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Those noisy watermarks

Posted at 22:59 on December 7th, 2008 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Since when did Mobygames become the source of covers? Lately all the game covers I see have that watermark on them. I don't get why they even add it, if they are supposed to be a game information page should they care more about the info than about publicity?

Replacement docs does a similar thing, but at least they know what this is about and you can easily remove the label with any pdf editor. But with image files that isn't possible.

Is there any good webpage dedicated to covers? I would be surprised there isn't one.
Posted at 23:33 on December 7th, 2008 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Hmm... as far as I remember that half-transparent Mobygames logo has been on their images for several years at least. And, well, sorry to say, but we're doing the same on our site, in case you hadn't noticed (though my TGOD script only puts that overlay on them on output - the original files remain untouched on the server, so the 'clean' versions remain available). It was one of the changes I asked you about when the current site version was in alpha stage...

Ironically enough, I share your strong dislike of such watermarking. Yet, I can tell you why I broke down in the end, and Mobygames' reason is most likely the same: People come, take the files and use them elsewhere without credit. There are whole sites without any original content. Everything has been taken from other sites. And I'm not just talking about tiny niche sites here, but this phenomenon also applies to large, very successful sites. Sometimes, they even become more popular than their own source.

Unfortunately, common decency doesn't exist on the Internet. If we wouldn't put up basic protective measures against it, there'd immediately be hundreds of people and sites hotlinking our downloads and images. Without watermarks, there are thousands of people taking things and passing it off as their own. And so on and so on.

Of course, watermarking won't stop anyone from taking and using, but at least their visitors will see where it came from.

Here's an anecdote which pretty much sums it up: The comic scans on the site took me countless hours to produce. No watermarks in the first year or so. I was the first one to systematically offer such scans. All of sudden, a plethora of other sites popped up offering the exact same scans, but without the plot descriptions I had written. Of course, all of them claiming to have scanned the files themselves. At first, I just politely asked them for a small credit byline. To no avail. So I started putting small watermarks on one single page of each book. Suddenly, nobody took them anymore and all those copycat sites disappeared again (in fact, I think there was another site later which once again took everything and tried passing it off as their own, but obviously, that didn't work since the scans are all identifyably mine).

Now there's the eternal question, of course: What's better? The scans being spread more widely or getting credit? In a perfect world, the former. However, I'm only human, and I don't appreciate my hard work not even being acknowledged, and in that sense, it's the latter. A fine line, and there is no perfect solution.

And now to get back full circle: This watermarking issue comes up sooner or later on any site which exceeds a certain size. And the discussions about the pros and cons are always the same. Last time I read the same discussion was when another new site had cropped out of nowhere and people were starting to grumble about them just mirroring everything from HOL. Of course, the people from this new site denied ever having taken anything from HOL. Turned out there was some invisible watermark on many of the files, though. They had simply lied and had thought they could get away with it. Having contributed quite a few scans to HOL myself, I certainly don't appreciate if any other site just takes and uses those scans - I've given them to HOL, because I wanted to support that particular effort (I knew the people behind it enough to know they won't turn it into a commercial site, for example; how am I supposed to be sure of that for other sites?).

Sure, one single box scan might not require the largest effort to produce, but again, once a site has grown beyond a certain size, the effort is in the numbers. Imagine a fictional site only offering boxscans (I don't know of one by the way), but several thousand of them - all scanned by the very dedicated webmaster. This guy not only has to own all those games, but also must have taken the time to scan all of the boxes. Imagine how long that must have taken him. And believe me: If someone starts taking from his site and using 'his' scans, it won't just be one scan...
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Posted at 00:10 on December 8th, 2008 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Having watermarks on screenshots like we have is not a problem to me. It's with things like box covers, or manuals that were contributed to the site. Those things are to be shared, and I dislike seeing a contribution like that marked. I don't even see a good justification for it, as those covers aren't theirs. They should mark who are their real owners, or mark nothing.

When I get something interesting it is usually searching through internet. There are nearly forgotten pages with games that people say are now impossible to find or old manual scans. And I share them, because they are hard to be found and interesting. Many of the manuals I shared on Replacement Docs where found that way, and I just care about seeing them shared, really I don't even see a reason for naming the contributors.

Reviews, screenshots and similars are another thing. But the game, the box scans, the manual and other related things. Every thing which came with the game should be found like the original.

This is not like when you buy a comic that was out of print for years on a bookstore, and which sadly has a deep cut on a corner for that no-resell scheme. It's like you go buy it and see the cover has a big autograph on a shiny yellow ink, the seller's autograph.

It is like looking for a game, nowhere to be found, except for one of those BBS versions with an intro.

Sadly, I know that there is people who would take that and say it was theirs. People which ask for no more scans, people that really are damaging themselves (if they really cared about the scans, that is). But at the end what matters is preservation, keeping them, so they are not just words and memories, but images that you can see and reach.
Posted at 12:19 on December 8th, 2008 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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But where's the difference between 'original' and 'contributed' contents? On a site like Mobygames (and also here), there is no technical difference between the site's owner or anyone else submitting contents. When do you suppose it's ok to watermark it then?

Also, I don't see the distinction between box and manual scans on the one hand and screenshots on the other hand. You seem to assume automatically that screenshots are 'self-made', but box and manual scans are not. Where's the logic in that? Why shouldn't screenshots look they do in the original game?

As I said before, I perfectly agree with your sentiment that this is a very bad thing to do basically. Yet, I just don't consider it possible for practical reasons.
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
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