Don’t steal my photos, that’s how I make my living — 34 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. I sometimes wonder about this online stealing… it so easy for these people to steal. You are a professional photographer and taking great photos!

  7. 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!!!!!!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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. :(

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!!

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