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Fusking Defined

Fusking is defined as the act of creating a "page" or "document" which displays several images based on their similarity in URL location. Traditionally fusking software was specifically developed to access images on the Internet. It gives the user the ability to identify image sequences based on a single pattern.

For example the following sequences could each be built into a webpage which would reference all of the images in their sequence:

http://www.example.com/images/pic[1-16].jpg built into a page which displays all 16 images. http://www.example.com/images/{lores, midres, hires}.jpg built into a page which displays 3 images.

Recently there has been some confusion about searches vs. fusking. Software intended to search for image files on the internet will often use image sequence information in a manner similar to how fusking software uses it. There is a fine line between knowing 16 images exist and checking with fusking software to see if 16 images exist.

Take for example the use of Image Surfer Pro. When you use the thumbnail post processing capabilities of this tool the existence of each image added to your fusker collection is know (or at least assumed) because the reference to the images were found by processing an existing published webpage. However, with the same tool you can create an entry in your fusker collection to check the existence of files using auto ranging.

In every sense of the term, Google Image Search is a fusking website. The surfer provides a description of the images they are looking for, and Google provides a webpage which references numerous images which meet that criteria in some way - usually referring pages or file name. Fusking is becoming a natural way of accessing image information on the Internet.

It is only considered "Fusking" if the "page" or "document" is built by the person browsing the Internet rather than the person providing access to the media on the Internet. The person posting the media to the Internet could easily have built a webpage to display the image sequence had this been their intention. This is the reason Fusking is controversial.

It is assumed the person hosting the media is either the copyright holder of the content or is publishing the content with the consent of the copyright holder. They have provided free access to the content through the webpages they have published with the content on them or which hold links to the content. In most cases these websites are hoping to derive some form of advertising or affiliate subscription revenue by hosting the content.

Fusking allows the Internet surfer to change how they access the content and quite literally bypass the hosting site's revenue generating webpages. Taking the copyrighted material out of the context of the hosting webpages.

Server Side Fusking is an implementation of fusking where the Internet surfer provides the image sequence information as a parameter to a fusking website. Webpages are then generated by software on the webserver hosting the website and made available to the original surfer as well as subsequent surfers.

Client Side Fusking is an implementation of fusking where software installed on the surfer's computer interprets the image sequence information and generates a "page" or "document" for the surfer to access.

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Fusking History

Hyper Text Markup Language has been the way webpages have been published from the beginning and from HTML1.0 forward the <img> tag has brought meaning to the saying a picture is worth a thousand words. However, bandwidth was ever an issue, constraining image size and resolution. As computers and Internet connections have grown in speed and memory has become less expensive the use of images has grown and full resolution images of just a few years ago would be considered little more than a thumbnail on a webpage today.

On today's webpages, images are being replaced with video. If an image is worth a thousand words, at 24 High Definition frames per second, a video is the Sistine Chapel as to a child's finger painting. Something only dreamed of and not even planed for in HTML1.0 was a primary focus of HTML5.0 with the creation of the <video> tag. Much like bandwidth was a concern for the inclusion of images on an early webpage, bandwidth is also a great barrier to video on today's webpage. The current solution to deliver high resolution video has been to build Content Delivery Networks. These networks built from specialized servers and networking equipment allow multiple users to access the same streaming video without glitches and minimal buffering. Though we are at a time for video that isn't all that different from early support for images, the creation of the <video> tag in the latest release of HTML shows a clear understanding that video is only going to become more prevalent.

Fusker implementations have grown and developed in lock step with the use of images and now video. Early fusker implementations focused on numerical sequences of image files. The most common implementations were server side websites where a user could type the file information into a webpage form, they would then be redirected to dynamic webpages created by the fusker website. However these sites were often shady at best and while they did give access to the images they typically just substituted their own advertizing for the advertizing the original content publisher had on their site. The original implementation of Image Surfer was a stand alone windows application which presented a form very similar to those on fusker websites and would generate HTML files on the local hard drive the user could then access with a browser. This client side implementation had the advantages of privacy, no advertisements, and the ability to share the HTML files with friends. Popular scanners and digital cameras used a numerical numbering scheme for the digital images they created and these files were commonly stored on the hosting servers without changing the file names.

As images became not only accents on pages but the primary content of some webpages it became very common for other websites to hijack the content using links which directly referenced images rather than the intended landing pages which advertised the larger member content available through the content publisher. For a time this conflict went back and forth with various mechanisms for blocking the hot linking and protecting content. Eventually the internet reached an understanding that the best way to protect and advertize your content was to physically mark the sample images and the best way to combat early thumbnail posts was to create your own pages with links to your images. These pages were known as Free Hosted Galleries (FHGs) and each image they linked to was marked in a way that let the person viewing the image knew where the content originated. Thumbnail posters transitioned from combatants to advertizing partners with revenue sharing agreements for the traffic they generated to the FHG landing pages. Sever side Fusker implementations continued to exist in the same way - directly accessing the now water marked images. Client side fusker implementations such as Image Surfer Pro embraced the concepts of FHGs and Thumbnail posts that linked to them by introducing HTML processing to directly find and list the images found on the FHGs, even processing entire Thumbnail Post pages to link images from a large number of FHGs quickly and easily. By this time Image Surfer Pro was introduced as a managed extension to Internet Explorer, making fusking a simple extension of accessing the web.

