Sunday, May 24, 2015

Internet Abuse

The internet is a strange world. As a repository for information it is amazing, and some of the things that can be done and shared online are wonderful. As a chess player, I know that I can now play at any time, day and night where before the internet, I'd have to make the effort to travel to a chess club, possibly once a week. And chess is certainly not the only thing that has benefited from online development. But there are negative sides to the internet too, and I'm not just talking about flagrant criminal activity.

As a minor user of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, I see people abusing the sites in bizarre ways. Cyber bullying or "trolling" is rife throughout these social media sites, illegal downloading of media is also rife, and internet addiction is becoming more widespread and recognised as a social disorder.

From a blogging perspective, I try to keep this blog positive, I write it for myself because I enjoy writing, and hope that some others enjoy reading it. I don't seek to make anything out of it, I don't make a big effort to publicise it outside of my close network of friends and acquaintances, and I try my best to link to, or credit, as much as possible so each blog post of mine will hopefully lead some readers to a new site.

Yesterday I was scrolling through some internet sites, linked to one, and saw a photograph that I knew Caroline had taken. I didn't recognise the site, and didn't see a credit to Caroline's name, so I asked her whether the site owner had asked permission to use the image. Caroline had not given permission, whereas I have just asked permission and it has been granted :)

"Alone in a Crowd" by Caroline Gorka (redbubble)
When I search for this image using the google image search function, it comes up with about 70 pages that use this image. Caroline has uploaded this picture to certain sites, such as Redbubble and Artists Lane which act as onlne galleries and sell materials on behalf of the contributors. But well over half the sites using this picture have not asked permission to do so, and are not attributing the creator of the images they are using.

This brings me to the dodgy subject of copyright and fair use of materials. Apparently, the photo above is subject to copyright once it has been taken and for someone like me to use it, I would need to gain the permission of the creator of the image before posting it. An exception to the rule is called "fair use" and this applies to use of an image that doesn't interfere with the owner's rights. A good example of this has been used on this blog before, where I talk about a book I've read and download a photo from a site such as Goodreads, or Amazon of the book cover. From an etiquette point of view, I would still link to the site where I took the image from and attribute the site in a caption, or footnote. However, this still would not be anything to do with copyright of material. I found a pretty good site which explains these issues in layman's terms.

All the sites I have been to about these issues give the same advice:

"when in doubt, assume it’s subject to copyright and don’t use it without the appropriate permission."

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