Coping with Copyright Infringement

3 Sep
 

Coping with Copyright Infringement

Coping with copyright infringement is never fun, but if you care …

HELP, my work has been pilfered!

© 2010 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.Normally, I would wait until Saturday to publish the next blog, but copyright infringement is too important to ignore, and people have been asking how to cope when it happens to them…

I have written about © Is for Copyright, The Value of Photography, and even Pricing Photography.

I have shown you how to Create a Copyright Template in Lightroom and Bridge, and encouraged you to Update Copyright Notices on Website and Blog.

You can do all the right things, watermark your images, even Digimarc your images, and still, people will steal your images … use them without your permission.

What to do?

Arnie and I have been the victims of copyright infringement over the years, and we have always fought it. It isn’t easy, and it takes time and patience. These days, it is impractical for most of us to initiate a lawsuit against the perpetrators — at least $10,000 up front at last count, probably more these days — but thanks to new laws, we do have recourse.

But let’s start of the beginning of our most recent case…

First, we Digimarc all our images that are sent by e-mail or to the Internet. Yes, there is an annual subscription fee, but for us, it is worth it. It has enabled us to find a number of cases of copyright infringement for way more than a decade.

About once a month, sometimes more, I head to our Digimarc account and do a search for our images that appear on the Internet. This is where you need to know how to do a screen shot. Most computers these days come with their own screen-shot program. If not, just do an Internet search.

When I embark on ferreting out copyright infringement, I do screen shots every step of the way. That way, I have irrefutable proof of the infringment. Always include the http:// address at the top as you will see in the examples below.

At Digimarc, this is what came up in my last search:© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Hmmm. We never gave permission to “Melissa B” to use our photographs, and who is this http://photobomb-pictures.fbistan.com? So, I clicked on the “Melissa B” link to find

this:© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Hey, my name isn’t even noted correctly; I am never Taussig Pinkerton. Further, not only are there more of my images, but one, a rose, from a contest I judged a few years back, was not even mine!

I started clicking, and I won’t bore you with them all, simply give you one example:© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Still wrong name, watermark clearly visible, even whence it was stolen! The following screen shot clearly shows that this comes from our website, although at 72ppi, it may not be clear:© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Having found numerous instances of infringements, I had to initiate a so-called take-down notice, a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) one, but first I needed some names and contacts. “Copyright © 2014, Pictures Network, All rights reserved.” is the only information I found at the bottom of photobomb-pictures.fbistan.com‘s page. I looked at the links at the top and selected “More > Terms” and found that while their terms sounded great, they didn’t appear to apply them to those who illegally post the work of others. The Terms read, in part:© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.And if you understandably cannot read them, just access the terms as I did above.

In searching for contact information, what do I find? Nothing but:© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET. or “Please contact us at feedio.network[at]gmail.com”.

With searches I did on fbistan.com or photobomb-pictures, the information that came up was mine from a warning I sent on Facebook. I needed to find out the IP address and went to WhatIsMyIPAddress.com There, I found that fbistan.com supposedly had the IP address of 88.198.23.75, but when I clicked on the link, it came up as Hetzner Online AG, clearly not the bad guys in my mind.

Through various approaches to searching, and numerous results, I finally concluded that fbistan.com used Hetzner Online AG as their server. Hetzner Online AG had a range of IP addresses, one of them ostensibly belonging to fbistan.com. I decided to search no further, as I had already put hours into this.

More research showed that Hetzner Online AG was a winner of numerous awards and ethical in its practices. I decided to stick with them and the paltry e-mail noted above. Hetzner’s contact page was a form that clearly would not do for my purposes, so I searched again and came up with a more appropriate link at http://www.hetzner.co.za/legal/reporting-abuse. Reading carefully, I followed their guidelines. No more, no less than they required.

© 2014 Margo Taussig Pinkerton.  All Rights Reserved.  For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC  27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.Every web host has different rules and guidelines for takedown notices. Do a search on the company along with “takedown notice” to find what is appropriate for your scenario. Hetzner is a German company, so I had to use an EUCD (European Union Copyright Directive) take-down notice, the counterpart of the DMCA one noted below. There is no standard EUCD sample for this, so you must follow their guidelines exactly!

For US infringements, Glenn Quinn, President and Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc., has given us permission to use this link: http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2009/07/06/sample-dmca-take-down-letter/id=4501/ that has an excellent sample of a DMCA takedown notice.

In all, the pilfering from fbistan.com came from five different websites (that I can find thus far), two of them ours, and I copied the other three entities, so that they would know what was going on.

No one said this is easy, but if you value your intellectual property, this is the route to go. Those who do not do so give tacit permission for this pilfering to continue.

In our case, we heard back from Hetzner in about 16 hours, and the takedown came soon after that. They take this seriously. We hope that if you run into this, you will have as good fortune.

One other thing that you can do is write your server, explain the situation of copyright infringement, and ask that they block your website or blog from the infringing entity. My server did it instantly! He also did it for all his other clients without their asking!

Updated September 2014 with an addition protection noted.

For more information on our workshops, go to Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures.

If you enjoy our blog(s) …

Please SUBSCRIBE. It’s easy to do by clicking on the appropriate link at the top of the right column.

Comments on the blog are always encouraged and welcome.

We also hope you will LIKE this and SHARE this blog with those interested in photography by clicking on the buttons below. We also hope you will check out these links:

2 Responses to “Coping with Copyright Infringement”

  1. Fran DeRespinis 09-03-14 at 4:48 PM #

    Thank you so much for this excellent post, Margo.

     
    • TBC 09-03-14 at 9:05 PM #

      Thank you, Fran, for your comment. I am so glad you found it so interesting.

      Take care,

      TBC

       

Leave a Reply to TBC Cancel reply