I am not a big fan of Picscout  myself. Don’t take me wrong. The technology behind it and having a way to monitor usage of your image is great. It’s the business model that makes me very uncomfortable. When you sign up with them, they will monitor your images for you, suing on your behalf any infringer and retain up to 35 % of the obtained legal decision.

Therefore, the more people steal your images, the richer they become. The more people they catch and drag to court, the wealthier they become. They are only interested in signing up big agencies with a lot of content in order to maximize their chances to “catch” an infringer.

a house and a tree

Thus, they thrive on this industry’s lack of DRM and on the misinformation regarding copyright. If both were successful, Picscout would be out of business. Now, it seems that their monitoring bots, those little crawling web apps that patrol the internet for illegal usages, are starting to heavily ennoy webmasters worlwide. I recently read a few entries posted by respected webmasters who have decided to block the Picscout blots. The reason ? The bandwidth usage and the near illegal intrusion.

More and more websites have instituted policies to direct blots behavor on their sites as a result of the increasing usage of those on the Internet. Search engines, for example, are constently crawling the web and returing information back to their servers. Multiplied by thousand, that makes a lot of data being transmitted from your site back to the search engine. For a good cause, you might say. But still, since you pay for the bandwidth, you might want to know who and what is being used for.

Picscout blot apparently does not identify itself, nor its intent. A bit like a spammer’s blot looking for email addresses. Very disturbing for someone whose job is to secure a site.

So these webmaster have started a war. A small one that is. They are blocking the blots by blocking IP addresses and refusing to license images from Getty, Corbis and Istockphoto, in order to protest. This will be a game of cat and mouse, with the clients of Picscout becoming the losers.

And I cannot blame them because it is be like a car rental company having someone who breaks the law, follow you around to make sure you return the car on time.

The web is viral by nature. If these webmaster become succesful in their campaign, soon it will be impossible for Picscout to monitor usage.

More on the battle of the bots here.

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