A blog by an historian, Pagan and fanfiction writer, with left-wing leaning politics. In short, I could be waffling on about anything.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Update on the MoD Complaint About Me

Back at the end of January, I received a rather bizarre rejection on a Zazzle product.

I'd created it using an image of HMS Edinburgh, which I'd taken in Lyme Regis last year.  Zazzle wrote to say that the UK Secretary of State for Defence had a problem with that. They alone held the copyright for such things. 

I wasn't having a good day at the time, so took exception to this.  I complained to the Ministry of Defence about their complaint, ccing my own MP along the way.

I've finally received a response.  I did have a kind of holding e-mail before, from my MP, telling me that it was all being looked into.  But then a three page letter appeared on my doorstep.  It was the correspondence between my MP and Philip Dunne, the Secretary of State for Defence.

The latter denied ever telling Zazzle to remove my product.  He did say that his department had stepped in before, when other people's products reproduced the MoD's trademarks.  But on this occasion, no laws had been broken and no action was required.  I was free to take as many pictures of HMS Edinburgh as I wanted, and shove them on all the products I could create.

I've just let Zazzle know, having scanned in and attached all three pages of the letter.  You have to feel sorry for that poor company.  They were obviously just trying to cover their backs, after my government had slapped them before, but ended up caught between me on a bad day and the MoD again.

Let's see how that one pans out then.

But while we're on the subject of Zazzle, let me take this moment to big up one of my latest ventures.  I've created a website to cover my Beautiful Britain store.  I'd be really thrilled, if you'd take a look.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Complaint About Me - from the UK Secretary of State for Defence

I've been in some weird situations in my time, but this one pushed the boat out a little further than usual.

As many of you know, I've created a Zazzle store.  Originally it was to furnish monetised pictures for articles on places like Wizzley.  As time has gone on, I've grown to love the site.  I'm not exactly a visual person, so my comfort zone is in words.  Zazzle is all pictures.  Nevertheless, extra strings to my bow were added with aplomb.

Then representatives of the UK Secretary of State for Defence complained about me.  Apparently.  They demanded that a photograph that I'd taken of HMS Edinburgh be removed for copyright reasons.  I took the photograph.  It's the one pictured above.

I admit that my jaw dropped a tad, as I read the e-mail from Zazzle's Content Review Team.  The products made from it had been up less than 24 hours, when the Defence Department leapt upon it.  Naturally, I felt a letter to my MP and to the Rt Hon Philip Hammond coming on.  They were e-mailed just now.

The precise wording, in the Zazzle e-mail, was thus:

'We have been contacted by legal and commercial rights representatives of The UK Secretary of State for Defence, and at their request, to remove designs which infringe upon their rights from the Zazzle Marketplace.'

But surely, as a British taxpayer, it could be argued that I paid for HMS Edinburgh.  At least, I paid my taxes and a Destroyer was added to the Royal Navy using tax revenue.  I'm not saying that I could direct its manoeuvres, but there is a link here.  Also as a British taxpayer, any income I receive from the Zazzle products will be taxed too.  That's more money in the coffers to build military battleships!

Actually, put like that, it's probably for the best that the Secretary of State for Defence is wasting time and resources firing pot-shots at British businesses.  It stops them being diverted into wars, which aren't supported by the British people instead.

I'd be interested to read the response from Mr Hammond.  I'll keep you posted.

As a faintly amusing coda, another image of HMS Edinburgh, which was posted on the same day, same hour, same folder and sat right next to the one removed, was patently deemed admissible.   It's still there.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

One Year On...

It's been nearly a year since I last wrote anything here, and I'm sorry for that.

As a new writer, learning her way around the pitfalls and triumphs of on-line writing, I've been on a voyage of discovery. I've been building my little empire in cyberspace. It's grown in unexpected ways.

This time last year, I'd been writing for Suite101 and I'd just begun writing for Wizzley. The latter is where I've spent most of the last twelve months.

Suite101 seemed to disappear under the waves. An over reliance on Google practically sunk them, then Google turned against them. For much of the last year, I've barely earned a thing on my articles there. Then suddenly, in November, there was a big turn around. A revamped site, a different focus, and bam! My articles were going better than ever before. There's an author score, which I've seen steadily rising for me week after week. There are new channels, for which I've received several invitations (and accepted them). Without having written an article since last July there, I'm seeing a return.

It's put Suite101 back in the game.

Yet my heart had been stolen by Wizzley. I've practically no lifed my writing there, producing 372 articles by year's end. The community are lovely. The advice has been like attending writing school. My confidence and competence have grown exponentially.

