H-metro resolves to protect content by converting text to images: this is why it won’t work

Trycolyn Pikirayi Avatar

Desperate situations do call for desperate measures – I agree, but sometimes desperate measures can really prove to be futile. So is the case with H-Metro. H-Metro has been employing numerous tactics of trying to combat piracy and the most recent one is uploading content as images rather than text. I know the issue of piracy is a big problem in this industry and there hasn’t been any viable breakthrough that I know of yet, but this resolution actually presents more problems than it solves anything.  Let’s go through why…

So for starters, the idea is bad in that it will not help their SEO since images cannot be read by the Google search crawler and therefore, Google won’t know that they have the content.

With everyone getting their news online, it’s great that H-Metro is online, however presenting their news as images defeats the purpose. I’m saying this because for a while H-Metro wasn’t actually online, for this same issue of piracy. Them making a decision to come online is therefore positive. They just need to do it the right way.

Fine, say H-Metro doesn’t really mind not having a good online presence, all they want is their content protected – but that’s still problematic because of the existence of software such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR). OCR software recognises the text on images and PDFs which can then be extracted and converted into editable Word, Excel and Text output formats. And at the end of the day, you realise you really haven’t done much to address the problem.

Again, this piracy problem has driven H-Metro to upload their content later in the day after most media houses have already published. But then again, that still is a problem because some online news platforms like iHarare and Nehanda Radio (which basically steals news from other sites and then ‘protects’ it – the irony!) actually manage to upload H-Metro’s content before H-Metro itself can.

How? The simplest assumption we’d rather go with is that the content thieves buy the H-Metro hardcopy and transfer (by scanning and converting to text) the information contained onto their sites. And of course there was no way H-metro can gamble by delaying their hardcopy too – I mean who buys newspaper in the evening??

Anyway, using this logic, you’ll discover that the new strategy of converting text to images does not help the case since content thieves still have access to the hardcopy.

So in essence: H-Metro’s new resolution will only lead to more frustration and complications rather than solve the initial problem.


  1. iRON

    Spot on, this does not spot the thieves in any way.

  2. Smart Donkey

    Another irony is how much the Hmetro hardy copy cuts and copies from papers like the Telegraph, The Sun and others. A substantial part of their news is also borrowed. Besides I hope they go out of business with their slanderous coverage which somehow eschews the misdeeds of the powerful bigwigs.

    1. iRON

      True. Agree with all your sentiments

  3. Anonymous

    They are blowing things way out of proportion if you ask me. BTW, why is there no Hmetro page on Facebook? There is even a broken Facebook link on their site. Poor

  4. tinm@n

    The word you’re looking for, as it applies to written work, is “plagiarism” NOT “piracy”.

    1. Q

      NOT QUITE!
      Plagiarism – the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.

      Piracy – the unauthorized use or reproduction of another’s work.

  5. dololo

    Dodgy devs + Shitty business model = hmetro

  6. The Observer

    Get your facts right,H metro hard copy plagiarizes half of its content….Why are you not mentioning it in your article. The entire sports section, international celebs etc is taken from other newspapers..So they make a big fuss about their content yet they are crooks themselves