September 21, 2017, 03:46:43 PM

Author Topic: Stolen photos  (Read 1390 times)

Tyroop

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Stolen photos
« on: August 26, 2017, 10:14:42 PM »
No doubt a previously discussed subject, but I was just wondering what other people would do in this situation.

For certain keywords in Google Images I can almost guarantee that there will be photos I have taken that have subsequently been stolen and used without my knowledge or permission. I found another one yesterday. There is very rarely any attempt to contact me to ask permission, no credit or link back to my website, or any offer of compensation.

There have been a few exceptions and if people ask I normally agree if they give me a credit and back link. A Muslim man in Malaysia was compiling a book containing the great mosques of the world and asked to use some of my images. I agreed and sent him full size jpgs. When the book was published he sent me a free copy. It's a beautiful book (Masjid - Selected Mosques From The Islamic World) and if you can find a copy it will cost you $100. Considering the quality of the book, it is quite an honour that it contains some of my photos.

People buying the stock photos I have on Fotolia is fine (that's what they're there for), but it's never acceptable simply to steal photos from my website.

I sent an e-mail to the latest offender asking him/her to remove the photo or to compensate me. So far, there has been no reply and when I have sent e-mails previously I don't usually receive a reply.

What should I do?

1) Be flattered that my photos are considered by some people to be worth stealing?
2) Keep hassling them until the photo is removed or I receive some compensation?
3) Contact the hosting site to get the image removed?
4) Issue a DMCA?
5) Nothing?
6) Add a big, ugly watermark so that images are unusable? I really don't want to do this because I want the site to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

I lead a very busy life with two young kids and don't really have the time to go through lengthy correspondence, therefore, option 5 is normally my response but it has now started to irritate me.

I know that there are much better photographers than me in this forum and no doubt some of you will have plenty of experience of this.

Edit: Option 6 added.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 10:54:52 PM by Tyroop »

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Stolen photos
« on: August 26, 2017, 10:14:42 PM »

tpatana

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Re: Stolen photos
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2017, 11:31:43 PM »
Just checked, one of my sports picture from about 10 years ago got fairly popular. Did reverse image search, 160 hits and not one mention who took it (well, I didn't check all 160, but at least didn't find one hit).

Not much I can do about it.

Talys

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Re: Stolen photos
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2017, 12:32:14 AM »
I suggest (5) Nothing.  It's a rabbit hole that you can chase forever to no avail that gets you mad. 

If it really bothers you, (6)  paste a giant watermark somewhere that the image would be ridiculous if cropped out and that can't be cloned over, and nobody will steal it. 

I build/paint models as a hobby, and occasionally, a photo of one will be published in a magazine.  Often, I get an email that says "Your model showed up on ebay!" -- because someone stole the photo, and is using the photo to represent... well, obviously something else, since the original is in a display cabinet at home.  So like, I opt for (1), be flattered, and shrug it off.

#2 - #4, and threats of lawsuits might work if you/your company happens to have a lawyer on retainer that isn't paid by the hour and sends a nasty, threatening letters that appear credible.

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Stolen photos
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2017, 01:01:34 AM »
Donate the rights to Getty Images.  They will track the perps down and extract huge sums of money from each one.  They make a lot of $$ doing that.

Tyroop

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Re: Stolen photos
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2017, 01:44:32 AM »
Thanks everyone. As I thought, not really much I can do about it. Nice idea, Mt Spokane, but probably not all that practical. I'm not a company or a business - just a one man website publisher with no lawyers on retainer or funds for legal action.

A big, ugly watermark would probably fix the problem but, as I said, I am against doing this because my site has a lot of images and I want it to be aesthetically pleasing for those people who don't steal images.

I wonder if Google would take action and lower the rank of a site that uses stolen images? That might discourage this practice. Or some way of naming and shaming the perpetrators?

It especially irritates me when I find that sites using my images rank higher in Google than my own site.

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Stolen photos
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2017, 01:55:46 AM »
Thanks everyone. As I thought, not really much I can do about it. Nice idea, Mt Spokane, but probably not all that practical. I'm not a company or a business - just a one man website publisher with no lawyers on retainer or funds for legal action.

A big, ugly watermark would probably fix the problem but, as I said, I am against doing this because my site has a lot of images and I want it to be aesthetically pleasing for those people who don't steal images.

I wonder if Google would take action and lower the rank of a site that uses stolen images? That might discourage this practice. Or some way of naming and shaming the perpetrators?

It especially irritates me when I find that sites using my images rank higher in Google than my own site.

Although I was joking, If your images are good, Getty will accept them to sell as stock images thru their company istockphoto.  You do not need to have a lawyer or attorney, They merceilessly hunt down and go after those who use the images without permission.  Their first attempt is to extract a large fine.  After that, they get nasty and turn over claims to collection agencies.

https://workwithus.istockphoto.com/en

Because of their aggressive actions, they have a lot of detractors, and not a few lawsuits against them.  They may already be selling your images, it happens all the time.

http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/media/photographer-seeking-13-billion-from-getty-images-agency/news-story/18247ac6c6298d534d98e6f1e518d8bc

Hillsilly

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Re: Stolen photos
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2017, 02:54:54 AM »
Good idea re Getty - They are very tenacious.

