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According to the copyright office website [copyright.gov] of the United States:
Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work;
So it looks like the act of displaying is what will get you in trouble.
In this age of cheap stock photography, there is absolutely no reason to use someone else's images. Pick up any graphic design magazine and you'll find that a cd of images can cost as little as ten dollars, and a subscription to over 100,000 images as little as $99/year.
Theft of bandwidth.
Some web hosts will change the URL to their graphic, while others will replace the graphic. I have heard of people that will replace such "borrowed" graphics with a pornographic image. So, overnight, your own web site becomes a porn site.
Myself, I either change the URL, or replace them with a "stolen image" graphic with an ad for my widgets.
Some people use such "borrowed" graphics for their icons or signatures on web forums. When that happens, you replace those with huge graphics so that it really screws up load times for the forums. If the user doesn't repent, the web forum host will generally do something about it. ;-)
A lot of people have to pay for their web sites by the amount of bandwidth used, so if you're linking to their images (especially without permission), you're consuming their bandwidth and costing them money and they get nothing in return for it. It is theft.
I agree completely, with first-hand experience.
I have up a UFO related site showing sightings maps which derive (only) from my 20 years of hard research.
This makes my work a prime target for people new to that unlikely field.
Its hard to track down the ones who copy images and rename them. That requires a Google Image Search, and
that database seems to be updated between ice ages.
Much easier are the bandwidth thieves, they show right up on ACCESS.LOG (or similar). Special cases with permission excepted, only my .html files should call up my .gif and .jpg images.
I've had some fun with those! I found a nice cartoon about plagiarism, some kid copying a book into his term paper. Renaming my image files, the cartoon showed up in the hijacker's pages, while my pages pointed to the proper (renamed) image.
More recently, I put up a page about the 'Eltanin Antenna', a sort of new-age icon. This is a weird underwater sponge that looks like a special antenna, and was photographed at some Antarctic sea bottom.
(Google up 'Eltanin Antenna' and you will find my presentation.)
I did an expose' on that. Now some Korean blog is hijacking the images, without credits I presume.
I cannot get into their password protected pages, and could never read the text if I could.
What I did was to rename files, and paste a nice advert to my site all over the middle of the old files.
The Korean site keeps slurping those up as if the change meant nothing to them. This is starting to cost me some bandwidth, and its getting worse.
So what do I do? I browsed around for images of
Spongebob Squarepants. I browsed again for 1950s TV antennas. You can guess the rest [burp!]
I just wish I could get into the Korean site to see
the results! Can anyone help with that? I will gladly provide relevant URLs etc. if you sticky me.
If nothing else, its gotta be fun.
Best wishes - Larry
You can also make the image large enough to mess up their layouts (assuming they don't use height and width attributes).
Finally, you can go to extreme measures and replace the image with one that is huge in the original uncompressed version, and tiny in the compressed file size (for example, a gigantic all-white 2-bit-depth GIF). The browser accessing the file needs to uncompress it to display it, and you can chew up a *lot* of RAM that way, perhaps even crashing the user's browser.
I think they'll get the idea then. 0:-)
Here are the questions I wish people would ask themselves before lifting images or content from other sites:
1. Did I have anything to do with the creation of this graphic or does it belong to someone else?
[edited out the rest of the list after realizing how cynical I've become]
Please - always get permission first.
And thank you for asking that question.
I screwed up the layout of a forum and the pictures and the user's account were banned quickly.
The moderator asked me to warn him the next time. I told him to add a hot linking policy first.
But you can't always use porn on sites. For a corporate site, I had to put a huge logo on the picture, because, I was too concerned about uploading a porn image on a site that's supposed to be as clean as possible. Could one imagine of someone found porn on our server!? A wholesome family site? Too risky.
Hotlink protection through http access doesn't work properly in all situations and adds a lot of trouble for us too. Our own firewall didn't tolerate the privacy breech and lots of honest users could not see the images on the site at all.
Then, we can't use pictures in newsletters or post them on third partes' sites, without going through configurations.
The only solution left was to put visible watermarks everywhere and hope that it was enough. Visible watermarks (advertising) doesn't seem to disuade a lot of hot linkers.
Most times I rename files and on occasion give them a R/X rated or image with my site's name on it.
Not sure how to do the mod rewrites on an NT box. Anyone know so that I can stop people from grabbing the images?
Good thought. If somebody is hot-linking one of my precious maps, I try to replace it with something silly like a small cartoon map of the same area.
Now that you mention it, its kind of inconsistent to put up little images like Spongebob etc. which I myself ripped off of somebody else.
Without too much trouble and a little bit of time, I could draw some cartoons freehand, nothing special, scan those as little thumbnail sketches and use those instead!
Failing that, I could squish pieces of popcorn with a flat-iron, draw sexual organs on them with colored pens and scanner those up. As original artworks, they should have some degree of protection, though I would be less jealous of them than I am of my UFO maps.
Best wishes - Larry