Internet Illness

I apologize that I haven’t responded to comments or interacted with those of you whose blogs I follow…I’ve taken ill. I thought it might be a 24 hour blog flu but it’s turning out to be something more serious, something that may turn out to be…terminal. I say that because I’m really not genetically designed to fight the pervasive nature of this disease.

 

OK, enough of the metaphoric language. The disease(s) I’m referring to are injustice and unethical behavior; specifically, finding my photos and creative content on other sites without permission, credit or appropriate attribution. I have asked the offenders to remove the content; I’ve provided reference to copyright and fair-use information and I have been ignored or, flatly refused. I am both disheartened and angry that other artists and/or creative entities have engaged in this behavior and quite frankly, I’m considering taking my ball and going home. I know I have legal options but I learned a long, painful and expensive lesson that the courts do not necessarily concern themselves with the concept of right and wrong; that justice is very often a crap shoot in a game rigged in favor of those with money and/or power.

 

Before I make any final decisions, I want to give an account as to how I discovered this was occurring and to pass along a few resources for those of you who want to try to keep track of who might be using your photos. At the end of this post I will provide links to the offenders I’ve found…so far.

 

I was first alerted to unauthorized use of my content when I received a comment on my Weekly Photo Challenge post: Lost in the Details stating, “My sister had this pic as a restoration assignment for college….You technically saved her life haha” You can follow the rest of the conversation by following the link to the post. I asked a few questions but didn’t give it the issue a lot of thought at the time; then, two days ago, I was reviewing my stats (I am a data junkie!) and I noticed that post, and most of my other digital restoration posts, had received an unusual number of hits. To shorten this story just a bit, I found tools that perform a “reverse search” for photos, the website Tin Eye Reverse Image Search and Google Image Search (Google gives a lot more returns). To find the Google option, go to Google.com, choose “Images” in the upper right hand corner and you will then see a camera icon in the search bar, click on it and it will ask you for the URL or the JPEG to upload. To find the URL for your photo, right-click on the photo of interest and a window will appear, click on “View Image Info” and the URL will become available. Copy and paste this into the search bar, hit enter, and hope that only YOUR information pops up. That’s exactly what happened with “Lost in the Details”, if someone has used it, it’s not showing up on the Internet.

 

The high number of hits on the other restorations roused my suspicions so I repeated the search for the other photos. They began showing up, and the photos from the “More Digital Restoration” post turned out to be all over the Internet. It seems that many of the sites using my photo are re-posts from a site called Top Design Magazine which did an article on photo restoration. I have contacted them and I did get an initial response from Bogdan Raduta at Top Design Mag but subsequent emails have thus far, been ignored. I will be sending another email today, reiterating that my content needs to be removed and…requesting they track the sites that have used their material and ensure that, it too, is removed. Update:  Top Design Magazine has removed my content from their website.  I am still trying to deal with the

 

Another offending site is Melody Burt Designs. (The photos were removed on 12/18/14 after I filed a DMAC notice with Weebly.com)  She has admitted to downloading the “before” photo from the Internet (she doesn’t say from where) but claims to have created her own restoration, a point I’m not necessarily disputing but AM questioning.  If she took one photo without permission, might she take the other and use that as her base to start the restoration?  After much dialogue with her, including sending her information regarding copyright infringement and fair-use interpretation, her final position is wrapped up by this statement, “It is not illegal to download something from the Internet.” The conversation was obviously over at that point since communication cannot occur if the parties are operating from different points of reality.

I have taken down all the photos but re-posted “More Digital Restorations so there is a reference for the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMAC) complaints I filed yesterday with Blogger and WordPress.  My brain is tired so you’ll have to look that process up yourselves 🙂

So that’s my story to this point. I would like to keep our options open so if anyone knows a competent attorney who specializes in the area of copyright (especially in regards to the Internet) I’d be grateful to have their contact information. I would also like to hear if others have had these issues and how they dealt with them.

I will now post the websites that are using my photos and creative content without permission. I do this so you may protect yourselves because if they’ve done it once, they’re likely to do it again. Now I’m going to head to the couch, pull up a blanket, watch movies, and try to heal.

Melody Burt Designs (Removed by Weebly.com on 12/18/14)

Top Design Mag (The site removed the content on 12/17/14)

Webneel  (Removed on 12/23/14 with the help of godaddy.com)

Web Design and SEO Tutorial (Blogger)  (Removed 12/25/14)

Branding Dock

Designer Grafico (WordPress)  (Removed – date unknown)

Banana

Diseno Grafico

skitcafe – I’m not giving this link since this is a porn site.  The image they stole is a restored photo of a young girl. (Notified that this was removed 12/28/14 but I won’t go to the link to verify it)

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31 thoughts on “Internet Illness

  1. I’m sorry to hear this. I have been following you for a short time only. When I see an email from you I open it immediately. My dog’s name is Maya and my little music group love to sing and play “The black hills of Dakota”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m angry for you! But I’ll let it go. They’ll get theirs 🙂 what’s easy now is hard later and they do have to answer for what they do. Your work is absolutely stunning. But stealing isn’t a compliment.

