Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stolen Photos: A Cautionary Tale

Those of you that are on my Twitter or Facebook probably know most of this story, but if you haven't heard it, read on.

The other day I was on Etsy, searching for things using keywords that were similar for some of the prints in my shop.  As I'm scrolling down I see one of my prints, but it isn't in my shop!  A bunch of emotions went through me at once. Shock and anger being the two dominate ones.  As I investigated this particular Etsy shop a little further, I realized that not only were one of my prints in the shop, but there were two. Both of these prints were from my Paris trip and both of them are in my own Etsy shop.

I wanted to contact the seller right away and rip him a new one, but I thought it best to contact Etsy first and see what they had to say. Let me just say that I'm pretty disappointed in how Etsy managed this whole situation. It was over 24 hours until I heard from them and I also sent two emails. Then all they had to say was they didn't like to get in the middle of disputes like this and couldn't be the jury. So they gave me links to Copyright Infringement which basically gives the instructions that I'd have to send a letter to their corporate office and jump through a bunch of hoops. Really Etsy? When I offer to show you the original print unedited that has all the photo info and you still won't get into the middle of it? Whatever.

In the meantime I used TinEye on some of the other listings in the seller's shop to see if he had stolen from anyone else. I found a large number of the prints in his shop on Flickr and on DeviantArt, where I promptly emailed the artists and told them the situation.

After hearing back from Etsy, I decided to contact the seller. I told him he had two of my prints in his shop and I did not appreciate that he stole from me without my permission. I also got an email back from a couple of the people on Flickr telling me that their prints weren't stolen and they actually had a contract with the seller to use their photos and get a certain percentage from his sales.

The next day I heard back from the seller (who happens to live in Madrid). He apologized and explained that he had bought the photos (in full-size) from a former co-worker who was a photographer. He took the prints down from his shop and I've enlisted his help to get the info for this photographer friend of his. Normally, I'd call BS on that story, but after hearing from several of the other photographers that they actually have contracts with him and he has permission to use their photos, I thought he might be telling the truth.

Now, here's where it gets tricky. Those photos are also on Flickr, which is where I'm assuming the guy got them. However, I have downloading disabled on my pictures and when you right click my pictures, it doesn't even give you the option to save as. So...I'm not sure how this guy got the full-size version of my picture. 

In the meantime, I've made my Flickr private and I honestly don't know if I'll ever share my photos on there again. I've also been going through my Etsy shop and watermarking every photo. Honestly, I hate the look of watermarking and that's why I've put off using it on my photos. However, after this little debacle, it appears I'll be putting it on every single picture that I upload to the web.  I know this probably isn't the first time that someone will steal my photos, but it's really eye-opening. It just shocks me that people would steal from others and then try to pass it off as their own.

Seriously? Get some talent of your own.


16 comments:

Jessica Lynn said...

I've been curious about what happened and the full story. I'm pissed for you. It's a shame people are out there like that...not only that, but that they think they can get away with it and not get caught. I'm sorry that happened to you :(

Jes said...

YIKES! so sorry this happened to you! thanks for sharing with us though, hopefully this will prevent it from happening to someone else!

The Pink Growl said...

OMG that sucks! I've heard this has become a real issue on Pinterest too which is why they have changed some of their policies.

Ellie Rae said...

That is AWFUL! I have disabled right-click, also, but my 23 year old techie son says there is a way to left click and do something else with the control button and steal them anyway. Ugh. I have had my comments hijacked when somebody stole my personal head-shot picture and made a mock blog and went around making filthy comments in my name. My son made a moving picture for me to put at the bottom of my blog. I'm so sorry for you!

Dana said...

That stinks. I wouldn't believe a word he says. What a jerk!
D

JG said...

Oh my gosh! How awful! I need to figure out how to do that right-click disable thing.

Amber M. said...

Oh my gosh!! How awful! :(
I'm so sorry this happened to you! I've heard it happen to a friend of mine as well, only with her son!

Doc's Girl (Noel) said...

I hate people that do that. I had an issue with plagiarism of some writing a couple years back, and it was SUCH a headache to deal with. There's always a way to save a photo, even with downloading disabled. You simply have to view the page source, and you can get the link from there that leads you directly to the picture. It sounds like watermarking is the way to go, if you decide to make things public again.

Sarah said...

Oh I'd be so mad! I am actually mad myself for you and all the crazy things I keep hearing lately about the world going to pieces. What is up with people lately? Is it the spring weather that is making them lose all sense of right and wrong? I can't even get over all the bad things happening lately. Ah!

Ellie Rae said...

To disable right click, go to "design" on your blog, then go to "add a gadget," then scroll down on that window that pops up to "HTML/Java Script." Then paste in this code found here:

http://www.beinggeeks.com/2009/02/how-to-disable-right-click-in-blogger-blogspot.html

Ellie Rae said...

Or, just google "disable right click on Blogger" and several links will pop up. It is easy. To disable left click, you must do that for each and every picture. Worth it if you are wanting to keep them from being stolen. Just google "disable left click on blogger" and get instructons.

merciespermile.com said...

I was wondering how this situation panned out. I'm surprised Etsy didn't do more! That really stinks you had to figure it out on your own. FWIW, your work is AMAZING!

Shoshanah said...

This has just been the week of plagiarism. I don't believe you read a lot of book blogs, but there's been a HUGE scandal this week with one of the biggest YA book blogs. It's been so crazy, and I can't believe people who you should be able to respect, are actually taking the time to steal ideas or images that aren't there's.

Angela Noelle said...

Wow. That seriously sucks. I'm really disappointed in how Etsy handled it as well. I'm glad you're working it out and the seller is cooperating with you--get 'em girl!

Megan said...

That really stinks! I'm glad to hear that the seller took your photographs down and it sounds like he is willing to work with you. Between pictures for our work facebook page, and just crazy family members printing off pictures from my Facebook without saying anything to me. I really believe in watermarks.

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

I HATE when I hear stories like this! This is why I hate posting pictures that I don't have the time to watermark. It's amazing to me how people will just claim it as their own! Get him girl!