Have you ever taken credit for work you did not produce?
Of course not! It’s so easy to grab that screen shot or right click on an image today and I must confess I’ve copied images from the web myself. It’s an easy way to remember something that’s inspired you or to save an idea I want to build on later, but I don’t post these images online or pass them on as my own work. [Full disclosure I do use other photographer’s work, especially here on this blog–most recently I used an image by Amos Chapple in an article about drones–but anytime you see an image I did not create you can rest assured that I always first get the creators permission to use it first and I credit them for work with a credit line and/or link.]
If you get caught you look like a Schmuck!
Passing off work, that someone else toiled countless weeks to create is wrong, secondly it’s illegal (actually it’s a federal violation of copyright law) and thirdly it’s plain stupid, since you’re saying that you can produce work like this and more than likely, you can’t. On top of that, if you get caught you look like a schmuck, who is incapable of producing great work and has to resort to stealing other peoples creativity. Eventually you will get caught, since running a Google search of a specific image is super easy. Granted, if you rip off a photograph of someone’s dog or your cat, you’re not affecting someone’s pocketbook, but if you create visual content for a living – like many of us do – and you’re using one of those images, well now you’re messing with our livelihood and that’s not cool.
Bitton Events stole my picture on Facebook
A few weeks ago I got an email from a friend of mine, who runs an event company – btw, if you’re looking for someone, who can rock your next event check out Illumene Event Lighting, these guys do some phenomenal work – they lit and created the sound for my worldwide premiere party of “On Wings of Hope” in an airplane hangar in 2013.
Bitton Events takes credit for work they did not produce
His email told me, that one of the images we had taken of this event was being used by Bitton Events on their Facebook page. [Full disclosure again, my friend and fellow ASMP member Vincent De Vries took this photo for me.]
What are you to do, when someone steals work that is not theirs (in our case a photograph as well as the way the event looked) and claims it for their own?
I did a few things – first of all I messaged Bitton Events on Facebook asking them to remove my image from their page and when that request did not accomplish anything, I wrote a public review about how stealing my work reflected badly on their company.
I was surprised, when I got an email from Facebook a few hours later, saying that “a review I had written had been removed since it violated the Facebook Community Standards” and they had removed my review. I checked and indeed the review of Bitton Events was gone, however the image that was clearly my intellectual property and was violating not only Facebook’s rules, but federal copyright laws was still on the offending website. Facebook was contacted repeatedly to explain how I violated their Community Standards in my review, but has not replied.
Bitton Events stops using my work (for a few days anyways)
My friends event company contacted Bitton Events, who had stolen our work, by phone and only after that call, was the image removed from the web – only to pop up again on Bitton Events facebook page a few days later. How can we photographers protect ourselves from having our intellectual property stolen? Many of us go through great lengths to add contact and copyright information into the metadata of our images, which promptly gets stripped out by many of the social media services like Facebook (that’s why I watermark every image of mine that you see on social media). What good is a review system on Facebook, where a company can have a negative review deleted in hours, but can keep displaying an images that they do not own?
I invite you to read the play by play comments and actions we took. Click on the comments of the Facebook feed above (it’s the little thought bubble) to read what other’s think about this and please feel free to leave your comments in that Facebook thread. You can also let Bitton Events know how you feel about their use of my event as their own and their stealing a copyrighted image on the corporate Facebook page and their wedding/social Facebook page. Wanna learn how to get Facebook to remove an image that you own and someone else is using without permission? I wish I could say it was easy, but here’s a step by step guide to getting an image removed by Facebook.