April 28, 2006
Creative Filching

creative perspectivesHow do you feel about people using the creative output you share online?

I put a lot of materials online for people to use freely - patterns and tutorials. I don’t mind, and really can’t keep track of, people who borrow an image and use it on their site if they host it themselves.

I don’t like it when strangers profit from my freely-given work by reselling it or when they hotlink my images. To me, both are forms of petty theft.

On March 18th, I discovered that one of the files on my server was being used extensively as a hotlinked background image on one of the free website hosts. So I replaced it with a placeholder - nothing as rude as bathtub girl or goatse, though it wasn’t exactly polite. Original - Placeholder

This morning I woke up to this mail.

Listen up jerk!! Here is the deal - people put their pictures on line knowing that other people are going to come in and get copies of the pictures. And why you ask ( because you are obviously to stupid to figure it out on your own)? They do it for one of many, many reasons, like advertisement for their product on the page you bring up by clicking on the picture, or to sell me a product, or because they want you to take the picture, and that was the whole point, and they offer many more pictures on the page when you click on the picture, etc, etc, etc. But then there is the even worst of all, the idiots who put a picture up there so they can post their very, very, very, long and boring blog…………So, guess what, if you don’t want someone to have a copy of your picture, don’t put it on line and shut your stupid A** H*** up!!

Well, what do you say to that? In the space of one ranting paragraph I’ve been labelled a jerk, an idiot, an asshole, and also boring and stupid (twice).

What kind of person writes a note like that in the wake of being told to stop stealing? A youthful American, I would guess. Who else has such violent , self-righteous anger?

So I replied. Politely.

Dear Colleen,

Thank you for expressing your opinion so clearly and strongly in your mail, but I beg to differ.

Regardless of what other people do, I do not put material online for unattributed use elsewhere. I am usually quite happy to allow others to borrow my pictures if they ask politely, and host them on their own server.

What irks me is when people hotlink my images. Perhaps you are unaware of what that means.

Hotlinking is when you put an img tag on your page that points to an image on my server. Doing that means that everyone who goes to your page hits my server first to collect the image. This uses the bandwidth that I pay for. While the image itself might not be so large, multiple hits add up quickly.

In this case, I presume you are complaining about my circles.jpg image which was being hotlinked by a large number of people as a background for their websites. I replaced that image with an alternate image on March 18th.

I appreciate your point of view on the matter of using other people’s images, but do not agree. I hope you will respect my opinion and make some technological changes to your website or simply find someone with a more compatible philosophy who will not mind your hotlinking.



Wonder what I’ll wake up to tomorrow? I sort of hope she sends me a link to her website so I can discover more of her sparkling personality.

Posted by kuri at April 28, 2006 08:09 AM


oh boy. you and i are in the same boat! i had the same problem with one a**hole hotlinking to my images, too. i wrote a comment on his blog asking him to take it down and i got an email back about how i was a “tool” and that i should go “F myself on a rusty nail.” he’s stealing my images and my bandwidth and I’M the bad person for asking him to take it down? some people have no respect nor do they seem to understand how the internet even works. i feel your pain.

p.s. i figured out how to stop people from hotlinking to my images. if you’d like the info, shoot me an email.

Posted by: gleek on April 28, 2006 11:21 AM

Gee Kristen how DARE you change one of your OWN images on YOUR website on YOUR server. Don’t you realize that doing so BREAKS TEH INTERWEBS!!11eleventy!!

It’s your DUTY to provide creative content for those not clever enough to make their own!

(Nice answer by the way. It’s something we’ve all had to deal with. Usually I find that it’s the people who’ve been online for 5 minutes that have this reaction. There is so much cheap hosting available now - even places where you can host images for free - so no excuse. A quick email to ask permission, putting it up on your own picture hosting - how hard is that? She is lucky you didn’t substitute the image for something revolting.)

Colleen - you lose at the internets. Thanks for playing!

Posted by: MJ on April 28, 2006 12:57 PM

WOW - wonder what she would have written if you had used the bathtub girl?

Stealing bandwidth is so NOT cool. But everything on the internet is free right? / sarcasm…

Posted by: T on April 28, 2006 02:15 PM

A sad state of affairs really, when the only reasons apparent to this person for putting images online are to advertise or to generate sales.

Posted by: John on April 28, 2006 03:46 PM

And it’s also your right to put a placeholder or whatever picture you want. People like Colleen used your pictures (assuming she did) for free (plus the bandwith) and still ungrateful about it.

Shame on you, Colleen. Shame on you!

Posted by: Lisa on April 30, 2006 06:21 PM

Im so curious about her response! But then again, she took ages to respond to the change you made…

Posted by: j-ster on May 4, 2006 02:47 PM
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