As bandwidth and storage capacities increased, the image content providers found themselves managing millions of higher resolution images. New server side management systems were developed to catalog and manage this large inventory and in the process each image needed a unique tag. Filenames and URLs to access the images transitioned from elaborate directory structures with numerically similar filenames to the use of Globally Unique Identifiers (GUIDs) in both directory structures and file names. This clearly presents an issue to the original Fusker implementations which relied on numerically sequenced filenames. The concept of a List Fusk was introduced on both server side and client side implementations. For server side fusker tools the list is workable but inconvenient as the user must provide each of the GUIDs independently. Client side implementations however, easily worked the concept into their HTML processing. What did change for Image Surfer Pro users was a change from finding a clean image reference to simply finding a FHG with the images directly referenced.

In today's market, bandwidth and storage capacities allow for full HD Video to be delivered directly to the home, and consequently video is taking the place of images in many markets. Content providers previously concerned primarily with images are introducing video content and the amount of video content available is growing daily. Similar to how thumbnail posts drove the image market to change in significant ways, Tube Sites are driving how video content providers advertize and produce video. In some ways the web community anticipated the need for HTML to support video before the computing infrastructure was ready. The <IFrame>, <embed> and <object> tags were all included in the release of HTML4.1 in 1999... however the release of these three tags indicated a difference of opinion in how video would eventually be delivered in mass via the Internet and it was not until the release of HTML5.0 in 2014 that the <video> tag was introduced. This new tag supports only a few of different video formats (MP4, WebM, and OGG) and browser support for each of the formats has not been universal except for MP4.

Fusker implementations have been hesitant to make the transition from images to video for a few reasons. Primarily the use of different tags and delivery mechanisms have made it nearly impossible to generate workable HTML pages on either the user's hard drive or a webserver which is not hosting the video. In some cases the video was delivered via buffered content streams and other mechanisms that are not direct file access. It also has not been common to have the videos named in any numerical or systematic way which could be exploited by server side implementations or other fusking systems which exploit common file naming conventions the way they did for scanners and digital cameras. Unlike images, where small groups of related images are found together, video is often delivered in a single file making the utility of fusking that file not worth it. However, Image Surfer Pro is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the growing consensus on how video is delivered. Image Surfer Pro builds Fusker Collections. These collections allow the user to access various types of content, including Images, Videos, Frames, and Pages at the same time across multiple servers. By introducing the concept of a media type into it's fusker implementation, Image Surfer Pro enters the next generation of media content delivery and allows users to build collections of the media that interests them, view the media in a consistent advertizing free manner as well as save their collections for later access or sharing with other users they know.

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Fusker Collection Defined

By convention a "Fusk" is a set of patterns applied to a single URL path which effectively describes a set of file references. In Image Surfer Pro terms a fusk is a single path through the fusker collection tree but is also often used to refer to the iteration mechanism used within any specific segment of the tree. In a fusker implementation that deals with a single URL at a time, the format of the data is expected to be consistent and the presentation is thus limited to that media form. For example if you fusk the URL to an image file, all of the files accessed by the fusk are expected to be images.

A fusker collection is then a collection of multiple fusks or paths through the Image Surfer Pro tree. This allows a single fusker collection to access multiple media formats at the same time. For example Image Surfer Pro can display Webpages, Shockwave Flash, MP4 Video, and Images on the same page generated from a fusker collection which references each of the media types. A server side fusker implementation may logically claim the saved information from multiple fusks by multiple users constitutes a fusker collection. With Image Surfer Pro, a user may save the fusker collection information to a file on their hard drive. This stored file can then be read by Image Surfer Pro and used to access the various media file URLs on a different computer or at a different time. While most fusker implementations focus on the immediate access to a set of files and presumably the storage of those media files by the user on their local hard drive, Image Surfer Pro focuses on the creation of the fusker collections which access the files which remain stored on web servers (though it does provide a mechanism for storing the media files directly if the user feels those files are likely to be removed or changed).

It should be noted that no matter how complex a fusker collection becomes, it could always be defined as a list of files and thus could itself be a single list fusk.

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Fusking from the Perspective of the Media Publisher

The following is a layman's opinion and not legal advice or an expert's interpretation of any copyright or other law under any jurisdiction.

Most of the files "Fusked" are being provided to draw users to sites where the advertising is designed to get the surfer to subscribe to the site to access more similar content. In most cases the files are of an adult nature. The "fusked" files were provided for free as samples of what could be gained by subscribing to the website.

