Colorful, Laskowitzpictures.com, Photographs, Photography, Pictures, Ray Laskowitz
Comments 32

Looking Back


Drifting in the wind.

I made the original image a while back. I reworked it last night.

But, that’s not what I’m going to talk about. You knew that, right?

I want to talk about Dan Dasilva. Who? What? Where?

He came to light via a photojournalist group that I’m part of on Facebook. Apparently, he lost a copyright lawsuit because he thought it was a good idea to scoop up pictures from the internet and resell them. Usually on t-shirts. Apparently, there is a big business using Shopify, to buy, sell and trade whole online stores of nothing. Some do on demand printing — so my picture could end up on your t-shirt without me knowing. Others do little more than make instructional videos about how to make money on resellers platforms like Shopify. These guys make some pretty good money not really doing or selling anything of their own. Can you say “two-bit grifter?”

Anyway.

Danny boy got sued. For $150,000. He settled for $27,000 and court and legal costs on both sides. He took to YouTube to complain about the malicious copyright holders who put pictures on the internet so they could entrap thieves like him. Like me. I make my living creating pictures. Yeah. That’s exactly what I do. Sure. I also have to watch my back because of criminals like him.

He was nailed on Reddit to the tune of about 40,000 posters. He tried to defend himself. His word salad video made it worse. His lawyer told him not to post either video. But, he did it anyway.

Stupidity and arrogance is a deadly mix.

I live with this everyday. I have an agency who looks for what they think might be unauthorized use. Sometimes, I even check Google Images by searching for one of my pictures. Usually, a picture that I think of as one of my signature images. To be sure, I make too many pictures and am too busy to do this regularly, but when I do it’s enlightening. Once I found an entire website using my work as their work. Google was very helpful taking them down. They were based in South America somewhere, so seeking injunctive relief would have taken some doing.

Sometimes, I get a little snippy when I ask somebody who posts pictures on their WordPress blog and I call them on it. I know the pictures aren’t theirs.  They tell me they can do what they want. I didn’t make any threats. I just complain to WordPress about them. WordPress wants “original content.” That’s the theory under which I make my complaints. I haven’t seen either poster in a long time. I doubt WordPress shut them down. After all, WordPress sells advertising based on what we do. What I think really happened is these two bloggers had nothing to say visually, or in the written word, so they just faded to black.

Bottom line.

Protect your work. No matter what form your art takes, it’s yours. It is your legacy. It doesn’t matter if it is a large selling work or something more personal. Unless you want to share it, it shouldn’t be taken from you. The underlying theory is simple. When you create it, it is copyrighted. Posting it here on WordPress and having it make its way to the internet doesn’t change that.

Oh Yeah.

The picture. I made it in the hot New Mexican sun. I helped it along. This time. Anybody knows that New Mexican skies are not green. Except in Roswell. Ha!

 

Advertisements

32 Comments

  1. “Stupidity and arrogance is a deadly mix” That makes me think of the guy running the show in Washington!
    I once came across a site that was selling prints of my work (which had to be scanned from a book) and that of several of my colleagues. One of my friends told me that his image on this site had been sold outright to a major corporation. It didn’t take long for that site to be a shadow of its former self. 🙂

    Like

  2. Interesting post, Ray. This reminds me of the time I sent a children’s story to a publisher many years ago. They kept it for a while then returned it with a polite rejection notice. Not long after, a major department store used the story with just a few minor tweaks to promote something they were selling. I went to a copyright lawyer and he told me that unless I could prove how the company got access to the story there wasn’t anything he could do. Also his fees were more than I could afford, so I put the story in a drawer and forgot about it. But I learned a valuable lesson from the experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s where paper trails come into play. I suppose. These days I don’t do very much without way too much legal documentation. But, my clients have shifted from editorial to corporate and advertising and those guys want as much protection as I do.

      Like

    • The first time I wrote my book on Costa Rica, I did the whole process myself. Currently I am re-editing my book and adding information left out the first time. Your comments about what happened with that publisher confirms my decision to do self-publishing again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe I will consider a publisher when I am ready. Generally I like the idea of being in control of the whole process of my book. My instructor said in her experience over the years, the first thing a publisher often does is change the title. An editor friend of mine did say that since I sold a small amount of my first edition, they can’t change the title. Yes, it was expensive doing everything myself so I didn’t print many copies. Went into it without really knowing what I was doing and had no marketing knowledge. This time I am much better informed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m talking about a professional publisher not a pay to play publisher. That said, their job is to make your book salable, which means changing title and art to suit the marketplace. The idea is to get your work out there and maybe make some money. That means giving up some control.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ray, as a toddler blogger (only two years), I love it when you dole out your sage recommendations and learn something every time. I couldn’t agree more about art belonging to its creator and raised my son (the musician, as you know) to ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS pay for art, music, etc., even if it seems freely available, and he is rabid about that now. I hope to do a good job in attributing any art I use – let me know if you ever think I’m out of line. What I’m curious to know is your recommendation about protecting it (not that my amateur photos are worthy of theft). Should a dilettante like me put the copyright text right on the image, like you do, or is it enough just to indicate on the page that the contents are copyrighted? (I know you’re not a lawyer but your opinion is good enough for me.)

