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Glen Pitt-Pladdy :: Blog

Content linking

Examining statistics for my blog I see frequent referrer spam and other things, but I also come across images on my blog being served up because someone "deep linked" them in a forum or similar.

This means that I am paying for bandwidth and CPU cycles to put my content on someone else's site. Recently I found that someone in a forum was using images from my blog and implying one of my images was of something they owned. Charming!

What could or even should I do about this?

Cease and desist

The "old way" which fortunately we see far less frequently now is to get legally nasty on their a***. Once upon a time the internet was full of stories of legal bullying to remove content, amusingly many of the requests where unfounded or actually to remove things that where good publicity. Some organisations had even produced web bots to automate legal threats and they weren't half making some bizarre automated threats! There where (maybe still are) companies who's business model was to trawl the web and find their clients someone to litigate.

Fortunately most people have now learned that this is not an approach that often benefits anyone. In fact the way many people make themselves successful on the internet is exactly the opposite: giving stuff away free and benefiting from good publicity, good will and generating interests in their skills or services. One description I have heard is being like a drug dealer - hand out lots of free samples and get users hooked. Obviously that only works if you have good stuff to give away.

It's a case of the more you help others, the more they help you and on the internet a little bit of help generates a whole lot of others helping you. This has been written and talked about extensively by others so no need to say much more.

Blocking / blacklisting

Here we move onto technical measures to discourage abuse. While there are extreme cases where I think blocking usage (eg. serving up a copyright notice instead of the content or just blacklisting a destination) is appropriate and I use blacklisting mechanisms on this blog to counter automated comment spamming, it's really just a less hostile version of the same attitude mentioned above.

You don't benefit from hostility... at least not in the long term. Think of the internet as an amplifier - whatever you do, the internet will amplify it and give it back to you.

Free publicity

How about a more friendly approach: Someone likes my content and is putting my content on their site - free publicity! Whoopee!

On the internet higher visibility is a pure benefit. The more people talking about you the better. This is the stuff that everyone is trying to create so when someone gives it to you for free why fight it?

In case nobody noticed, this is what many of the most admired and profitable companies on the internet are doing - providing free content and services which is mutually beneficial, and then profiting incidentally.

The only thing where it doesn't quite work is when someone drops my images in their site making it look like theirs, but there is a simple solution. I have worked some new code into my blog that allows me to serve up images with some added text saying that the image came from my blog.

I think that's a fair exchange. If you make use of my content, I'll make use of your eyeballs :-)