Don’t steal my photos, that’s how I make my living
The internet, and social media is both a great thing, and a bad thing for creatives. Social media gives us all the chance to share what we do, and hopefully get it in front of people that may want to purchase our work. This is true for every medium, photography, painting, sculpture, even writing. The problem is dishonest people think nothing of stealing your work.
I sell my photography, it’s my only source of income, and not much income at that. So when someone takes my work without asking, or any kind of compensation, they are stealing money from me. Nobody likes to be the victim of theft.
A couple weeks ago someone tagged me in a post on Instagram, my @wildmustangsforever page. The post was a drawing she was doing of one of my wild horses photos. I sent a private message stating that was nice, but she should have asked permission first. I have had artists approach me about images before, and I will usually sell the rights for them to use it. She said that someone told her she could use the image to create something they wanted to purchase. I had no idea who she was talking about, and found out this other person claimed to be my friend, and it was all ok. Ya, not so much. I educated the person doing the drawing on copyright, and I hope she has a better understanding now. I sent a message to the mysterious “friend” saying I didn’t appreciate what she had done. Her claim was the image was not watermarked, and therefore free game. I spent way too much time trying to tell this person that watermarks mean absolutely nothing in regard to ownership. She kept arguing, and I just don’t have time to educate someone who has no desire to learn.
Watermarks are useful if you want people to recognize your work, and possibly google your name to see more, or buy something. I use watermarks for just this reason. But they are fairly useless otherwise. Watermarks will keep honest people honest, but someone who wants to steal your work can easily erase, or crop out the watermark. What I tried to explain to this person on Instagram, and what people don’t seem to realize, is the second you push that shutter button, the image is copyrighted as yours. This article from Professional Photographers Association explains it all very plainly, and also talks about the financial impact it has on photographers when someone steals an image.
The very next day, I was tagged in yet another post on Instagram by another artist. They were doing a sketch of another photo of mine. I asked if they sell their work, the reply being no, they were just starting out. I told them that was the right answer, and another copyright education followed. Needless to say, all this has left me with a bad taste.
This happens all the time. So many friends of mine have fought, or are fighting to protect their work. Jennifer from My Brown Newfies is always fighting to stop companies from using her images. T-shirts, cell phone covers, sports organizations, to name just a few. Her dogs are awesome, and she is a good photographer. But it seems she is constantly fighting to protect her work.
Mel from No Dog About it was alerted by a friend, that one of her photos of her very cute dog was being used on a fan pull, and sold on Amazon. Just ridiculous.
Bloggers have their blog posts, and photos stolen way too often. It seems I am always hearing about someone who discovered their work was being used on another website. My friend Amy, at Go Pet friendly, is fighting a huge fight right now. She is spending quite a bit of money to fight a bigger company that stole blog posts, and images from her site. You can read all about it on her Go Pet Friendly blog.
Nobody has time to scan every square inch of the internet and social media to see if someone is using their photos. Most people that have work stolen, find out from a friend who happened to see it, or they stumble on it themselves. Then they have to file a DMCA, or take down notice. Then of course, you have to hope the person, or company that stole your work will comply. It’s all very frustrating, and time consuming.
This article on Ken Kaminesky Photography blog explains copyright law, as it specifically applies to photography. It’s a great read for anyone who is a photographer. A quick Google search will pull up all the information you could ever possibly want on the subject too.
So if you ever get the urge to Right Click and Save, think about the impact you are having on someones work. And don’t forget, it’s also illegal.