Fusking produces three concerns for the Internet publisher:

Copyright Infringement

We'll assume that content not intended to be publicly available is secured behind a standard user account access website. While it is possible to build a fusker collection of the links behind such a firewall - access would only be possible if the user had logged into the website - in which case the standard terms of use govern the use of the images accessed and fusking changes this in no way. However there have been very public examples where content was not secured in anyway (Playboy's initial cyber girls site, Photobucket, etc...) and some fusking software has been created expressly to search for unsecured content (especially on Photobucket).

The person with the copyright has provided free public access to the file by hosting it on the web. As long as the Fusker is not directly reselling the file for profit the content is typically considered to be in the public domain and all that is changing is the way the fusker is accessing the file. Placing the file reference in a fusker collection is no different than bookmarking it in your web browser.

Loss of Advertizing Revenue

The issue from the perspective of the content publisher is whether or not by accessing the content through fusking will cause a loss in either subscription or pay-per-click revenue.

Clearly if all of the advertising is on the webpages around the content, and the surfer has no idea which website was the source of the content, then all advertising is being missed. Much like fast forwarding through commercials on your DVR.

Pay-per-click advertizing revenue on the webpage surrounding the content is clearly lost when the surfer accesses the content through a direct link in a fusker collection as that advertizing will never be seen.

However, Fusking can be turned into an advertising asset quite simply by placing your copyright and website information in the content itself. This has become standard practice for may websites which make their revenue from subscription access to images and videos. Fusking then simply increases exposure of the surfer to your content - providing greater advertising from each specific content file.

This can even be an effective way of recovering pay-per-click advertizing revenue. When the surfer sees your domain name in their fusker collection and your website information within the media content this advertizing can entice them to visit your site directly - where they will encounter your pay-per-click advertizing and enticement to subscribe.

Denial of Service Attacks

When a fusker maliciously uses software to hammer a web domain with requests for thousands of media files which don't exist or to which public access is not provided, they are essentially launching a denial of service attack on the hosting servers creating numerous 404 or 403 server errors and additional error logging.

This is more likely to happen with software packages which explicitly search for the existence of files based on typical naming conventions used by cameras, scanners, and other digital content sources.

Dealing With Fusking

Here are some basic suggestions to effectively deal with the fusking of your content:

  1. Capitalize on the Advertizing by placing your copyright and website information in each media file.
  2. Secure Subscription Inventory by making sure the material you charge a subscription for requires user access via logging in with a username and password granted after signing a terms of use of for the website.
  3. Block Hot-Linking If you can not capitalize on the additional advertising Fusking could generate, and still want to protect your content from fusking, use referring site information to block hot-linking (see reference links below for details).
  4. Block Attacking IP Address Use server logging for 404 and 403 access errors to determine the frequency and quantity of such errors associated with each originating IP Address - then block those IP Addresses either temporarily or permanently based on appropriate thresholds. By denying access to even those few images they do find most fuskers will move on.
  5. Prosecute where possible by pursuing those that subvert the use of your copyright material and fusking systems which circumvent standard site protection mechanisms through hacking methods.

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Image Surfer Pro Fusking

Image Surfer Pro is a client side fusking implementation. It operates as a toolbar extension to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. When the surfer finds a direct media URL on the internet, they provide that URL information to Image Surfer Pro via a command button on the toolbar. Image Surfer Pro adds that URL information along with any sequencing information (numeric or lists of strings) to the user's current image fusker collection file. Image Surfer Pro will build HTML webpages on the surfer's local computer which access the media files referenced in their fusker collection.

Image Surfer Pro does not in any way circumvent server side protection of copyrighted material. It does not hack user accounts or attempt to provide credentials in any way. Though if a user has a valid user account to access subscriber information, they may utilize Image Surfer Pro to build fusker collections of content their accounts have access to. It does not rewrite request headers or take any other action to spoof the serving website to gain access that would not be granted by direct user access of the URLs in the fusker collection.

Image Surfer Pro is not a search engine. It is not intended to search the Internet for media - it is however designed to provide direct access to series of media files found by the user while surfing the internet. It is not a spider or bot and does not crawl websites indexing or looking for media references. When using the thumbnail post processor it processes the current webpage and possibly directly linked webpages collecting media information.

Unlike some of the Image Surfer Pro competition, Image Surfer Pro does not chain together large numbers of filename combinations based on common naming conventions and generate thousands of unsolicited file requests. Image Surfer Pro uses specific information found by the surfer directly to generate relatively few file requests. While the traffic it generates will access more images more quickly than standard surfing techniques it would not constitute a denial of service attack unless the user grossly misused the tool.

Image Surfer Pro in fact does very little that could not be done manually using Internet Explorer and a standard text editor (such as Note Pad). Image Surfer Pro's technology simply extends the capabilities of Internet Explorer to make the process easier, more enjoyable, and more effective.

While the copyright of the images referenced by a fusker collection remain unchanged, the creator of a fusker collection file retains the rights to the fusker collection they have created.

For information on how to use the Fusker capabilities of Image Surfer Pro, refer the Fusking section of the FAQ pages, or the User's Manual for Image Surfer Pro.

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Check out the following links for additional information on Fusking:

Image Surfer Pro

The Ultimate Fusker Software!
Catch the Wave!

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