ISFDB talk:Image linking permissions

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Discuss revisions in the draft letter, or in our linking policy, here. This would also be a good place to document sites that have been asked for linking permission. -DES Talk 21:45, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Sample request wording

I made two changes for clarity:

  • "displays information about the titles, authors, and publications" to "is a bibliographic database"
    • Why overstate the obvious, after all?
  • Extended this sentence with the last part: "When the publication page is displayed, using the image found at that URL as an image source for the page display, it can be clicked to access the image on the original site directly."
    • Without it, it was not grammatical, and mentioning that we also have explicit backlinks seems proper.

Circeus 20:34, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

  • You are correct that the sentance about the display of the publication page was a fragment. However, your change seems to imply that that the host server is not accessed unless the user clicks, whcih is not correct. I have editied it further, so that it now reads: "When the publication page is displayed, the the page logic uses the image found at that URL as an image source for the page display, which results in a call to the host server. Also, the displayed image can be clicked to access the image on the original site directly." What do you think of thsi version?
  • "bibliographic database" I have not changed this, but there might be people who are not clear on what a bibliographic database consists of, while "displays information about the titles, authors, and publications" is hard to misunderstand. Not a major issue, however.
Thanks for your revisions. -DES Talk 15:17, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
Based on personal observations, a significant number of people (at least in the US) are not quite sure what the term "bibliography" means and confuse it with "biography" or something else. The percentage is probably lower in countries where the word "Bibliothèque" (or its derivatives) is common. Granted, we will be contacting people who own and maintain bibliographic sites, so chances are that they will be familiar with the term, but on the other hand it's entirely possible that our e-mail will be originally handled by a clerk or a techie with no bibliographic background. You can never be too careful! :) Ahasuerus 17:14, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
And not all such sites need be strictly bibliographic -- a general fan site, on the one hand, or a book sales site, on the other, may not think of themselvs as bibliographic, and their creators may not know or use the word, even though either kind of site will include some bibliographic information. -DES Talk 20:45, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Permission granted to what official address

When requesting permission from a website about deep-linking to their images, what name/email address do we give them for their response? Is there an official address a la ""? MHHutchins 19:04, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

I've never seen us have an official address. The permissions I've acquired have always been via one of my own email addresses - which makes proof of permission a bit difficult for anyone but me. I'm not volunteering to be the central address though. Should we ask people to CC Al on any responses? I think he's got the biggest potential need for proof of permission. BLongley 00:54, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, Al's name is on the front page, so he would be the logical choice, but I am not sure if he has the time for it. E-mail him and ask? Ahasuerus 03:09, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
The only reason I ask is because the form letter requests a cc response to the database itself. I don't mind that the contacted website respond to my email address. Just thought it would be better to have an official email address for the database. MHHutchins 03:26, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, we also have, which gets forwarded to ISFDB moderators. Which remind me that I need to update the list now that we have new moderators... Ahasuerus 04:07, 3 May 2009 (UTC)
That would seem appropriate both for a semi permanent archive, and to widely distribute the 'news' and act as a distributed archive record. Kevin 05:10, 3 May 2009 (UTC) updated with Kevin's e-mail. Ahasuerus 16:06, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

Current Links Counts - Early June 2009

While updating the code to provide linking credits, I thought I would document the current number of off site hosted cover arts we have. Currently 68,607 pub records link to one of the websites listed on the image linking policy page. The databse has 73,755 pub records with cover art urls present, leaving 5148 websites uncredited and unapproved via documentation, but a closer look at the system has 4500+ records with a non-null 'something' in the record. I refined my search and found 480 publications that don't link to these sites, that have a "." in the field.

Name Website Count
Amazon 57,943
ISFDB Self Hosted 5,962
Visco 2,139
Galactic Central ( 1,303
Fantastic Fiction 979
Bookscans 181
Ace Image Library 91
Fantascienza 5
ICSHI (A Van Vogh Site) 4
VanVogh (A Japanese and English site) 0
Magnus's Van Vogt site 0
Other - 480

Ommitting technical bits

In the preface to the french section, Marc Kupper wrote: "If the person you are requesting permission from does not seem to be a computer techie you can remove the latter half of the first paragraph starting with 'Nous faisons ceci en incluant...'". This would be the section that corresponds to the English "We do this by including...". I think omitting this is a large mistake. The main point of asking for permission is that hot-liking uses bandwidth on the server that hosts the image -- if the publication is popular or we use lots of images for lots of pubs, possibly a lot of bandwidth. That is why we need to ask, IMO. The second part of the first paragraph is where we say this -- omitting it means that a non-technical person in particular may not know what a/he is agreeing to. Perhaps we need a way of saying this that is less technical, but I think we very much need to say it. -DES Talk 00:55, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

