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Azure consultant Sues Google linking cached pics to cloned site

     
10:30 pm on Jul 25, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Londonís High Court has given the go-ahead for a Microsoft Azure consultant to sue Google because having the world's most widely used search engine caching images from his website - and hotlinking them to aggregator sites rather than his own - allegedly infringes his copyright.
[theregister.co.uk...]

Breach of copyright!

The judge commented while approving the go ahead:

Granting legal permission to go ahead but only against Google, the judge ruled: "It was contended on behalf of Mr Wheat that, because he was operating his business in [England and Wales], the loss of advertising revenue and the financial loss caused by the lower profile of his website than would otherwise have been the case caused damage to him within this jurisdiction. Again, it seems to me that that is something which is arguable with reasonable prospects of success on an appeal."


Sounds like a whoopsi-doodle on steroids!

More later when there is more... :)
12:40 am on July 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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and hotlinking them to aggregator sites rather than his own

I don't think that the person that wrote the story knows what hotlinking is because that quote makes no sense when reading with the correct meaning in my mind. If you read it to mean that Google is attributing "ownership" or "initial source" of the images then it makes sense.

Although this is very interesting, I have my doubts as to how far this will get in the end. If he wins this will likely open a floodgate of class-actions to which I say "Sign me up!" But I'm not holding my breath.

One thing is certain is that Google really needs to do more to crack down on the hotlinking sites that are stealing images.
3:02 am on July 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Given that Google is offering up ad on pages with everyone's images anyways, seems to me that they are doing fine with basically hosting images anyways. Other people using your images really matters when Google uses images so freely anyways? Image search is ultimately now a means to shopping ads. Another filter. Seems that worrying about site B and site C using my images means diddly squat each day. Google should be the primary concern. First people have to get to the scrapers website and with each passing day that gets harder because people need to wade through ads, suggestions and answer boxes before they can even get to the offending site. I mean, worry? Why worry? Patching a boat with a few minor leaks as you are approaching a reef at full speed? I'm going to worry more about the reef.
2:18 pm on July 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Google should be the primary concern.

Blocking Google is simple, just block everyone from Hot-linking and your problem is solved.
2:22 pm on July 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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just block everyone from Hot-linking and your problem is solved.

How? If you block hot linker based on referrer , Googlebot will still see your image at others' site and index it that way.
2:58 pm on July 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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If you block hot linker based on referrer

Yes you block any referrer that is not your own domain. Then no sites other that your own will be able to hot-link the images.
3:14 pm on July 26, 2019 (gmt 0)

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i am doing this, but it's not changing anything :) those hot linking my images, do not mind that they won't show at their site, and Googlebot indexes it anyhow ... so Google still drive traffic to the hot linkers (in my case).

I wish Google Image bot would send a referrer .
1:44 am on July 27, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I wish Google Image bot would send a referrer .


I really miss the lack of info in referer! (sic, that's the way it is spelled).

Fortunately, the few that do come through reveal the bad actors just that much quicker ... so I guess there is cloud in that not-so-silver lining ...
2:22 am on July 27, 2019 (gmt 0)

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@Dimitri I spent a good part of the day today implementing a hotlink blocking solution.
Details are documented here: [webmasterworld.com...]
I'm not sure yet how effective it will be, time will tell.

But what I learned during this exercise is that some of these sites are not actually hotlinking, instead they are scraping, then copying and then showing the images or their website. I see this because in my case I'm dealing with SVG files and the images that appear on the hotlink sites are jpg. Thus, the images have been converted and are not hosted on my server (they have been stolen outright). With the sites showing copies of the images and not hotlinks the hotlink blocking will not eliminate them.

It is also worth noting that Google images does the same, my images that appear in Google are not hotlinked, they are PNG's.
8:08 am on July 27, 2019 (gmt 0)

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instead they are scraping, then copying

Yes, I am blocking lot of these with aggressive filtering of the origin of requests (IP), as well as studying the request header (seeking missing mandatory fields, mistakes, etc...)

It is also worth noting that Google images does the same, my images that appear in Google are not hotlinked, they are PNG's.

Google keeps a thumbnail "preview" of the image, that it serves itself, then , when someone click on the thumbnail, at first Google stretches the thumbnail to the real size, then, a piece of javascript is (trying) to load the remote image. If the js code is not able to load the remote image, it's the stretched preview, which remains displayed, otherwise it's "hot linked". As a result, you can serve a different image, I did experimented it, serving a blurred full size image , with a text saying to click to view it (which was going to my site), Google found out quickly, and banned my site from the Google Image search (for 1 month), ...
 

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