    Like

    • A toddler blogger.: ) I like that.

      For music that’s why streaming like Spotify is so important. While, non-label indy artists don’t make enough royalties, they Spotify does protect musicians from illegal streaming. Apple iTunes as well. Tidal and the couple of others.

      I think you do a pretty good job of using pictures. Either you take your own, or you ask as you always do with me.

      Yes. The answer is always yes. Embedding a copyright notice will help keep track of your picture if and when (these days it’s likely when) one of your pictures will be used without authorization. At the very least, it tells the abuser that you have an idea of your rights. If you post a general copyright on your site, there is no documentation on the picture itself.

      I have to chuckle about your lawyer comment. Our contracts lawyer says that I probably know (out of self defense) as much about basic copyright law as most general attorneys do. I’m not happy about that. It just became necessary.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Yes. It is. It runs the gamut from those people who really don’t know, to those people who know but think they’ll never get caught. That really does determine my response.

      Like

  4. I admire and enjoy your photos every day, although I seldom comment due to health reasons. I am a novice at photography, but I have found my photos have been “scraped” off my blog and onto “photo aggregation sites” often, and used for commercial purposes in some cases. I have used Google Images to find mine too, and they were helpful in ceasing to list those sites as being places the images were found. I’m not sure if that meant the site actually took down the image. It’s just not possible for me to search all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much. And, I’m sorry for whatever ails you. I’ve gotten kind of in that position myself. If you got Google involved, the images have been removed from the offending site. I’m pretty sure they are overwhelmed with complaints, but it’s in their best interests to respond. BTW, photo aggregation sites are the worst because they are trying to make money from your work.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re the guy to whom I should ask this question.

    If I find a picture on Google images, and just use it as a header image on my blog, I assume I’m not breaking any laws — right? The images don’t come with copyrights on the image, and I’m not making money, and they were out there for the public — so I assume they’re fair game for use in this fashion, no?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Gregory you are not going to like this, but that’s almost the same situation that prompted my post. Every picture, work of art, writing is copyrighted when it is created. It doesn’t need a mark. Just because images are online doesn’t mean they are free. Google my name. See what turns up. Older pictures may not have a copyright symbol. That said, a little common sense comes into play from the creator’s side. If I found a picture on an academic site like yours, I’d probably contact you and just say something light like “thanks for using my photograph. How about linking back to my blog and giving me a credit.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, it makes me more connected to the content makers, if that’s easily discernible, and provides awareness and lauds for their work, so how is that bad? If it’s not too much work to suss out whodunit –and shouldn’t that come up in the search?– then it only makes us more connected, teases out some thread of something leaning towards community. A link is hardly a lot of work, given what I put into my posts.

        Like

      • If you actually do that, it’s fine. But, usually in a header, there not even a place for a credit line or link so nobody knows who took the picture. It’s connected to nothing.

        Pictures don’t often come up in a search. Often times people credit Google or Pinterest. That’s not who took the picture.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You can roll the dice. That works. Depends on your readership and how outside people come to the blog.

        Just understand this. Working photographers have become very militant. I may seem so, but I give unauthorized users a couple of chances to make it right.

        Many photographers have just said enough. My time and work is valuable. (Just like yours) and your first notification is court papers demanding a large sum of money. No take down notice. No prior contact.

        The case that I was talking about ended up costing the user about $50k in damages, court fees and lawyer’s fees.

        I also know a blogger who happened to be a paralegal. She wrote a travel blog using others work. It cost her $7,500 and an embargo on her blog for five years.

        You decide.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Looking Back | Wise Words from the STORYTELLER Blog | Glover Gardens Cookbook

  7. A friend of mine had her whole website copied. It was a joke how they passed off it was theirs. We did a bit of sleuthing and then contacted and eventually got the web company to take it down. I haven’t marked my photos. Maybe time to do so. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Gregory, how is it not clear? When you make it, it is copyrighted. It doesn’t need a copyright symbol. It doesn’t need words to that effect. End of story.

    In short, if you made it, you own the rights.You control how it is used.

    You are mostly confused by the internet. Think of it this way. If you saw a picture on the wall and you removed it, you would be stealing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes; I am confused by the internet, I think. Looking back, I am confident that most of my pictures were found on public domain sites. I can’t say that about all of them.

      I like your analogy about removing a picture from the wall.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have to do that. It seems to me, after talking to you and a professor friend of mine in New Mexico, that the guys who have the hardest time grasping copyright concepts are the guys I consider to be among the brightest. Yes. That’s a compliment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s