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.