It’s a Small World

I built my first website back in 1995. It was about sugar gliders, and was the first of millions of sites to come that would be devoted to those intriguing little creatures. It actually even made Netscape Cool Site of the Day one time. Of course, back then there were only about 37 websites in the entire universe, so I guess that wasn’t really a terribly impressive accomplishment. 🙂

That same year, some guy copied my site, put his name on it, and printed it out, complete with an introduction thanking some friend of his who had supposedly helped him put it together. I guess maybe his friend loaded the paper in the printer, or something, because there wasn’t much else to do, since I’d done all the research, writing, layout, and photography.

I might have never known about it, had he not been the inherently dishonest sort that he was, because I started getting irate emails from people demanding the books they said they had paid me for that I had not sent. I was a little mystified by this, since I’d never written a book (that I knew of, anyway), until I dug a little deeper and found out what was going on.

I wondered then what I have wondered approximately 47,942 times since: what weird sort of brain defect makes people think they are the only ones who have Web access and know how to use a search engine? If you find something online, doesn’t it stand to reason that the rest of the world can find it just as easily? Is it all that hard to figure out that somebody somewhere is going to know that the thing you are claiming as your own really isn’t? And that the resulting embarrassment is going to be witnessed by practically the entire known universe for possibly years to come?

I’ve spent a lot of time recently tracking down people who have used my dad‘s original cartoons without giving him credit. He’s a pretty popular artist, actually, especially his crybaby graphic, which seems to be in use on just about every blog in existence. I’m actually pretty lenient. If they even so much as link the image back to his site, I leave them alone, but it’s amazing how many people don’t even give that much credit to their sources.

The latest “what was he thinking???” episode happened when I was avoiding schoolwork using StumbleUpon. Up came Robert Hill’s website, with one of my photos right there at the top.(Update, 11/19/07: He finally, apparently, took notice of my attempts to get him to give me credit for my photo. Of course, rather than respond to my messages or acknowledge my authorship on his website, he simply removed my photo and put someone else’s up.)

The photo is posted on my Flickr site, with a Creative Commons “attribution non-commercial” license. That means all the guy needed to do was give me credit for the photo, and he was free to use it. But he preferred to let people think he’d created it himself. Apparently it didn’t occur to him that since I’m interested in hypertufa, which would be obvious to any thinking person since I made some and then took photographs of it to post on Flickr, it might stand to reason that I would occasionally go browsing for websites purporting to be about hypertufa, and might therefore actually notice that he’d stolen my photograph.

Frankly, it’s pretty obvious from looking at the several blogs listed in his profile that his main object in having them is to sell e-books, which actually makes it commercial usage, if you want to press the point. But I’d have been okay with him simply stating where he got the photo. He didn’t even do that.

Hmmm. I wonder if he used it in his e-book, too?

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