Monday, July 06, 2009

Flattery Or Theft?

Sylvia was taking a little quiz on Facebook tonight, and while showing me the results I spotted something:

She didn't believe me at first when I said "That's MY f-ing picture! I took that! What the hell is it doing there?"
She said "show me" and I did, and after comparing the way the crops and exposures match exactly we are confident that it is indeed my photo.

A little more sleuthing (that's french for Google) and I turned up a likely chain of events.
Whoever picked the pictures for the Facebook quiz probably got mine from this website, which shows up on page 2 of Google Image search for Corpus Christi:

In this one you can even see that the meager clouds on the left side match, which is as conclusive as it gets.
RockFreakingSolid Proof, my friends.

If you expand the search criteria, my own Flickr page shows up on page 2:

And here is my Flickr page of the photo.
You can see that this photo has been viewed at least 3777 times--it's one of my most popular.
It's in "Explore", meaning it was among the top 500 "most interesting" photos uploaded to Flickr that day, out of literally millions.

The real estate website didn't ask for my permission to use that photo, so they are in violation of my copyright and if I felt like suing I would win.
Since they are using it to sell real estate, the monetary damages might even be worth the effort.
I have the original, plus all the ones taken before and after with minor adjustments. No court could possibly rule against me unless they were crooked or stupid. (I know...)

Whoever put together the Facebook quiz is also stealing from me, but I think they just grabbed it from the first thief.

Will I take any action?
Probably not, beyond a message letting them know what's happening and a request that I receive a photo credit if they want to keep using it.

But this was the trigger I have been waiting for.
I've always said that when I catch someone stealing a photo of mine for commercial purposes is the day I start putting a very visible copyright tag on all of my uploads--I already do with my band shots, but now I'm afraid that everything I blog will have a bit of ugly in one corner.

I hope you can forgive me.


Matthew said...

"sleuthing (that's french for Google)"

That sucks, and hopefully everyone will do the right thing, but that line made my morning. Thanks.

Dave said...

I think a lot of us (myself included)have to learn more about copywrite. I visit several blogs where people simply use Google to pull down images from wherever to illustrate their comments. Some will link to the picture which, at least gives credit to the source, but I'm sure others are just unaware of the rules.

I would certainly let the Real Estate folks know. It is one thing for some average Joe not being wise to it, but for a commercial entity? Maybe they will make nice with a weekend in Corpus with one of their properties.

KeithAlanK said...

Glad you liked that, Matthew.

"Maybe they will make nice with a weekend in Corpus with one of their properties."
That's a great idea!
To be honest, $25 would suit me fine. School them, come off as reasonable, big pile of beer.

Dave--bloggers can often claim to be reporters and as such the casual use of images that aren't theirs is OK. AdSense pays so little that nobody in their right mind would call most blogs a commercial enterprise.
But what happened to me is all-too-common, and a classic case of actionable copyright violation.
The other type of case sometimes seen is where someone pretends a photo is theirs for whatever reason, and is more along the lines of mental illness rather than ignorance or theft. (I can't spell plagiarism?)

Albatross said...

I agree with Dave. Most regular Joes with blogs are unaware of the details of copyright law, but a real estate company making money off the image should know. If not, you should school them.

And, you spell plagiarism just fine.

KenKzak said...

"Don't hide your eyes,
don't evade the lies,
just plagiarise, plagiarise, plagiarise!"
"But be sure to call it Research!"

Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevski
by Tom Lehr

And the school song for the Pirate Art Institute.

Seriously, As the number one source of pics for my blog, I won't mind a bit if you put a CR logo in a corner. I keep neglecting to give you proper credit anyway.