All Good Things Must Come to an End

This will be the last blog article I post with pictures, and I chose this picture because it is appropriate to my state of mind. You can blame it on ambulance chasing lawyers…or should I say blog chasing lawyers. One of the things I do on a regular basis is track access metrics for both our website and our blog. Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I got an alert from the hosting site that hits to our blog spiked from a handful each week to almost 50 in just one day. Since then the hits have leveled off at close to a dozen each day, but my initial excitement at finally gaining a blog following was short-lived. As I dug deeper into the metrics I found the hits were all on images that I attached to blog posts. I smelled a rat.

Turns out the hits are being generated by bots that scrape individual accounts on hosting sites in search of unlicensed, copyright protected content. I got burned by just such a bot some time ago and ended up having to pay a hefty licensing fee for a picture I used in one of our newsletter articles. I do appreciate the importance of protecting intellectual property rights, but at the time I thought I was covered by fair use practices since the picture wasn’t marked as copyright protected and I used it in a non-revenue generating manner. I was wrong. What really steamed me was the fact that the newsletter in question was by then several years old and no longer directly accessible on our website…I had archived it on the server, but those bots are persistent little devils. I made that point to the law firm to no avail, so I paid their fee and moved on. Lesson learned.

Ever since that incident I have been using Adobe’s Photo service and paying monthly licensing fees for any images I use in our newsletter or blog, confident I was on firm ground. Until the bot hits started showing up. What concerns me a bit about the bot scraping is that I have read these law firms will still try to hit individuals up for licensing fees, claiming whatever service you are using wasn’t authorized by the content originator to re-license the material. They count on scaring you into paying the fee, whether or not their claim is legit. I’m pretty confident Adobe would back me up if someone sent me another licensing bill, but I am equally sure I don’t want nor need the hassle. I will still post the occasional blog item as well as posting helpful travel tips on our Facebook business page, I just won’t post them with pictures. Sigh…

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