Firefox 1.5 and Custom Cursors

So, I’ve come to realise over the past few days (and would have realised sooner had I read the change log) that Firefox 1.5 allows custom cursors (i.e. graphical cursors). This is something that wasn’t allowed before (by Firefox; IE does) and surely should also be classed, like coloured scrollbars, as part of the OS/browser and not to be tampered with? Why are coloured scrollbars proprietary and graphical cursors not?

Surely this is a backwards step and not a forwards one, and will massively interefere with the accessibility of a website? (Imagine it now — black cursors on black backgrounds or white cursors on white backgrounds *shudder*!)

ETA: ..and the Disable Images in the Web Developer toolbar has stopped working. *grr*

On Copyright Violation

It annoys me when I browse the Internet and see teen “web designers” in various forums complaining that they’ve had various “blends” or supposed “original artwork” stolen from them. Said artwork usually contains a sloppily edited celebrity photograph, a few dodgy Photoshop™ brushes or textures, with a few illegally downloaded (yet usually expensive) fonts chucked on top for good measure. These people seem to completely miss the point: they have no rights over “artwork” because it was constructed from original work that does not belong to them in the first place.

These people think that because the materials they used are freely available (now that’s freely, not free: it means “easily accessible”) that they can help themselves and ignore the consequences. This is not the case at all. Just because Google Images, Getty Images, etc allow you to search the images they own, or have collected, does not mean that you’re entitled to take them.

According to Bitlaw, five rights are granted to a copyright owner under the Copyright Act:

  • The right to reproduce the copyrighted work
  • The right to create derivative works based upon the work
  • The right to distribute copies of the work to the public
  • The right to perform the copyrighted work publicly
  • The right to display the copyrighted work publicly

This means that any of the following are potentially illegal infringements on the copyright of others work unless you have specific permission to create them:

  • Brushes, textures etc from stock photos
  • Vexels/vectors based on celebrities/stock photos
  • Avatars and icons created using stock/celebrity photos (non royalty-free)
  • Fan fiction etc. purely based on original novels (i.e. taking a novel and modifying it slightly; there is little legal evidence at this time to suggest whether or not writing a new novel using known characters constitutes infringement of copyright)

Those examples are derivative works which, as covered by one of the five rights granted, are only entitled to be commissioned by the original copyright owner. Any work which involves using or manipulating the material of others is potential copyright infringement.

Ah, it’s just fair use.

Quoting “fair use” when taking photography, literature etc to turn into your own material doesn’t work. According to, fair use is the usage of a small section/piece of copyrighted work “as is” (without change) for educational, research, news reporting and parody. This means that downloading a photo of Britney Spears just so you can add it to your own website does not qualify as fair use.

The first two lines of the above paragraph may be considered an example of fair use. I have used information from the whatiscopyright website and re-worded it in a way that provides you with a brief summary of fair use, without copying the text word for word, as per the terms of (Some original authors and web content writers will allow you to quote paragraphs of text, some won’t — be sure to cover your ass by reading T&C documents.)

So: fair use does not cover using an image or photograph to trace a new vector/vexel, and it does not cover taking pieces of photography to increase your free avatar collection. It certainly does not cover you when you help yourself to entire works without permission!

..but it’s not for profit!

Some people assume that, providing they are not making profit from a stolen piece, they are free to use it however they wish. This is a common misconception. However, although it is very hard to get financial compensation for copyright infringement unless you can prove that you have lost profit from the use by others, it does not make copyright infringement any less serious or illegal.

When you own the copyright to an original piece of work, you are entitled to decide who uses the work and whether it can be used to make profit or not. Using work protected by copyright for your own personal benefit is just as illegal as using it to make cash.

If you’re based in the United States, the No Electronic Theft (“NET”) Act specifically states that copyright infringement is a criminal offense, irrelevant of any whether or not a profit is being made. Also included in this act:

  • Removing copyright notices from copyrighted work
  • Falsely claiming copyright over something that you do not own

It’s not like they can sue me anyway.

Wrong. Another misconception about copyright is that those who take the time to enforce it will only go so far, i.e. won’t prosecute offenders. This just isn’t the case. Copyright is being defended as actively as it has ever been. Offenders are receiving fines, cease and desist letters and orders to pay substantial damages to defendants. For example:

The Wall Street Journal Online

Bloggers, beware: That photo of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes on your Web site could be fodder for a lawsuit. Stock photography companies like Getty Images Inc. and Corbis Corp. are using high-tech tools to crack down on Web site owners who try to use their photographs without paying for them.

