Rocky Mountain School of Photography » RMSP http://www.rmsp.com Mon, 06 Jul 2015 18:10:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 A Tale of a Stolen Photo http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/12/10/tale-stolen-photo/ http://www.rmsp.com/blog/2014/12/10/tale-stolen-photo/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 16:06:13 +0000 http://www.rmsp.com/?p=35469 written by Beau Johnston.

I made a conscious decision, when I started writing and photography, that if I wanted to make a name for myself I would need to have an online presence. Websites, blogs, and social media are great tools for getting your work out and in front of the masses. By leveraging these tools, I have acknowledged the risk of having my photography used, without my permission, in everything from personal blogs to advertising.

I have tried (nearly) everything I can think of to prevent individuals from stealing my work. I have used right-click protection, small jpegs, and watermarks to try and limit the use of my images with marginal results. I have found that if an individual really wants to use your image, they will find a way. My final line of defense is to search for my work with Google™. I run Google Chrome on my computer and installed the ‘Search by Image’ {hyperlink: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/search-by-image-by-google/dajedkncpodkggklbegccjpmnglmnflm?hl=en} extension for the browser. This allows me to right click on any image and search for other instances where the image is used on the internet, all by selecting the ‘Search Google with this image’ in the pop-out window.

My original image

Beau Johnston

The cropped image from the website

Coppied Image

During the week of March 31st I spent a couple of my lunch hours browsing the internet for my photos (I know that sounds a bit vain). In doing so, I came across nine instances where my images were being used without my permission. In all but one instance, the images had been cropped to remove my watermark, with the most notable use being that of real estate company. Not only had the company used my image without licensing agreements in place, but they had cropped the image to remove all recognition of the photographer that took it – Me!

How I Handle These Situations

In an effort to document the copyright infringement, and before I ever contact the violator, I exported the webpage as a pdf file. If things were to ever escalate, and lawyers were to become involved, I want to have evidence of their violation. This is not the first time I have confronted someone about using my images without my permission, but it was the first retail business was promoting their products with one. I felt it was best to document everything, just in case.

My Email to the Company

After exporting their webpage as a pdf, I drafted an email to the company explaining that I discovered their use of my photo without my permission. I find that when I come across as ‘confused’ about whether they have a license to use the image, and not immediately confrontational, I seem to get a better response.

From: Beau Johnston

Sent: Friday, April 4, 2014 11:10 AM

To: ____@____________.com

Subject: Image Use

 

Good morning ____,

After a recent image search, I discovered one of my photographs may be being used on your website without a license agreement in place. The page is question is for the Copper Basin Subdivision, found here: http://www.________/ copper_basin_subdivision/

The photograph in question can be found here: http://www. ________/Documents%20and%20Settings/Copper-Basin-Idaho-Homes.jpg

Can you verify if a license agreement is in place? I do not have record of BuildIdaho.com paying to license the image.

 

Thank you for your time.

Beau Johnston

The ‘Optional’ Next Step

If I do not get a response from the violator, within a few days, I will follow up by reporting the copyright infringement to Google. Google’s online Report alleged copyright infringement form {hyperlink: https://support.google.com/legal/contact/lr_dmca?product=imagesearch} asks you for your contact information, to describe where the copyrighted work can be found, and where the alleged copyright infringement is located. In this case I would explain how the company had used my image without permission and provided an example of where the photo was located on my travel blog.

The Company’s Reply

I heard back from the company, a few days later, with a reply that they were looking into the situation and would get back to me. The owner eventually replied saying he did not believe they had paid to license the image but he has “others help develop his site and they might have licensed the image, not that that matters.” I know, and he probably knows, this image was never licensed for use on his website and that is why I was not surprised when he asked for information on how much I charge. After exchanging a few emails, and some phone call conversations, we came to an agreement to license the image for use on his real estate website.

Lessons I Learned

I learned a lot in talking with the real estate company about their copyright infringement; most notably was to reaffirm the old adage “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” While many of my friends told me to immediately send them an invoice and demand the image be taken down, when they heard of the copyright infringement, I decided to take a different approach. I ultimately believe I came out ahead by taking the approach I did. I believe the ‘stern’ approach would have resulted in my image being removed, but I do not believe it would have resulted in me being paid. By being willing to work with the company, and being pleasant during discussions, I was able to establish a licensing agreement for the website use. We, ultimately, want to get paid and have our images on display so why not start off on a good foot with the people/companies stealing our work. Escalate to being stern, if you do not get anywhere by nice, and let them know you are filing a complaint with Google.

Thank you to Beau Johnston for this very informative and insightful blog post. Here’s his bio and website for you to check out.

My wife (Krista) and I are the managing editors for Toyota Cruisers and Truck Magazine’s “Outdoor Lifestyle” and “Overland” sections.  We are sponsored by AJIK Overland Exchange, TreadWright Tires, and members of DeLorme’s Ambassador Team.  You can read more of our travels, and pick up a few gourmet camp cooking recipes, at our blog www.LivingOverland.com.  My recent honors include taking first place in the Recreation category at the 2013 Wild West Photo Fest, second place in the wildlife category at the 2013 Picture Wild Montana photo contest, and second place at the 2014 Platte River Photography Show. 

 My personal photography project can be found at www.HiddenWyoming.com

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