Jeffrey LewisMore on that Bogus BM-25 Pic

Last week, I wrote that Space Daily tried to pass off
a picture of a Russian missile as the “BM-25” which may or may not be North Korea’s newest IRBM.

Anatoly Zak writes in to confirm that he took the picture of the SS-N-6 at the NIIKhimmash facility in Sergiev Posad and that Space Daily “used [it] without my permission.”

I think maybe some of us should write Simon Mansfield, publisher of, to tell him that is not cool.

His address is simon [AT]

Update: Spacewar changed the image.


  1. Simon Mansfield (History)

    I love it when bloggers think they know it all.

    The photo in question was dual sourced from these two pages


    Both images appear to indicate that the missile picture in question is without copyright, and that it is the BM-25.

    If you notice the caption to the story does not say what it is, other than it looks like a missile. Sorry we forgot to put a detailed disclaimer on the article.

    As to Mr Zak, he knows me and if he has a problem with the image he can contact me and we would obviously respond to any issues he raised.

    But na, better for some 2 dollar blogger to slag off the competition with half cocked assertions and the usual dribble most political bloggers waste quality living time with.

  2. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    Just to be clear, are you denying that (1) Anatoly Zak took the picture at the NIIKhimmash facility in Sergiev Posad and (2) that it is a photo of a Russian SS-N-6, not a North Korean missile?

    All you needed was a caption that said “A Russian SS-N-6, on which the BM-25 is believed to be based. (c)Anatoly Zak.

    I — some “2 dollar blogger”, whatever that means — figured out the likely source of the picture in about 10 minutes, sent Anatoly Zak an e-mail and he responded in about 24 hours. Why couldn’t you do that?

  3. spacemanafrica

    Both of the pictures actually say SSN6 though the second is ambiguous as to which is being shown. 2 dollar blogger wins against competition?

  4. None (History)

    I think Simon meant to say ‘two bit’ as opposed to ‘two dollar’ blogger.

    Somehow, inflation – most probably of his ego – or of the federal reserve caused variety, cause him to malfunction like and Ariane 5 and misspeak when his publication is challenged by a website that could, for all he know, be run by avatars and robots with positronic brains.

    Unfortunately, blogging life expose authors to everyone from the peanut gallery. Kind of like letting one hundred flowers, and a few weeds, bloom at the same time.

    For all you know, some galleryites may be inherently non-linear, or perhaps, have issues with making conversions from 64 to 16 bit thinking.

    I got to complain to Bernanke about inflation raising the price of ‘two bit’ to ‘two dollar’.

  5. Michael

    The problem with online bloggers (and they have many virtues) is that they take copyrighted material without sourcing or crediting, and because so many take from each other, they just point to another source that stole material in the first place. They will take from a tertiary source that didn’t bother to do it’s own verification and fact checking and claim (with false naivete) that they thought it was open source material.

  6. Geoffrey Forden (History)

    I think he must mean “2 bit” blogger but either he is correcting for inflation or he is as confused about American idioms as he is about North Korean missiles.

  7. Simon Mansfield (History)


    Has it ever occurred to you that we had no idea Anatoly took it. Why would we use the crappy one when we could have used the better original one. That’s why you are a 2 dollar blogger. You think there’s more to a story than there really is. If only you had bothered to contact us and find out why a particular photo was used. You might have learnt something. But why bother asking when you can just make it up and trash someone else while proving to the world how much smarter you are than everyone else. Don’t worry Jeffrey most blogs are worth even less than two dollars so take it as a compliment that I spend time on this.

  8. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    Actually, no, it never occurred to me that one wouldn’t have tracked down the original source of the picture, clearly labeled what it showed and properly attributed it.

    From my perspective, this is one of several instances of this photo being used to “depict” a BM-25, some of my readers had e-mailed to ask me if this was the real deal, and I felt I had an obligation to point out the origin and object of the photo.

