TLDR; Sorry, this post is a little negative and long, but it does have some positive techniques that you might be able to use in your testing e.g. Google Image Search. And has hints on how to create your own thumbnail and branding images for free.

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Good News - New Course Image

I’ve re-branded my Selenium WebDriver Online Course Image to:

And…

Snazzy.

I created it in Inkscape, exported to png and resized and compressed using Riot.

Bad News - Due to Extensive Copyright Violation

Sadly I re-branded (again) because I seem to have created a ‘standard’ Selenium WebDriver Image.

My old images:

And…

Have been extensively used by other people to:

  • promote jobs
  • promote online forums
  • promote online training (not mine)
  • promote face to face training (not mine)

I get nervous that people who know my branding might associate the role, or the agent, or training, with me or my training. I don’t proactively hunt down copyright violations but when use of my images are pointed out to me, and they are used in a manner which I think can cause commercial confusion, I ask people to stop. Normally when I ask people to stop doing that, they stop doing that.

Recently people have not stopped.

Google Image Search Tool

I have not used the Google Image Search tool very often.

Previously I have only used it when checking if a person asking to connect on LinkedIn is actually a real person by searching for their profile image and seeing if it appears associated with anyone else.

To use the tool, in Chrome, Right click on an image and choose “Search Google For Image”. You can then search for similar images, images in different sizes etc.

I frequently use Google searches when testing live sites to see if any pages have been indexed that are not supposed to be indexed or if there are any subdomains I didn’t know about etc.

The Google Image Search tool might be useful in your testing - it is worth getting to know it.

I seem to have created a ‘standard’ Selenium Training Thumbnail

When I used the tool on my images I was surprised they were being used in so many places:

  • LinkedIn posts promoting training by other people
  • Commercial training vendors offering Selenium training (primarily in India and China)
  • YouTube thumbnails
  • Blog posts promoting training and tutorials (not mine)

I seem to have created a ‘standard’ Selenium Training image.

Which surprises me. The image isn’t very good and I hoped people had more professional integrity.

I even found images where people had added their own watermarks to claim the image as their own.

As a result I’ve created, and now have to maintain, a Copyright Providence Page for images. I may have to add Evil Tester logos and cartoons to this page as well.

Most Recent Example

I started down this route because someone taking my course pointed out that a YouTube channel is using my branding as the thumbnails on their Selenium WebDriver YouTube videos.

Because I created recognisable branding, the person taking my course was able to recognise it being used by someone else.

  • I asked the YouTube channel to stop
  • They asked me to ‘prove’ that I created the image
  • My sites, and the way back machine do not count as evidence for them. I’m not going to give them the original vector graphics file, as I think they would modify it and use it for their own purposes.
  • And any way, they pointed out, other trainers are using the image so what’s the problem?
  • I point out that, by implication, they are admitting that they didn’t create the image and therefore should not use it.
  • They then say that they are “really surprised that you are using such tricks to promote your training”.
  • They then hide the comments on the video, and delete their comments where they admit that they didn’t create the image.

I then had no choice then but to go through the process of flagging a copyright violation in YouTube.

This wastes everyones time. It wastes my time going through the process, the platform’s time responding. and the person who created the videos time to ignore my comments. It would be faster for the YouTube channel to create and upload a new thumbnail, than engage with me in the comments.

Update: on 6th September I heard back from YouTube that their usage of my image as the thumbnail for their Selenium WebDriver videos does not subsist in the content.

“Thank you for your notification. We have reviewed this matter and determined that copyright does not subsist in the content that is the subject of your complaint. For this reason we are unable to process your request.”

I understand how hard it can be for YouTube to act on copyright infringement given that they only allow 200 characters to describe the infrigement on their site and no attachments for supporting evidence, e.g. original files.

I have created another infringement submission, using this providence and copyright guideline page that I had to spend time creating.

YouTube warn you, when you submit the form that overuse of this form may result in suspension of your YouTube acount, so soon you might only be able to watch this other person’s videos, and not mine.

In the meantime, this other person continues to create new Selenium WebDriver With Java Training videos, using my branding as their thumbnail.

If you see those videos, they are nothing to do with me

Logistic Excuses

I can’t accept excuses about:

  • no talent
  • no time to create image
  • no money for tools

I’m not a professional graphic designer, so I’m surprised that people want to use my images.

Those particular images took me about 30 minutes, or 1 hour, to create.

