Don’t steal my photos, that’s how I make my living
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.
Good morning, Mary!
I’m sorry to hear you’ve had to spend so much time on this. I sort of know the feeling, since on Instagram, I’ve had a few friends alert me that my photos have been used on other feeds and blogs. When I approach these people who take my photos, I usually get a good response and they will credit me back. What bothers me however, is when I share my photos on my feed, I get a decent number of likes for them, but when someone else takes my photos to share on their feed, they get at least 1000+ likes for them. That URKS ME!
I also had a situation about two years ago when someone commissioned an oil painter to paint her a piece using one of my photos of an ocean scene, without giving credit to me. We argued over the phone because this person insisted that my photo wasn’t copyrighted. I had to “educate” her about the fact that it IS MY photo since I took it, but like in your case, she didn’t want to accept that. It ruined a pleasant rapport we had had previously.
It’s a struggle because we need to get our work out there, but like in all facets of life, there are wolves in sheep’s clothing who simply want to steal. So sorry.
I’m so sorry you are getting that on Instagram, that would irk me as well. And giving credit is not going to fix it. The painting story though, that is horrible. I would like to think that other artists respect the work that someone has done. And probably most do. But if only takes a few to ruin it.
It is a massive problem. I’m always astounded by how many people I work with don’t have any idea that it is stealing. They need an image, they go our, right click, save and use. I don’t think there is any real good way to stop it, but it is definitely frustrating! Your photos are so beautiful it only makes people want to steal them more. Sometimes I think crappy photographers have it much easier.
You don’t know how many times I’ve said that about crappy photos. I would imagine you have photos stolen too, since they are so wonderful and unique.
Several years back I was over an art show locally. I had a friend who did gourd art who brought in some wonderful pieces to be on display along with mine. A photographer came in and took snap shops and posted them as our gourd art on Shutter stock where they could be purchased and put on t-shirts note cards. etc. We contacted her to take them off. She did put our names on the pictures as the artist.
That was blatant theft, and putting your name on them didn’t fix it. That would be so frustrating.
Hello, I am sorry your photos were taken without your permission. I know you make a living off your photos, it is stealing when people just take your photos as use them as their own. Is there a way to have your photos not clickable or locked on websites? I have seen some people put their watermark right in the middle, it kind of ruins the image. I hope you are able to work this out.
I have right click disabled on all my websites, but people can always find a way if they want to. And yes, I have seen the huge and obvious watermark people will use. It does ruin the photo because that’s all you see.
Well I can add to your list from a slightly different type of art – writing. I’ve authored over a thousand articles that have been paid for and published by numerous publications, both print (mostly) and online. There’s certainly no way to “watermark” print (that was a ridiculous argument that person made to you), nor is there any way to continually check for plagiarism on such a large body of work. Lo and behold, I occasionally come across either large chunks of my articles or my entire articles on other people’s websites – under their name as author. The result is that when a paying entity sees that and thinks it’s THEIR writing, they sometimes offer them a paid gig that should be mine. Plus they get the credit for the hours of research I did as well as the expertise shared. So far when I’ve threatened legal action, they have taken the plagiarized articles or paragraphs down. However, once I did have to get the publication that originally published the piece to step in. In another case, a client of mine is an interior designer, and we have huge numbers of photographs of her work online – all of which she paid a LOT of money to talented professional design photographers to take. Suddenly I discovered someone was making slide show collages of her work and putting them on YouTube and generating a revenue stream for themselves by monetizing the slide shows. My client and the photographer are still trying to break down the barriers of anonymity to find the actual person behind that. So I certainly understand your frustration, it’s something all of us in the arts community have been discussing and complaining about for years.
Writing would be so hard, I can only imagine. I would be extremely upset if someone made money from my work, writing or photography. I hope your friends unravel the Youtube debacle and get justice.
I just sent you an email.
I sometimes wonder about this online stealing… it so easy for these people to steal. You are a professional photographer and taking great photos!
It is so easy for people to steal. We can only hope that people won’t. And thanks so much.
