Blogs and digital publications are starting to experience some growing pains about who owns what imagery and how each publication can use other people’s digital content. The particular case I want to talk about concerns I and my colleague at Channel 4, Beau Bo D’Or, but there have been lots of other recent cases*. In ours, some of our work has been hotlinked on very popular blogs, notably Paul Staines’s Guido Fawkes’s Diary. There’s a clip of one of the front pages of my animations here.
I want to make clear at this point that as far as I know, no one has complained, legally, about what he did, although I know Beau Bo D’Or (Neil Hepburn) exchanged several emails with Paul about it. The screen grab above of Guido Fawkes is interesting here (double click the image and look at the orange circle bottom left). There is also plenty of technical evidence he was hotlinking to Channel 4’s servers, which is using** their bandwidth instead of his own. I was slightly surprised at this behaviour as Paul is reputed to be wealthy, or to have, access to the sort of funds which would allow him to pay for his own bandwidth. Bandwidth is the telecoms capacity which supplies us the pages we see on the web.
Tim ‘Bloggerheads’ Ireland has done a thorough job on explaining what has happened. Unfortunately, his initial investigation has got mixed up with the personal emnity which he and Paul Staines share. Paul responded by sending a threatening solicitors letter to Tim. This was a shame as it obscured the more important matter and this may, of course, been why he did it.
Paul and I, and other people like us, who are successful publishers and who are actively promoting our work for commercial gain have a responsibility to think about both what we are publishing – and how we are publishing it. I’d expect better behaviour from a man who chooses to associate himself with someone who wanted to reconfigure parliament.
Follow-up links: Technical
What is hotlinking? from Wikipedia
* Previous cases
Famous theft of images from digital to print from The Great Architect
** UPDATED: I have edited out the previous reference to stealing bandwidth after a comment from blogger John B who made comment 5 for this piece. Thanks for pointing that innacurate use of language out John.
Why do all this writing about something so small? Perceptively skewered here