Without question, the most popular post here at 101 is visited not for its content but for the picture I inserted. In the photo, my youngest brother hugs a giant penis sculpture. More visitors come to 101 for that photo than for anything I’ve written.
In one way, it’s not surprising. The results for a Google image search for “Jeff”, my brother’s name, has that photo atop the pile. But something else may be going on.
procrastinating examining the issue last week, I discovered that this photo was being used on another Web page. The site was not only using the image without permission, but its HTML code led to the image on my server. My host was responsible for the bandwidth of everyone who loaded that image on the offending page. That’s a major breach of etiquette – if you’re gonna break copyright, at least use your own server.
The Web page with the photo offended me in another way. It is only a lengthy series of vaguely sexual images with captions, and the images link to porn sites. I think it’s a useless grab for revenue, with the site owner cashing in a few pennies for every referral/click. The person who posted my brother’s photo did wrong regardless of the page content, but the content made the whole thing a bit more sordid. Porn’s fine, it’s the lack of added value that bothers me.
In order to get the image removed from that site, I needed to know who to ask. A visit to Whois.net led to the offender’s domain registrar, where I discovered that whoever registered the domain had used a service called Privacy Protect to maintain anonymity.
If I wanted to find out who was responsible, I had to get through Privacy Protect, and the organization does provide a form through which one may beg for information. The site states above that form:
1. If any domain is engaged in spam, abuse or any illegal / unlawful activity you may report the same.
2. Please enclose evidence of spam or abuse or the activity in question.
3. Our abuse team will review the complaint and reveal the actual contact information of the owner where appropriate.
I wasn’t sure whether or not to expect a response, but those terms seemed responsible, so I filed my complaint.
I got an answer a day later:
Please note that the issue you brought to our notice needs to be filed with the Hosting Provider. Find the hosting provider’s details of the domain name at http://domainwhitepages.com/
At the recommended page, I found out that the site is hosted by a company in Brampton, Ont.
I could call that company and quite possibly get the runaround, but there are ways to crack down on this practice, virtual toggles to flip that disallow remote linking to your stuff. There are also more amusing ways to deal with the situation. Guess which I chose.
I changed the name of my brother’s image file and adjusted the HTML code of my blog pages so that they displayed the renamed file properly. The code at the target of my displeasure, of course, has an img tag that refers to the file by its original name – which means that any image file with that name that on my server will be displayed on his Web page.
Simply, it’s trivial to find an image, rename it with the original filename of the photo, upload it, and have it appear on that Web page instead of Jeff’s photo.
I hope the page owners are enjoying the Goatse image. (If you know what Goatse is, you’re chuckling. If you don’t… – well, you don’t want to know.)
Elvi thinks my solution was very Chris Locke. I’m not putting a link to the offender, but if you do a Google search for the original filename of “jeff-shaft-775880.jpg”, you’ll find dozens of other people my little move may inconvenience.
Bonus personal Chris Locke trivia:
Chris liked what I used to do. He came through San Jose on a marketing tour for a client with some piece of hardware I had no personal or professional interest in, but set up a private press conference for me so he and I could meet and chat on the client’s corporate dime while they pitched me. Good times….