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
Filed under: Blogging and cyber things