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I Discovered My Photo On A Stranger's Website

Posted by: Terri Gostola on 11/17/2012 - 11:15 AM

It is so troubling to discover my photo on Fine Art America is being used on a stranger's website. They were not distressed by the Fine Art America watermark, they posted it with the watermark, and they referenced me as photographer. The discovery hit home. Why would anyone purchase my photograph when they can just take it?
I found my photo being used here.


Oldest Reply

Posted by: Mary Bedy on 11/17/2012 - 11:19 AM

I've found a few of mine as well, Terri, but as long as they give you credit, I wouldn't sweat it. A few of mine have been pirated and used on web sites that are attack sites, so I no longer go looking for unauthorized use. The internet is so vast, the chances of an occasionally pirated piece being seen on the site that took them are slim to none, in my opinion. Unless it's one of those sites who's sole purpose is to steal and resell images, then we should try and shut them down. I didn't click on the link....I worry about that.


Posted by: Joshua House on 11/17/2012 - 11:21 AM

At least they credited you. And linked back to you. And made it clear its your property. Guess what, that's not theft. That's called free advertizing. If you don't want her advertizing your work I can run out and take a better photo of corn and send it to her.


Posted by: Terri Gostola on 11/17/2012 - 11:25 AM

Thank you for your advice, Mary. I found my photo today when I googled my name. I was stunned to find the unauthorized use of my photo. The site seems innocent enough, it appears to only be someone's blog who posts creative writing. Should I just consider it free advertising?


Posted by: Tommervik Art Prints on 11/17/2012 - 11:30 AM


Posted by: Terri Gostola on 11/17/2012 - 11:30 AM

Joshua, she did credit me. Perhaps you would like to contact her for free advertising.


Posted by: Michelle Calkins on 11/17/2012 - 11:30 AM

Yes, I would...they should have asked your permission to use it though. But I don't see it as a bad thing when people give credit and a link back to your site to boot!


Posted by: Terri Gostola on 11/17/2012 - 11:34 AM

It would have been nice if they linked back to my site but they didn't specifically do that. They posted my photo with the Fine Art America watermark and they referenced my name as photographer.


Posted by: Michelle Calkins on 11/17/2012 - 11:35 AM

if you click on your name there it sends you back to your site~


Posted by: Tommervik Art Prints on 11/17/2012 - 11:41 AM


Posted by: Mary Bedy on 11/17/2012 - 11:42 AM

I found a photo of mine on a Thai website that was called "best photos of Wedgewood China". The watermark and my name are still on the photo. I don't know if it links directly back here (I didn't try and click on it), but that photo has gotten a lot of views. I have to think some of them are coming from that reference, which I don't mind at all. It's when they don't credit you and they use it for their own purposes that it's wandering into illegal territory. Although, it may be bordering on illegal if she didn't ask your permission, but since she is giving you full credit, and if it's not a morally objectionable web site - I for one, would welcome the advertising.


Posted by: Lynn Palmer on 11/17/2012 - 11:48 AM

She left the FAA watermark intact, she credited you, the link is active, she isn't selling it and you're getting free advertizing. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst, I'd rate this as less than 1. I'd be thrilled if more people would do the same for me.


Posted by: Joy McKenzie on 11/17/2012 - 11:49 AM

If you don't want the free advertising, Carole's email address is to the right of your photo. Just send her an email and tell her (not ask...tell) to take it down immediately. If she doesn't, then you can send her a cease and desist letter.

Personally, if someone used an image of mine, and credited me as the photographer, and I didn't object to the content my image was used with, I'd let it go. BUT...I'd email the person and put them on notice to ask next time. And in no case would I let my image be used for profit if they credited me or not. That calls for immediate action on your part.


Posted by: Terri Gostola on 11/17/2012 - 11:50 AM

Thank you Michelle! I hadn't clicked on my name before but I see it does link back to my site.


Posted by: Tommervik Art Prints on 11/17/2012 - 11:51 AM


Posted by: Michelle Calkins on 11/17/2012 - 11:53 AM

I would agree that an email to the site to let them know the proper etiquette would be appropriate!


Posted by: Charles Kozierok on 11/17/2012 - 11:54 AM

You can ask them to take it down. Some will cooperate, some won't.

Failing that, you have to figure out where they are hosted and take it up with the hosting company.

But given that you got credit and a link back to your FAA profile, your best bet is to leave it be, IMO.


Posted by: Terri Gostola on 11/17/2012 - 12:07 PM

Thank you everyone for your advice. Considering that she credited me, I will leave it. My iinitial distress was that this is a stranger who had not requested permission to use the photo and had not purchased the photo.


Posted by: Mo T on 11/17/2012 - 12:20 PM

Lately I was noticed by a friend that my art was used in advertisment without my permission and there was no credit or anything...since we couldn't trace the page that was spreading it I was forced to give it up...I was tryin' to find it via google images but no result...I also Think that You should leave it be since You were credited at least...not that I think it's OK to take something without asking first...Take care Terri :)


Posted by: Charles Kozierok on 11/17/2012 - 12:24 PM

The site owner should definitely have asked. But you're getting something here for free that a lot of people pay for, so go with it. :)


Posted by: Minnie Lippiatt on 11/17/2012 - 12:41 PM

I guess I would be more concerned about the context being used to some negative writting or things you do not agree with. This is why it's important for writters to ask permission to use your work before hand. Free advertisment is great but ASK FIRST this is why we put copyrights on our profiles! If your on my land hunting....ASK FIRST because you never know. I don't know what your intent is :o)


Posted by: Tommervik Art Prints on 11/17/2012 - 12:42 PM


Posted by: Charles Kozierok on 11/17/2012 - 12:54 PM

"At least they credited you. And linked back to you. And made it clear its your property. Guess what, that's not theft. That's called free advertizing."

