Monday, February 06, 2006

You can't hide from Google

Despite not being so keen on Google's censorship policy as regards China, I'm quite a fan of Google. All that information, mostly trivial, at my fingertips! But a downside to its power, is the lack of anonymity, particularly if you have any sort of presence on the net. It adds an extra dimension to the old saying 'Publish and be damned'.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a lot of Google activity coming my way from Germany with search terms such as 'fotocommunity', 'Herwiga Peters' and 'stolen from Herwiga Peters'. I also noticed that the pages retrieved were being translated into German. Could it be that Herwiga Peters was so pleased by my use of a photo taken by her on one of my 'All I want for Christmas' posts that she wanted to read what I was saying? That's an obvious conclusion, don't you think? I was, after all, giving her photo lots more exposure than it gets lying buried in the fotocommunity site. But, it seems not.

She was actually very pissed off by my unauthorised use of the photo.

About a week later, I got a comment from fotocommunity's site adminstrator telling me to remove it and any other photos I may have used from the site. To say that the comment was totally unexpected would be a lie even though I'd have preferred being told how nice I was to use their beautiful photographs of Cape Town.

We exchanged a few emails in which I apologised for 'stealing' and told him I'd remove them at once. In my defence, I told him that they were not being used for any commercial purposes and that I had credited the photographers concerned. I also pointed out that had I not credited her by name, she'd never have come across the theft. Everything was sorted out very amicably and he even suggested that I contact the various photographers concerned to authorise my use of their photos. I considered that for a while but thought it too much effort for posts that are no longer current and that should people want to see the photos, the links are still there for them to be seen.

It just goes to show - you can't hide from Google!


Blogger Caroline said...

I think everyone is rather bonkers about copyright... if you put something on the web its there and can be used by any number of others who are very unlikely to credit you... which includes words and images of course.

I've even read someone saying that its a breach of copyright to make a drawing based on someone else's photograph! Huh? Well not with my drawing skills it isn't... ;-)

I've been around on the internet from before it was the web and the spirit before commercial companies were selling on it was much more communal... before money could be made out of it, it was there for sharing.... but there, you've got me harping on abou the good old days... I better get my rocking chair and knitting...

I think you went for the right solution now though - not much point in aggravating them further! And no point in putting more effort into it either at this stage...

4:54 pm  
Blogger mike said...

Hmm, blogging etiquette re. images is a bit complicated. Hotlinking to images on other servers is obviously right out, and it hacks me off when people do this to my images; it's pure bandwidth theft, and therefore indefencible. As for saving images to your own webspace and re-using them: my stance is that widely available commercial images are fair game, eg. album covers or publicity shots, but images taken by lone individuals shouldn't be nabbed. (Although it's OK to link to them if course.)

Doesn't really matter one way or the other if no-one's reading you, but once you start to build a readership then these things do start to come into play...

5:11 pm  
Blogger Frog with a Blog said...

You're starting to pay the price for fame Nomad. Only real stars get into such trouble!

10:48 pm  
Blogger Rob7534 said...

I hope I never get a large reader base. I'd be tarred and feathered for my thief of bandwith and copyright infringment on photos!

Not to mention all the words, phrases, and entire posts I've stolen over the year!

No one come to my site anymore!

Don't roll your eyes either! :)

7:57 am  
Anonymous Alan said...

A close call with the photo theft there. Things could have been much worse but I guess you managed to smooth talk your way out without too much trouble. I have similar trouble with copyright work when downloading or photocopying resources for coursework. Many say I should pay a copyright fee but I tend to act as if I dont know what they mean and carry on regardless. Very unlikely that they could catch me but still a chance I guess. As you said though, if you hadn't have credited her she would never have found you.

11:29 am  
Blogger xmichra said...

When you give proper credit, and there was no 'All content is copywritten under a creative commons licence' or something similar.. well that's just fair game. If you don't want your stuff to be published, you should make sure that it isnt with those simple little words. Then you have all the authority in the world to go ahead and be uppity.

Is fotosharing like fliker? because you have the option to make your photos 'public' or 'private' in fliker, which would make it well known to your friends list not to copy your pics.. and others wouldn't have access to them. Just asking, for my own curriosity.

1:01 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

caroline: people do seem to get unnecessarily uppity about such things but that website does state quite clearly that everything is copyrighted.

mike: I was definitely in the wrong but I thought I'd chance it and I thought that had I been found out, the photographer wouldn't mind. My wrists have been slapped now!

frog: if I'm famous, where's the money?

rob: *rolls eyes*

alan: my crediting her means that I was honest in my dishonesty.

xmichra: fotocommunity is quite different from flikr. It seems to be much more about quality photography rather than just an easy way of storing pics and making them available to friends and others. By the way, I like your word cloud and will be doing one soon.

1:08 pm  
Anonymous Alan said...

Honesty in your dishonesty. Hmm ... So in some ways you were being as good as you could be whilst doing something wrong. A perverse but saintly logic is guess. Be bad but ae as nice as you can whilst you do it. I like it and may see if I can put it into practice.

1:54 pm  
Blogger Caroline said...

On Creative Commons - when people show this it means that you are free to use their work in exactly the way you did....

except for having to say that it can only be reused in the same way...

So next time that's what to look for!

(And I probably ought to be displaying one myself... but not tonight... too late for fiddling in the html of my blog... yawn.... )

What is that? kszysuy? Bless you blogger you must have a nasty cold!

10:51 pm  
Blogger kyknoord said...

It seems a bit petty and small-minded to demand that you remove the photos - especially since you credited the source. It's not like you pinched the images from a hidden archive.

7:51 am  

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