that until we gain control of the border – stop the bleeding – the rest is irrelevant. Your fifth point is implicit in the Trump approach: we may not go looking for illegal aliens, but we have not forgotten they are breaking the law. I suspect that it is all that is possible, and much of that will have to be left to state and local authorities. Many of them will not be at all vigorous in their search for status offenders; but they should not relax their crime prevention efforts. It is in the interests of all, legals and illegals, that we reduce gang warfare and drug cartel power. Latest statistics show that can be done; but if we do not control the inflow, it is not so terribly useful. But then you know that.


Illegal immigration measures

Arizona’s experience shows that substantial enforcement does not require inhumane measures. They applied misdemeanor penalties like $100 fines for lacking a document or not using e-verify. The legal history is here:
In 2007, Arizona mandated use of E-Verify. It reduced formal illegal employment substantially. There’s always informal self-employment, of course, but it still makes the place quite a bit less attractive to illegals. An employment analysis, with data, is here:
The next step was SB1070, to enforce immigration laws at most government contacts. It passed with wide support among citizens. Most of its provisions were struck down by federal courts, because, ironically, federal law already had similar provisions and penalties. However, the “documents” provision remains in force because the US Congress did not establish penalties. This strongly suggests that sufficient laws are in place, just not enforced. Therefore, minor revisions to the federal budget and executive action could prioritize enforcement.
California already deports convicted felons who are illegal aliens, after they have served their terms. See
Combine this with policies that improve border control and improve employment by lowering energy costs and reducing unnecessary regulations. Practical improvements in security and employment should be possible without an inhumane society.
Assigning welfare benefits only to legal residents is a good idea, but it has already been struck down by federal courts. The courts specifically extend constitutional civil rights to illegals, including “equal protection.” For example, North Carolina officials could not ask school children if their parents were illegals. It might take a constitutional amendment to overturn this. Any congressional act is likely to be overturned in the same way by citing the same cases.
Ray Van De Walker
How ell California complies with deportation of convicted felons is not so clear: there are numerous cases of illegals being released at the end of their sentence before informing the Immigration Service that they existed, or so I am told. There are also complications of Sanctuary Cities and various city police special orders. Of course we are discussing Federal, not State policies here.

I think an explicit Act of Congress denying benefits to Illegal aliens would have to be obeyed by the courts, even if it took a law changing the jurisdiction of the courts, which is explicitly within the powers granted to Congress; a nuclear option, indeed, but then the courts have played some pretty dangerous cards themselves.


immigration and the wall

I suspect it’s a matter of degree. Today we have no effective immigration control and essentially no wall. We can and should build a wall that will stop most of the tidal wave crossing the boarder today.

It’s like security systems, with our individual homes being the low end, local businesses a little higher, and what the president has, the practical top end. We don’t need a wall that stops everyone, we need a wall in the right places that stops most. We then need a boarder patrol that looks for the rest and handles them appropriately as dictated by our laws.

As for getting the 11+ million already here out, first stop the incoming tidal wave as in the above, next, let the police round up the know illegal felons and deport them. My buddy is a patrol cop, the police indeed know where they are. They just can’t do anything. Use something like E Verify to keep businesses from hiring illegals. Once we have done all of that, we can begin to talk about the rest.

I’ve always assumed this was Trump’s approach. It’s what any decent leader would come up with.

Phil Tharp



Dr. Pournelle,

You say: “I have said it is reasonable to deport any illegal alien convicted of a felony upon completion of his sentence.”

I say, why house and feed him for a prison sentence?  He can run up quite a room and board bill for even the traditional minimum year and a day.

I propose deporting him upon conviction.  Now, we don’t want him coming back, so here is where it gets into the science fictional.  He should be indelibly marked.  Crooks tend to like tattoos, so we will give him an official one.  A bullseye would be appropriate because he would have the same status as a disaster looter… to be shot on sight.

Not politically or socially feasible, but we can dream.

“…surely we can do something immediately without endless talk?”

I don’t know what.  Making one’s position clear to politicians falls on deaf ears.  Worse, a politician will look you square in the face, and to quote Matt Helm’s boss Mac, “Lie and continue to lie in the face of compelling evidence to the contrary.”

Jim Watson

As you say, a dream. My intention was to discuss reality, such as what an elected President might actually be able to accomplish; nothing involving “shoot on sight” is likely and I would not think desirable. Returning deported felons are likely to be a problem: they are now. I propose that it be made explicit law that they are not citizens and have no right to entitlements including court ordered prison conditions. They could be sent to Guantanamo, but I see no reason to inflict their company on good Marines who don’t deserve that duty and aren’t paid for it. I think of a number of firms which would undertake to imprison repeat non-citizens under harsh but not inhumane conditions at fractions of the current imprisonment costs. Those facilities would be built for that purpose and that purpose only, and run by paid guards, with over-all supervision from the armed services. I do not further specify details, but the purpose is to make a not inhumane place that all sane persons would want to avoid, preferably by not reentering the United States.