Google Watch

An Ohio woman is suing Yahoo for $20 million for allegedly using a photograph of her when advertising Yahoo e-mail services, Google Watch has learned.

The Standard

Hello Kitty’s copyright holders are threatening to sue FM Theater Power, a local drama troupe, for infringing its intellectual property rights, it was revealed Thursday.

The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School’s Mario Lavandiera has become a prime target for copyright infringement lawsuits. One Hollywood photo agency recently slapped Lavandeira with a $7.6 million infringement suit. Lavandeira was also recently sued by Universal Pictures for posting a topless photo of Jennifer Aniston

Pop Crunch

Celebrity blogger extraordinaire Perez Hilton has been slammed yet another multi-million dollar lawsuit, and this time it’s from the paparazzi.

See Also

The companies don’t care!

A lame defense perpetrated by those who want to try and cover their asses with no actual evidence supplied by those who suggest it. Companies spend hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars employing lawyers to enforce their legal rights to their material protected by copyright/trademark or patent. It hardly strikes me as the behaviour of an industry that “doesn’t care” that people are helping themselves to things that don’t belong to them.

How can I protect myself from being sued?

Well, you can start by removing any material you have modified or acquired that is not original to you, or that obviously infringes on other people’s copyright. This includes celebrity images from websites that do not have the right to distribute them (many are also illegally redistributing work), and photos from stock sites that aren’t specifically free to use. Remember: royalty free DOES NOT mean actually free.

How can I protect myself from copyright theft?

From a copyright owner point of view, simply continue doing what you’re doing. Unless you wish to sue for monetary damages should infringement occur, copyright does not have to be activated or registered to be valid. Some sources claim that all you need to do is prove that you are the original author/artist/etc and the easiest way to do this is to record your data (be it on paper, CD or another tangible form) and then post it to yourself — the post mark will act as proof of the date of the new creation. Do not open the post when you receive it, simply file it away safe. If your work is worth real financial value, visit your local Copyright Office to register your work. As an addition, I would recommend consulting an attorney/solicitor that specialises in copyright law and/or digital rights.


At the end of the day, nothing is going to stop you or anyone else from infringing on the copyright of others if you’ve already set yourself out to do so. You are likely to walk away having read this feeling entirely the same as you did before. However, do not expect to be treated lightly if you get caught, and do not expect anyone to sympathise with you if your “creations” from stolen material are then stolen themselves.

A rule to live by: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In other words: if you don’t want to be stolen from, don’t steal from others.


This article would not be the same without the following:

quilting bee club

I was updating my qbee quilt last night and it got me thinking: it’s the only online ‘thing’ that I’ve ever really stuck to. I’ve been and gone at forums, often forgetting my login names or forgetting they even exist.. never sticking to affiliate/surfing programs and heaven knows what else. Yet, here I am, a member of the qbee for almost three years.

I know some of you probably think it’s sad :P but I don’t think my presence on the ‘net would be the same without it. A good 40% of my blog buddies have been made through the club, or through people who are also members of the club. I’ve had massive e-mail conversations and sent “Real Life” Christmas cards to people, and been involved in tons of activities. If there’s one thing I can rely on being there on the Internet, it’s the qbee.

qbee button

I don’t know why I feel the need to share this with you, I’m just having a deep/sentimental moment. Maybe it’s because it’s almost Christmas. Oh my gosh, it’s almost Christmas! :D

1. You totally don’t have to be able to pixel to join. I cannot do pixel-art to save my life. I swear, the creations I come with have been bettered by 5 year olds. ;)
2. The q*bee is not an elite community in any way. Okay, you won’t be let in if your site looks like it was designed by my 18 month old niece, but the ‘rules’ are very leniant.

Just wanted to clear that up. :P

Remember The Snowman?

Remember when I saw a flashing Snowman in August? Well, I went in to Shrewsbury again with Karl at the weekend and couldn’t see it at all. I think they’ve got their a bit seasons mixed up. Oh, did I mention that my next-door neighbours put their tree up in the middle of November? That’s not normal. Well, unless you’re American, I guess.

