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Discourse (the forum software) is copying internet images without citing them


I am NOT an expert on copyright infringement laws… but, I thought that if you used an image you found on the internet that you are supposed to cite the source material.

In my latest post I used 3 images from the internet (the 2nd, 3rd, 4th images in the post)…

When I wrote the post, I simply copy and pasted the link to the image’s URL. Which, explicitly cites the source material.

BUT!!! A few minutes later, discourse copied the 3 internet images over to the flow server and used a copy of the image in the post without providing a citation to the source material. Correct me if I am wrong, but, I believe that this is not an appropriate way (i.e. not legal) for discourse to behave.


Perhaps it should leave the original link, but I don’t know if you have ever had the frustrating task of trying to find information only to find that while Google still thinks the information is out on the web it is in fact nowhere to be found, or you look up a thread on a forum only to find that the links are dead. This way the forum preserves all the information needed to remain whole.

In theory this is also the proper way to do things as you are not leeching bandwidth from another server ever time someone loads your post. I have seen several sites remove external link permissions because of this. Bandwidth can be expensive.


I agree with everything you wrote.

(1) They should copy the image.
(2) They should hyperlink the image to its original location

If the link breaks over time, that is ok, they still covered their arses by providing the original hyperlink.


The best way to handle this in the future is to link to the page that the image is on instead of the address of the actual picture, then link also to the actual picture. Then the link to the page where the picture is will persist even after the server has consumed the link to the picture to store it locally.


If there are additional reasons to avoid any external hyperlinks, they could still provide some sort of citation, like, “This image was copied from www.someotherdude’surl.com


I don’t think the user should have to be concerned with discourse taking their perfectly legal usage of another person’s image and ruining it. I think asking the user to understand the inner workings of discourse is a bad precedent to set. (All of this hinges on the assumption that what discourse is doing is illegal, which, I am not sure is the case).


I think the only real legality would be if the creator of the image found it was being used somewhere other then originally intended they could send a cease and desist to the owner of the site it is being used on. At which point they would have remove the image. I think this would be true regardless of if it were a digital link to the original or whether it was stored on their server. So it would be up to the creator to initiate that cease and desist and it would be perfectly legal to display the image prior to receiving it. Of course I am not a lawyer, just the interpretations I have formed over the years of doing web forums and web forums.


That makes sense to me.

I do think that most people who run websites fall into the category of… “I don’t mind if people copy my content, as long as they link back to my page”


I think that would be polite, but my understanding is that if it on a public part of the internet, it is public domain. Therefore it is not illegal to use it.


This is a quick and easy read that makes everything as clear as mud.


The way I have always looked at it, if a site really wants to prevent you from copyright infringement then they should just prevent right click on that page. If you can’t get image properties or save as functions you can can’t steal the picture.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


Not true. What you write or photos you take are yours, under US copyright laws anyway. It is not public domain unless the author declares it public domain or the copyright has expired. In the case of everything created in recent years that is quite a number of years after the death of the author. Linking to it is allowed. Copying it is not.


Well, you should teach the lawyers how to write public instruction documents! :smile:

All clear now, thank you.


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That’s a great summary, and it makes the distinction that copyright differs from country to country. Back in the early days of copyright law, someone would develop something in Europe and someone else would rush across the ocean to the US so they could copy it under US copyright laws and make a bundle distributing the original creator’s work. With all the copy/pasting on the internet, sometimes it feels like those days never left.

At any rate, I don’t think it is the Flow Forum’s job to do citations for posters. If you are going to copy someone else’s work, you need to cite it yourself. That’s just basic diligence and good scholarship.

Finally, for fun, here’s a perspective on how jacked up US copyright law is (original source: Adam Ruins Everything, TruTV)


I disagree. It is the Flow Forum’s job to do the citation, it is responsible for the re-hosting (and not to mention modification of source content) without attribution. I can understand why the forum software re-hosts images (speed of access, and to ensure they remain in the context of the forum), but what they are doing is taking content, modifying it and re-hosting it without attribution. They could at a minimum provide the link to the source image from their hosted/resized image.

I would suggest that anyone thinking of providing content to the forum that they want to retain attribution for place it on a page and link to the page (not directly to images) to prevent this behaviour.