19 February 2001

A brief note on the

Thumbnail images

on this site

Recently I was advised by one of the leading search engines that we could download free pictures via their links. The exact wording in their E-mail was as follows:

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the image
galleries at [search engine] are worth, well, millions. Choose from
celebs, sports stars, vacation spots and other goodies.
Download a few thousand words for yourself today"

Perhaps wrongly, I took this to mean that the search engine had a large amount of photographs that were in the "public domain", ie the thumbnail images provided would be copyright free. I therefore availed myself of this opportunity to download a good deal of thumbnails that were purely for the purposes of providing visual data to back up information given on this website. At no time did we wish to use these thumbnails for our own personal profit, nor have we done so. After a short while we also adopted the policy of including links to the original full-size image, both for the benefit of our visitors (thumbnails are difficult to make out in most cases, especially if you are trying to identify a lizard) and the benefit of those who had put the originals on the web, since they would be indirectly getting more visits from us.

This policy seemed to work until recently, after we had been pursuing it for a month. I then received a polite but brief E-mail from a webmaster who maintains some gecko sites, as follows:

"I recently noticed that you are using many of our Copyrighted photos on your
page without permission. Please remove all thumbnail photos and direct links
to photos residing on [site names].

Thank you for your cooperation,


We certainly have no wish to break copyright, and wish to keep within the spirit as much as the letter of the law. I have therefore written back to the search engine asking them for clarification of what exactly they meant by their initial suggestion. It may be that we have quite innocently made a mistake, in which case pending any permissions sought and granted we may have to remove those thumbnails we have placed so far. If anybody feels that we have used their images, even as thumbnails, without permission, then please let us know. If you grant us your permission to use them, we will gratefully acknowledge you on each one we use. You will probably also get a visit to your own site via the thumbnail due to our policy of placing a link with each one.

In the meantime, if anyone has any clarifications on the law of thumbnails and copyrights, let's hear them!

Best regards


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