My toncils are swollen up.. and I think I’ve a cold coming on. Just what I needed.

PHP Business!

I’ve been thinking about this PHP style switcher business, as well as what I’m going to do with BellaBook3.1 to get it safe and secure, ready for release.

I have been trying to figure out the best way to have this PHP styleswitcher without disturbing browsing. I *think* because it’s a server-side language it is going to require a little bit of fuss, but not necessarily with the fart-arsing “if you’re sure this is the skin you want” pages. My theory is I can set what stylesheet the person chooses via $_SERVER['PHP_SELF']?style=bla which keep the user on the same page, and then have an if statement in my header above everything else with if (isset($_GET['style']) { ..etc which stores the cookie. Theoretically. Or am I going about this the wrong way and ignoring a more simple option?

Also.. with BellaBook3.1 my problem at the moment is trying to come up with a totally secure admin panel. I mean, I know nothing I do is really going to be totally 100% secure but I’d like to set off in the right direction. I was thinking of having the login page set up to restrict access and then just include the various admin files when a user is authenticated — with an if statement in the top of each admin page telling the script to exit if it’s accessed directly instead of via the main login thingymajig.

My brain doesn’t work at this time of the morning. *grumble*

ETA: fixed weird comment timestamp thing. I was right: for some reason I was using gmdate() for entries and date() for comments. Oops.

ABE: (that’s “another bloody edit”, btw) I didn’t get that job. Karl had to ring up to find out this, because for some reason we didn’t get the letter that was supposedly posted to me.

Styleswitcher Flaw

To those who brought it up, yes I am aware that the site loads ‘plain’ (without colour) when you first visit if you’ve not seen the new layouts before. This is to do with the cookies in the JavaScript style switcher, at a guess. Anyway, to get past this simply refresh or choose a theme from the left. I may move the positioning of the themes yet, though.

I’m going to create my own style switcher, in PHP, to combat this.. I’m just debating the best way to do this. Do I do something similar to the popular skinning method with a page for the themes with important info, etc.. or do I have it like it is now where you can click a theme and continue without disturbing your browsing? Decisions decisions!

Off topic; an image in Modi’s most recent entry reminds me of Telford Town Centre — and why anyone who’s seen the TV adverts for it recently should be advised to stay away. It’s full of fat chavs with their asses hanging out.

New Stuff

So, as you see, December 1st brings some new layouts and a few updates to some older pages. For the most part the new themes are based on what was voted the favourite out of my old ones. They are all fluid and have fully resizable text; some other new accessibility features will be implemented soon. Some of the pages have “dodgy” headers: h2 instead of h1, and so on. Bleagh! This will be fixed soon.

Opinions on my bringing back of the old themes?

WordPress ‘flaw’

In a way this post is mislabeled, because it’s not really WordPress and more a case of badly set permissions..

Anyway, to get to the point: I’ve been to several weblogs today based on WordPress which have been exploited because of dodgy set permissions. Unfortunately at the time I’ve had several websites open generally and can’t pinpoint who is infected.. anyway, people who’ve been “attacked” are those with certain files with permissions set to 666. A piece of JavaScript is inserted which when loaded, tries to save the file “upload.wmv” / “update.wmv” / “update2.wmv” to your computer. This is a trojan, and must be told in no uncertain terms to piss right off.

Anyway, if you’re using WordPress or ANY script that involves permissions set to 666, you need to get them changed to 644 now. Erm, I think it’s 644 anyway. Folders need to be set to 755. If you don’t know how to change file permissions, google it, because I’m still too lazy to write a tutorial on it.

ETA: If you’ve got exploited files, simply changing the permissions to 644 isn’t going to work. You’ll need to edit the file to remove the ‘bad’ JavaScript coding. It might just be easier to re-upload new versions of the exploited files if you don’t know what you’re doing or don’t want to risk killing any particular file.

Tell your friends.

Job Interviews, etc.

I’ve actually been putting off blogging for the past week or so because everything I’ve want to write about has been job-orientated, and I didn’t want to go and get myself dooced before I’ve even been given the job.

