Today I had a quick trawl through my website usage statistics, as I like to do once every blue moon or so. I was surprised to see a couple of non-search engine sites listed under referrers. Usually I get almost all of my traffic from Google, so my interest piqued I headed over to see who was linking to me.
It turned out, nobody was linking to me – at least not to the pages on my site. Instead, people were stealing my images.
I know that Phil used to (and no doubt still does) suffer from this a lot, in particular people are forever ripping off his justly famous photographs of Frank Zappa. I understood Phil’s ire over this theft, after all his photographs are how he makes his living. I even helped him customise a “bandits” perl script to serve up a surprise to anyone stealing bandwidth and images from Phil’s site. But for myself I never really saw small acts of image theft from my site, mainly by kids, as a problem. This was partly because I didn’t feel I had very much worth stealing, and partly because, compared to the hundreds of people who have stolen Phil’s Zappa pics, the scale of borrowings from my own site is so small as to be hardly worth worrying about.
But this time I found myself increasingly annoyed by the rudeness of people pinching both my images and my bandwidth. One image in particular seems to be particularly popular – from my Dead Baby photos which I mentioned recently and which are still by far the biggest draw to my site from search engines.
First I found that somebody calling themselves “JessFlick” had posted the second baby picture (a direct link to it on my site, rather than a repost) on a forum here. Ironically, on the next page was a picture of Frank Zappa… not yawning but picking his nose. I spotted that JessFlick had even started using my picture (again direct linked, not even resized) as her own avatar on the board.
Something like that is easy and fun to revenge. I renamed my baby picture and uploaded a new version over the original, with a personalised message to JessFlick.
Then, looking further through the referers, I came across this abortion of a webpage. Ignoring the fact that it’s one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen on the web, the background was a wallpaper of messages to JessFlick – so obviously it had been a wallpaper of (my) dead babies until a few minutes before. The gratification of screwing up this webpage (if it’s possibly to screw up something already so ugly) was added to slightly by the fact that most of the comments left on that page say things like “i love it especially the dolls” and “I love your background!” Well, at least it was gratifying for a few seconds until I realised that people saying these things actually liked that webpage.
Obviously it’s not fair to pick on children, and JessFlick and FingerTheDoughboy clearly are both children, but god I enjoy it.
JessFlick and Doughboy, if you want your dead baby pictures back please leave a comment here or email me and I’ll be happy to supply you with your own personalised versions. Anyone else who wants to steal directly from my website, karma police’ll get you in the end.
Update: less than 24 hours later, and both Jess and the Doughboy have moved on, stolen their images from somewhere new.