Google goes too far with new image search

A couple of days ago, Google released a new version of its image search. This turned out to be a huge slap in the face of content creators like me. When clicking on a thumbnail, the original image is hotlinked and embedded into Google’s result page. This costs bandwidth and the user has less incentive to visit the webpage of the original creator.

Here is a nice comment about the topic by a webmaster called EcoCatLady in response to Google’s blog post:

Well, it is easy to use – but it’s killing my biggest web site (a photography site) which is also my main source of income. In the past few days my page views have been cut in half while my bandwidth usage has increased – thanks to Google’s hotlinking of high resolution photos.

If this continues it will force me to either make some dramatic changes to the site (ie: removing all high resolution images and forcing the user to jump through a bunch of hoops to get them) or it will put me out of business all together.

I really don’t understand why Google insists upon harassing image publishers in this way… for all other types of content Google allows the user to find the content, but sends the user to the page to read the article or watch the video. But for image publishers it simply provides an easy way for people to access our content while circumventing our websites completely. The least you could do would be to disable right clicking on the hotlinked image and get rid of the “view original image” button so people would have to come to the site to download the content. It’s only fair…

I know user experience is paramount, and I’m all about share and share alike (I’ve even released all of my photos into the public domain.) But bandwidth costs money, and publishers do have to make a living, and for most of us that means we rely on page views and ad revenue. Is this groovy search feature really worthwhile if it puts the publishers out of business and ultimately means that quality images are being removed from the web because we simply can’t afford it anymore?

Character occurrence frequency 2008 to 2012

Here is a diagram that shows how often the main and supporting characters appeared in the strips of each year. Note that there were only 20 strips in 2008. Cloud will appear more often again in 2013.

Character appearance stats 2008 to 2012

Merry Christmas!

I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year! Once again, my family has the bestest Christmas tree:

Christmas tree

Raccoon Nation

Raccoon Nation is an excellent documentary about urban raccoons. US-Americans can watch the full episode at PBS. Canadians can watch it on CBC. Visitors from other countries unfortunately have to buy it for $1.99 on Amazon if they don’t have access to an US proxy or manage to find an illegal copy somewhere.

Screenshot from Raccoon Nation

Raccoon Nation gives an overview of the life of urban raccoons, following the endeavors of a mother and her kits in Toronto over the course of six months. The documentary prominently features Stan Gehrt and Frank-Uwe Michler, the two leading raccoon experts in the world, so the scientific accuracy is pretty good. New research results and the raccoon populations in Germany and Japan are presented as well.

It is argued that raccoons, which have been living in urban environments for many generations now, develop skills not seen in raccoons living in natural habitats. By trying to make city life harder for raccoons, humans might “accidentally” also make them smarter.

Copyright infringements and you

More and more frequently, I receive e-mails from readers who want to inform me that images from our comic(s) are posted on other websites. This can be very helpful to detect copyright infringements, so I’m grateful for every notice I receive.

Note, however, that not every usage of our comics is automatically a copyright infringement. Our comics are published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. In short, this free license allows the publication on non-commercial websites if proper attribution to the creators is given (more info).

But even if you believe that there’s a massive copyright infringement going on, you should never file a take-down request yourself! This is still my job if I feel that some kind of reaction is required. What you can do, apart from informing me, is to write a comment beneath the submission/blog post/… with a link to our comic website. Plenty of readers have found our comics this way.