There's always something new about this blogging business. Another first, the other day: I was contacted by a photographer who complained that TOP had used his photograph—of a 1937 Jaguar—without his permission.
I try to take rights issues seriously, so I went looking for it. I did do a few posts recently about cars, but I couldn't remember posting a picture of an old Jaguar.
I couldn't find it anywhere.
I have a poor memory in some ways. I suffer from what I jokingly call "proper noun aphasia," for one thing—an inability to remember names. It's not that the names aren't in there, it's just that they take a little while to percolate to the surface when I want them to. But I have a very good visual memory. If I'm trying to remember a person, what pops unbidden into my mind is an image—the name takes some effort, and a bit more time, to recall. I often do research for my posts visually, using Google image searches; I often surf the web visually too, going from one image search to another.
So I tried that. I just Googled "1937 Jaguar" and did an image search, thinking that, if I'd seen one of the pictures recently, I'd recognize it. Sure enough, there it was—one picture jumped out at me as one I'd seen before:
So once I knew what I was looking for, then I could go chase it down on the site.
Guess what? It turned out to be a hyperlink in a comment.
That got my dander up a bit. Here's what I wrote back to the fellow who complained:
That image isn't posted on my site. It's a hyperlink. The hyperlink takes readers to your page, where you have made the picture viewable by the public. The picture is not viewable or visible on my site, only on yours.
There is no infringement with hyperlinks; anyone may link to whatever they want to on the Web. With certain rare exceptions (for instance, if the page that is linked to is illegal), hyperlinks are permissible without restriction. This is perfectly in accordance with standard, widespread World Wide Web custom and also with the law—the right to hyperlink freely has been upheld by the courts on several occasions.
Thus, there has been no infringement on your rights and there was no need or requirement for us to secure your permission—neither common courtesy nor legality requires it.
I will remove the link to your picture because you have requested it, purely as a courtesy to you, but I suggest you familiarize yourself with the way the Web works; you really have no right whatsoever (nor any reasonable cause) to make such requests.
But it turned out that the fellow wasn't being obnoxious. He was quite polite in response, thanking me for the explanation. He's just new to the Web and still learning what's what, that's all.
I do tend to forget—there are always beginners out there. Not everybody already knows everything.
So, in the spirit of not assuming that everybody already knows everything, a few words about links on TOP:
What we mostly do in our posts are informational links, and affliliate links. An informational link can be anything—a link to an illustration of what's being talked about, to a citation that supports a premise or a claim, or simply to a site where more information is given.
An affiliate link is quite different. That's a link to one of the site's affiliates—usually, to a product you can buy. And which, if you buy it, pays me a small spiff. When you see a line like "I have two Micro 4/3 lenses so far and I'm thinking about getting a third," that's what that link is all about. (In that case the link also informs you as to which lens I'm talking about, so it's sort of a tease as well.)
Posts about new equipment might have a lot of affiliate links, but I generally don't hit those too hard. I just try to imagine what would annoy me if I were reading another site, and try to avoid annoying you.
Recently, however, a new trend has revved up. I now get offers almost every day to do "sponsored links" or "paid links" on TOP. That is, someone will pay me to write a post about their product or to put a link to their product or site in the text of one of my posts.
Well, I never do that. There has never been a sponsored or paid link on TOP. Affiliate links, yes, but I make all the decisions as to what those will be. Sometimes a link might look sponsored, but that's usually just because I'm doing somebody a favor, not because they're paying me.
Judging by my mail, though, there must be an awful lot of posts and links out there in the far-flung wilds of the Web that are only there because someone bought them. This is probably only going to get worse as time goes on, and as more people learn that there is money to be made in the trenches of e-commerce.
[UPDATE: The original version of this article contained a fake link that I thought would be a good way to make a point—it was a link that I fell for prior to Christmas, and I thought it would be interesting to see if other people would fall for it too. A bit later, however, I had a "what were you thinking" moment and decided I was not being half as clever as I thought I was. So I 86'd it. Sorry to those whose comments were thereby "orphaned."
Sometimes, the editor needs an editor. —Mike the Ed.]
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from: