back to article Azure consultant's Google image search results hotlinking sueball booted off the pitch by High Court

An Azure consultant has lost his bid to sue Google for copyright infringement over search results that sent web users to a website run by a hotlinker who was displaying one of his photos. Christopher Wheat had previously appealed against an earlier High Court decision to throw out his claim against the American adtech monolith …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "replace the hotlinked image with something unsavoury"

    It didn't need to be unsavory, but in those barely-less-civilized days, it sure seemed more fun.

    I wonder if it still happens ?

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: "replace the hotlinked image with something unsavoury"

      Reminds me of the time Jason Scott goatse'd MySpace (or at least part of it).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eyes.

    People have eyes and memories. Can I sue them for not seeing something I worked long and hard to graffiti on a wall?

    I really really don't know what to think about the cases and the big mess of IP and copyright, patent and trademarks anymore.

    1. Dabooka
      Pint

      Re: Eyes.

      I'll have a pint of what you've had.

      Seems good stuff...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eyes.

        It's a pint of "had enough of patent/copyright fights". Meanwhile the rest of the world gets on with it. Not really caring who "thought of it first", or "who owns an image".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Eyes.

          The subject does rapidly get banal, right enough; but it's important if working on images is what pays your bills. There's a bit more awareness these days thanks to many stories like this; but back in the day internet images were more-or-less universally seen as fair game.

          And hotlinking is even worse, because the miscreant is making off with (and profiting by) your work AND stealing your bandwidth. Again, not so crucial these days when most people have a few spare Gb to throw around, but back in the day a big site nicking your image could be easily enough to overrun your hosts bandwidth allowance and fold your website (possibly taking out your email as well if you weren't organised).

          Even though image manipulation is indoor work with no heavy lifting, it is still work; takes time to learn; and more time to produce a particular image. And the results are easily stealable. You can't wander off with - say - a day's plumbing, so plumbers don't need this sort of protection and are probably equally bored with "who owns the image" stories.

    2. Crisp

      Re: Eyes.

      People do have eyes and memories.

      If something you worked long and hard to graffiti something on a wall ends up getting seen by me and it ends up being stored in my memory; when you try and sue then I'm going to have to charge you for storage.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eyes.

        Oh how I wish I could for the movies or adverts currently pushed on us!!!

  3. mark l 2 Silver badge

    To my eyes the issue the guy has issues with the site that hotlinked his image without permission. Google just indexed that site and picked up the image from there for its search results. Perhaps because that site was ranked higher than the site where he hosted the image. Google does not know the legal status of the content it indexes, unless it is coming from a site where all the content is copyright free such as Wikipedia.

    The story doesn’t say whether he had informed Google that the image was infringing through a DCMA take down notice. If he hadn't done that or taken technical steps to stop the site that was hotlinking from being able to carry on hotlinking (something that should have been trivial for an Azure consultant). Then Google can hardly be to blame.

  4. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

    Hotlinked ...

    I usually change the internal image URL, and then redirect the hotlinked URL to a copy of the original image with reduced DPI and a watermark: "See the original image, visit www.whatever.com"

    Nothing like a bit of free advertising.

    1. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Hotlinked ...

      Yup, if you're going to publish something then make sure the Copyright ownership is explicitly clear for everyone to see. Yes, you own it irrespective, but as has been demonstrated proving that in Court is a lot harder than in the browser.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hotlinked ...

        ALWAYS keep the working files. That helps a lot.

  5. Robert E A Harvey

    See, it's like this

    Sometimes I laugh at the cleverness of your headlines.

    Sometimes I read the article, and /then/ realise how clever it was.

    .

    I must be tired or summat, but this one looks like word bingo, and I CBA to read the storey.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yay! I gpt quoted in a Reg article! Does that mean I'm famous and can start acting like (more of a) dick now?

    1. Fabrizio
      Pint

      You were talking about goatse-ing, right?

      Before rickrolling there was goatse-ing and I'm pretty sure that's what you were talking about, so have a pint!

      (No, you're not allowed to be a dick; we have quite a few of those already)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You were talking about goatse-ing, right?

        I was indeed talking about goatse-ing; although that is kind of the lazy option; and has the additional problem that the "replacement" image will be squished to the dimensions of the hotlinked image...thereby diminishing the glory somewhat in extreme cases. The true craftsman will, of course, personalise their replacement image. At the time, it was a magnificent way of spending the couple of hours after returning from the pub.

  7. Hargrove

    Extortion by another name?

    Here's the crux of the problem

    Google's service agreement states plainly that users still own whatever they store, transmit, etc. However as worded it also states that by such use they give Google--and those they WORK WITH--unrestricted world wide rights to use of the content.

    All neat, clean and legal. And your Copyright means nothing. because you agreed to it when you sent the image to your friends on your Gmail (or for that matter theirs) of stored your manuscript in Google Docs.

    This is not a Google-specific problem. Comparable terms and conditions are dictated by the Industry on a take it or leave it basis, subject to unilateral change without notice by the company and with littke or no consideration of possible unintended impact on the user. (We in the US are in a particular pickle because of the convoluted and arcane framework of enabling laws and regulations that created for the benefit of special interests. The EU appears to be doing a bit better. As for the UK . . .enough said in the article.)

    I have been told by a friend knowledgeable of the art business that in the first decade of the 20th century, the number of art galleries showing original art in the US declined from 45,000 to around 5000. They were put out of business by a glut of hand-painted reproductions from China, done in assembly-line fashion in factories of artists. They could sold for pennies on the dollar compared to the artist's original work.

    As a practical matter, under this ruling Copyrights on images, writings, music composition -- any intellectual property content--become virtually impossible to defend. The economic and social/cultural costs of this are incalculable.

    While we may not be able to pin down in a court of law who is accountable, that Google and the IT sector at large benefit is blatantly obvious.

  8. steviebuk Silver badge

    What a tit

    Am I the only one that thinks so. I used to, haven't looked recently so can't remember if its still setup, have hotlink protection on (surely as an Azure consultant he should of had the skills to code this himself back then) and the images would point to Avril Lavigne with her middle finger up. Childish? Yep. Did I find it funny? Yes. Am I still a man child? Yes.

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