Given that, I see no reason why early departures of sentenced felons should not be possible; depending on the felony, of course. For that matter, I have no real objection to contracts with foreign powers to imprison their own citizens after conviction in the US, although I expect most foreign countries would not sign one.


Immigration and taxes

Just to chime in on the conversation regarding what is to be done about illegals from a tax preparer’s perspective. Going after the companies who hire illegals is actually very easy for what many will likely find to be an astounding reason:

The IRS knows exactly who many of the people who work here illegally are, where they live (or at least where they receive mail) and who they work for. This is certainly not true for all illegals, but it is true for a great many of them.

More on that in a bit, but first I’d like to clear up something that many of your correspondents have said; that companies hire illegals to avoid paying them minimum wage. While this may be true in some places, I’ve never seen it. Every tax return I’ve prepared for someone here illegally (or on an H1B for that matter) is making huge sums of money relative to the native population, typically over 100K a year.

How it works: Company hires Illegal as an employee. Obviously Illegal does not have a social security number, but no matter. Those are pretty easy to find these days, thanks to the internet. The social security number typically belongs to a retiree who no longer files federal tax returns. (I always have to laugh when some burly Hispanic dude hands me a W-2 with a name like Myrtle Vargason on it.) At the end of the year, Company prints out a W-2 for Illegal, who then brings it to me. I carefully document Illegal’s information on Form W-7, essentially a signed confession to being here and working here illegally, so the IRS can issue him an ITIN. I then use this to file Illegal’s tax return so he can get whatever refund and tax credits he has coming. (As a registered tax return preparer, I am legally required to assist Illegal in obtaining his ITIN and filing his taxes. Failure to assist would result in consequences a tad on the serious side.)

Great system, right? Here’s the best part. A couple years hence, 80-year-old Myrtle Vargason up in Elk Snout, Montana gets a friendly letter from the IRS informing her she has 60 days to cough up a wad of cash to cover her penalties for failing to file a tax return on the money she made working heavy construction in Miami, Florida.

So what does Company get from this? By paying Illegal on a W-2, he isn’t avoiding any costs or regulations, so why take the risk? Because he gets an employee who will show up, on time, sober, and who will do the work without endlessly bitching about it being too hot or too cold or being too hung over to work. Sorry, but there it is.
Ric Frost

There is much to think about in your letter. Thank you. I am contemplating it now. I invite comment.


Petronius may consider Zuckerberg to be a member of his tribe, but Zuckerberg and the other Silicon Valley elites certainly don’t consider Petronius and the rest of us plebes to be members of *their* tribe – else they wouldn’t be fraudulently importing scads of foreign H-1B indentured servants to replace their fellow Americans, of whom there’s a surfeit better-qualified than the H-1Bers to do this work.

It’s unabashed economic treason. And one way or another, in the not-so-distant future, there *will* be a reckoning.




We still have a landline – sort of. We live in a place served by fiber to the house. Our “landline” is carried over the fiber link which provides our cable TV service, our alarm service, and our 100 megabit per second Internet service, and is included in the cost. I supposed that counts as a “landline” but it has obvious advantages over conventional wired service. We live in the Texas hill country, and there are places out here where cell service is spotty as well.

Best Regards,

   — Lindy Sisk


Russian Nuke Ahead of Schedule

One of the arguments made by the Fred — submitted by J — makes a point that I believe many Americans have trouble facing: American policy makers consistently and repeatedly overestimate American capabilities while underestimating enemy capabilities. Further, American policy makers almost never seem to realize that we don’t know much — and certainly not everything — that adversaries may be doing and the battlespace can change quickly.

I’m watching very small, but significant changes in the men and materiel that we would be arrayed against. This is another one of those changes, easily assimilated into existing data and dismissed as “unimportant” along with all the other small changes that were dismissed as “unimportant”.


On Monday, a defense industry official told Russian media that the mass production of the RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, a new multi-warhead, super-heavy missile designed to defeat anti-missile systems, would begin in 2018, two years ahead of schedule. Defense analyst Vladimir Tuchkov explains what made this possible.


As Fred said, and I’ve said, our policy makers and “perfumed political princes” — an apt label for our failure of generalship — are not prepared to defeat sheep herders in Afghanistan nor a rabble that was under the shoes of one of the most powerful dictators in modern times.

Nor are they prepared to make realistic alliances that actually help US interests, witness Saudi Arabia. And these people want to fight Russia?

Remember how the Germans trained with broomsticks during a NATO exercise because they couldn’t afford to equip their soldiers with small arms? I guess that would be harder with Merkel’s CDP allocating resources to import military aged men from war torn areas — men who would not fight for their own country but will somehow, magically, become good Germans that would fight for Germany one day?

I could go on, but why bother? The die has been cast. I feel like the people who actually saw what was happening before WWI must have felt. I feel like I’m watching a train wreck that I can prevent if only the drivers will head the words coming into their brains through their commo boxes. But, as a Princeton study demonstrated, the American people have zero effect on US policy and have not for decades.

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

Those who have not seen might finds it amusing. Warning: Fred is very politically incorrect. The easily offended probably ought to avoid his site.





Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.



Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.