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)
Designer Grafico (WordPress) (Removed – date unknown)
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)