Stolen Images

Stolen Work

Someone was kind enough to let me know one of my images appeared to have been stolen. To be honest, I was flattered.

Oftentimes I’ve looked on in envy as other prominent landscape photographers take to social media & announce the latest theft & unauthorized use of one of their images. It is usually quickly followed by a trail of support that goes on for days – “get your solicitor”, “sue the bastard”, “here’s the payday you’ve been waiting for”, etc, etc.

In some cases, I’ve seen it quickly escalate to a public witch-hunt before the accused has had a chance to respond to the allegations. Their character gets publicly torn apart mostly by people who don’t know them – a thief is a thief after all. Why stop at publicly naming & shaming – cut their dirty hands off.

So why have I looked on in envy?

I’ve dreamed of the day I could put myself alongside those other lucky photographers to have had work stolen. Their work must be amazing.

Can you imagine the audacity of someone actually liking your image enough to steal it? Out of all the millions of photos that circulate on the internet every day of the week? That bastard had to steal yours. It’s clearly a sign of your greatness. They might as well have put their hand in your pocket and stolen your money. Possibly even assaulted you in the process – right… Sure you’ll spend weeks telling anyone who will listen about how badly you’ve been wronged and the money you’ve lost out on.

It is a “prize winning” image – after all, having won 3rd in the highly coveted local photography competition. Your fully entitled in that declaration as an “award winning photographer” on the personal profile of your website (and anywhere else that will allow pen to paper).

You launched it on social media shortly after its award ceremony. Having shared it to 15 different groups, it eventually received a rapturous 27 likes on FB, with another 30 between Instagram and Twitter (but you can’t trust the Instagram likes because you employ bots).

That valuable asset sitting on your hard drive is the envy of every other photographer in the country (if not the world). You’ve not sold a single print of it because you couldn’t dream of letting something of such beauty go at the going rate most people charge for a photograph. You keep telling yourself that “People just don’t appreciate photography. If only you’d taken up art, you’d have been a millionaire by now”.

Thank god you put a small watermark in the corner before you released it online. No one can steal it now.

The Master Plan

He had clearly spent months planning, scheming and devising his elaborate scheme. Imagine that thieving scumbag sitting there smiling as he went to all that hassle of right clicking on the mouse and choosing the “save/copy” option. Just take another minute to think about it, he’s probably sitting there right now, laughing at you as his bank balance doubles every minute or so….

That monster has probably used it as a screen saver. Your blood is boiling. Imagine the things you wouldn’t do to him, if you could only just get your hands on him.

The choice has been taken away from you..

Its worse than you thought, he has shared it on a group somewhere and not given you the due credit you deserve. Your career will suffer and you’ve definitly had a monetary loss here. Oh no, look…. It’s even been cropped a little and your watermark cannot be seen. Surely that classifies as “Intent”. Possibly time to get the solicitors involved!!

Don’t think for a second he will take it down and apologize if you contact him discreetly – he is a fraudulent ****** after all.

You’ve been left no other choice. It wouldn’t be fair to all your followers and fans if you didn’t announce this abomination. That small army of online followers that you’ve handsomely paid facebook to build up is now going to be called into action to pat you on the back, console you and build your ego back up telling you how wonderful your work is. Sure what else are they for? Announce the hideous crime you’ve fallen victim to and out that deviant. Its Wednesday, this will only be your 4th Facebook rant of the week. Money well invested if you ask me.   

Hold on, not all is lost…..

You’ve just realized there’s no such thing as bad publicity after all – get the word out there quickly. More FB followers will surely come your way as the news breaks and spreads like a virus through the global photography community. Your ego will swell on the back of this. Those e-mails requesting interviews for your side of the story from the likes of F-stoppers & Petapixel will be in your inbox within minutes.

Those companies who had somehow missed your work will now realize your greatness and knock down your door to endorse their products.

Get the image to the printers quick – there will surely be a que of people wanting a copy now that it has been forced into the public domain.

It’s now time to launch that Vlog you’ve been putting off because you wanted to loose weight and perfect your presentation skills before going on camera.

Offer a few exclusive workshops at €500 per day….. but don’t forget to limit it at only 8 photographers at a time. It’s not worth getting out of bed for any less.

Write that book you’ve been putting off.

I’ve probably missed a few tricks of the trade here. How else can you possibly re-coup the losses due to the wrong that has been done to you.

Simple Solution

The views above have been written in jest and I realize for some it is a real issue. I’m an amateur who has no real interest in making money from photography so I have a different perspective on things.

Put high quality images on the web and somewhere along the way, someone will use one without your approval. 9 times out of 10 it will be an honest mistake without any ill intent. I’ve done it myself before I was involved in photography and knew better. A quick message from the wronged photographer put me right and all was sorted. The general public assume images on the web are free to be used! It’s only us photographers who get worked up about it.

Unless someone is trying to make a buck on your work, get over yourself.

Use lower quality copies and a subtle watermark throughout the image. There is very little else you can do once you choose to put them out there. Stop getting worked up. The people who steal our work would not have paid you for them in the first place.

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2 Comments

  1. Dan Guisinger September 15, 2017 at 4:13 pm #

    Graham –

    Clever commentary on this “problem.” Made me smile. You’ve managed a healthy perspective — save anxiety for life’s bigger challenges. Enjoy reading your blog. Thank you!

    • admin September 25, 2017 at 8:00 am #

      Thanks Dan – glad you enjoyed it!!
      Lifes to short to worry about the little things…

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