OUTRAGE. This morning I was checking my Roald Dahl site statistics and noticed that I’m suffering from some bandwidth theft. Several jerks on various messageboards have linked directly to large images without asking me. Wait, let’s be clear here. They didn’t make a link like this. They created an HTML image tag that referenced an image on my server. In other words, every time another jerk viewed the message board, I had to pay for them to download the image. According to my server logs, I’ve had an extra 2000 hits this month alone from image thieves. My problem isn’t them claiming my work as their own so much (though that’s what nearly all of them are doing); it’s more that my work is being used to add value to another site and I’m being forced to pay for the privilege! But fine, whatever. I can configure my server to block them. The REAL PROBLEM however, is…

THE SNOOK THINKS IT’S OKAY. He thinks it’s perfectly reasonable that since I put something out on the Internet, other people should be able to use it however they want. I agree, as long as I’m not paying for it. He claims that since I don’t pay by the megabyte for bandwidth, I can’t claim that they’re stealing any money from me. I counter with the fact that once I breach my bandwidth cap, I will be, so it’s the same difference. And irrespective of the “theft” issue, I just find it completely rude. The argument went on for some time. It climaxed with:

Me: “Okay, so you’re posting to Slashdot and there’s this image you’ve found to illustrate your argument, so you just embed it directly from the source?”
Him: “Yes.”
Me: “That’s it. What if it was my site? YOU’D SLASHDOT ME? We’re breaking up.”

It’s a gorgeous day out today, but it’s pretty chilly here in the house.

Later: An uneasy truce has been called. I think we’ve got an unspoken agreement to disagree.

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5 Comments

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  1. I see your side, but basically I agree with the Snook. Don’t hate us we’re just idealists. The internet is a public space. Yeah, it’s inconsiderate to link images from another server, but I wouldn’t say it’s willfully inconsiderate (especially on a message board). That’s just how the web works. In fact, it’s one of the things that makes the web so powerful. I think this is just yet another sign of the all too obvious fact that capitalism and internet do not mix. On the internet, being popular is a *bad* thing. Sites are destroyed by their own popularity. How backwards is that? The fact that such a thing as bandwidth caps exist means that we’ve done something wrong. Ugh don’t even get me started. How screwed up has the internet gotten?

  2. Gosh, I don’t want to be rude, but this is a really funny techie fight.

    What is the sound of two techies not talking?

    Seriously, I know the worst fights are over something petty (I mean, we’re not talking cheating/marriage/finances here). Hoping it warms up soon!

  3. *jaw drops to the floor* I can’t BELIEVE you people! That is so not cool! Kris is paying for the bandwidth. They are, in a sense, breaking into her home in the middle of the night, and stealing the worms…or the …. whatever else. I mean, at least if it was something somewhat more tangible you could call the cops and get those ingrates busted.

    OMG.

    SNOOK isn’t on the side of Truth and Justice?!?! Let’s fry ‘im.

  4. It’s just a nasty thing to do. Common net courtesy etc.

    Most people would copy the image to their own server.

  5. Thanks for the comments, you guys. We’ve made up. I thought about it and thought about it and I agree with a lot of the Snook’s (and Dan’s) points. The sticker is the “paying for it” thing. If I didn’t pay for hosting my site every month, I’d have no problem with people linking to my images. (I’d prefer they credit me, which is just politeness, but that’s beside the issue.) The Snook blames the whole problem on greedy telcos. When someone requests a file from my site, why do we BOTH have to pay bandwidth costs? Shouldn’t I get a CREDIT or something for uploads? Or shouldn’t the downloader at least foot the bill? It’s like you said, a small site can get ruined by popularity. (Another problem is that in February 2001, when I was just starting out on a crappy free host, I offered a Simpsons valentine for download and tons of people linked directly to it. I went over my limit for the month – by a LOT – and had to cough up $20. So I’m prejudiced against image stealers.)

    My whole position is just that even though direct linking isn’t evil or anything, I still wish people would ask permission or give a heads up. It’s like, people assume that unless I tell them NOT to do something, they can do whatever they want. I want the opposite to be true. I want people to be polite and non-asshole-ish enough to ask me first. I’m not acting like a stupid corporation and saying no one can link to me; I’d just appreciate a little notice if you’re going to link my site on Slashdot and possibly kill it.

    But anyway, fight is over. I conceded to most of the Snook’s points, but he still performed the ideal boyfriend role of telling me he’d been totally wrong. So it’s all good. 🙂

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