Copyright infringement wasting time

Copyright infringement wasting time

I spend so much of my time reporting copyright infringement of my work it takes the joy out of creating art in the first place! 

Yesterday a contact messaged my via Facebook Messenger to let me know they had seen one of my images on Pinterest. This is not unusual, however in this case it was a piece of work that had been ‘adapted’ and was being sold via various websites. The artist in question is from Poland and had uploaded my artwork to various websites that sell merchandise. Cheeky bugger!

Below are the 2 images of mine that have been stolen.

This is where and how they appeared on various websites.

Are they mine?

I thought I’d do a quick comparison to check and confirm the infringement.

Both images have been flipped horizontal. This fools the image checking tools like as they don’t recognise the flipped image.

I flipped it back and then placed it over the top of my original, and as I expected, it’s a direct lift of my work, in both cases.

DMCA Process

As an artist you have to follow a time consuming process of filing a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice. This is okay for a one-off image, but I didn’t know how many images this person had stolen. The matter was compounded due to the online stores where he was selling these works had 100+ images of his, in various product options. This meant I have to wade 900 products on one website to identify if any of them were mine.

As it was, I did find another image that he’d stolen. I then had to repeat this process over 6 additional websites where he also had uploaded work for sale. The whole search activity took me 3 hours to complete. 

Once the URLs of the offending images have been located, the DMCA form can be completed. The rub is, to prove the image is yours, you have to have a copy of your own work online somewhere. Without this you are unable to report the theft of your own work. It’s no good it being on a website that’s a members only area like a photography portfolio site. Iit has to be somewhere that anyone can get access to.

It’s like having your car stolen, upon reporting it they want to see a photo of you with your car so they know its yours.  The onus is on the copyright holder to confirm ownership, not the person who stole it. The fact I have the original RAW file on my hard disc with the date, time and unique filename. I have a copy of the signed model release. All of this is irrelevant. All they want is a copy online somewhere! It’s a joke. I’ve just re-vamped my website and removed many of my images, one of the ones in question was one that didn’t make the new look website. So now I’ve uploaded it here on this blog post.

It’s the principle

Stealing is stealing. Creative theft is nothing new, and digital makes it easier. My work has been online for over 20 years now, so there’s quite a lot of ‘stolen’ versions of my work out there. Most often people let me know about, even before I stumble across it. 

I filled 3 DMCA takedown notices, 2 have been successful, the 3rd is questioning some information which I’ve responded with. So hopefully that will also be resolved.