More than ten years ago, I received a cease-and-desist from an attorney and was requested to pay € 6.000 in damages because I forgot to credit an image I had found on Pixelio and used on my site. I managed to keep the cost at the € 300 that my legal advisor charged me, presumably due to the website being a small, private one without any commercial goals.
Nevertheless, it was an annoying incident because the error was born out of negligence, not out of ill intent. All other images on the site I had attributed correctly.
I started writing a small plugin because I had some years of experience as a WordPress developer. The plugin not only enabled me to output sources next to pictures or within an image source directory, but it also displayed a notice in the backend warning me about missing copyright data. Now, I wouldn’t forget them in the future.
The very first version of Image Source Control was born.
For 10 years a hot issue
For years I’ve used the plugin on all my sites that host external images, among them, the largest German platform for word games, wort-suchen.de, that I founded in 2009 and ran till 2018.
Over the years, thousands of other websites have put the base version of the plugin to good use. The positive feedback kept me working on it.
Even after ten years, the regular inquiries show that following copyright law is still a burning subject.
I did my best to do justice to all requests I received, but I realized I needed help at some point. Since the topic doesn’t seem to exhaust itself, I decided to release Image Source Control as a commercial plugin to better live up to users’ expectations.
This new version offers features that, over the years, I had tailor-made for customers upon request and which had shown their mettle on large editorial sites.
- Bulk editing of source information in an overview—instead of individually
- Manage sources for images outside of the post’s content
- Setting the standard source for images without source info automatically
Learning through experience
For the past eight years, I have continuously developed and sold the most popular advertisement plugin for WordPress, Advanced Ads. More than 150,000 websites are actively using the plugin, and the team has grown to ten people.
An ongoing project of this order naturally runs with the help of many well-oiled cogs. A few of which you’re not quite sure about their function anymore but which you’re not willing to touch due to the project’s size. Admittedly, that is one of the reasons why I had been looking forward to working on Image Source Control. I could approach this new project differently—without fear of breaking anything.
And with that also went getting someone new onboard early on. I have been searching for the past one-and-a-half years for such a person.
By coincidence, at the end of 2021, I talked to Tim about his plans. Years ago, as a freelance developer, I had converted their online store for yarns, lanade.de, for him and his wife to Magento and matched the new layout to Tim’s designs. What I know today about typography and layout, I pretty much owe to Tim.
In the meantime, Tim had been further educating himself, he earned a degree as Bachelor Professional in Media, and he looked for a new challenge. My two main criteria for new employees are: I want to be motivated by the collaboration, and I want to learn from them. Long story made short—at Image Source Control, Tim is now responsible for everything but the actual source code of the plugin. In the first two months, Tim has more than matched my expectations. I am thrilled that we accomplished redesigning the website and setting up the shop in such a short time frame.
Privacy is paramount
Talking about setting up the website and the shop. Here, I had stated two must-haves that, albeit ensuring the project to be fascinating, introduced some intricacies:
- Equal treatment of the German and of the English website—including translation of shopping and checkout routines.
- Privacy is of utmost importance: We must collect as little data and forego as many third-party services as possible.
I can tell you; it hasn’t been easy. The specifics could fill several independent posts.
The one instance where we had to compromise was the checkout. The familiar payment providers—those that work with WordPress shopping platforms—are located in the United States. If you don’t know, the US privacy regulations are not compatible with EU law. As an alternative, we now also offer wire transfers for larger packages.
Where we go from here
The website and the shop are set up and running. We see how sales and inquiries turn out over the next couple of weeks. Then, we determine the technical roadmap. Part of that will be looking into implementing layout templates to customize the Overlay and the source lists.
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