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THOUGHT: Enthusiast websites - a kind of 'self-service shop' for companies?
Posted by Arne Hess - on Sunday, 31.10.04 - 18:02:15 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 6402x
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I think I get this thought at least once a month but as thoughts come - they also go but this time I want to write about it (maybe because the weather is so lousy today that I don't want to do anything else).
This week, I had a couple of phone calls, SMS messages and instant messages with my fellow MVP Joe of If you are not German-speaking but a Smartphone enthusiast you know - I'm sure - Paul's MoDaCo. Joe's is the same but in German; it's the Smartphone forum here and if you have visited it lately you might have seen the following message there:

"Traffic Limit Reached" and now you even get a DNS error! 8O

But what happened with Pretty easy: Two weeks ago, T-Mobile Germany launched their SDA Smartphone 2003 but as it happens so often, such a difficult product was just launched - the after sales support was forgotten. No FAQs, a couple of trained customer service employees only, etc. So if you bought your Smartphone from T-Mobile and you ran into problems (which can happens with a Smartphone as well as with a Pocket PC because these devices are much smarter than just cell phones) you either Google the web or you call the carrier you bought the device from.
In case of the SDA, some T-Mobile employees thought it's a good idea to refer to since they hadn't had a clue what the customers asked for and mobilejoe is 'such a great platform that the customers can find help there'. So far so good and the theory. "Unfortunately" - in reality - isn't a commercial project but just another enthusiasts website like many other Windows Mobile related sites like PPCW.Net is it also and Joe got so many hits, that he reached the traffic limit he agreed with his provider before (thankfully he agreed a traffic limit because of the costs). In the end, the provider disconnected the server because of the reached volume and became unavailable (and stays unavailable until 2nd November). :-(

Another story in this category is about PPCW.Net and me: a couple of months ago, I joined a presentation of an ODM (you know, these companies like HTC or Compal which originally develop and manufacture most of the devices) and I was quite surprised when I saw a lot of photos in their presentation, tagged with "PPCW.Net". So far so good i Thought because this ODM seems to be aware of PPCW.Net but all the E-Mails I've sent before were never answered. :-(

Last but not least: A carrier took a couple of photos from PPCW.Net some time back and used it (retouched without the PPCW.Net tag) for their own press release. 8O When I called them, they removed these photos from the press release but never compensated me (as the owner of PPCW.Net) or Carlo (as the one who made the photos).

Or the print magazine, which has stolen screen shots from PPCW.Net without asking for permission nor compensating me:

What frustrates me most here is, that these kind of large companies seems to see enthusiast sites as self-service shops, they either can refer too for support or where they can take copyrighted content from - for sure without paying for.
If you contact these companies on the other hand, they pretend to never heard from you. :|

In all the years I'm running Windows CE related websites (since 1997), I got two thank you only - one from a device manufacture which was Casio and one from Microsoft. Maybe you remember (if you are a long time visitor of my sites) how everything started: it was about the registry-hack to make the IrDA port available as a modem port and in 1998, the product manager from Casio contacted and asked me where to send a Casio Cassiopeia E-105 too because they either used my tip at their customer service or they referred my site if customers asked these kind of questions my site was about.
Also Microsoft recognized my work for the community when I became a contributing author for their website in 2000 and an MVP in 2003 and while Microsoft isn't able to provide you all the latest and greatest hardware, they give you the best access to the developers and brains behind the Windows Mobile platform.
But don't believe this is the standard! If you are lucky enough, you may find a product manager at OEMs or ODMs who like you and your work and support you. But this is because this product manager recognized you work, not because the company he/she works for recognized it and if such a person leaves the company, you are left alone again (happened too often in the past).

On the other hand, smaller companies like independent software developers or accessory manufactures are super helpful. If you've reached a critical size (which PPCW.Net seemed to reach ;-)) they provide you the best help they are able to give. These companies already realized how important enthusiast sites are, while device manufactures have their multibillion marketing budgets where enthusiast sites doesn't play a role. :-(

Okay, enough of the rant for the weekend. I will continue anyway because mobility and wireless is what fascinates me but sometimes it would be easier if you would receive better support from the companies, we - the owners of the enthusiast sites - support for free.

And now - back to the positive thoughts and news... ;-)

Cheers ~ Arne


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Posted by nojetlag on 31.10.04 - 19:01:53

I hope you can get a lawyer who thinks there is enough honey in the pot to sue this arrogant companies. If you take something from them without paying every gram they go nuts. But for them it seems to be ok to take from others for nothing. Only solution to me is to grill them down to the bone. Make them bleed if you find a small thiny paragraph that you can add to your website and afterwards hang them on this fine print (same game they do big_smile).

Posted by Arne Hess on 31.10.04 - 20:27:10

LOL... lol Thanks for your comment... :-)

Posted by Jaap van Ekris on 31.10.04 - 20:39:03

Just send companies a bill. Tell them that according to international copyright laws you are entitled to payment. You'd be surprized what a polite but threadning letter demanding fees for delivered products get you. I know some photographers that get complete saleries out of wrongfully placed pictures. Removing photo's does not reverse this infringement.

