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Let's Talk About Image Theft



Image theft, unfortunately, has been a rather hot topic in the Disney photography community lately, particularly on Instagram where watermarks have recently become very en vogue in response to several image thieves (including one well-known “legitimate,” mainstream Disney fan blog) who…

I feel like this an important reminder. While I obviously do employ watermarks, I share much of the other opinions expressed in this post.

I also use the same licenses so this is a nice review as to what that means exactly.

Anonymous asked: The crap you're posting on all your pictures is really annoying.



People stealing my work is really annoying, as is sending me the same ask on both of my blogs.

I love your photos.  I hate having to use watermarks because they detract from the photos & even small ‘credit lines’ [stating ‘all rights reserved’] get cropped out of images & reposted [often with crappy filters or part of some crappy collage].  I feel like I have to make the watermark so obnoxious no one will want to steal the photo.

The worse thing about people posting my [older, less watermarked] photos on Instagram or other sites isn’t even their ignorance about copyright protection.  It’s the argument & harassment that follows a polite request to remove the image.  People go on & on spouting off ignorant theories about what they can & can’t do with my work & argue like I’m in the wrong by politely informing them I want to be the only person to display my work. 

Almost any search on copyright [as it relates to photography] results in numerous of articles that clearly spell out — if it isn’t yours - you can’t save it, post it, edit it, display it etc without asking the owner for permission.  It doesn’t matter if you found it on google, are too dumb to look for the source, aren’t using it to make money, whether or not I posted it to Instagram, on my blog, where you stole it from, whether or not all talentless other people do it   And no — I am not ‘honored’ you chose to reposting a crappy cropped low quality version of my work without my name, website or contact info. 

I get that some people aren’t aware of copyright law & despite being able to use google to find 1000’s of photos — can’t use google to learn about the legality [or illegality] of doing so.  But when users crop out photographer names & ignore ‘all rights reserved’ watermarks — I too find it necessary to include a long explanation clearly informing people — you can’t have my work.  At the very least, when they do steal it & I politely ask them to take it down — they can’t give me an attitude & try to tell me they didn’t know it wasn’t OK to accumulate Instagram followers [or whatever] using content I created.  

Part of the issue is companies like Instagram that make users agree to only post photos they own the rights to in order to claim exemption via DCMA — but do nothing to enforce their own policies or educate their users what is and is not OK.  I can understand where people’s ignorance comes from when there’s more IG users hosting collections of images they don’t own than there are users that actually take their own photographs.  Companies like Getty & AP have better things to do than chase down ignorant teenagers reposting images on social media.  Most companies only enforce original content policies if the IP owner complains [which won’t even have an account shut down after being reported]  When so many accounts filled with blatant infringement of obviously rights managed photos is so overwhelming, it’s not hard to understand why ”that’s what Instagram is for” has become a common argument I’ve heard — for why I am WRONG to politely request someone remove a post of my work.

I don’t mind when sites like Tumblr have a native reblog feature.  Occasionally I’ll post higher resolution images with  less watermarks to sites with user communities with more respect for copyright.  Except for the one or two people who’ve actually stolen images from those sites & posted them to Tumblr — instead of reblogging the low res versions of the same images I posted to Tumblr. 

I can’t believe someone had the audacity to come out & say that to you.  No one is forcing them to follow you or look at your photographs.  If they don’t like being reminded it’s not OK to post someone else’s work to sites they agreed to post only images they own [copyright] rights to — they don’t need to look at your beautiful photos or reblog them via Tumblr.  I thought I was the only one providing a ‘lecture’ with all of the images I posted.  It’s nice to see I’m not.  I wish more photographers clearly outlined their license policies with their photos — to the extent it’d became the norm people assumed all work was protected, regardless of whether or not the owner provided a ‘reminder’ about the lesson we all learned back in Kindergarten — it is NOT OK to take someone else’s work & do whatever you want with it. 

Thank you! All of this is so well said and I could not agree more. I’d love to be able to post my photos without any watermark or explanation but that just doesn’t seem like a possibility any time soon.

Once people start respecting my property, I’ll start caring if they think my attempts to stop theft are “annoying.”

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