My Blog, BiosUrns, and DMCA
I need to go back to a post I put up a couple of years ago on green burial options that are not ready for prime time, or that are ill conceived. In my 2nd blog post, from April 2016 (Part 2 of Green Burial Innovations), I was critical of the hype around BiosUrns and Incube and was subsequently censored. Here is the story.
In the section titled And a Couple of Cremation Ideas that Need Work
Or You Could Just Water it Like You Water Other House-Plants, I explored several options for cremated remains disposition that purport to be environmental solutions. Here's part of what I wrote:
The developers of the Bios Urn and Bios Incube had this INCREDIBLE idea: they would do away with cemeteries and create forests. The promotional video shows what appears to be a military cemetery with rows of white tombstones, then a flight over a diverse forest. They say they are “the world´s first system designed to help grow the remains of your loved ones into trees.” Well, not exactly.
It is another cremated remains/planter but this one comes with an app for your smart phone! No kidding!! The Incube (tree incubator) has an electronic device that monitors soil moisture and automatically waters the tree. How these individual trees restore forests is not a major selling point. More worrisome, the designers obviously spent more time making it look sleek and developing cool electronics than they did on biological sciences.
They apparently don’t know that roots will not grow into raw ashes. But what they lack in science, they make up for it with media savvy. Biourns and the Incube have been in/on Forbes, Time, Discovery, CBC, The Daily Mail, Treehugger.com, numerous other online mags, and The Huffington Post ( March 21, 2016, article on greener funeral options. The Biourns and the Urban Death Care Composters received more than three times the ink (and a links) than woodland burial, and the article did not even mention conservation burial).”
This section followed a discussion of Bob Jenkin’s Let Your Love Grow cremation amendment and about his in ground research of untreated concentrated ashes. Bob showed that human ashes are relatively toxic to plant roots given the very high pH and salt concentrations, and included photos from his research.
As we documented, BiosUrns were NOT the first to create cremation tree-planters; Jose Fernando Vasquez Perez approached us around 2001 with his ideas for cremation tree planters that he came up with while at the Rhode Island School of Design. His company, the Spiritree Forest Company is located in Puerto Rico, predating Bios by a decade and a half. And of course our company’s name is Memorial Ecosystems, founded 20 years before Bios and we have been growing the remains of loved ones into trees (and forests and meadows) for 20 years this year.
The original post included a graphic from Bios’s promotional materials and showed a cross section of an urn, complete with roots robustly growing through the ashes, and a very happy little tree. As we know this is at best misleading.
But last week, I visited the post (to forward it to someone) and noted the scientifically improbable graphic of the happy tree was gone and replaced by a sad robot.
At the end of my post, this new message from WordPress:
Some content on this page was disabled on March 21, 2018 as a result of a DMCA takedown notice from Roger Moline. You can learn more about the DMCA here:
Roger Moline is a one of the founders of Bios. DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Congress passed the Act in reaction to how much easier it was to transfer (and monetize) the intellectual property of others with the (new at the time) internet, including movies, books and music. The law specifically exempted “fair use”:
Clearly, the purpose of my blog was not to personally benefit from disaffecting potential Bios clients, but to provide scientific (and aesthetic) criticism of a number of “green” products and practices (along with other issues) and to help educate the public about the increasingly diverse offerings of green burial products and services.
I even contacted Bios with suggestions on how to make the offering more functional (amending the ashes with a buffer like Let Your Love Grow’s product) and make it more acceptable for conservation burial projects like Ramsey Creek (make sure the trees are regionally appropriate and site appropriate—I believe they are now making provisions for that).
We do not feel we are in competition with Bios, they make stuff. We protect nature and provide a place for some of the burial stuff. The purpose of my post was not to benefit from any loss to Bios, it was urging them to pay more attention to basic science, as much attention as they paid to their slick design and marketing.
But Bios, unfortunately, is one of a growing number of companies that abuse the DMCA to suppress any legitimate criticism of their product. While what they did is not illegal, a growing chorus thinks that filing these types of trivial DMCAs to suppress criticism should be punishable. I think at the very least, Bios has behaved unethically, and I will file for a reversal of the DMCA takedown, as is allowable under the law. Roger Moline should be ashamed of himself.
Here are a couple of good articles on DMCA abuse:
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Dr. Billy Campbell is the co-founder of Ramsey Creek Preserve, with his wife, Kimberley. His informed perspective is deeply valued in the conservation burial community.