Tyroop, you are already selling images, so you must have a commercial motive.  My answer would be a combination of 2, 3 and 4.  The people you are talking about have absolutely no regard for property rights.  They are stealing.  And if you have an opportunity to teach them a lesson, I say go for it.   I don't know where you are from, but I'd be very surprised if the law isn't on your side.

I'd start by sending them an invoice for the use of the image.  Obviously you would be asking for top dollar in accordance with your standard licensing terms when people buy images directly from you.  If the perpetrators live in the same country as you, and refuse to pay, team up with a lawyer who is happy to take a commission and sue them.  (Your licencing fee that you demand obviously needs to be enough to cover legal and court fees and leave a little left over, so don't undercut yourself.)
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Re: Stolen photos
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2017, 02:54:54 AM »

Tyroop

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Re: Stolen photos
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2017, 05:06:56 AM »
Mt Spokane, 'good' is a subjective term. My photos aren't fine art material, but lots of people certainly think they are good enough to steal. They are mainly travel related and this is what they get stolen for - to promote certain travel destinations.

Hillsilly, I am a Brit expatriated in Thailand and the local law certainly isn't on my side as Thai law is only there to protect Thais. My commercial motives revolve around attracting visitors to my site and getting affiliate sales. I attempt to take decent photos to attract visitors, but then these end up getting stolen.

Depending on my mood, I fluctuate being just letting it go and doing nothing or 'teaching them a lesson'. I'm not sure that I would go as far as employing a lawyer, but I quite like the idea of preparing an invoice and sending it to them. Incidentally, most of the theft I have discovered has been carried out by Malaysians and Singaporeans. Some just have blogs and want images to decorate their blogs. Some have commercial websites offering services in Thailand, but I guess they don't get to Thailand very often to take photos so it is more convenient just to steal them.

mb66energy

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Re: Stolen photos
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2017, 05:25:42 AM »
Hello Tyroop - i had a similar problem with an energy glossary on a (german) website back in 2000 where it was a unique thing. I found a lot of images (drawings) and at least two times lots of articles and two times the whole glossary on other websites.

(1) fully "stolen" energy glossary by a venture capital driven company: I visited a lawyer and there was the possibility to sue him but if I would have not won I had to pay the cost and it was in the region of 5000 ... 10000 Euro/$. The lawyer was not "internet proof" which might have changed 17 years later.
I payed 450 Euro/$ to the lawyer and decided
   - not to write more articles/add more drawings to the website
   - publish a book with a short energy glossary (grown to a 200 page introduction about energy and a 350 page lexicon which
     was a lot of work but of fun to!)

(2) After learning how to write same lawyer-like text from (1) I made the following:
   - some images + texts (School, large company): I wrote an email to add the source for the school (A teacher and students send an email with excuses, accepted). I wrote an email to the large company to remove the content until a given deadline ( I think 1 week is o.k., but print the deadline bold face, centered underlined! ) - they asked what to pay for it and I denied.
I wanted my page as the source, others can make a link to it. That is the main thing with html and the web.
   - A full text copy with images stolen by a marketing company and sold to a medium large power supplier: Letter with a statemend like "you are publishing copyrighted material without permissen. You have to remove the content until ..." and than the deadline (layout as described above). Some remarks that I may do further steps without mention what steps. They answered and asked for fees - I too denied to see my work published on another website.

Having success with the removal of stolen drawings / texts gave me some peace of mind and the content stealing has driven me to write a book ... a thing I always dreamed of ...

If I publish a photo via web I include a small watermark which is well visible but I (a) reduce quality, (b) use smaller size and (c) if a photo is interesting for advertisement etc I include nearly invisible watermarks which can be enhanced manipulating the tone curve. Never had problems but maybe my photos arent't that interesting/good ... or I have never tried hard enough to find them somewhere else!

So in short:
(1) Write them some kind message that they have to remove (or pay for) the stolen content
(2) Try to include some visible but aesthetic watermark
(3) Use some nearly invisible watermark so removing the aesthetic watermark (close to the edges) shows some hint that the photograph is yours
(4) If you think about asking a lawyer ... test him/her if he/she has good experience with this sort of cases.
(5) And enjoy the book of Mr. Aziz and his kind manner!

Best - Michael
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Hillsilly

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Re: Stolen photos
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2017, 05:32:23 AM »
This photographer has some sample templates depending upon the situation:

https://petapixel.com/2013/12/13/sample-letters-copyright-infringers-credit-requests-payment-demands/
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tpatana

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Re: Stolen photos
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2017, 04:19:59 PM »
One guy I know took great nature picture. Many years later (not sure how he found out) it was used on a book cover without his knowledge (or permission). He emailed the publishing company with something like this:

"You're using my image without permission. I'll be nice and only charge you twice the amount I would have charged if you asked for permission. Other option is we go to court".

They paid the double. They also told they had no idea, since the cover design was outsourced to some editor who was the one to choose and use the image.

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Re: Stolen photos
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2017, 04:19:59 PM »