Saturday 30 April 2011

Internet Copyright Issues

The internet is becoming worse. I have more internet copyright issues now than before. People "steal" photographs and text from my website all the time. Despite warnings on the homepage, despite placing clear copyright notices under photos - which is not obligatory as all work is automatically protected by copyright - unscrupulous people just download them and upload to their website. I can add software that prevents right-click downloads but that does not stop a person stealing a photo - they can take a screen shot and crop out the image. A watermark across the image will make it almost useless to steal but make it far less effective as a image on my site.

Once they have placed the stolen photo on their site they fail to protect copyright so other unscrupulous and immoral people steal it again from their site and that enlarges the problem substantially. It also simply duplicates what is already on the internet - hardly beneficial.

Then Google image search finds the stolen photo and presents it higher in search results than your original - it is just ghastly and totally unfair.


See: PoC copyright violations and Definition of Copyright.
See also an example of a website in breach of copyright being delisted in respect of the offending page. The upheld complaint is listed in the Chilling Effects website for public view. Update 30th September 2011: I have made approximately 40 complaints in respect of image violations to Google DMCA. Almost all have been agreed by Google and the relevant page delisted from Google search results. It is possible too that this process damages the website concerned in respect of Google's perception of it. Here is another example of a DMCA complaint I made on Chilling Effects. Don't violate copyright please.

The problem is massive and Google, very late in the day, are beginning to do something about it but it is perhaps too little too late. The mentality of many website creators is that they can do as they please and get away with it and a lot of the time they are correct (at least for a while until I have tracked them down).

I always make an application to Google under their complaints procedure. Removing Content From Google. This can now be done online rather than by post. "Removing content from Google" in my experience means one of two things. If the stolen image or text is on a Google Blogspot Blogger site, Google deletes the page that contains the offending text or image if they uphold your complaint. If the copyright breach is on a website not hosted by Google then Google de-lists the page from its search results. This means that no one can find it using Google. This is obviously a serious blow to the person who stole the image or text.

However, it is far from a conclusive result. Google's search will still bring up the image for a potentially long time after the image has been removed. This is because it can take a long time for the Google bots to get to where the deleted page was and report back, if it was a Blogger page. If the image is on a non-Blogger site the search results will still point to the offending page for quite some time. This is depressing for people like me because you want the problem fixed immediately and you want the person who stole the image(s) and/or text to be punished.

There is also the fact that the other search engines, Yahoo, Bing, Ask etc, might still be finding and listing the offending web page. Although these search engines are relatively unimportant compared to god Google.

Some people say, "it's only a picture, chill out". They are wrong and do not understand the consequences of internet copyright theft. It can have a severe impact on the income generated by the victim of the copyright theft.

Internet copyright issues are very important indeed and they have been almost ignored for a very long time. There almost seems to be an acceptance of it. You don't buy a book and copy it and republish it unless you are a scamming business in Asia. But internet copyright theft is rampant and unabated and can be carried out by anyone.

Internet copyright issues are a major headache for someone like me. I manage my entire site alone. I have no fancy software or help to monitor and stop internet copyright breaches. It is very difficult to stop it under these circumstances. Google should have done much more to assist the single webmaster long ago. Yet Google's new algorithm has hurt lots of websites that are run by individuals. The internet is not really a nice place for individuals who build their own website. It is a place for the big sites.

Why can't Google detect breaches of copyright? It should be able to mark when an image first comes on the internet. If it insists that copyrighted images have a notice under them, "photo copyright John Doe" then their bots can read that. Surely that would let them detect when the image has been used elsewhere. Alternatively Google could devise some code that people can put in the image html so that Google can track it and mark it as the original image (first on the internet).

That in turn would let them de-list the page without having to receive hundreds of thousands of complaints which must be a nightmare for Google to process. They are probably having problems coping with the complaints procedure although I am very pleased with their service to date - thanks Google. Google notify you by email when they de-list a webpage from their search results.

However, it is up to a major organisation such as Google to take PROACTIVE steps to prevent internet copyright issues occurring. Reactive measures are ultimately unworkable. If Google can't or won't do something about it for the long term rather than fire fighting then someone else should.

It is sad to say that, inadvertently, Google promotes internet copyright issues and breach of copyright through its Adsense programme. Anyone can make money using Adsense. Anyone can start a blogger site in seconds. It is these casual, fly-by-nite people who are the biggest offenders.

Michael Avatar

From Internet Copyright Issues to Home Page


  1. What a freaking whiner. Boo. Hoo. I was tempted to steal something from your site but a) nothing I could find, I couldn't find elsewhere on Google (maybe you stole something hmm?) and b) the rest was garbage.


  2. I hate idiots like you. You are clearly one of those rude and arrogant American fools.

    You are the reason why I have learnt to dislike the internet. It is full of complete idiots like you who have no regard for doing the right thing and respecting others.

    My site is one of the best - perhaps the best. And copyright is important. People like you breach copyright all the time.

    And I never do. If you suggest that again it will be defamation. You haven't even got the guts to provided your name! Pathetic.

  3. Copyright laws are important. When people break those laws they are stealing. Years ago churches didn't understand this and choir libraries were full of photocopied music, or before that, music copied on those ditto machines with the purple ink. The better our ability to make quick, multiple, legible copies, the more widespread the problem becomes. With the Internet it is all too easy to steal!

    I've had to go through choir libraries and shred and discard garbage pails full of illegally copied music while ladies from the choir were shrieking at me that I was throwing away "their" music. Things are getting better, through lots of education. I'm tired of sitting through lectures on copyright law every time I go for continuing education as a church musician, but it's necessary. I just keep telling people that God will never bless our endeavors so long as we are constantly breaking the 7th commandment.

    So many people need to have it explained that copying what is not yours is like making copies out of a book at the bookstore, then leaving without paying for the book. Sure, you left the original copy on the shelf, but you also stole the contents as surely as if you shoplifted the book.

    People who don't create anything original often don't care about copyright law.
    Ruth Y.

  4. Thank you Ruth for saying it better than me. Copyright is important. It is the same as stealing an item off the shelf of a store or shop.

    People should respect other people's work. The person who made the first comment clearly does not and it is ignorant and disrespectful fools like him who spoil the internet.

  5. People who don't create anything original often don't care about copyright law. And we call them "LIAR" or "SPAMMER". Thanks for your nice word. Indeed!

  6. @Adwords Tutorial- that's a bit too harsh. Some people take articles and use them and perhaps forgot to name their sources.

  7. The internet is quite old, but the rules regarding copyright aren't as clear as in real life. Perhaps it's up to Google, by tracing the first copies on their archive to determine which are original and are copied, to build up decent internet copyright laws.

  8. Cached copies of old content would probably determine the originator of certain articles or pictures. Even if things are placed on the internet, people are still eligible to intellectual properties.

  9. Without a governing body that has the authority to uphold international laws concerning Internet copyrights, we will continue to see widespread violations.

  10. I believe that Google has the power to solve this. They are the law, in effect. They have the engineers to tackle this. No one else has.


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