Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Legal - Copy Copy Copy Not Right

Copy Copy Copy Not Right - On Copyright!

There are very many times and places you will see images, videos, and graphics and hear sounds and music that people are posting on the Internet. There is a lot involved in whether it is infringing on someone else's rights and I think many people do not really think about it or have been led to believe false facts about it. It is one reason why you have seen little in the area of graphics or other images on The Gnomestead Stump so far. I do feel free to use my own images that I have created using portraits of myself of which many I have done some photo-manipulation and photo-editing.

The World Wide Web or Web is a very visual place and plain text really is boring, so I have tried to break the monotony up at least a little with my portraits and tried to use ones that slightly fit the theme. I was going to go with a different image, but at the moment my server - the one that gnomestead.com is hosted on - is down. So I am using my default portrait.

I have made use of an organization called "Creative Commons" to put a license on The Gnomestead Blog". It is a way to let people what rights they might have when it comes to content here. You can look for it at the end of the blog pages. I would like people to be able to copy these articles as long as they don't alter them or use them for commercial purposes. If someone were perhaps to want to use an article for commercial purpose, I assume they would approach me for special permission.

Something that I have found is very common is that once someone has copied an image without any credit to the photographer or creator people seem to think they can copy it onto their site with impunity. One of the dangers of copying material without giving credit is that nobody can look into the creator and even try to give credit at a later date without a large amount of research - unless like the editorial cartoonist Steve Greenberg they include name and web page in their signature or elsewhere in the image. I have seen though where people have cropped images specifically to remove copyright information from an image. This is - I think - a despicable action because it implies to others that there is no copyright infringement when there is.

Of course there is copyright even when it is not explicitly written on a document. Saying so tells who wrote the document and when the document was written or at least who owns the rights. Registering has the advantage of proof if ever someone were to place a claim on a work which is disputed.

I think it is very important to acknowledge the source of any material you find and use even if you are not quoting or copying it. This is even if for your own records so that you can know just where you found the information in case you have to verify the facts. It might help you for future further research as well. You would also be able to ask for permission to make use of a drawing or photo from the person who holds the copyright.

There is also a provision for "fair use" which is the use of a quote or part of something for the purpose of review of it or for educational usage. I can not tell you all that is involved. But I know that it is okay to quote a passage or two giving full credit ot the source and it is okay to use images in "some" cases. I am not sure of the cases so I am shy about using images. I do think it is okay to use a thumbnail image of a larger one to indicate a link to the source of the image when speaking about it though. If that thumbnail is not specifically provided for such purpose - meaning using the image in it's original location - then you take the thumbnail image or create one and store it on your webspace and use that image to then link to their site.

BTW using an image by taking the address of that image and using that address in your blog or web page is something called "hot linking" which is considered to be bandwidth theft. Whenever someone looks at that image on your blog or page, the image comes directly from their server and not the one that your blog is on. Essentially you are using their resources or "bandwidth".

It might not mean much on a blog or website that gets 5 or 10 hits a day, but one that gets hundreds or thousands can make a big difference and if a person is using a service like PhotoBucket for storing their images on, you can exceed their usage levels and the person whose space it is will not be able to have people see their picture.

This can really get out of control when someone hotlinks to a hotlinked picture which has been hotlinked by a few others... etc.

It is far better to save the picture onto some server space you have, whether on PhotoBucket or some other and then link to that than to hotlink to someone's site. I would then create a link back to that site with credits where credit is due. It would be better to keep in mind "fair usage" and create a thumbnail or other representation of the image and have the viewer of your page go to the source, but at least linking back lets the owner have a chance to attract the viewer of your page as an audience with you acting as an advertisement for their site. Just remember that you are still violating their copyright if you are using their artwork without permission.

Some places do give permission to use artwork as long as you include a link back to their site and the will advise you that if you wish to do so you must save the image to your server and use their icon for the link. But it is their image and their right to ask for that. They could be forbidding it instead.

So remember that pictures do have copyright, no matter where you see them. People might have placed works in the public domain, but this will be something that will be displayed with the image and you should be including that note with the image.

I am not very well known, but I have found pieces of poetry I have written and some artwork that has been copied and distributed without my knowledge - work from over a decade ago - and worse yet someone else has put their name to it! - flattery, I guess.

Later!
~ Darrell

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3 comments:

Abby Bob said...

Hi Darrel, thanks for sharing the article. We think the same and brought an image service called acobox. With acobox, bloggers can use images without copying, without worrying about license. I strongly recommend you have a look at it. Any comments will be appreciated.

Darrell Wade said...

Acobox - http://acobox.com/ - looks like an interesting service. I'll probably do a review on it in the near future. I have been working through a few crisis lately that have kept me from daily postings here of late.
Like any service the "Terms of Use" (ToU) if you read them can give you pause.
If you are like me and consider what you write in your Blog to be available for the long run and if you write much -- it is a lot to consider things like checking for changes to the ToU for changes regularly in case they are changed to something you do not agree to.
For instance if the service decides to start charging for their service even though when you start using it, it is for free.
Another issue is if images that might be important to an article go "missing" or are changed -- an issue which is one danger with hot linking whether okayed or not.
It is one reason why on a blog I manage for a museum, I host all images on the museum web space rather than rely on a service such as photobucket or flickr.
Still...I am considering "acobox" for my personal blog here. For here, so far I have been using photobucket which has been convenient for images that I have been using which are okay for my usage. Also allowing me not to hot link.

Darrell Wade said...

PS - I really don't want to have to install Internet Explorer on my MacBook to use Acobox and it looks necessary for use of the site. Even on my PC I used Netscape and then Firefox rather than IE for reasons of feeling secure versus nasty net stuff.