Nothing surprising came up the first page of Google search – the traditional Facebook page and Twitter account was shown and some of my old track and field times.
I fed my ego a little bit more and clicked page two. What I found on this page was something I’ve never seen before. It was my name associated with a news website I’d never heard of. When I clicked it, I found a profile made for me. It had my name and three of my articles links published on the site. I had never heard of monctonfreepress.ca. On the first click it led me to another page of their site, with my lead and snippet of my article on it. When clicking a second time it sent you to my articles on the nbbeacon.ca.
I had no idea what to do. With a thousand questions on my mind, I didn’t know whether to be upset or glad that my articles were being featured. Overall, my main emotion was anger.
I didn’t know this site or give permission to feature my work.
I discovered this is an ongoing issue always under debate in the online world. “Hotlinking” – which is what someone would call what happened to my articles – is something that is in the grey area of plagiarism. In most cases, it involves pictures, when clicked, lead you to another page where the copyrighted photo can be found. In 2004, a suit was filed against Google, Inc. For issues in Google Images search. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit later ruled that the “inline”, another term of hotlinking, did not violate copyright because they didn’t claim the photos as theirs, and clocking the photo leads the users to the exact website where the photo is found.
The most interesting thing about hotlinks is it is difficult to distinguish if they are hurting your work by being linked. Corey Eridon, who in 2012 wrote “Stop linking to our website or we’ll call our lawyers” and “Deconstructing the qualities of high quality SEO links” on hubspot.com, discussed all the issues of hotlinking and it’s effect. Eridon claimed “saying an inbound link isn’t good for a website is different that saying it’s bad for a website.” He said a hotlinks usefulness is specifically based on whether or not the links are of value, contextually relevant or from domains with high or low authority.
The effects of hotlinking can be determined only by those directly involved. It depends on how the person feels their work is being showcased on the site, as relevant or not.
Overall I pride myself in writing for an online news source who do not have a pay-wall or subscription. I may have over reacted initially in my anger, but I still hold my judgement it is creepy and terrifying others can make a profile for you on a site without consent. This only proved my mothers theory about needing to search your name and when I called to tell her what happened, her only reply was “this is the internet world and this will be the rest of your life.”
Edited by Bronté James.