If you put it in the search box over on the upper right, you’ll find a number of posts on copyright infringement and stealing images on this blog.
The other day I did another quick search, and I ran into one of my images being all over the place.
I checked with Google Chrome reverse image search, and it came up with about 10 pages of results with this image. A lot of corporate websites, but also a few royalty free stock sites. I went to check the stock sites and was stunned to find the image used in a medium large resolution uploaded and offered as royalty free by to different individuals. WTF???
A few of the websites were based in China. I contacted them, but -surprise, surprise- no sign of life. Those f***ing, annoying, thieving little bastards!!! (you’ll have to pardon my grossly and bluntly overgeneralization here, it’s the frustration talking).
The other one was bigstockphoto.com. Back in the day when I was still naive and thought I wanted to hook up with the microstock sites I actually considered uploading my stuff with them. I never actually ended up doing it, but I was familiar with them. So I log onto live chat, spoke with a very agreeable Liz, who directed me to send an email to support, so they had everything in official writing. I did that. Almost a week went by, and I didn’t even get a (automated) response.
I check back on the website and go through the portfolio of this person, “appropriately” named painkiller009. I do a reverse search on a good number of images in the portfolio, thinking that if he stole one image, he probably stole a good number more. And lo and behold: about 90% of the images that returned with concrete information had a different name with it. Or two. Or three.
It’s getting elaborate. There were a few images that I checked which had a different name on each website that they were posted on. Of course there is the possibility that someone’s using a different username on every single website, but from a marketing perspective that would be a terribly foolish thing to do when you want to market yourself as a photographer.
I have no idea how this person came into possession of my image in a larger resolution, because I always plaster my images with a big fat watermark dead center. I do remember having this image up on a microstock website (before I came to my senses and deleted my account there), but there was no sale or download recorded for this image. What I otherwise think is going on is that people download an image for a few credits and then upload it somewhere else under their own name and try to make some profit out of it.
With all the corporate websites I found this image of mine on I estimate I lost about 3.000-4.000€ worth of licenses. If I could nail the bastard who’s responsible for this, I maybe able to sue for say 10.000-12.000€. But will I ever see any of that money? Of course not. Unless of course someone can point me to a Chinese copyright lawyer who knows how to deal with these cases. I think I’d be willing to spend some money on this if I knew I’d come out good on the other side. But I guess this is another case of someone who gets away with theft…
This REALLY pisses me off, reading about such blatant theft. Thanks for sharing the experience; maybe it will keep us all more on our toes.
I hope someone in China contacts you with a good lawyer.
As these things happen, we all need to share the information in the hope that we’ll deter some of the perpetrators.
In the mean time Bigstockphoto has suspended the account pending investigation.
I’m still waiting to see what happens and see if I can get the identity of the person who owned the portfolio.
I am amazed by bigstockphotos’ lack of action – when this happens, an agency really needs to freeze an account if evidence has been presented to them that the images are stolen.