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.