I was commenting on Brownpau's link to a cartoon by Dave Walker, cartoonist and proprietor of CartoonChurch.com. I was slightly irked because Walker was using anti-hotlinking software to deny Brownpau the privilege of posting the original cartoon on his site. I wrote: "What a bit that CartoonChurch.com won’t let you link from their site. When are they going to 'get it'?" (Note: I meant to write "bite" instead of "bit," and I wrote my comment more out of sympathy to Brownpau, who posts a lot of good stuff but rarely gets any feedback, than to protest Mr. Walker's use of anti-hotlinking devices. - The Ed.) Dave tried to write me an email about this, but apparently my mailblocks spambot ate it, so he posted his thoughts about my comment on his blog.
Dave makes some good points about "bandwidth theft," coming down on the hard line. He writes:
Should bloggers expect to use other peoples images on their sites for free? In other words, if I am paying to host an image should another blogger see it as their right to include my image which is on my webspace on their blog for free? My opinion, which I hold fairly strongly, is no. If someone gives you permission, fair enough, but if you don’t ask permission you are costing the owner of the image money by using the image on your blog and it really would be polite to ask. I might even go slightly further than that and say that using someone elses hosted image on your webspace is ’stealing bandwidth‘ - ie theft.
Here's his whole post, in which he makes some other good points about how cartoonists, too, must make a living, etc.
Now, I'm not arguing that Mr. Walker should give away his cartoons, any more than I think I should give away my books. But it seems absurd to me, in the internetworked, hyperlinked environment of the blogosphere, to expect to succeed in business without allowing some hotlinking. Let's face facts: hotlinking is what Internet servers do with one another every day. But Mr. Walker is perfectly within his rights to not allow hotlinking.
In the world of the Internet, I believe an ethos of implied consent has developed. That is: If I post something on this blog, I consent to allow anyone reading to use it, quote from it, link to it, etc. -- without requesting permission. In the old, common-law view of copyright, these words I am typing right now are copyrighted -- simply because I have written them, and they are mine. But do I expect people to actually buy this drivel? No. I mean, if you want to give me some money for the pleasure you gain from reading this blog, then let's talk. But otherwise, freely read this, link to it, use it, repost it -- all I ask is that you give credit where it is due. I think that's all we can expect in cyberculture.
I think we're in need of some serious copyright reform. If you're interested in this topic, then I suggest you read Lawrence Lessig's book Free Culture, you should. Go ahead and click that link and download the whole book. It's free, after all.
What do you think? Should I stop hotlinking to images, sites and music files I discover online? Should I go to a straight-text blog? Is linking to text also stealing bandwidth?