From people who download someone else’s photo for the desktop background, to those who steal photos from others and represent them as their own – photo theft is a pretty common occurrence. Many people don’t take the credits, but don’t give them to the author either (just remember the Tyra Banks case). In this episode of Burst Mode, Rick Boost talks about the image theft. He gives some examples of most memorable copyright infringement cases in recent years and discusses how we can fight this issue. Can we fight it at all?
No matter why you do photography and what level you’re on, you probably don’t want your photos to be stolen. And in the modern era, people do steal photos, big time! Even the watermarks are no guarantee of safety. It’s often fairly easy to remove a watermark, and you don’t even have to be a Photoshop master to do it.
Takedown notice and a couple of emails can sometimes solve the problem. But what happens when a famous artist or a brand steals your work? It has happened tons of times – brands stole someone else’s photos or copied their ideas, presented them as their own or didn’t give credits to the photographer. Then what?
Also, I’ve heard of a number of cases where photographers stole photos and sold them as their own, making money on someone else’s work. Now that’s kinda like stealing money from someone, right? Remember Richard Prince? He’s the master of photo theft, as he made millions displaying and selling other people’s Instagram photos.
There are some more bizarre cases of copyright infringement, like when the Wikimedia Commons posted a monkey selfie as public domain. Then, there’s the case of photographer Carol Highsmith. She posted an entire collection of her photos of America as public domain and Getty Images scraped them down and charged for their use. When their software discovered the photos on her website – she was asked to pay for them! She filed a lawsuit, but the court dismissed her copyright claim.
Even I recently used Google Image Search with some of my photos, out of curiosity. I got unpleasantly surprised seeing my photos on other websites. No one was selling them, but they were posted on several Instagram profiles. One bar from Belgrade even has one of my photos as their profile pic on Instagram. So, this happened to me, and I’m not even that good photographer.
At the end of the video, Rick suggests that we must fight against it. We should respect our own rights, just like the rights of other artists. Sign the petitions, report the thieves, work together with websites that prevent image theft and so on. However, he adds that we’ll most likely never win. But I disagree. Sure, there are some cases when it’s difficult to win (like when you’re suing Chipotle or Getty). But this is not the reason to give up the fight altogether. Do you agree?
I’m curious to know, have any of your photos ever been stolen, used without credits or even sold by someone else? How did you resolve this? I’d like to hear about your experiences in the comments.
[Photo Theft, Instagram, & Monkeys! Oh My! | Burst Mode]