  9. MEC

    As a neophyte in the field I was very curious about the picture and was glad JL cleared it up. The danger is — in my opinion — magnified when someone does not properly cite sources or check materials. I may lack experience, but one thing an MA teaches you is to check and double-check sources — if only to avoid situations like this. As for the banter, who knew academia (and this blog is worth more than 2 bucks, since I feel it has contributed mightily to the field) could be so compelling?

  10. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    Is it asking a bit much to have everyone lower the temperature a bit?

    Having worked in a publication environment where deadlines are gospel, I can understand how Mess. Simon Mansfield’s staff could have made an innocent error running a photo beside a wire service story that is not even ‘theirs’ so to speak.

    At the same time, a snarky posting on a blog can also be inflammatory —- if one allowed it to be.

    Is it not to everyone’s benefit that for whatever reason:

    A not so correct photo was used in a major publication, but the error was uncovered quickly by a blog, and the error quickly put right by no less than the publisher personally?

    Is that not a credit to a publisher who cared enough about his publication to actually respond and fix the problem in nearly real time?

    Isn’t perfection too much to ask of anyone?

    Should egos really get in the way of doing the right thing here?

    Especially in as ignominious a business as making reasonably factual (or at least fact based) statements and conjectures about as obtuse subjects as China’s intent with their subs, what Iran is really doing with their nuclear programs, etc.?

    These are subjects where no one really can say they know the facts, let alone the truth —- maybe not even the top leaders of the countries concerned.

    Remember Secretary Colin Powell stood up in front of the UN, and made false statements about Iraq that I am sure he and his staff, backed by the full resources of the US government, checked carefully beforehand. His ego, and his reputation survived that mistake.

    Why don’t Dr. Lewis and Messr. Mansfield just pick up the phone, introduce each other, get to know each other, shake hands, acknowledge that they both acted in good faith, and see that this little discussion have enhanced the reputation of both and impressed at least one member of the peanut gallery (myself) with their concern with accuracy and truth in their respective publications.

    Kiss and make up!

  11. SQ

    As noted previously, Anatoly Zak’s SS-N-6 photo appears elsewhere on the web mis-labelled as a “BM-25.” So this small mishap is understandable. What has me wondering is why so many knowledgeable observers like Uzi Rubin (see would uncritically accept the anonymous claims in a German tabloid that A) North Korea possesses such missiles and B) North Korea has transferred 18 of them to Iran. Perhaps one or both of these claims is true. Perhaps neither is true. Why should anyone take them on faith?

  12. Andy (History)

    Amen to Lao’s comment.

  13. mike (History)

    Mr. Mansfield – is your publication in the habit of just taking whatever it finds on the web and assuming there is no implied copyright unless stated? If so you are certainly in danger of suit:

    Notice of Copyright

    The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U.S. law, although it is often beneficial. Because prior law did contain such a requirement, however, the use of notice is still relevant to the copyright status of older works. […]
    Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if a proper notice of copyright appears on the published copy or copies to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant’s interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in section 504©(2) of the copyright law. Innocent infringement occurs when the infringer did not realize that the work was protected.

    I don’t think that you or your publication would fall under the category of ‘innocent infringers’. Too many ‘official’ publications think blogs and other web based publications are theirs to troll for tidbits they can quote/reuse without attribution. It would appear you publication is one of them. Do you state here that you have never before (or will again) copied text or images from any web source without attribution &/or permission? Unfortunately, it seems from your comments you are instead in the habit of taking first and then hoping nobody complains and only then correcting your ‘mistake.’

  14. Simon Mansfield (History)

    Let’s clear a few things up

    1/ my photo editor confirms the following job process

    – find new keyword to illustrate what seems like the 1,465th menacing Korea missile nuclear report in 2007.

    – bm-25 pops up as possible keyword – local search of 30000 file database finds a previous BM-25 related image made only recently.