I use Inkscape, Paint .net and Gimp to create images

For YouTube thumbnails I use TubeBuddy. The free version offers thumbnail generation, although I have a paid plan.

I also use tools like Stencil, Riot - again free.

I think that if people are taking the time to create videos, or training and are spending the time creating content to help people, then the little extra time it takes to create an image for their own branding is negligible.

A lot of people online recommend fiverr as a source of cheap content. I don’t use that. I’d rather learn the skills associated with the content creation so create all my images, thumbnails and book covers myself.

But Alan, you are using Copyright Images

In my branding image I use the Java logo, Selenium Logo, Firefox, IE and Chrome logos. I think this is classed as ‘fair use’ under copyright law, but if I’m wrong then let me know.

If using those logos in this way is a violation of copyright law then I obviously haven’t interpreted it correctly and have been led astray by the many similar approaches I’ve seen online.

This feels similar to the “but other trainers are using the image” excuse above, and if I had been asked to change the image as a result of a copyright ownership or usage request from Oracle, Mozilla, Opera, IE or Chrome then I would.

I think my reasoning is different from “but other trainers are using the image”. But I could be wrong.

But, this whole incident made me reconsider, and my new images do not use logos of programming languages, browsers, or tools. Even though this makes the image less immediately resonating of the subject of the training.

Professional Courtesy and Competition

I think that if we are working in the same domain (testing) and creating similar content (blog posts, training, videos) that a certain amount of professional courtesy should apply.

If people don’t respond to my asking them to remove it, then the only recourse I have are the draconian ‘take down notices’ that platforms use. And I don’t want to see people’s content removed, I just want them to use their own branding.

I think having multiple people create content on platforms covering the same topics is good, and I would like to see more of that, I don’t want to see any content removed from the web that people can learn from.

In order to encourage this:

  • I try to answer all questions about “how do you write your books?”, “what tools do you use?”, “any tips for recording?” etc.
  • I pass on unsolicited comments to people about their YouTube channel to improve their branding and profile to encourage more views on their videos. In the belief that more viewers of their videos might spill over into more views of my videos.

I value competition and encourage it. I don’t like being forced to issue ‘takedown’ notices which help no-one.

Even if the content being created by others is good, I can’t recommend it or link to it if they are using my content. Which cuts down on sharing of possible useful learning resources.

Personal Branding is Important

If you use someone else’s branding then it might destroy trust in your brand. Why should a potential customer view you as a trusted source of information, or training, if you are using someone else’s brand to promote it?

Copyright Violation is a Fact of Life

Copyright Violation is a fact of life.

Pretty much every digital content that you release on the internet is copied and downloadable from disreputable sites, often complete with viruses, and often the download is fake.

I can’t do anything about downloads from those sites.

One reason why I try to price my material low is to allow people from countries with an unfavourable exchange rate to more easily afford the products. Of course they are never going to be low priced enough for everyone, and a low price does not prevent piracy because some people simply collate and collect pirated material.

Where content is used on LinkedIn, YouTube, or other big sites then they have take down processes. Although experience suggests that they don’t work.

Monitoring for Violations

Google Alerts doesn’t let you monitor for images but there are other sites that do:

https://webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/47401/google-alerts-for-images

If you experience a similar problem then it might be worth signing up to one of these services.

Summary and Recommendations

If you use the images that I created for my commercial branding, for your own commercial branding, I will ask you to stop. If you don’t and the platform you are using has a formal take down process then I may have to spend the time filling in the take down request. This wastes everyone’s time.

When you are considering buying a product, or service, why not do a “Right click and ‘Search Google for Image’” in the Chrome browser, and see if this person is a reputable trainer or not.

If you create content, then it doesn’t take a lot of time to create your own thumbnails, and it doesn’t have to cost anything. But the branding benefits that you obtain, and the skills you develop are worth the time.

I’m slightly saddened by this because I’d love to promote new YouTube channels that come to my attention or good blog posts but I cannot if they are using my branding for commercial gain.

If you use my images in a blog post or on Linkedin, then a link back to my training courses would help me out. Possibly something like:

If you liked this post then look at Alan Richardson’s excellent Selenium WebDriver with Java online training, not only does he have a good training course, but he also has a fantastic thumbnail which I used in this post. https://compendiumdev.co.uk/page/online_training

If you do see my branding being used on other sites or on YouTube then feel free to let me know

I released new branding images for my courses. Woo hoo.