Plagiarism [2]

copyright-symbolIn 7374 posts [just checked], this is the 5th time something has been brought to the attention of NO over copyright.  It’s worth a post in itself for fellow bloggers.

One was a chav alleging that the pic of chavs drunk and passing out in the street was his.  He provided no proof but I took it down anyway because there were so many of those on the net.

Second was a Mexican photographer who only knew of the photo being posted because I’d linked [attributed] and he was out for money from the outset.  He opened with my “offence” and followed by saying he’d calculated that on the basis I’d used it, I could pay him X amount per month.  He couldn’t get me on non-attribution, as I’d linked but it turned out to be from his site via a third party and that’s looked at further down here.

I wrote to him with the relevant legal opinion which says reasonable time must be given to take down, said it looked like extortion to me and referred him to Arkell V Pressdram, then took down his photo.

Third was some pretty but now aging American soap star whose lawyers actually wrote that the photo of her in a parade of stars over 40 who’d stayed good-looking was in breach.  I took it down immediately and issued an apology but surely an attributed photo praising such a person would have been smiled upon.  Apparently not.

Fourth was Google itself.  They’d trawled and had found a post which seemed to breach their guidelines [it didn’t].  They pointed out lines which they didn’t like and I could alter them or take down the post.   I took down the post.

Fifth was the current one.

The changes in the law and the obvious attempt by the government to control what is being said about it has resulted in measures which we naturally see as draconian and probably illegitimate in many cases.  I wrote this post on it, which pointed out that the state of play was twofold:

1.  Most people accept “fair use” as long as it is clearly attributed, either specifically or by embedded hyperlink.   Bloggers, on the whole, know how difficult the issue is and play fair.   If they don’t, they’re seen as prats and are avoided henceforth.   My attitude is that as long as it is at least linked to, then take what you need.   There was that Mexican woman though who’d taken a whole post of mine to use as her own – more on that below.

2.  The complainant needs to establish it is his or her image anyway to the satisfaction of the person complained about.

3.  The alleged offending party must be given “reasonable time” to address the issue to the satisfaction of the relevant law of the country in which the blogger blogged and 24 hours would seem to be within that time frame.

However, there are other issues too.

4.  When it’s a 3rd party photo or text.  This one sometimes catches us out.  “A” has seen a quote at “B”s and has taken it, linking to B.  “C” then writes to A, stating that that was copyrighted material.   Steps 1 and 2 above come into play.   If however, A has taken an entire article unattributed, then that’s more serious and needs to be addressed immediately, which comes down to intent.  However, there are companies like Getty Images which [allegedly] aggressively look for breaches of copyright and so it’s best not to touch any Getty Image or in fact any which are agency or professional, unless there is a clear statement, say at the site, that it’s Ok if attributed.

5.  Syndication.   Most of my readers seem to be where the posts are syndicated out, often to American aggregators.   This lifts the readership from around a thousand to a few thousand.  As that is automatic attribution and gets the material out, who’s complaining?

6.  Extortion.  I’ve rarely met this but he or she is relying on you not knowing the law.   Most bloggers I know are not flush with funds and I’d imagine some would cave in as it’s not something they are familiar with.   They’re just having a bit of a rant.

7.  Famous v not so famous.   There are three types you’re going to have trouble with.  One is the high readership blogger who is not a reasonable person and is hot on the slightest breach.  I’ll not go to his blog ever again and will remove all links to him.  Steps 1 and 2 apply from above.   Another is a high profile figure such as a McAlpine.   A third is a fellow blogger of the smaller variety.   I’ve had more aggravation from a fellow blogger than any of these high fliers.

There was a famous case, years ago, of Neil Clark, an utter dick IMHO, and Oliver Kamm.  Clark is a litigious bstd but he took on the wrong man in Kamm who was prepared to go all the way and won the case.   During the Weblog Awards, when your humble blogger here was in the final ten with Clark, his supporters came to my site to crow over how Clark is a famous writer who was going to wipe the floor with me.   He did but that wasn’t the point.   It was the utter dickheadedness of that blogger and readers at his site which galled.   And of course I don’t have that sort of money to take him on.  Best avoided.

8.  Dead blogs.  With my current problems, it could well be that the blogs become archives and I move on to other things.   Now what happens to the sites?   The first thing is that all the little creepy-crawlies come in and start nibbling away, usually as Anonymous commenters.  They’re spammers of course.   The second is that people start trawling for breaches.   News for them.   Google itself has done this and came up with one post I had to take down.  Good luck to the trawlers.   However, the principle stands that if a blog is left up, even a dead blog, there are potential problems for the owner.

