Norwich City FC Angry at Fan For Leaking New Kit

I just read an article on BBC News. All quotes are taken directly from that article. The link is at the bottom of this post.

Norwich City kit published on internet by boy ahead of launch

When I read this I imagined the boy in question had illegally obtained pictures of the new kit, and posted them to facebook/twitter/blogs/etc. I read on.

A 17-year-old Norwich City fan has angered the club by leaking pictures of its new kit 12 hours before the official launch.

Yep. Sounds about right. I’m guessing he had access to the pictures, or maybe he stole them from somewhere, or broke in to a place holding them and took pictures himself. I read on.

Norfolk Police were called in after IT student Chris Brown published images of the 2012-13 strip on the internet.

Ooh! The Police were called. This must have been serious. And he’s an IT student? That must be relevant. He must have hacked in to something, maybe someone’s laptop, and stole the pictures.

The teenager, from Norwich, managed to obtain the pictures from the club’s kit launch website as it was being updated.

Oh. So he hacked a web server and illegally obtained images from it, somehow?

Chris told the BBC he was able to take the images from a section of the site that was being worked on, finding them linked from a file within the website’s source code.
Any computer user can view this through their internet browser.

Wait, so he accessed their public website, right-clicked, went to view source, spotted a link in the HTML, went to the URL, chopped a filename off the end of it to view the directory listing, spotted an images folder, clicked on a few links to images which opened up in his browser, then right-click and saved the pictures? Pictures they uploaded to a public website? Right. A few thoughts came to mind:

1. That is not illegal

2. That is not morally wrong

3. That’s easy

4. They should have protected the directory listing if they didn’t want its contents made public (standard practice)

5. That is not hacking, he is not a hacker, he is not dangerous

6. They should not have called the Police

I read on.

The club’s chief executive David McNally said he had asked for a report into what happened.
He said: “We are the guardians of the football club whilst we’re here and so we will protect our property.
“And our property in the digital age involves our intellectual property, so we won’t allow anybody to come in and take it from us.”

7. Although they legally own the images, they chose to put them on the internet, making them publicly available (not viewable in the website but still easy to locate) and chose not to add even basic protection to them

8. Their webmasters/sysadmins are very amateur

9. The club officials taking this matter seriously are foolish for thinking he’s done something wrong, and they clearly don’t know how the internet works

10. He hasn’t done anything damaging to the club, merely leaked a “spoiler” of their new shirt before they had unveiled it

Copyright infringement is only a criminal offence if someone makes money from it or causes the copyright owner serious damage. If that is not the case, it would be up to the club to take action – not the police.
The club has not said if it will pursue the matter any further legally.

There is nothing wrong with what this boy did. He’s a long-term fan of the club – a season ticket holder. He was clearly just eager to know what the new kit was like, noticed they were building a new section of the website, decided to have a snoop to see what he could find. He found what he was looking for (due to their incompetence) and wanted to share it to let others see what he had been so eager to see. Anyone in his position would have done exactly the same, whether for a football shirt, film, TV show, music album, comic book, book release. In fact most of those examples are likely to be much more damaging than his football shirt leak – people seeing it “early” will not make a difference to the number they sell, and he’s not offering an free or cheap alternative to buying the shirt because of the pictures he’s shared. They’re pictures of a football shirt, not replicas of it, or a DIY make-your-own-shirt blueprint. The club making a deal of this is a joke.

11. Oh, and, it’s a football shirt. This really isn’t a big deal.

BBC News Link: Norwich City kit published on internet by boy ahead of launch

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Ben Nuttall

Raspberry Pi Community Manager. Into free software, maths, kayaking, GitHub, Adventure Time & Futurama. @ben_nutall on Twitter