It is beyond awful when that happens. I know about watermarks being useless and you are right, they can be erased or cropped out. I am hoping you don’t mind, I have pinned TONS of your photos, but I ALWAYS, ALWAYS link back to you!!!!!!
I would never consider Pinterest as any kind of theft, or copyright violation. The image is always linked back to the original source, and I appreciate any sharing like that.
((((hugs)))))) thank you!!!!!!! I have you pinned so many times there and I always made sure to link to you!! ((((hugs)))
It’s linked back to some source. It is rarely properly credited, and even at that the original image likely hasn’t been licensed.
I am so sorry this happens to you. Incredibly frustrating, time consuming, and downright irritating. GAH! It sort of makes me glad I haven’t ever gotten interested in being on Instagram (I just cannot keep up with yet another social media!). While my photos certainly aren’t in your league, corgis are somewhat of an internet sensation, so I am sure some of my photos would be stolen.
Your photos of Wilson, and Jimmy are always great. Instagram or not, we all need to be careful.
I’m so sorry Mary, no-one deserves to have their work stolen, and no-one should have to fight with folks who do steal. People really do think if it’s on the internet it’s fair game. I hope your posts gets seen by some of these.
BTW, I think you chose perfect photos to emphasize your point.
It is frustrating, and maybe some day none of us will have to fight these battles. And thanks!
It is completely unacceptable to steal or use anyone’s art work in any form or shape. Understanding the law is unfortunately not always among people’s priorities. And of course, some don’t care, anyway. Unfortunately copyright laws aren’t the same all over the world, which is also used by dishonest people and companies. I can understand your frustration, but it’s good you go the extra length to protect your work.
I would imagine the international copyright laws really make things complicated. Too bad all the countries can’t come to a common law on this.
It seems like there is just more and more of this going on, and that’s only the ones we know about. I dread to think how much is happening that is never even discovered. :(
My thoughts exactly. There is no doubt so much that doesn’t get caught.
Horrible. My niece is an artist and people are constantly stealing her stuff – not just individuals but corporations as well. She’s had to learn way too much about this stuff and deal with a lot of lawyers.
Jackie that’s awful. I’m so sorry your niece has to go through that.
Sorry to hear you are going through this. I think you are right in that this happens to most of us. I remember one woman who took my photos and edited them with some art APP and then called it her own. She was very upset with me when I asked her not too.
Tell me if I am wrong. I think a person can look at someones photograph for inspiration in a drawing/painting if the outcome is tangibly different from the original photograph. But people who can draw near picture perfect is not allowable.
You used great photos to support your feelings and story.
Tammie, that’s so frustrating. My understanding, and the artist hubby says it’s what he’s been told too, is that you have to alter the art work so it’s not the same as the original image. Like you say, inspiration and artist creativity is one thing, out and out copying is another.
Yes, out and out copying is not acceptable in any form.
So sorry that you are going through this. Crazy that people don’t understand.
I am so sorry you had to go through all that! You’re right, though – some people just do not want to learn, or listen, especially if they disagree with you!
As far as I know, no one has ever stolen one of my photos. I guess that’s an upside to being just a sometime blogger. When I do “right click and save”, it’s usually to Pinterest or just to my photo storage…I don’t re-post anything without asking permission.
I had an artist ask permission to use one of my photographs for her painting but I never thought to ask for financial compensation. She sold her painting for $14,000. She did send me a small giclee of the painting.
What?! That’s awful. She should have been the better person and compensated you, especially since she made so much money from it.
Well you certainly struck a chord with this one Mary! I too have been copied and stolen. The first time I searched on my name on the internet I came across so many of my own photos on other sites that I was stunned. Most didn’t even bother to erase the watermark. It’s a losing battle to try to track them all down and certainly not worth the effort to prosecute (unless someone makes $14,000 on your image!!) I’ve had some serious artists ask for permission and usually I will give it. Although I sell my work I’ve never actually asked a painter to share proceeds. But I will now!!! Thanks for the pertinent post – and loved your text on the photos here!!