When it comes to the Internet, people do a lot of things they would never do in real life. They look at porn which they never would dream of purchasing at a store for fear of embarrassment. They pretend to be different people in chat rooms and on discussion boards, and hide behind an online "persona" (or three). They say things they would never dream of saying to another man's face. And sadly, they also feel free to steal.
Why do people do all these things online? Because it is easy to do! But while it is certainly easier to steal another man's text and images rather than to create your own, It is also 100% Illegal.
The Internet is legally considered a "published work". That means that any articles, pictures, etc. that are placed online are protected for their author, just as if they were in a physical volume in your hands. To steal a story from a web site is just as illegal as if you were to steal it from a recent novel. This applies even if the author does not say it is copy written. Protection is automatically granted when it is published electronically. The university I used to work at had to deal with these issues all the time. A professor could not just go and print out someone's site for use in a class anymore than they could just copy someone's textbook for the class. These kinds of issues are considered very serious in both the academic and legal world!
Now, this does not mean you can't link to an article on someone's site. Links are "fair use" because you are not claiming the image or written idea as your own. You are only pointing the way to a good thing you found, hoping others will enjoy it as well. Links are great!
This does not mean you can't print out a copy of something for private use, either. If it is going to go into your paper files for you to refer to in training, that is one thing, and no one is going to bother you. If you decide to start to selling these copies, however, you then are in violation of the law. These can be complex issues, and we are all lucky that so many web sites, organizations, and libraries have decided to host electronic books despite these problems!
What I am referring to in this article is straight out theft. People just taking text, JPEGS or GIFS from one site and putting them on another without permission. This happens more often than you think, and just recently it happened to us here at Alliance. I am not talking about one picture being stolen, either, but 28 GIFs constituting an entire period training manual!
Now, we have always been open to giving out a lot of information on this site. Spreading the Western Martial Arts is our mission, and I have personally spent thousands of hours writing articles, scanning pictures, and generally working my butt off to expand this site with fresh, relevant content...and all for free. For someone to just go and steal my work (ie. my time, sweat and effort) is a breach of the most basic level of decency and respect.
It shows they just do not care that I work on this site when I might rather be doing something else, like working on my house, playing with my dog, or spending time with my wife. No, to these kinds of jerks it doesn't matter, they just want something cool for their site and figure they won't get caught so "Yo-ho-ho" and away they steal with a simple "right-click save as".
There are ways to prevent this, but I never thought it necessary to do. I can create my images so they can not be copied, but it is a pain in the butt to do. Frankly, I'll just stop putting up free books on the site before I'll waste my time doing that. Why should I spend the hours in this chair banging away on the site if people with no respect for me are just going to come and try to steal what they can, eh?
In this recent case, an entire book that I scanned for the American Heritage Fighting Arts Association was stolen and put up on another site. They have since taken the images down at our request, and have told us that these 28 scans were given to them by people from the "University of Nevada European Fighting Club". We have been unable to find any record of this club.
If anyone out there has ever heard of, or had contact with, the "University of Nevada European Fighting Club" please do contact us!
When people have asked us to use certain images, we have usually granted permission. Recently a fellow wrote to ask if he could even use a whole training manual for his site...and after hearing he wanted to translate it into Russian, we agreed! This is the right way to do things, folks, with some respect. He didn't want a handout, he wanted help in scholarly work. He wanted to share something with a whole new audience, and put his own time in. That is the way! Ask - Don't Steal!