Biggest fun that there generally is no hassling about this. They even get punished by doeing as they please. General practice (at least in the netherlands) is:
* publication without written approval: double standardfee
* publication without clear reference to the source: 2 times standardfee
* unauthorized modification/clipping: up to 7 times standard fee

Standard fee is about 150 euro's per picture per site. For printed media/redistribution there are other rates.


Posted by Mauricio Freitas on 31.10.04 - 22:10:17

I agree with Arne... Most of the big companies NEVER reply e-mails. People running small sites have to beg for things, and never get recognition. It's interesting that most of their marketing is based on a enthusiasts website ecosystem, with reviews, rumours, etc... But they don't compensate or recognise...

Interesting thing is, they're a quick to contact you if you say their product is not a good thing...

Posted by farnold on 01.11.04 - 08:59:57

Copyright in the IT world is a difficult topic. And you can look at it from so many ends - you always see something that smells...

The question to Arne (and Carlo of course as well) would be: Where do you mention your copyright on pictures or content? I haven't found any disclaimer or so... So in not doing this in the first place I think you have little to complain about, Sorry, mate, but I think first thing you should do is fixing the url behind the copyright in the lower left corner and add a disclaimer there.

Don't get me wrong, Arne. I'm not saying that people should be using your content w/o your permission. But you need to state that somewhere, shouldn't you?

As for poor mobilejoe I see the case very different. In TELEKOM directing people to him they indirectly agree to a contract with him and he would have all rights to charge them for the costs and efforts as far as I understand German law... that can potentially end up being pretty expensive for TELEKOM if Joe would be surviving the costs he would carry in the first place...

On a broader base: copyright seems to be up for arbitrary interpretation on the Internet. While everyone complains about HIS content being used by others, the same guys pretty much have no problem to use others content without refering to ownership, copyrights or origin. Just look around on the net - it's not just Music or Movies. It starts with every icon or picture or text (gee, how much do I hate these pseudo-news that are just copied from a brochure or press release w/o any reference to the original). Let me be very clear: that is where PPCW is VERY different to many other pages - and probably the main reason that I enjoy it so muc. Arne and Carlo are providing their own content... But look at other big PocketPC pages and judge for yourself...


Posted by Arne Hess on 01.11.04 - 10:32:14

Thanks for all your comments but to make one thing clear - it's not about ca$h but about being respected as the owner of the content and webmaster of a community site; as Mauricio said.
While I could invoice companies for the use of PPCW.Net materials, I would prefer to have a good cooperation with the same companies. As I said, it's a enthusiasts site and PPCW.Net isn't my source of income but just my hobby and therefore it's not about ca$h but about respect I miss here.
Who nows how many photos are used for presentations, how knows how many tutorials are used at customer care but if you contact these companies, they pretend too never heard about you.
That's what annoys me, not the money (not in the foreground).

@farnold: Regarding the copyright: on the bottom of every page I have the copyright notice as it is enough according to international and German law. The copyright sign, the word and the years.
But you are right - more information is in the about site (which screwed up some time ago and I haven't found the time to bring it back).
Regarding the copyright issue between websites - this is something different and I see this case different.

But again: it's about the respect I miss. Corporates use content and materials from community sites but deny to know you or ever heard from you if you as the community site have a question to them.

Posted by Arne Hess on 01.11.04 - 10:42:21

[5] While the website is under the protection of the copyright law, I've also made an effort to try to tag my photos with a copyright with my name on it... and still people rip it off for commercial use... and that's where it gets pretty annoying.


Posted by farnold on 01.11.04 - 20:56:57

@Arne & @Carlo: Of course it is annoying that other just use your content w/o any kind of recognition - and there are things other than money of course. I know that you would be most pleased with just a friendly comment as a payback for your hard work. But that respect as Arne calls it just got lost in the eWorld. Everybody uses everyone else's content and feels that's OK. I think it would require a very different understanding about ownership of eContent to get that changed back again - and I'm not very optimistic to see that happening.

@Arne: Good to see you fixed the desclaimer page  big_smile

Posted by on 01.11.04 - 22:46:56

Which paper magazine used your screenshots, Arne?

Similar story happened to me last year: Pocket PC Magazine used screenshot from with a "" log on it. But I didn't mind it because it was kind of additional advertisment for the website...

Posted by nojetlag on 04.11.04 - 16:56:42

[6] Arne
it is obvious that you are not into it for the money. However they don't take you serious until you pee on the same level as they do and money is the level you get their attention. You still can donate the cash for a good cause if this makes you feel better (I think you deserve the money when they do steal from you, but you can decide that better big_smile). So get a bloodhound of a lawyer(yes I know it's a "weisser schimmel" tongue) who can create you a nice cash trap for the ones who can't email you before grabbing.

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