If you've ever read one of my reviews you might have noticed the
link at the end of each page that says 'Guidelines for ebayers and
other auctioneers'. If you looked below that you might also have
noticed my Copyright Notice.
In many ways I rather resent having to put such notices on my pages
- I like to think of us musicians as being part of a community,
and such warnings and notices seem, to me at any rate, to be more
suited to the cut and thrust of 'commerce' rather than any artistic
OK, I'll admit that's a very naive outlook - but whilst I can't
deny that this site represents my business, I still like to hope
that it comes across as less of a 'shop' and more of a comfortable
armchair in which a moment's peace and respite might be taken from
the fuss and hassle of the modern world outside.
It's a nice vision, I feel, which is why it grates so much when
the ugliness of commercial concerns intrude upon it.
I'm also quite proud of my achievements here. I know it's not exactly
a 'whizz-bang' site, with flash animation and java applets popping
up all over the place, nor intrusive adverts vying for the readers'
attention - but then that's what gives it its own appeal. It allows
me, as I write, to talk to you as though you were sitting opposite
me in my workshop - and that's something that people seem to recognise,
judging from the introductory comments in many of the emails that
come to me by way of the various articles on the site.
So it's no wonder that I feel it's worth protecting this small oasis.
What that tends to mean is keeping an eye on where content from
this site pops up across the web, and it's an important task for
a number of reasons.
Primarily it's to maintain the integrity of the site - it's very
easy to quote material out of context and thus devalue it, or in
some cases abuse it...such as using entire reviews on an auction
page by way of trying to acquire a sort of 'endorsement by association'.
It's also to maintain the source. I've seen many great articles,
some factual, some fictional and humorous, written about the world
of woodwind that have been flung around the internet with no accreditation
to the original author until it becomes unclear as to who wrote
them in the first place. To be sure, there's rarely any money involved,
but a good article should always carry its author around with it,
much like a good song carries its songwriter.
There's also the issue of worth.
I don't necessarily define worth in monetary terms - there are many
other arbiters of value, and in my case I feel my worth lies in
my experience in the industry. That's essentially what my clients
pay me for, and whilst the information and experience that I share
here are freely visible to the public at large, it's my expectation
that if people want to make use of that resource they have to do
so via this portal. I think that's an expectation that anyone who's
ever put together a website shares, particularly (if not especially)
a commercial one.
I'm often quite surprised, touched even, as to how information
reaches me about content that pops up elsewhere. By and large it
comes from emails from readers of this site who see text and images
copied wholesale onto other sites. It's actually quite flattering
really, that people recognise my style and are able to remember
where they've seen passages of text or images before - and to those
people I'm always extremely grateful for taking the time and the
trouble to alert me. It has to be said though that the number of
obvious breaches of copyright is very small. On the whole people
appear to be quite sensible and reasonable about such things, and
have an innate sense of what constitutes legitimate use - typically
a quote with accreditation, for example.
The trouble starts when it goes beyond that.
Most of the issues I have to deal with surrounding copyright come
out of misunderstanding, or just plain lack of awareness. In such
cases I find it's usually enough to drop the party concerned an
email expressing my concern, after which there's a usually a brief
explanation and apology by return followed by the removal of the
copyrighted content. All very civil, I feel.
Regrettably there are some cases where my concerns are ignored,
and this generally means that someone's up to no good - a typical
example being that of a fake ebay auction...the most entertaining
example being that detailed in 'The
Scam', in which a client whose sax I'd reviewed spotted it apparently
up for sale on ebay, quite without his knowledge.
More often than not it's the images I have to chase.
If anything I feel I'm rather more tenacious about this than I am
with chasing up text, and that's because creating the images for
this site is rather much more of a chore than the writing is. I
can 'knock out' an article in barely an hour sometimes - but it
can take a very great deal longer to produce the images for the
Let me give you some idea of what's involved.
First the shots have to be set up. I don't have the luxury of a
dedicated photographic studio, so I have to work with 'available
light'...which usually means taking the shots outside. Once I have
the images on disk they have to be examined, selected and then edited.
This is where it gets hard.
If you look at any of the main shots on the review pages you'll
see that the instruments appear to be placed directly onto the page.
In order to do this the instruments themselves have to be 'picked
out' of the background of the raw image. To make it a little easier
I use an appropriate backdrop - but without a full lighting kit
there's always a great deal of manual 'picking' to be done. Then
the images have to be resized and colour balanced, and then compressed
for web publication.
Trust me, it's a LOT of work...so it's no wonder I get a bit miffed
when I see an image that might have taken me anything up to an hour
to produce appear on someone else's site.
It's bad enough when it's ebay...but when it's a commercial site
it really gets on my wick.
But, like the text, it's often a case of misunderstanding - particularly
if it's something like a web forum, where the poster might be rather
less clued up than the site owner - and once again, a quick email
to the right person will usually result in the image being pulled.
That's at least always been the case...until now.
I was examining my site stats a while back (site stats tell you
how people find their way to your site...via searches, for example,
or links from other sites etc.) and I noticed a reference to a site
that pointed to an image - that of the
This concerned me, because when this happens it usually means that
someone has copied not only the image concerned, but its source
url too. Simply put it means that an image on my site appears on
someone else's site, but it's my site that feeds the image. An analogy
would be you having the exact same dinner as your next door neighbour,
but instead of there being two separate meals in separate houses
there'd just be the one meal - in your house, and your neighbour
would be using a very long fork to eat it off your plate.
They call this 'leeching'...because it's effectively using (sucking)
your site's bandwidth on someone else's site. It's very naughty.
I was somewhat peeved at this because it's a fact that if I can
spot the leeching at my end then so can the owner at the other end
- but then that assumes they bother to check their own stats, or
So, I dropped the site admin the usual copyright notice and pointed
out the extra issue of leeching.
I do so hate sending such emails out because there really isn't
any way to be nice about it. In short it's theft, whether by intent
or ignorance - and the most appropriate way to deal with the issue
is to simply point out the offence and ask that the material in
question be removed.
Having sent out such an email I soon got a reply stating that the
image would be removed.
However, on checking the site sometime later I was astonished to
find the image still there. Although it was now no longer being
fed by my site it was, instead, a slightly reduced size version
which had been rendered in black and white.
In effect it's a double whammy, you can't copy copyright images
and neither are you entitled to alter them.
Well, realistically, what can you do in such situations?
I did write again and point out that simply modifying the image
doesn't remove the copyright, but I got no response...which is,
in effect, a 'sod off'.
I could have changed the image to something rather unpleasant -
if it's being fed from my site then whatever I choose to put in
place of the original image would appear at the copylifter's site.
It wouldn't even have to appear on my own site if I changed the
name of image that appears here. Because I'm generally a 'nice guy'
I thought it better to drop them a line (shan't make that mistake
I could also (and still can) contact the site hosts - the people
that sell the space in which we create our websites - and as they're
ultimately responsible for what gets put in the space they sell
they're always pretty quick to jump on copyright issues.
What's particularly saddening is that the site in question is one
that many of you would have thought had certain ideals when it came
to such issues, given that it's a jazz related site. Apparently
not - so before I get around to banging off a copyright notice to
the host provider I thought the site in question could do with a
bit of 'publicity'.
So what reasonable conclusion can be drawn from this unfortunate
Well, it seems reasonable to me to assume that as allaboutjazz.com
clearly don't give a toss about other people's copyright, then they
can't reasonably be expected to complain when everyone else decides
to use the content that appears on their own site.
Just change the font size or something, it'll be fine...