Protecting Pictures

  |  February 29, 2000   |  Comments

Dana got tons of email on his column about Leslie Kelly, "The Dumbest Lawsuit in Web History." Several asked how he would feel if someone stole his articles, or his entire web site, spreading it for their profit. This type of theft is fairly common, and site owners feel especially victimized when someone in another country "site-jacks" them. The question is, Does hosting pictures on its own web site make Ditto.com a "site-jacker"?

We got a ton of email this week concerning my column about Leslie Kelly, "The Dumbest Lawsuit in Web History." (Discussion of the issue is continuing on the ClickZ Forum and I encourage you all to join it.)

As of this writing, however, nearly all the comment has gone against me.

Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineWatch.com wrote one of the longer, more thoughtful notes, saying that I "made wide ranging and incorrect statements that trivialized the real concerns that artists have" and dismissed a lawsuit "that has real implications for all web site owners, not just artists." He went on to say that firewalls are impractical, and that while digital watermarks might identify stolen art, it doesn't prevent the theft.

Other critics weren't so kind - the words "unforgivable," "shameful" and "travesty" were all used. (Here's a surprise - no one used words that couldn't be repeated in a family newspaper. Give yourselves a hand for that!) The fact is the column hit a nerve. So let's examine this pain and see what it means.

In his "Project Xanadu," a hypertext project that pre-dated the web by 20 years, Ted Nelson made protection of intellectual property rights a key feature. Nelson has also developed a format called "transpublishing" designed to protect both links and property rights online.

Unfortunately, Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web took form in the academic environment of CERN, where sharing is essential, and the penalty for theft is merely exile from the community. The commercial web has no such penalty, and not everyone shares CERN's academic values. So lots of people look to make money off others' intellectual resources.

When I wrote of Kelly's lawsuit, I equated it to the enjoining of links, and said his success would make the web illegal. Over the last few years many companies have tried to prevent free linking, and each attempt has made me angrier. Whether the attempt was made by Ticketmaster, Universal Studios or eBay, my response was always the same - if you don't want people linking to your stuff, take it off the public web.

Several asked how I would feel if someone stole my articles, or my entire web site, spreading my stuff for their profit. In fact this type of theft is fairly common, and site owners feel especially victimized when someone in another country "site-jacks" them. The question is, Does hosting pictures on its own web site make Ditto.com a "site-jacker"? Personally, I don't think so. I have yet to find an image on Ditto.com that was large enough to be commercial in and of itself. If you right-click your mouse button on any web image, one of the standard options is to download it (or turn it into screen wallpaper). It's been that way for five years - I haven't seen Mr. Kelly's suit against Microsoft and Netscape.

Now, there are ways to protect against that right click. The problem is these protections aren't intuitive, and it seems to many people that you can't get the protection without limiting the distribution of knowledge that makes the web work. Tomorrow I'll bring in a leading expert to propose another solution to the problem.

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dana Blankenhorn

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business reporter for more than 20 years. He has written parts of five books and currently contributes to Advertising Age, Business Marketing, NetMarketing, the Chicago Tribune, Boardwatch, CLEC Magazine, and other publications. His own newsletter, A-Clue.Com, is published weekly.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?

Jobs

    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora, www.agora-inc.com, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...