Saturday, May 15, 2010

How others are using material from your site on their site

Today I noticed an entry in my log that referenced only a single file. That means someone is linking directly to a particular file on my site. They aren't visiting my site, simply using material from my site.

I decided to investigate.

The site in question was

The file they are linking to is the-immortals.jpg, which is an image of the book Pathway of the Gods
by Joanne Mitchell
I promote on my site.

I then went to the site. Perhaps they are also promoting Joanne Mitchell's book I thought.

However when I visit the site the image is on the site, but it has nothing to do with Joanne Mitchell's book. A bit strange I thought.

If you check the site you'll see the site is a largely a collection of links to other sites. That's quite common. The pictures are provided by a Google facility. So in essence Google is providing a tool which enables sites to use the content of other sites without permission. The only reason the image appears on the site appears to be to fill out the site with material by others.

I don't know about you, but the use of pictures from other sites without permission doesn't quite sit well with me.

I've often felt that Google's image facility is bordering on unfair use of material from other sites. It takes a full section of content and makes that available to others. If I took someone's image and put it on my site without permission I'd consider that to be wrong.

We all link to other sites and in doing so include short sections of text. The question becomes one of what people consider to be fair use.

I recently heard of a situation where a person took sections of other people's work and called it their own. Some consider this to be modern day creativity. Others consider it plagiarism. Maybe it is a bit of both.

For me the important thing is for people to know how their material is being used by others when they may not be aware it is happening. Checking your site logs will often indicate where your material is being used by others. Reviewing your robots.txt file for your site is also something to consider. I for one will be reviewing my robots.txt file in the near future.

- Kelvin Eldridge

UPDATE: I've researched and written up how I created the robots.txt for my site. This hopefully will reduce unwanted bot traffic as well as Google and other search engines indexing files which I'd prefer they didn't use. The MyAnswers solution 1982 is now available to clients and JustLocal advertisers.

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