Monday, May 9, 2011

The Politics of Pictures

Recently, I added a little gadget to the ol' blog here that puts up a few "You might also like this..." links. Each link has a little thumbnail pic related to the article. One very unusual image caught my eye the other day. It was a blank white image with some red writing across the top. So I clicked on the link, and was a bit miffed by what I saw there.

This was my blog post, by the way: "Al Harron has posted a great article at the Cimmerian about the many and surprising similarities between Howard's Cimmerians and Tolkein's Dunedain. Its a very nice piece, and there's plenty of gaming inspiration to be found!"

Up at the top I had linked a cool Angus McBride pic from the article. That pic had been replaced with a giant white image that read "I STOLE THIS IMAGE FROM THE CIMMERIAN".


Lets sum this up. I come across a great article, and want to let others know about it, so I do so. I don't even copy/paste the text, just put up a link directing others to the Cimmerian blog. Instead of just select/copying the McBride piece, I just link the image, so anyone blowing it up will get a Cimmerian address, send even more traffic their way. And what do I get for that?


A website which I am assuming is using McBride without permission, without even doing Angus the courtesy of acknowledging him by name. Al Harron's article is still cool, so I'm leaving up the link, but the whole picture thing is baffling.

So, what gives?

Can anyone explain this behavior? Is this some vestige of the 90's when bandwidth was hard to come by, and servers had less capacity than gameboys? Is it some autobot attack mindlessly assuming any link back to the Cimmerian is a dastardly attack on its IP? Or is it just dickish?


  1. Some web servers are setup to only display images if they are linked from a webpage on the same domain as image. If someone on another webpage links the image (eg. on a forum, usually) they get the alternate image. It's to discourage people using up the original web server's bandwidth.

    Sometimes you will see the image "working" because it's still in your browser's cache. Other people may have never seen the image though.

    So it's nothing personal, in short:

    Is this some vestige of the 90's when bandwidth was hard to come by, and servers had less capacity than gameboys?

    Yes. :)

  2. But back in the day, the message was usually a more polite, "Please don't hotlink images from our site," not an accusation of theft.

  3. I remember back in the day when sites would use the most vile porn pics to discourage such hotlinking...

  4. Yeah, what Jim said. There's still quite a few sites like that out there. For that reason alone I'd avoid hot linking pics on other sites...

  5. Well, that's kind of what I figured, but I'm surprised to see that still running in the current internetniverse, where server hits very often means $$$, and most sites try to log as many as possible.

    A simple "image removed by hosting site" would have sufficed, I think.

  6. Well, may I suggest a page on the dicking around?

    Lord Rahvin, read this:

    If the dicking around was about stealing bandwidth, yes . . . I agree. If the dicking around is about copyright, educate yourself on all sides of the aisle before making a decision.

  7. At least you got lucky and it didn't send an HTTP header to redirect your whole page to something else.

  8. "where server hits very often means $$$, and most sites try to log as many as possible."

    Hits are meaningless these days. Hot linking is also considered rude, regardless of the price of bandwidth. Despite not ill intention, next time carefully consider posting something you don't own the copyright too, and do not hot link.

  9. I'm afraid you're pretty much completely in the wrong on this one.

    "Hits very often mean $$$". No, views of pages with ads on them can mean money. Somebody viewing the picture without their ads on some other website? That's not doing anything for them.

    "When bandwidth was hard to come by" Bandwidth still isn't free and it can still be very expensive. (Expensive enough to cause sites to shut down.) You may not have to pay your bandwidth here at Blogspot, but I'm guessing The Cimmerian is paying for theirs. And I'm guessing clueless people hot-linking images with the Conan movie on the horizon is chewing it up.

    Then, of course, there's the issue of copyright. Maybe they have permission for the MacBride piece. Maybe their use is covered by fair use. Maybe it isn't. But, of course, you don't have permission either, right? And their wrong-doing (if any) wouldn't excuse yours.

    The etiquette here is pretty simple: If you think you have a right to use the image on your own site, copy the image and host it on your site. Link the image to the site you took it from (or to the site of the original artist if that's more appropriate) and give proper credit where credit is due.

  10. Damn it, somehow I just knew it'd end up being me who is the jerk. Stupid gypsy curse... :(

  11. Funny story for you Al.

    Just ten minetes ago, I was doing some stream of conscious type google image searching for the heck of it and I went with Fritz Leiber as my search term. Cause I love that guy.

    Anyway, a couple pages in, I run across the Mike Mignola cover to White Wolf's edition of Ill Met in Lankhmar. I love Mignola, I did a post on his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser covers and comics on my own blog some time ago.
    So, I click the image and it goes to,...The Cimmerian.

    Here's the funny part. It is the scan I put up on Old Guard Gaming Accoutrements. They added a border to it, but they didn't change the designation I assigned it when I altered it for the blog in photoshop. I always add "bs" to pics I resize to 430 pixels wide. It stands for blog size, so I don't confuse them with the original full size uncropped versions.

    No mention of OGGA in the Cimmerian article, so, you're not a jerk Al.



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