Defeating toolish Flickr image blocking

I love flickr, which is why I was annoyed when I discovered that they’ve implemented some crude–and easily defeatable–image blocking to some images. If you right click an image and it offers to save “spaceball.gif,” you’ll know that you’ve encountered this lameness first hand. spaceball.gif is just a blank image.

I remember attempts in the early days of the web to block image downloads via JavaScript and other equally lame efforts. So this is hardly a Web 2.0 annoyance. It has a history. But, like all half-thought-out copy protection hacks, this one is easily defeated, so long as you run Firefox. Here are the steps:

You know how much effort it took to figure this out, Flickr? one search with two search terms on Google. I won’t turn this into a big debate about free culture. But, in this case, I has actually been given permission to use a particular image by the photographer who took it. And while I could have asked her to send it to me via email, I didn’t need a high-rez image for the work I intended to do. And I found Flickr’s approach to preventing me from doing that insulting–in that it assumes infringement is the goal–and laughable, in that web browsers, of necessity, have to download the images in a page in order to display them.