    Like

    • Most of them are. This was from 2011 and I obviously missed some of the older ones. As a general rule, I try to keep my name unobtrusive so the focus is always on the photo. I may have to rethink that too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry for hear what happened to your photos. That is frustrating, to say the least. I can’t believe these many jerks out there…
    Thank you for the information! Stealing photos is out of control… and people don’t know how to handle it when it happens to their photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed Lisa. I haven’t done anything creative in days…the left brain has been on overdrive.
      The problem does seem to be pervasive and I suppose it will be until there are real punitive measures in place. It would also help to clarify the laws, rather than making murkier. Thanks for your comments 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Maya, this is awful! I’m so sorry to hear this has happened to you – and I must say, the porn site using your lovely photo is just disgusting. Well, all of it is disgusting. I was just thinking about this very crime today and wondering what safeguards we really have. Few I guess. I really ache for you…and want to go leave nasty measages on all those sites but not sure they deserve the attention. Sending you warm drinks and positive thoughts.

    Like

    • Thank you for your supportive thoughts 🙂
      Nasty messages don’t work (that was MY first response too – lol) but I think DMCA take-down notices will, at least I have faith they will. Two of the sites I contacted took the content down with a simple request so that was encouraging.
      It seems copyright infringement is rampant and doing searches will probably be a part of my daily routine now – especially after we get the business up and running.
      Thank you again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. How upsetting. Before making your decision, you might order Tad Crawford’s fifth edition of “Legal Guide for the Visual Artist”. (I got mine from Amazon) A taste: Chapter five – Copyright: Infringement, Fair Use, Compulsory Licensing, and Permissions. Chapter six – Copyright and the Digital Revolution. There are twenty eight chapters of the laws for artists. After reading some of these again, I think you might be in for a new RV plus a trip to Paris. Pam

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh Maya, I can understand the heartache of your work getting stolen. When I was in school, as a 11th grader, I was in the magazine committee. One day as we were reviewing and choosing contributions, I was shocked to find my poem submitted by a 5th grader under his name. I remember being all furious as I put it away and told our Editor that this was mine. I was having that “theft” feeling for a long long time and it was heart breaking. I know it is the same for you. But do get to the bottom of this, so that this will not continue, because I totally regret not meeting the boy and talking to him about why plagiarism will not be put up with.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Maya, I can certainly feel your frustration, anger and pain. I saw some post on Tumblr, “if you put it on the internet, it becomes free domain”. There honestly is no respect for personal copyrights on any of our images and work on the internet.

    I repeatedly see some of my images captured and went back and made those posts private to help stop the steals. Even with watermarks on the images I’ve found them with the WM removed. Par for the course, If I don’t want it stolen, I shouldn’t post it.

    Many photogs resize their images to teeny things before posting so that they can’t do much with it. Another way to avoid it is to post it to a place like smugmug and right click protect the image. Then embed the link into your post.

    Good luck and I’m on your side.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You make some very sad points. Although the theft of copyrighted material is pervasive, I don’t think we can simply let it slide, that’s what these irresponsible a/o immoral thieves are hoping we’ll do. I realize, after a week of research and filing DMCA notices, that it could be a full-time job (one I DON’T want!) so I’m going to have to pick and choose which battles to fight but if someone is using something of mine for commercial gain, or on a site I find distasteful (such as porn), I’m going after them every which way I can. Thanks for your comment and I hope you don’t find it to be TOO much of a problem at your end.

      Like

  8. I’m sorry to hear about this, too. And you obviously have been working hard to deal with it, and then your own generosity is apparent when you take the time to put so much information into this post. Don’t know what else to say, except good for you for contacting these people and at least some took the images down.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Maya, you scared the crap out of me when I read those first few sentences! Happy to hear that you are not terminally ill but so angry about what you are going through. You are certainly not alone and I believe I read of a website that publishes the names/sites of people who steal other peoples work…I’ll have to do some digging and I’ll get back to you. It’s happening to so many of us, regardless of watermarks, branding, etc. Give me a couple of days and I will get you more info.

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  10. Sorry about that Susan. This whole thing really has taken its toll on me. I’ve only put up one photo since this has happened and every time I sit down to work on something, I feel horribly flat and uninspired. I’m really not well-suited for any kind of public life as things I perceive as mean, cruel, unfair, etc seem to have a significant, negative impact on me.
    I would certainly like that website if you can find it. I would like to add a few names. I plan on exposing as many thieves and irresponsible users as my energy and psyche allow and I hope others will too. I know it will require balance as addressing those few photos took my entire focus for a week and no one can sustain that sort of vigilance.

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  11. Unfortunately, anything that goes on the world wide web can potentially be stolen by some ignorant person, and it doesn’t matter if it’s for an assignment, private or commercial use. I am very aware of this, and that even Watermarks won’t prevent it. So far – to my knowledge – it hasn’t happened to any of my work yet. Even though I restorate the photo, it does belong to the client, so the heartache would go far …. 😦 I feel for you, dont’ let this put you down. Don’t give them that power as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you never have the experience of finding something you’ve created on the site of someone else, especially if it’s a site that is using it in a derogatory manner.
      Thank you for your kind words of encouragement 🙂 I’m working on another site in which I’ll be offering some of my work in print form, restorations and other photographic services. Maybe when that’s up and running, I’ll feel like participating here again.

      Liked by 1 person

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