    – sees that image is pretty crappy – but it’s a busy day and the various cross checks used to get images and captions within acceptable parameters appears good.

    – Won’t use a caption today as it’s clearly just the nose cone of some menacing looking missile that goes well with the umpteenth menacing Korean story that week.

    – publishes as per usual…

    Weeks go by and bingo up pops a news alert from google with keyword “spacedaily”

    Publisher checks out citation and discovers we have a problem in cyberspace.

    Publisher begins systematic search of what and where.

    Eventually determines that image comes from an anti-Iran site run out of Israel.

    Image appears to be well labeled and cross checks as being some obscure Russian press hand out. And an ok image for illustrating yet another menacing Korea story.

    Publisher is now confused as to image heritage and two dollar blogger seems to have the bit between his teeth and having trouble keeping the asps in check. And site traces back to non-nutters involved in regular highlevel DC thinking. ‘Um better get this cleared up.

    After another round of searching, publisher finds original image source at Anatoly Zak’s ever so cool Russian space site. Original image is bigger and contains several pointers to being a personal photo taken at “air show”.

    Such photos are avoided and not used due to the copyright issues that most privately taken photos involve. They are simply ignored in the original search process and using other human based image matching processes we zero in on government photography which as a general principal has no copyright – or at least when you apply US standards which we as a matter of principal apply to all government publishing activities on Planet Earth… Our little struggle for freedom of speech and information – where the people’s taxes are used to make such materials in the first place.

    Final Points

    1/ Common sense would indicate that we would not have known it was from Anatoly Zak’s extensive airshow imagery as we used the crappy blow up image and if we didn’t care about Anatoly Zak’s rights we would have ripped the original and got the high res version.

    2/ Prof Lewis NEVER contacted us and sought comment. He simply went out there and graffitied some assertions on his blog and used all of his affiliations to give him the credibility to do such, while saying it’s all just his opinion. If so, then remove your affiliations and just be Joe Citizen.

    3/ Lewis is obviously NOT a two dollar blogger. He is in the employ of leading institutions and is their representative in a variety of capacities. Yet for some reason when Lewis blogs on he checks all of the protocols he works by in his day job, but then turns around and expects everyone else to meet those same protocols but without making any effort to ascertain the facts himself.

    4/ This is the core problem with the “grammar of blogging” – it has none – yet spends much of its time whining about the mistakes of others.

    5/ I would suggest Prof Lewis have lunch with a fellow professor at MIT from the media department and spend some time talking about the responsibility of the citizen publisher to maintain their blogs to the same standards they are expecting others all too often to meet, but only to get it wrong when all the facts are brought into the equation.

    6/ I did not start this argument it is up to Prof Lewis to evaluate his own mistakes and correct the record.

    Simon Mansfield
    Publisher etc

  15. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    This blog is about arms control.

    Might it be asking a bit much for the participants of this blog to undertake a bit of ‘arms control’, or ‘conflict management’ to bring closure to this matter in amicable and peaceful manner?

    Would I be dreaming if I would like to see a positive outcome out of this?

    Can’t the participants of this blog practice what they preach to the outside world?

  16. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    Look, I am satisfied with Mr. Mansfield’s actions after the issue of the image came to light, if not his comments on my blog.

    The image is off the SpaceWar site and Mr. Mansfield has offered a reasonable account of how the picture to came to be used incorrectly. Although I don’t appreciate the name-calling (“two-dollar blooger”) or allegations of double-standards, I do appreciate that the actions he took to rectify the mistake.

    I have no further problem with Mr. Mansfield. As far as I can tell, he disagrees with my decision to blog the issue rather than contact him quietly.

    I don’t have a problem with the decision, other than some regret in making an example out of Mr. Mansfield and his site. To the extent that this issue has become about him and his site, that distracts from the broader, more important issue of the BM-25. The problem isn’t him or his site, but rather the poorly sourced stories about the BM-25 which may or may not exist.