Weather and IP
You might notice the weather sidebar, newly added this evening. It is based upon a Movable Type plug-in by Gavin Estey and can be downloaded from the plug-in directory. While easy to use (once I had the necessary Perl modules downloaded), it took some thought to get the index template configured correctly.
Also note the cute little icon. One of the Weather Plug-In variables contains an image-ready name, and so, if the site author (me) sets up image files, a picture can be displayed. This brings me to today's moral dilemma.
Since I am not a graphic artist, but I needed a set of weather-related images, I did what any computer hacker would do: I asked Google Images. It responded back with a number of choices, and I happened to pick one that brought me to the Indystar page. (Go Hoosiers!) They have the weather forecast, with pretty little icons depicting clouds and suns and snow and rain. And they all seemed to be stored in the same directory, filed by index number, hinting that there might be more.
So, again, like any self-respectingcomputer hacker would do, I wrote a script to iterate through a large set of numbers, and try to download the given file. This was made amazingly easy with tools such as Perl and Wget. I wrote it, it ran correctly the first time (amazingly enough), and downloaded a bunch of useful weather pictures, within about 10 minutes.
But, I have to wonder... Was what I did legal? The pictures obviously represent some level of investment, even though I'm sure that a graphic designer could have drawn them all out before breakfast. Not all of the pictures were actively displayed. (My script just stumbled on them.) Indystar would certainly not want their competitors using their images.
Still, I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I'm giving Indystar ample credit for the pictures. My site is non-commercial, and I am not competing with Indystar on anything. And, a reasonable argument might be made that the pictures are in the public domain, anyway. And, if Indystar wishes me to take the pictures down, I certainly will.