By the end of the year, I was making decent money. I was practically owning the front page (popular articles). I had a lot of Editor's Choice Awards. It was all going well.

In addition to all of this, I've been building a store on Zazzle. It's called Beautiful Britain and includes photographs that I'm taking all over my country. That too is growing steadily.

Now it's 2013 and who knows what the year will bring. Happy New Year all.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

SOPA and PIPA Strike: On the Other Side of the Darkness

On January 18th 2012, the internet went on strike. It was to protest two American bills, which could seriously threaten the basic architecture of the world wide web.

I took a grand total of nine websites, blogs, clubs and forum profiles into the protest. Some were off-line completely, while the others were redirected or otherwise censored. I wasn't alone. An estimated 7000 websites joined in the action, including Google, Wikipedia, Tumblr, Craigslist and the instigators of it all, Reddit.

Here is a photostream of just some of the sites that I saw censored during the day.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

THTAGCJB Will Be Off-line Tomorrow to Protest SOPA/PIPA

Tomorrow (January 18th 2012), this blog will not be available. I am participating in American Censorship Day, a protest in which the internet effectively goes on strike.

For further information, please read this: Blackout! The Internet Goes on Strike Protesting SOPA and PIPA.

Monday, 16 January 2012

SOPA Defeated! Obama Threatened to Issue a White House Veto!

Update: It seems that this was very premature. See edits at the end.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It's hard work sometimes being a blogger with a conscience in cyberspace.

I've just spent an intense half an hour scrolling through code, as I prepared to join in the protest on January 18th 2012. On that day, huge giants of the internet would have entered blackout. Reddit, ICanHasCheezburger, Nerd Reactor and an increasing number of other websites were all pulling their pages for one day only. My friends and I have been watching that list growing daily - mega-sites pledging their support. The big question on everyone's lips was would Facebook and Google have the guts to join in?

Of course, I'm not anywhere near that league, but I do have an internet presence. I did have a few things to remove on SOPA Day. My websites are easy. I have full access to them, so it would be nothing to insert a file which took them off-line. But everywhere else was a little more tricky.

I'd already sussed that I could place all of my Wizzley articles into draft mode, which would delist them all. But I would have to persuade the site owners to remove my section of Suite101, MangaBullet and Sal's Realm of Runescape. Technically, I could pull the draft mode trick for Sal's too, but I've been writing blog entries there since early 2007. We're talking well over a thousand pages.

Then there are my two Blogger sites. I have some access to the code there and this was where I'd spent the past thirty minutes. It took a great deal of trial and error, but I eventually cracked it. I have four templates saved - two originals from this blog and Jo's Library; then two doctored with redirects.

On January 18th 2012, anyone trying to access either blog would have found themselves here. There would be no way to read my content until I returned the templates back to their original form.

All ready and set to go! Phew! I went to see which other sites had signed up in the interim and that led me to the news. An hour ago, President Obama signed a formal veto which effectively shelves both SOPA and PIPA.


It's early minutes yet. I'm going to keep my prepared coding safe on my hard-drive and we'll see how this pans out. Not that I'm a cynic, but I've seen the other foot falling one too many times. For now, I'll just cheer with the rest of the free world. It looks like it was another round for freedom of speech.

Edit: News I'm getting now is that Wikipedia is going ahead with the blackout. SOPA is shelved, not dead; and/or PIPA is shelved, not dead. Still monitoring Twitter and occasionally the less up-to-date press too.

5.06pm: AnonNews has just confirmed that the blackout is still on. PIPA going to the Senate on January 24th.

5.09pm: Reddit have confirmed that their blackout is also still on. I think it goes without saying that mine was back on the books the second the doubt crept in.

5.16pm: Jimmy Wales is Tweeting that he thinks it's just a tactic to ward off the blackout. Full steam ahead!

8pm: I'm still not getting a consistent story. It seems that this is the source. Though Eric Cantor may or may not have shelved it. Either way, every site that signed up is now saying that the protest is going ahead. I'm with them too.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Wizzley Gold Star for Outstanding Articles

I've just been honoured with a Wizzley Gold Star for Outstanding Articles. I'm only the 7th person ever to receive it; and I managed it in just 26 days. Everyone else on the list has been there for months and they have far more articles than I have.

Let's just say that this has touched me more than I can possibly communicate right now. Words have finally failed me.

The accolade is purely cosmetic. There's a ribbon on my profile picture, which says 'excellent author' if you run your cursor over it. From what I can tell, it also places me (permanently?) on the front page of the best authors section.

Thank you ChefKeem and all of the team at Wizzley.