Bill P. Godfrey et al

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Linking ethics

Regular readers will have noticed that I occasionally like to link to other people's websites every Sunday. I'm always careful to make sure that I credit the author, but I've never thought to ask the animators before I link to them. It seems reasonable that if someone puts up a website open to the public without the slightest hint that the server is meant to be private, its fair game for linking.

Robb Briggs clearly disagrees with that philosophy. He wrote a flash based game called Burgertime, which he put on his website. Many people linked to it. Mostly, he appreciated the link, except when Fuddruckers linked to his game. In response, he waited for a three day weekend and replaced his game with a link to pictures of a slaughterhouse. (Cue maniacal laughter when the kids visit the website expecting a game and see lots of dead cows.)

Maybe the burger bar took too much of a risk in linking to an external site without some sort of agreement to keep the game in place. Its a risk I take every week, but I don't worry about it because animators usually appreciate the accolade. Some have left comments thanking me for the link but no one has yet complained about it. Certainly no one has yet replaced their work with something nasty. (Only Bananaphone has since disappeared last time I checked.)

Mr Briggs is certainly well within his rights to do what he did, but I can't help thinking he may have shot himself in the proverbial foot. He could have replaced the game with a modified version that draws more attention to his website. ("For more games like this, visit my site...") He could even have negotiated for continued use of the game. Redirecting to slaughterhouse pictures may be a bit of a prank, but I doubt anyone will consider him for professional business in the future.

As an epilogue, "Apparently the slaughterhouse sites are getting hammered... they might take a while to load." Oh the irony.


  • I think it is all relative. Some people put their stuff on sites where bandwidth is limited - take the burger game - if the person pays per Meg downloaded and suddenly there's a huge influx of people downloading it [through site popularity or external linkers] - they're going to be out of pocket in a big way.

    I'd imagine it went like this...

    Monday: 5 users
    Tuesday: 20 users
    Wednesday: 15 users
    Thursday Fuddruckers link through to game
    Thursday : 2500 users
    Friday : 5000 users

    Which, if he has limits imposed by his ISP would be really annoying, cause him to incur a charge and so on and so on.

    It is a fine line. I guess what should have happened if Fuddruckers are a "big company" they should have licensed the game [allowing Robb money for his work] and Robb could then have stuck adverts in for his own site. The game would have been hosted on Fuddruckers and they would have control over its availability.

    It's a shame about bananaphone. I've been thinking about listening to that again.

    Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring bananaphone...

    By Blogger M., At 12:53 PM, September 07, 2005  

  • Looking at that, what Fuddruckers did was essentially leech bandwidth and steal content. It linked it on its website as if it was a game they created and hosted, when in fact, it wasn't. Just because it was on a public server doesn't mean one can just post links to it and present it as their own. It would be like me taking your work on this blog and hotlinking to it in such a way that it appeared to be mine. It's like child plagarizing on a test, only instead of copying off his neighbor, he steals his neighbor's test and turns it in as his own.

    In your case, you're not presenting it as your own, so no probs there.

    And as for not linking directly to the files, it's because many places need you to see the ads, to help pay the bandwidth bills. Webspace costs money; especially hosting large flash files.

    Really, having to load a page that has a banner ad or pop up isn't costing you anything except a few extra seconds, and it helps the artist out a whole lot, and encourages them to keep up their work and website. And if those ads don't work because people that should be viewing them are just going directly to the file instead, then the artists have 3 recourses:

    1. They just drop the webpage entirely.
    2. They end up having to pay out of pocket, which may cause them to lose interest and/or scale back their content.
    3. They have to use more annoying forms of advertisment, such as full fledged TV-like commercials that you have to sit through before you can even open the animation.

    By Anonymous Howard F., At 7:12 AM, March 05, 2006  

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