When is CartoonChurch.com going to 'get it'?

So asks blogger Andrew Careaga in the comments section of another blog. The full quote: What a bit that CartoonChurch.com won’t let you link from their site. When are they going to “get it”? Hmmm. I have e-mailed the writer in question asking for clarification but a week later have received no response. I think…

So asks blogger Andrew Careaga in the comments section of another blog. The full quote:

What a bit that CartoonChurch.com won’t let you link from their site. When are they going to “get it”?

Hmmm. I have e-mailed the writer in question asking for clarification but a week later have received no response. I think he is referring to the fact that I don’t allow people to use my cartoon images hosted on my webspace on their blogs, but I’m not certain, so I thought I’d respond here on the blog. I suppose there are two points here really, assuming that the quote in question means what I think it does:

1) Should bloggers expect to use other peoples images on their sites for free?
In other words, if I am paying to host an image should another blogger see it as their right to include my image which is on my webspace on their blog for free? My opinion, which I hold fairly strongly, is no. If someone gives you permission, fair enough, but if you don’t ask permission you are costing the owner of the image money by using the image on your blog and it really would be polite to ask. I might even go slightly further than that and say that using someone elses hosted image on your webspace is ‘stealing bandwidth‘ – ie theft.

One reason I don’t allow hosted images on this site to be used elsewhere is that it would cost me a fortune to do so. Effectively I would be paying other people’s webhosting bills which if I was feeling generous I might choose to do, but the reality of my situation is that such a thing is a luxury I can’t afford at the present time. I note that the images on Mr Careaga’s site appear not to be saved on his own webspace. Well, his choice I suppose – as long as he recognises that his ideal of cut and paste blogging costs people like me a lot of money. (Not on this site, but on others I run where image hotlinking is allowed).

2) Should a cartoonist feel compelled to give their work away for free?
The second implication from the cartoon above is that images such as the ones on my site should really be given away for free. You probably don’t really need me to tell you that if I were to do this I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills, but I will anyway. As a professional cartoonist my work is my main and only means of support, therefore for me to give it away free is (a) Going to mean I have to live on Value Sliced Loaves and Economy Beans, (b) Being unfair to my subscribers who are paying to use my work, (c) Slightly unreasonable in the light of the fact that I am already offering my work way below the market rates, not least because I recognise that many churches would struggle to pay standard non-profit rates let along the going market rate.

Having said this I am almost always willing to allow a blogger to use an occasional cartoon if they ask nicely. I value links from other bloggers greatly and I think that using an image or part of an image to illustrate a link is quite fair. But saying I allow use of my content in this way doesn’t mean anyone has a right to use it in any way they choose, and if they do use an image they should (a) ask, and (b) host it themselves unless agreed otherwise.

So. What does anyone else think? Do you agree or do I not ‘get it’? Please say what you think – I’m happy enough to be disagreed with.


  1. You have a perfect right to offer your work under any conditions you like.
    Stealing bandwidth is theft.
    But, the Internet still has an ethos of “free”… personally I’m delighted to have had the odd freebee from you (I believe fitting your use criteria), if I was wanting more I’d look at the pricing and comparison shop, or decide if I really need cartoons, just as I do offline.

    Final comment: we really need micropayments, so the sooner Yahoo or Google set up a collection facility allied to a premium search facility the better for content providers and users alike!

  2. I’m not sure what Andrew meant either, really, since it seems I can link to your site just fine, and I don’t need to hotlink an image from elsewhere to share your God Given GIF Genius. But I agree: image hotlinking is an uncouth, uninformed practice which drains site resources and disrespects the creator of the work, so .htaccess countermeasures are a perfectly reasonable response.

  3. I agree as well. Bandwidth is one of the few resources on the web that actually costs real money, and it can cost a lot of real money. Hotlinking from a site such as this, where the author relies on sales of his material for income, should only ever be done with permission and within the parameters set by the author.

    I allow anyone to hotlink images from my site, however I’m in a very different position to Dave. If and when I find myself paying an unreasonable amount for other peoples use of my images, or I come to the point of needing to charge for my content, I’ll have no problem in stopping hotlinking.

    Anyone that argues for complete, absolute freedom from copyright on the web argues for the abolition of common courtesy.

  4. Hello, Dave:

    Sorry I didn’t respond to your email. I think my mailblocks.com spambot must’ve eaten it, for I don’t recall seeing it in my inbox. I apologize for that.

    I’ve never thought about image hotlinking as bandwidth theft. My naivete is showing. I guess I hadn’t thought of it as much different than hotlinking to your site. The “bandwidth theft” argument doesn’t hold much water in my opinion, since servers all around the Internet are “stealing” bandwidth from one another day in and day out. But, we’re in the midst of many shifts in thinking about copyright these days, and copyright reform is much needed. I don’t mean to imply that you should simply give away your work. As Tim noted above, “You have a perfect right to offer your work under any conditions you like,” and I agree. Many people, however, see the role of intellectual property as changing. Thanks to the democratizing structure of the Internet, you have potential access to a larger audience than ever before, and hotlinking to your site, if done properly (with appropriate credit and ALT tags), could result in even more sales for your product — and certainly more buzz, more awareness.

    If you’re in need of some reading material on this topic, I highly recommend Lawrence Lessig’s book, Free Culture. In fact, why not click and download the book right now? After all, it’s free.


    P.S. – In an effort to close the loop, I’ll also post this at Brownpau’s site.

  5. I admit that when I read that I didn’t really know what Andrew was talking about either. And, I agree that you have full right not to let others “borrow” your work.

    But, bandwidth issues aside, you should probably add a “Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License” to everything on your site, then you’d be safe, at least — that way, legally, people shouldn’t be allowed to alter your work and they must give credit where it’s due. (And this would go along with your already stated copyright at the bottom of the site.)

    Anyway, in Andrew’s defense, he’s a pretty cool guy, so hopefully you two will connect.

  6. Have only recently become aware of this issue so I appreciate your thoughts Dave. We are getting additional bandwidth bills every month because of blogs that have used pictures from youthblog but draw the data from us every time they are viewed. I like the symbiosis of blogdom but this is clearly much more of a parasite type arrangement (probably in a lot of instances without people realising though).

Comments are closed.