Monday 28 January 2019

Baz, the British Knowledge Thief

CDE in progress
Over on Heritage Action's blog, one Ian Horn, in reply to one of their posts, tries to argue that taking things from under a landowner's nose is not "technically" theft. I disagree:
Mr Horn, how about a situation that can occur possibly commonly? Baz gets permission from Farmer Brown to search his fields. Baz starts off at the beginning of the season and in the first few weeks in the first fields by the woods finds a lot of 'shotties' and a few Georgian coppers and harness buckles. Shows them to Farmer Brown - who is not overly impressed and gets the idea that that "sad crazy bloke" is "not finding much" and is quite happy with the general "search and take agreement" they had signed a few weeks earlier. He stops coming over to the searcher to ask "what you got?" because he's bored with the buckles and hearing the same old stories, cant see what the excitement is.

A few weeks later, by a process of trial-and-error, Baz locates the more 'productive' areas of the farm, a previously unknown prosperous Roman settlement and copious dense spread of material. Including lots of coins and fibulae. Over beyond the copse is a site that produces lots of sceattas. Baz starts coming home with loads of the stuff, more than he needs for his own collection and showing off at the club. He starts selling the duplicates off on eBay, ten, twenty quid an object sometimes. Next detecting season the same thing happens. Baz decides not to report anything to PAS (because none of it is 'Treasure') as he's afraid he'll lose his site.

Farmer Brown is in the dark about the site Baz has found and about Baz's eBay sales. He has an agreement with Baz that any *individual* find worth more than xxxpounds will be sold and the proceeds split, but so far Baz has not come forward with any such find. On the odd occasion they meet, Baz just shows him a buckle or two and some corroded green discs of metal which he dismissively calls "grots" -("not worth much"). Farmer Brown's eyes glaze over. He has not got time to hear the story about the emperor that liked little boys and that other one. So he is happy to let Baz get on with it, Baz is happy, the collectors in Oregon, Gainsville and Little Rock buying the coins are happy. EBay gets its cut too. baz's heirs aere happy they get the artefacts he kept to sell off in due course as a nice little earner left them by the dead man.

But, whatever the document they've signed says, by not showing exactly what he is taking and in what quantities, and keeping quiet about its true value (if not just potential) Baz is stealing from Farmer Brown, and Baz by not reporting all those ripped-out objects he's pocketing and selling off is stealing knowledge from all of us. Selfish, thieving Baz. Illegal? Not yet. Immoral? 100%. Responsible? 0%.

Arguing that it is "technically" not theft as you do cannot hide the fact that actually, it jolly well is.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
Ten utwór jest dostępny na licencji Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Bez utworów zależnych 3.0 Unported.