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Defining the open source image

It is very easy to watermark photos and prevent them from downloading in the clear, but few people take advantage of that technology. Cost and complexity must be issues, because issuing threats is never any fun.

Discerning readers of this space may have seen a picture of Renaud Deraison disappear from an earlier story about Nessus.

"That's not an open source image," he wrote of the mug shot I found. "Remove it." So I did.

This is going to be an increasingly touchy subject as the Internet space continues to grow, and  as owners of photos try to control distribution of their work. I used to get mad about this. It is very easy to watermark photos and prevent them from downloading in the clear, but few people take advantage of that technology. Cost and complexity must be issues, because issuing threats is never any fun.

  • AP or AFP have begun adding logos to photos which appear on Web sites, which I take to mean hands off.
  • Search Google for pictures of Hurricane Katrina damage and you're going to come up short, because even those taken by individuals are posted to sites like Flickr that aren't spidered.
  • When I first began blogging, several years ago now, I would link to images, just as I link to stories. I was accused of "stealing bandwidth." But if I download the image and serve it locally, am I not stealing the image for myself? (I try to credit image sources, but I'm not always meticulous.)

Flickr is among the sites supporting a Creative Commons license for images, but even this system is complex -- more like BSD licensing than GPL.

There is no image with this item. That is deliberate. I want you to think a little about a Web without pictures. Then tell me how to prevent it.