Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The ethics of stealing whatever you want

For four years in a row, I begin to see some very strange URLs and IP addresses on my website at This is the season, after all, where it becomes ethical to steal online images from anyone who displays them. Am I the only one who gets their images taken? No, not hardly.

Last year I worked through some issues with Gonzaga University, as I found some of the Gonzaga images on the same sites as mine were being displayed unlawfully. The year before, it was the same issue, with all of the usual suspects. I called GU staff to let them know where I found their images, and then I began approaching the sites that took my work.

Several years ago, I went after 11 local commercial abuses of the images I own, and I remember some real strange phone calls I had with violators. A few would not return my calls, but those who did told me they got permission to use my work. Interesting, I thought at the time. So, who told you it was okay I asked? Well, we don’t know, but somebody told me I could use anything I found as long as it was on the web. 5 Spokane realtors used almost the exact same defense of their use, although what is not surprising is that they all worked for the same company locally. Then there was a local law firm who blamed it on their web designer, and the web designer who blamed it on their law firm. Guess who their law firm was? Yep, you guessed it.

I tired of making the phone calls, and just started billing the 11 abusers, and the checks started coming in after that. First to be delivered was the one from the law firm, and they were a little worried. Last to hit my PO Box was the collection from the web designer, who was unemployed thereafter from their work at the law firm. 11 violations, 11 payments.

The common denominator for all of these things is that “someone told me it was okay.” Next most popular abuse defense is “well, it isn’t my fault that your images are on my web site.” Oh really? Let’s see here, and then whose fault would it be? Answer, “well, I don’t know, but it isn’t mine.” My answer, well okay, just PAY me. After all of these abuses, I was hoping I could find a few more abuses as my system was working pretty well.

So, in 2010 there does not seem to be as much local abuse. In fact it has been 90% outside the area, including outside the country. Harder to settle up with abusers, so maybe there is another way.

For the URL’s and IP addresses that I read and review on my website stat logs, I can read who has my images, and then go right to the site to see their destination. Singapore, China, Russia, UK, and on the list goes. There are travel displays, news displays, college displays (Gonzaga U, U of Washington, U of Alabama), including law schools. All of these instances are third party abusers and not affiliated with the schools or law school. Yet, abuse is still abuse…and there are no contracts for such web use.

So, I am continuing my approach of tagging my images blatantly so they are readily identified as being stolen (copyright infringement). Takes a couple of minutes, but soon these abusers will be displaying my images, and every visitor to their site will see the images were taken without permission. Really terrible that I would have the gall to tag my images displayed on THEIR website. Bah humbug methinks…..

You need to be a little careful as you browse through your websites statistics database. As you see these URLs which have taken your image, some of these sites are also ATTACK websites. Simply put, these websites will attempt to install software onto YOUR computer by clicking through or past the opening screen. Some of the abuser websites will try and hit your computer just by clicking on the URL.

I will display some of the websites that seem to have problems in actually using a copyrighted image legally. Some of them do not have the copyright modification on them yet, but I’ll get around to doing that tomorrow. Let the embarrassment begin for those who want to take my images and use them for whatever purposes.

I’ll spare you from seeing the two porn websites that are displaying some of my images from Riverfront Park, and the two travel sites that I may be able to go after for payment. If it isn’t one thing, it is another.

News Gratis
Gonzaga Basketball schedule

Clear Airway

Electronic News

World Cities
There are also some companies that allegedly will “search the web,” for your images. I was curious so I joined one of them (ImageRights). They are supposedly searching for 588 images of mine, and in 6 months they have found NONE. In that time, I found around 25 just by reviewing who visits my website.

Merry Christmas everyone.

John D. Moore, CPP
Spokane Night Scenes

1 comment:

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