Specialist Craft Insurance from Ian W Wallace

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Message: 'Hi, I know this is probably a ...' with Replies

Messages 1 to 4 of 4
  • Hi, I know this is probably a less serious offence than people stealing your own design ideas, (as discussed in a previous thread) but I found the inability to stop people grabbing your pictures from the web and using them on their own website without permission very annoying and frustrating. Recently I've found out that one of my "online competitors" has "pinched" one of my pictures from my site and uses it as an icon for one of her shop categories. I politely wrote to them asking not to use the picture, but while they admitted the picture was not theirs and agreed to take it off, the picture it is still there (after three weeks) and I don't seem to have much power to make things change.

    I'm probably overreacting as my picture admittedly has no intrinsic value (being just of some suede thongs!), nonetheless, I found it frustrating that people should think that because something is published on the web they can just help themselves to it without even asking.

    I've since reluctantly added a watermark with my logo to all my images, but I don't really like this solution as I think it ruins the appearance of the pictures and makes me look a bit paranoid.

    I guess I just have to accept that web thieves exist and look on the bright side and be pleased that one of my pictures (which I considered of mediocre quality) had such an appeal on someone else that they just couldn't resist using it! .... how sad...

    22 July '07 - 11.11am
  • Hi,
    I hadn't realised copying images off a website or 'sponging' (as its known) was so widespread until recently. Last year, I learnt that an image on my website had been sponged by Myspace. Every time someone saw my image on Myspace, I noticed it linked back to my site. Hence, they showed up as a 'visitor' and I presume, this helped to increase my search engine 'rating'. Therefore, if an image is 'sponged' from your site, then it could only do your site some good. When search engine, Google began to sponge my images last year, they put them into 'image' search. Now I notice, I get loads of visitors from around the world as they click on the image that links to my site. I think Google are doing me a big favour. In my case, I'm happy with the 'sponging', because of these benefits.

    However, it is a completely different matter if the 'sponger' is passing the image off as their own. Would copyright not protect you? There doesn't seem any rule about this - maybe MB could enlighten us?
    23 July '07 - 11.59am
  • Aurora,
    My advice would be to look up the registration information for their domain. Many companies who sell web addresses allow you to do a 'whois' search to look up the owner and other details of a website. I tend to use www.easily.co.uk for this, but there are many sites offering the same service. At www.easily.co.uk, type in the website address of the site that has copied your image, then click on 'search'. You should find that you are taken to a page that includes a list of variations on the website address. About half way down the page you'll find the specific website address that you are interested in with a button marked 'who' to the left of it. Click on the button to see the registration details. Copy the information, and email it to the image thief with a note to say that unless they remove the image within 7 days you will be contacting their web hosts with information that the thieves are using an image without your permission and have failed to remove it within a reasonable period. Hopefully this will scare them into doing the right thing.

    As a general rule you should think hard before adding a watermark image: if it obscures the legibility of the image, then you may end up deterring customers as a result. (Having said this, I've just looked at your site Aurora, and I think what you've done looks good - it's visible enough to provide a deterrent, but still quite subtle).
    23 July '07 - 11.45pm
  • Linda,
    I think most people would agree that when search engines use your images it is clearly a good thing. Apart from anything else, Google is not using your images as 'content' - it's part of a search facility that provides a service to you, the site owner by bringing visitors to your site. If you do not wish to make the content of your website accessible to search engines, then there is standard code that you can add to your site to ensure that your content is not listed (search for robots.txt for more info on this).

    Images used as part of the content of a website without the permission of the image owner are a different matter. If there is a link back to your site, then that's good, but clearly any respectable site should still request permission from the image owner before publishing an image. The convenience of the technology does not somehow make theft legitimate.

    As well as copyright, there's another issue here.
    When Google includes an image in its' search facility, it makes a copy of the image to its' own servers. However, if someone steals your image and places it on their webpage and actually draws the image file directly from your site then they are stealing your bandwidth as well as the image itself. If they get enough visitors to their site, then you could end up having to pay extra for your web hosting, which is clearly adding insult to injury!
    24 July '07 - 12.00am
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