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Haynes woodwind maintenance manuals
Notes from a small workshop - anecdotes & musings from the workbench
Haynes woodwind maintenance manuals

The jazz thieves

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 endeavour.

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 same article.
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 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 Grafton alto.
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 even care.
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 again).
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 episode?
Well, it seems reasonable to me to assume that as 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...


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