If you put it in the search box over on the upper right, you’ll find a number of posts on copyright infringement and stealing images on this blog.
The other day I did another quick search, and I ran into one of my images being all over the place.
D200, ISO200, 1/320 sec @ f/9, Sigma 28-200mm
I checked with Google Chrome reverse image search, and it came up with about 10 pages of results with this image. A lot of corporate websites, but also a few royalty free stock sites. I went to check the stock sites and was stunned to find the image used in a medium large resolution uploaded and offered as royalty free by to different individuals. WTF???
A few of the websites were based in China. I contacted them, but -surprise, surprise- no sign of life. Those f***ing, annoying, thieving little bastards!!! (you’ll have to pardon my grossly and bluntly overgeneralization here, it’s the frustration talking).
The other one was bigstockphoto.com. Back in the day when I was still naive and thought I wanted to hook up with the microstock sites I actually considered uploading my stuff with them. I never actually ended up doing it, but I was familiar with them. So I log onto live chat, spoke with a very agreeable Liz, who directed me to send an email to support, so they had everything in official writing. I did that. Almost a week went by, and I didn’t even get a (automated) response.
I check back on the website and go through the portfolio of this person, “appropriately” named painkiller009. I do a reverse search on a good number of images in the portfolio, thinking that if he stole one image, he probably stole a good number more. And lo and behold: about 90% of the images that returned with concrete information had a different name with it. Or two. Or three.
It’s getting elaborate. There were a few images that I checked which had a different name on each website that they were posted on. Of course there is the possibility that someone’s using a different username on every single website, but from a marketing perspective that would be a terribly foolish thing to do when you want to market yourself as a photographer.
I have no idea how this person came into possession of my image in a larger resolution, because I always plaster my images with a big fat watermark dead center. I do remember having this image up on a microstock website (before I came to my senses and deleted my account there), but there was no sale or download recorded for this image. What I otherwise think is going on is that people download an image for a few credits and then upload it somewhere else under their own name and try to make some profit out of it.
With all the corporate websites I found this image of mine on I estimate I lost about 3.000-4.000€ worth of licenses. If I could nail the bastard who’s responsible for this, I maybe able to sue for say 10.000-12.000€. But will I ever see any of that money? Of course not. Unless of course someone can point me to a Chinese copyright lawyer who knows how to deal with these cases. I think I’d be willing to spend some money on this if I knew I’d come out good on the other side. But I guess this is another case of someone who gets away with theft…