Anyway, I think it’s safe to say that I had two interviews for new jobs all lined up and they both got arranged for the same day. A bit of wangling later and I managed to get to job 2 interview with an agreement that boss at job 1 would give me an interview providing he didn’t find a successful candidate in the first interviews. Boss did find a candidate so no second interview, but that’s cool. I’m fine with that.

Now that I’ve confused you with this “job 1” and “job 2” business, I’ll just sum up everything by saying that I actually ENJOYED my interview yesterday. The people were nice and the individual task I had to do (to demonstrate my skills, I will assume) had me giggling because it involved reviewing their current intranet which I do as a hobby and therefore completely rock at.

Although my mind went blank two/three times during the formal interview thus making me stumble over TCP/IP, DHCP etc.. I think I did well and have my fingers crossed for this job. You guys can start crossing your fingers too. The only thing not in my favour is the lack of years of experience, but I think I’m okay. We’ll see.. I’ll keep you updated.

I’m tired today, it’s been a long week.

Some Links.. & Some More Links

Because it’s been a while since I’ve posted a completely pointless plug-only post, and you are probably fed up of my nose-picking post with associated mental-imagery. Scrabble t-shirt — this is why I wish I had a decent card, instead of just a crappy British debit card that they don’t accept so please stop suggesting that they do. :P I even like the colour, and I don’t usually like brown. (ETA: they’re now out of my size, bollocks.) — the reason why I need to get a new job. To support my sugar-mouse addiction. I am kidding of course, it’s the dark chocolate mint cream thingies I ordered. (Found via Kachii.) PHP Cookbook — my new bible. Or rather, what would be my new bible if I’d had one in the first place. Seriously though.. perfect for you PHP developers around about my level. This thing is a must have.

tutorialtastic — I actually managed to create a Send Page to Friend (How To) tutorial based on a request from a visitor. I am quite pleased, because I didn’t think my theory would work at first and it took some bitchin’ testing.

That’s all at the mo’. I’ll edit this when I find those other links in the dark depths of the back of my brain that I decided I’d plug and then promptly forgot about…

Edit: I got home to find a package. My sweeties arrived from thepinksugarmouse! Oh my GOSH they are bloody gorgeous. Any of you that, like me, likes coffee flavoured sweets/etc.. you need to go and buy yourself some Cappucino Coffee Fudge. The piece that arrived wasn’t that large, but it’s great value — fudge is usually quite expensive. I ate it all and now feel quite sick, yet strangely content!

More! (23rd Nov. 3:40pm)

Rose’s porn clean-up challenge — because there’s a time and a place for everything. Come on people, help cover ’em up.

Spamusement — this thing had me cracking up most of this afternoon. My particular favourites are All the Sex and the City you can handle, Bill Gates got one, Personalized letters from santa.

My guestblock — because not enough blocks have been laid today!

You Shall Pick Your Nose

This is the best thing I’ve read all year:

Picking your nose and eating it is one of the best ways to stay healthy, according to a top Austrian doctor.

There’s medical evidence for this, I swear:

“Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do. In terms of the immune system the nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine.

“Modern medicine is constantly trying to do the same thing through far more complicated methods, people who pick their nose and eat it get a natural boost to their immune system for free. “

Read more at the article source.

So, if it’s so good for us, why do I always get colds?

NaNoWriMo 2005

I was going to take part in the 2005 National Novel Writing Month but dropped out a week into November after realising I had far too much on (what with job apps, etc.) and yet have still been receiving the NaNoWriMo e-mails: I’m too lazy to untick a box on the appropriate page.

Anyway, I got an e-mail today telling me that NaNoWriMo are suffering from a debt problem to the tune of $10,000 due to expenses throughout the month/s. Out of sheer curiousity, I went and checked their expenses PDF and was incredibly shocked to see this:

Graphic design/web design costs: $4500
Author page and novel excerpt redesign, new store page, new drop-down menus, CSS clean-up of ten pages, winner certificate design, participant and winner icon creation, site spot illustrations.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t get why this costs so much? Sure, the store page which probably relies on a complicated e-commerce-y-doodaa (new word, whoo) shop cart system might cost a couple of hundred to develop and graphic design can be costly if you want top notch-stuff, but “CSS clean-up of ten pages”?! This is the kind of crap I do for free! “New drop-down menus”? What’s wrong with following a tutorial?

If people are willing to pay this kind of price, I think I need to up my prices.