Monday, August 1, 2011

I love to hate the Internet, Part II...

My internet has been back and working for a week now. Good news, right? Of course, unless having the internet brings more problems.
A few months ago, I posted an article entitled, "Do You Know Where Your Images Are?" The point of that article was to be vigilant about how your images were being used, because there's a lot of image theft out there. Following up on my own advice, yesterday I found some pretty blatant theft.

Quite accidentally, I came across a web site that had an article entitled "Outdoor Lighting Techniques 1: Sunset." Gee, that sounded awfully familiar. Perhaps because I had written that very article a few months ago? Taking a look at the web page, it was a word-for word copy of my article, including the photos from the original article, with no attribution or credit, and presented as if the website owner had written it himself. And, not to mention, on a page chock full of ads the website owner was trying to get revenue from.
Now, "fair use" under copyright law would be for someone to post a brief summary or critique of the original article, using limited quotes from it, and providing a link back to the original along with attribution (credit). That's not what was done in this case. Digging around the web site some more, I found that the entire site consisted of articles copies word for word (and picture for picture) from other sites, and presented as the website's own work. Content is drawn from Strobist, Yahoo! Answers, E-Zines, my blog, photographers' web sites, and other sources -- all directly copied (not linked to, *copied*) and with no credit. In many cases, an author's name supposedly belonging to the web site (but whose link goes nowhere) is listed as the author in a by-line for articles taken from other sites.

So this morning I took action. I looked up the owner of the web site domain name, and sent a cease and desist e-mail. I also e-mailed the authors of all of the other content that I could identify, and let them know their content was being copied. Now, it's possible the site owner has contacted *everyone but me* and asked permission, but somehow I doubt I would be the only one not asked.

The site in question is presented as a resource for "photography techniques." It's also heavily laden with advertising. I could find NO original content on it of any kind. I'm hesitant to post a link to it here, as I don't want to drive more traffic to it; so I'm going to put the web address here as plain text, and if you want to see the site you can copy the text and paste it into your web browser. I would suggest paying attention to not click on any ads and generate revenue for someone so casual about copyright, but that's up to you.

It's at:

I'll post an update here if and when I hear back from the domain owner, as to the results. If I need to take legal action in this case, I will -- though doing so would give me no pleasure. Just another reminder that we photographers (and writers!) need to be vigilant about how our copyrighted materials are being used, and spend some time now and then doing web searches if you value your legal control over the works you create. There's always somebody out there willing to grab your work and take advantage of it.


  1. Have you heard back from the "offending" site? I enjoy your articles and blogs and hate to anyone knowledge or expertise taken advantage of and credit not given when credit is due. I'm glad you acted upon this infraction. More people need to do this. I look upon the Intenet as a source of information. Not a source of "revenue" Just my 2 cents"
    Jeffrey in Southern U.S.

  2. Jeffrey,
    I did hear back (finally, after more than 2 months) from the domain name owner, who says he sells use of the domain and doesn't do content, so it's not his responsibility. I replied and pointed out that since he owns the domain and it's violating copyright, it *is* his responsibility...and got nothing back. The site is still up. Very frustrating -- this site rips off content from a bunch of other photo blogs, including Strobist :(