My design, as stolen by The Next Web, Lifehacker and MakeUseOf

Firefox add-ons I created this image in 2006 to illustrate a blog post I ended up not writing. I released the image on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike licence. That means anyone is free to use it, but they must credit me.


But apparently not simple enough.

Here’s a The Next Web article from 2009:

The Next Web

Here’s a Lifehacker article from 2011:


(To his credit, the author of the Lifehacker post almost immediately responded to my complaint on Twitter and offered to make good. He still hasn’t updated the post over an hour later, but as he said in his tweet: ‘We forget sometimes when in a rush.’)

Update: Adam Dachis did add a good credit to his Lifehacker post. Despite my moaning, I’m really impressed that he took my single complaint on Twitter so seriously (I have had 5 @ replies from him) and that he took the effort to fix a two year old post. Thanks Adam!)

And here’s a Make Use Of article from 2012:


None provided any attribution and many, many smaller blogs have nicked it too.

Now I realise the stakes here are very low. If I had sold this image instead of given it away, I would probably have made a very small sum of money. If any.

I’m not even upset on principle – if anything this has happened enough that I’m kind of bored of the problem. And I don’t even have that much worth taking.

I simply don’t understand

I simply don’t understand. Writers of all people must surely understand the importance of giving credit. Taking someone else’s words and passing them off as your own is not accepted practice amongst writers, so why should images be any different? And if the place you find the image doesn’t give any credit, you don’t just assume that it’s free. Perhaps that site paid to be able to use the image without attribution.

Ignorance is no excuse either – I found all these articles in a few minutes by doing a reverse image search on Google. It takes a little longer to find the original, but it this case that’s a problem only amplified by the fact that so many people have already taken this image and not given credit.

So I’m annoyed not because these ‘crimes’ are so great, but because they are so unnecessary. It’s like I’m saying ‘Here is an image I made. I hope you like it. It’s free. Please use it. Just mention my name’ and the bloggers are saying ‘That’s perfect. Oh, and fuck you I’m busy.’

I wish I could offer a solution, but the truth is I can’t imagine how doing the right thing could be any easier.

Previously on


5 thoughts on “My design, as stolen by The Next Web, Lifehacker and MakeUseOf

  1. Did you get a response from the other sites? It’s quite troubling to think sites as big as MakeUseOf don’t enforce a strict image attribution policy.

    Ever since we got hit with a fine from Getty Images we make *very* sure all editors source and attribute images correctly.

    • No I didn’t hear anything else, and I’m not planning to take any further action. I really just wanted to ask that rhetorical question — how can stuff like this slip through the cracks on pro blogs?

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