I deal with image theft a lot as part of my work with About.com but it honestly never gets easy to handle. Small time blogs are annoying and hurtful that someone would just take what doesn’t belong to them but many times these small blogs are quite honestly clueless about the law. Sites built to do nothing but serve ads and survive on stealing the work of others to leach off of search engine results have become a nearly daily occurrence. Fill out the forms to have them removed from Google, deal with Google trying to bully me into not protecting my rights by “warning” me that they’ll send the form to ChillingEffects, send forms to the sites hosting service, hope something gets done so I don’t have to turn it over to lawyers. Schools copying my work and claiming they have the right because they are schools. No, you don’t have the right to republish my work on the internet…print it out once to use in class sure, republish – nope! Try to be extra polite in messages to the teachers because most of them have been told by superiors they really do have the right to do whatever they want.
All of this is annoying and tiring but there is one group of content and photo thieves that really set me off. Professional photographers, and those claiming to be professionals, posting my photography lessons on their sites under their own names. I’ve heard all the excuses…”I’m giving you publicity,” “Oh, I hired someone to write for me so it’s their problem,” “It was on the internet, of course I can use it,” etc, etc, etc.
As a professional photographer you know well and good that photographs are protected by copyright law. Please do not insult me and make yourself look like a bigger jerk than your behavior suggests by trying to justify the theft. Do the right thing. Take down the content, publicly apologize, and send a check for the usage. Or better yet, stand on your own two feet and don’t try to make your living by stealing from others.
For those who think they won’t get caught. There are numerous software programs now that crawl the internet searching for matching text and photos. It may take a while but you will get caught.
http://theartofconcertphotography.blogspot.com/2011/07/great-fireworks-photographs.html is copied from my article http://photography.about.com/od/photographybyoccasion/a/advncdfireworks.htm. One of the photos is copied directly from the article and another is taken from another fireworks photography lesson I wrote. So far it is day 3 with no response from the owner of the site. Hopefully I can quickly post a favorable update with Raymond Tharaldson apologizing and taking down the content rather than ignoring the issue so that lawyers must get involved.
UPDATE: Still no response from Raymond Tharaldson regarding this issue but Google/Blogger removed the offending post within minutes of my formal complaint to them. Kudos to Blogger/Google in this issue. Wonder if Tharaldson will think it worth his time to respond to my emails now?