[UPDATE: Yes, this is a reply to a real email message I received today. It showed every sign of being from the National Portrait Gallery, scoring only 0.8 out of a possible 5.0 on X-Spam’s spam-o-meter. I haven’t emailed my message directly to the original sender yet. I may yet tone it down, but if I do so I will change this post accordingly and keep you up with developments. Of course, if anyone thinks I should go in more heavily I’d be happy to hear your thoughts.]

Hello Bxxxxxx

Bxxxxxx Hxxxxxxx wrote:

> Dear Sir / Madam,

Sometimes I wonder myself.

> We notice you have an image on your website which is of a portrait in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London. The image was detected via Digimarc tracking software and the image is attached.

The image is not on my Website. There is a text hyperlink on a page of my Website which links to the image on yours (the National Portrait Gallery’s). This is how the Web works. People with Websites embed links in the pages they host. Frequently these links point to items on other people’s Websites.

> As we do not appear to have licensed a copy of this portrait for use on your website, we wondered whether you would let us know the source from which you obtained the reproduction.

You tell me. It’s on your Website. I hope you have a licence to use it or someone might send you a form email complaining about your breach of international copyright laws.

> All photographs, scans, text and other material on the National Portrait Gallery’s website are protected by international copyright laws. Unauthorised reproduction of such content may be an infringement of such laws.

Thank you for the attached copy of the image from your Website. It’s consistent with the understanding of electronic media shown in the rest of your message that, instead of sending me a simple link to the original, you chose to embed its entire 7K of data in a 90K Word attachment.

> I look forward to hearing from you regarding this matter.

Happy to oblige. I can stop linking to your Website too if you like. Wouldn’t want people looking at pictures without an appropriate licence—not that anyone could view the portrait in question because, according to your database, it’s not currently on display.

Incidentally, PooterGeek is a satirical Website. It’s hard work trying to be witty on a daily basis and I was a bit stuck for material today. Thanks for your message. It’s funnier than most of the stuff I write. You’re not a regular reader already are you, by any chance?

all the best