Photography, the Internet and Copyright Infringement
Yesterday, I spent several hours looking for blatant illegal use of my photographs. While the issue perhaps isn’t a huge problem, it certainly represents a significant potential loss of business for my company. In these few hours, I discovered more than 100 incidents of unauthorized usage. Sadly, given that locating images isn’t easy, I know that I skimmed the surface. One hundred photographs at even a very pitiful licensing cost of $25 each is $2,500 — not small change. Hmmm! Maybe, given the loss of income, it is a huge problem.
However, I guess I’m responsible for this mess. After all, I have about 20,000 photos on my web sites for my clients to view, and from my stats it looks like many other people around the world enjoy viewing my images, too. Unfortunately, now they have to look at most of my images with ugly copyright markings stencilled across them. What a shame. I’m working on replacing perhaps 5,000 photos that don’t have the copyright images — a very time consuming task. Maybe my licensing and purchase photograph pages don’t work? They seem to when I look at them. Must be my fault that the perpetrators have decided I run a free online stock photo site.
What bugs me most is that the people and companies that are illegally using my images are often professionals and should know better: real estate agents, resorts, bed and breakfasts, spiritual healers… you get the idea. A few of these professionals might think that by leaving my copyright information on the images, they are being generous. For that, I thank them. It’s awesome to note that they recognize my images are copyrighted. A few others have given me credit. Thanks to them, also. It‘s good for the ego; however, it does not pay the bills. In general, most of those who have stolen my images use my photographs and that of other professional photographers without any acknowledgement or payment. Hey! It’s how we earn our living. Get it! What’s wrong with that picture?
Perhaps I should stay at a nice resort and not pay my bill, say one of those that have used my photographs illegally. Maybe sell my house and not pay commission to my honest real estate agent. Maybe that beautiful house being rented by the week in the Gulf Islands will let me stay for free! That would be nice. A massage would be really cool as well – if I could afford it. And, you know, I might be able to if people paid for the images they have used illegally. It is, you know, illegal. Copyright infringement is a crime.
The worst offender is a real estate agent who apparently travels all over the province of British Columbia photographing grizzly bears, renting helicopters, heading to remote islands with her boat. She seems to put a fair bit of effort into her photography pursuits so she must make money at it. Many of her photos look surprisingly identical to mine. She’s obviously a very talented professional photographer. I would like to meet her and talk about destinations and technique. Is she paying British Columbia Magazine, Christina Craft and Rolf Hicker? I must say, she has a nicely illustrated blog. Should I be flattered?
I’m not sure where I’m going to be heading with this. Certainly all the offenders will receive an email stating how excited I am that I’ve been published by them. Perhaps, in addition, I will suggest they make a donation to my mortgage payment or maybe pay to rent an airplane for a few hours so I can get one of those incredible aerial photographs that are so often used. Maybe they could spend a few days getting up at 5:00 AM and help me carry my gear so that they can have some pretty photos for their website. There is a new lens I would like to buy!
To all of those who have used my photographs illegally, I say: shame! Shame! Shame!