Online Magazine Got Caught Stealing a Photo, and Responded in the Worst Way Possible

The email sent from Survival.

With how fast social media is growing, there’s an equal amount of increase in copyright conflicts as well; photography comes into the picture. In this day and age, it’s insanely easy to remove whatever watermarks you want from a photo, post it on a publication as your own work, and reap the benefits of whoever originally took the photo in the first place. Hey, it’s easy money, isn’t it? Especially if the photographer’s not some well known big-shot with clients working under their name and about 16,000 followers on their Instagram account. Most likely, they’ll barely notice that their photo was even found and posted by someone out there like that.

Fortunately, one good thing about the photography world is that no matter how well known one is, a photographer with a loyal following will always have people looking out for them. Kathy Shea Mormino is one of them, and she just found herself in some serious East-versus-West Coast style beef with a magazine publication over use of her work (Except without the rap battles. But that would have been awesome.) It started off as a simple matter of notifying the publisher and making a cease and desist. Then, for some bizarre reason, the magazine decided to respond in one of the most unprofessional ways you’ll ever see an online publication behave. Thanks to the guys over at Adweek for the information on the story.

The original post by Mormino on Survival's Page.

Kathy Shea Mormino, known professionally as The Chicken Chick, took a picture of her chickens in her backyard, along with a few eggs (I promise this is all important.) Eventually, a few days passed by and one of her friends informed her of Survival Magazine, who had been using that picture on their blog and official Facebook page; the first two strikes came when they not only didn’t give credit to Mormino, but they also took off the watermark completely. Mormino then commented on the magazine’s Facebook post itself, claiming ownership of the picture, and sending a simple cease and desist. This is what she got in return, as given to Adweek:

For someone who raises chickens you’re a complete and total jerk, you have cost us hundreds of dollars in promotions of our posts, and we will be sueing you to recoup that and legal fees which are estimated to be between 5-10k. What an a**hole with nothing better to do than go around the web filing false take down notices. We will also be contacting all of your sponsors.

Mormino later posted a status to her Facebook page reporting that the publication deleted her comments, and sent Adweek further details concerning the case, including screenshots of the Facebook drama and the following email she received. You can check out the full coverage of exactly what happened here.

It’s one thing to get caught breaking copyright law on the internet; it’s easy, and we know people are going to do it. But it’s another thing entirely to respond with one of the worst examples of a defense mechanism of all time. Right now, more and more photographers are starting to gain attention for work that gets stolen from them, and the photography community has been incredibly sympathetic with them, helping out in ways that don’t result in any good for those who actually steal the content. In the case outlined here, Survival Magazine is definitely not living up to its name if it plans on staying in business while acting like this.

[Information and Screenshots via David Griner of Adweek]

P.S. Yea, we know it is not from yesterday… While this happened about a month ago we think that cases like this are important learn from and should be shared.

  • Cheryl Aiken

    thats crazy.

  • Joe Kundlak

    Is this not like – a month-old news?

    • Hernan Zenteno

      so what? Is a shame what happened, I hope see this published in all websites. Would be good to know who are the heads of this publication

    • Carl

      And complete with an awful headline that represents everything that’s wrong with blogs. DIY Photography usually doesn’t stoop this low; I hope this isn’t the start of a new trend on here.

      • udi tirosh

        Yup, not new. yet, response to this post shows that many was unfamiliar to the story, and it is worth sharing regardless of age.

  • Elie Romano

    outrageous behavior coming from a business. Such vulgar language while threatening at the same time shows that they are guilty and that they know they are. I hope they get their asses handed to them. This is appalling.

  • Chris Guidry

    I’d like to see how they’d react if I started copying and pasting the text from their articles into a new e-zine I create…of course, claiming ownership of the articles also.

  • Ad De Ste Croix

    “You can check out the full coverage of exactly what happened here.”
    Where? I think you missed a link! :)

  • Dick Blom

    Stealing is the new buying…

    • Steve

      You’re right it is, and it started years ago when the world went digital and people suddenly thought that stealing could be done without hurting anyone. I remain amazed at how many people keep ripping off images, music, movies, etc. thinking that there’s nothing wrong with it.

  • David Addams

    This seems to be a trend when it comes to responding to claims of copyright infringement against businesses with deep pockets.

    Getty just had to pay a huge amount of money for doing something similar.

  • $48565746

    “This Magazine”? How about naming it in the headline and not stoop to Upworthy levels?

  • Anthony Hayes

    One more rich douche who should be rounded up

  • Jake Lunniss

    Ironic, seeing as this subject is at least 6 weeks old and this article is hugely similar to others that have been posted. What is it copyright lawyers say about paraphrasing?

  • John T. Fowler

    What disgusting action by Survival Magazine.

  • w00d

    Being a photographer and saying that I only mean I share my images on-line therefor I follow the issues surrounding copyright infringement very close. One thing I’ve learned or at least I’ve found it often recommended by professional photographers that using watermarks is not about stopping image theft, it doesn’t. However what is does prove when the watermark is removed it proves ‘intent’, intent to steal! After it’s removal “they” can’t claim it was posted by mistake, threaten, make a fair use claim or put forth any excuse in an attempt to lessen their blame. Several Magazine, “You’re nicked, my old beauty” which makes for very amusing copy indeed.

  • Jared Lawson

    If this is real and the reaction is real this is unbelievable. One of the worst travesties of social media… Fitness Photographer