9.  Are you nice or an awkward sod?   If you’re normal, you’re nice on the blog [for your image] and a bit each way in RL.  I tend to be the opposite, reserving utter bstdness for the blog as some sort of cathartic outlet but that makes enemies and often, “reasonable” treatment by others for most bloggers becomes unreasonable treatment of you.   There’s an adage about heat and a kitchen, is there not?

10.  Hotlinking.  Frankly, I don’t understand this.  I was told that it means copying an image and linking to it by embedding the link.  But surely this is what the image poster wants – people linking to the image, in order to get readers?   Apparently not.  It has something to do with bandwith and the guy loses it as we’re leaching off his bandwidth.  All my images come off my desktop [or in a folder] and then I link to attribute, in the process of uploading.  I’ve been told that’s hotlinking.  Someone needs to explain this a bit better.

11.  What the hell, it’s only a blog.  W-e-e-e-l-l-l, it is and it isn’t.  If you’re going for the jugular, you need to be sure you have your butt covered before you start.


A couple of other posts on the issue


8 comments for “Plagiarism [2]

  1. Amfortas
    January 18, 2013 at 12:04

    I am astonished that people go to so much trouble to cause so much trouble. This ‘freedom of speech’ bizzo seems to be under attack even from the idle and useless, not just the totalitarian-minded politicos.

    But really, what can they do? Fine you? Tell them to bugger off. Take you to Court and con some judge into throwing your kindly and erudite arse into jail? Free rent and three meals a day. Either would make a fine article for a blog.

  2. January 18, 2013 at 14:58

    Well, I’ve found (in the US system) that establishing damages is the key to everything. That puts the onus on those who are claiming damages to PROVE they were damaged, and for how much. That’s harder than one thinks.

    Over on this side of the pond there are many who threaten, but couldn’t get to first base in an actual court. So they bluff and bluster, but really have almost NO ability to get beyond the “my lawyer will sue you” stage of interaction. While it may be different on your side of the pond, UK law being somewhat different than US law, it’s the “proving damages” part that usually protects those of us trying to manage websites.

  3. JD
    January 18, 2013 at 15:11

    “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal”
    T.S. Eliot

    “Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal”
    Pablo Ruiz Picasso

  4. January 18, 2013 at 15:22

    Intent it seems to me still counts in law.

  5. January 18, 2013 at 15:29

    Again, I really don’t know how UK law is similar or different than US law. Yes, intent is still the bottom line in assessing whether one meant to violate intellectual property, or inadvertently violated with no knowledge they were doing so.

    Still, even with intent, in the US one must prove actual damages in order to have a basis for punitive damages. In other words, if you can’t demonstrate to what degree in actual dollars you were damaged, you have no ability to collect punitive, which are assessed based on intent.

  6. January 18, 2013 at 23:56

    I’ve never understood hotlinking either. Wiki says So, instead of loading picture.gif on to their own website, a website owner uses a link to the picture as When the hotlinking website is loaded, the image is loaded from the other website, which uses it’s bandwidth, costing the hotlinked website’s owners money
    I wouldn’t know how to do that anyway.

    I’ve been “caught” twice, in over 6 years, around the same time too, so must have been during one of the periodic crawl/trawls. Once by an astrologer to whose work I’d clearly linked and recommended, and only copied 3 lines; the other by a music site from which I’d copied a diagram and attributed it clearly with recommendation to read full article.

    Considering that neither you nor I ask for donations, and I don’t even carry adverts, I fail to see what harm to anyone we are doing, or benefit to ourselves for that matter, other than the satisfaction of presenting a more complete post .

    I usually post a disclaimer mentioning “fair use” when publishing a string of art images on a post about art – especially one featuring a modern living artist – never had any come back so far. Fingers Xd

  7. January 19, 2013 at 00:31

    If the images are posted on your blog that is not hot linking.

    A good example of hotlinking is:

    You write a post, find a nice image and link directly to the image in the place where you found it on the web.

    Most of the photos on my blog are hotlinks. They hotlink to my images on Flickr. I do it that way so that I don’t exceed the bandwidth on my own site. Flickr is a photo hosting site and they expect people to hot link to the photos.

    For individual bloggers whose sites are hosted on a paid service, someone hotlinking to one of their photos causes them problems. They only have so much bandwidth usage per month. If they exceed that, the site may go down until the next month or they may have to pay extortionate fees for the excess use of bandwidth…

  8. January 19, 2013 at 05:11

    I’ll come back to this in a Sunday post with some questions if I may.

Comments are closed.