The introduction was too long, threw in a bunch of twenty dollar words, and included a contorted technical explanation. If someone asks me for something and can't get to the point in 30 seconds I send them away with instructions to redo the request so that I can understand what's wanted in 30 seconds. How about this as a replacement for the first paragraph:
We would like permission to include your book and magazine images on our web site as third party images. Our web site is which is a community effort to catalog works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. If you would like to learn more about ISFDB then please visit If you would like to learn more about third party images then please see would be a web redirect to ISFDB:Third party images which would explain how 3rd party images work, the pros for the image hosting site (referrer tags, web logs, and that we will also have a link to their site). The con which is that when someone views an ISFDB book record that the image gets loaded from the third party web site meaning it would provide the bandwidth needed to send that image to the person viewing the book record's page. Because these images are part of someone else's web site and that they would be providing the bandwidth to send that image to people viewing ISFDB pages we ask for permission from the image hosting site's owner.
If you know of a nice clean about page then it would be better if the first link in the introduction went to which would redirect. --Marc Kupper|talk 08:08, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
Shouldn't be any Webmaster kind of a computer techie - or at least aware of what "hot-linking" means and implies? --Phileas 12:32, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
I disagree with Marc's view of the current sample letter, and even more with his suggested replacement which i think is far too dumbed-down. I think it is essential that any such letter include, in itself and not via a web link, a description of what the ISFDB is, and what we are asking for, including the possible negative effects of hot-linking. However, it should be possible to do this more clearly than the existing text does. I note that the existing text has been used in at least two requests since it was drafted, both successful. Evidently the recipients did not find it to long or confusing to respond positivly to. -DES Talk 14:16, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
re: "Shouldn't be any Webmaster kind of a computer techie - or at least aware of what "hot-linking" means and implies". 1) I have no idea what "hot-linking" means though can Google it up. I see that Wikipedia's article is at Inline linking at the moment and offers half a dozen synonyms for the practice but did not include "third party images" which I had used. I suspect that regardless of the name used other than perhaps "image leeching" you will find a techie that does not recognize the term picked. 2) There are many book people on the web that do not have web skills. I suspect though that anyone with an extensive collection of images would have these skills and also would not need an elaborate description of what we want to do.
The discussion may be a non-issue as ISFDB now supports uploading meaning the need for image leeching is dropping and we may well have located most of the sites that have a collection of specfict images.
A good reason to keep all of the technical details in the e-mail letter just came to mind which is that when the person replies to the affirmative they are essentially signing a contract and ideally the wording they agreed to is in the contract and not off in some web page that can be changed without notice. --Marc Kupper|talk 20:54, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Suggested revised wording

Here is a slightly revised version of our existing letter. It gets to the point of the request faster, and uses fewer technical words. It is also a bit more explicit about the possible cons of hot-linking, while not using the term "bandwidth" lest that seem too technical. I hope this addresses some of Marc's concerns while still providing a useful and complete-in-itself letter. Of course, comments on this draft are welcome. -DES Talk 14:33, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

Subject: Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB) Image Linking Permission Request - <name of site>
Hi -
My name is <name of requester> and I am a volunteer with the Internet Speculative Fiction Data Base (ISFDB) which is located at The ISFDB is a bibliographic database of works of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and related works of speculative fiction -- that is, it displays information about the titles, authors, and publications of such works. When we display information about a particular publication (an edition or printing of a particular work) we prefer to display an image of the cover of the work, so that the public can see exactly which edition is being described.
Your site <name of site>, located at <base URL>, has images that would enhance the ISFDB, and there have been requests to use your images. We would greatly appreciate it if you would permit us to hot-link to those images.
When we hot-link to an image, we store the URL of a publicly posted image for a publication. When the page for that publication is displayed, the page displays the image found at that URL, which results in a call to the host server. A credit to the host site is also shown. One good example of this in action is for an edition of The Lord of the Rings, where the image is hosted by Amazon. We also link to images of authors in the same way. However, we only use URLs from sites that have agreed to permit us to do so.
Such hot-lings generate hits on the host sever, and cause the server to transmit a copy of the image. The cost of this is normally very small, but if many very popular images were linked to, might be noticeable.
The ISFDB is a completely non-profit, volunteer-run organization. We think that it provides a valuable public service, and helps promote speculative fiction in general. Please let us know if we may display images (hot-link) from your site on our pages by linking to your site. We will also happily provide a credit link back to your site whenever we display your cover art images. Please copy your response to so that the ISFDB as an organization can preserve a record of it.
Thank you
<signature of volunteer>

Comments on the French version

Are you sure about the "monsieur"-salutation? What if the recipient is a "madame"? Could this be an insult to a French woman? I don't know but maybe the "Bonjour" is sufficient. I don't know the French language and habits btw, I'm just thinking. --Phileas 12:32, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

It certainly used to be the case that monsieur was a standard address for an unknown person, just as "Dear sir" was standard in English. That has changed here, at least to some extant. -DES Talk 14:37, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
That's what I thought. But be aware that cultures are different. If you transferred the "Dear sir" into German for example you would be wrong (unless you knew that the recipient is male), and not because it has changed recently - that's what I wanted to point out. Because I brought this up I asked in a French-German forum. And that's what they suggest: If you know the gender it's "Madame" or "Monsieur" - if you don't know it should be "Madame, Monsieur" or "Mesdames, Messieurs" (note that women come first). That however applies to formal business letters. They said in Emails simple forms like "Bonjour" or "Salut" are most common at the beginning and "Amicalement, <your name>" or "Amitiés, <your name>" at the end. --Phileas 08:04, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
I just chatted with a friend in South Africa and he uses "Bonjour Monsieur" in e-mails to strangers but also said that "Bonjour Madame/Monsieur" is good. Don't use just "Bonjour" as it's far too informal for use with strangers. I'll update the sample letter to add "Madame/". --Marc Kupper|talk 21:43, 12 July 2009 (UTC)