It can be free advertising and also be theft. The owner of the work decides whether or not she wants it on someone's site -- not the site owner.


Posted by: Patricia Strand on 11/17/2012 - 12:56 PM

I agree with Joy and Minnie. Terri, you should email her. Even though it's not your job to enlighten her, it could prevent her from doing it again. Sorry, but using someone's art work without their permission is wrong. Personally, I wouldn't just let it go, even if it is "free advertising." Sending an email takes only a minute, and then you can forget about it.


Posted by: Mo T on 11/17/2012 - 1:05 PM

It's all more complicated than it looks...Taking something without permission is not OK no matter what but in our "Lovely virtual World" people's CREDO is "since it's in the web I can take it..." Question is what we can do about it? Of course we can write them...ask them but You solve one and You find another...catch 22


Posted by: Robert James Hacunda on 11/17/2012 - 2:15 PM

They used one of my paintings without permission and I was honored

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Posted by: Isabella F Abbie Shores on 01/21/2013 - 5:03 PM

Next to every image in Google is this notice

Images may be subject to copyright.

It is there on all images opened. On the right.

It is up to all people using those images to check they are copyright free or to gain permission

HOWEVER, next to each image here is a widget. A small advert to your work with price and link

and, although it is nice to gain permission I personally have no problems with anyone who would like to share one of mine that way


Posted by: Dan Turner on 01/21/2013 - 5:43 PM

I don't think there's one in a hundred people who could tell you what "copyright" is in any meaningful way, which is sort of a huge problem.

The notice may as well say Images may be subject to merskeen. Since "merskeen" doesn't mean anything, the next understandable words are "may be", which immediately translates into maybe not, which goes straight to "doesn't concern me."

My argument has always been let's work with what we have, rather than what we wish we had or what we want to be true.


Posted by: Roy Erickson on 01/21/2013 - 5:55 PM

I'd certainly call it free advertising and let it be. I might even send them a thank you note and ask them if they want to use your pics, please let you know so you can reciprocate.


Posted by: Mark Tisdale on 01/21/2013 - 7:17 PM

My two cents, not only weren't you asked, the entire right side of that blog is advertising, i.e. she's making money off of the use of your content. That's where I draw the line. If it were just a personal blog and properly credited, maybe. But this person didn't ask and they used your work in a for-profit manner. This is the very type of person who would be livid if you lifted the text content from her site and put it on yours without permission but doesn't think twice about appropriating other's work for her site.


Posted by: Robert Kernodle on 01/22/2013 - 8:19 PM

Do you really believe that "she is making any money" on that posting? (^_^) Seriously!

Running ads does NOT mean that the ads actually work to cause income, any more than creating a print-on-demand gallery means that the gallery actually motivates actual sales.


Posted by: Robert Kernodle on 01/22/2013 - 8:27 PM

Again, for all practical intents, the internet is an open, public place, and trying to selectively claim ownership of some small part of that place that you purposely and intentionally put there ( into an open public place) seems ridiculous to me now.

[Hey I'll put this TV of mine on the curb and go back into the house, and I'll be damned if I will tolerate anybody taking it (during the many hours that I do not guard it) without paying me for it].

At least, on the curb, you could guard something, but on the internet, even this basic requirement to assert possession is rendered impossible by the very nature of the entity, and yet people are whining because they cannot deal with these real laws of time and space.

I used to be a whiner, but I evolved ... [yes, that's E - volved]

P. S., by the way, this comment may be subject to lickitieshlick.


Posted by: Mark Tisdale on 01/22/2013 - 8:52 PM

My two cents was for the original poster - it's up to her how she chose to proceed. I didn't post this because I wanted to debate, but since you had your say.

I'm incredibly bored with the tired song and dance that anyone putting their stuff online deserves to have it taken without their consent. I truly hope you leave a car door unlocked some time. After all, you made it too easy to steal. You shouldn't complain if someone does. A stretch maybe but about as good a stretch as your TV... And FYI, I've had people come knock on the door before to be sure they could take stuff left on our curb. I guess they were just too honest, eh?

I don't spend my life hunting for infractions. I've encountered artists I fear do. If every little infringement drove me that nuts, I'd pull all my work and find some other endeavor. That said, I do understand the angst. Some people have that angst no matter the circumstances. For me, I do class trivial sharing on a blog or tumblr or whatever as different from someone trying to make money as this person is doing. I don't care if she made a dime off it; the point is she has a for-profit site - she intends to make money off of the material on her site. And I stand by my assertion that the woman running that blog, her business, profitable or not, would be upset if she discovered one of us copied her text to our site. That's the double standard that annoys me most. She felt free to take without asking to support her endeavors.

And the best part about it all is that there are MANY artists that would happily have said yes if simply asked. How hard is it to ask first and why is that too much to expect?

PS - nothing more to say on that subject - you're not changing my opinion any more than I'm changing yours.


Posted by: Robert Kernodle on 01/22/2013 - 9:03 PM

Stay irritated if you please, but the internet is, I say again, for all intents and purposes, a public place that no individual can enforce a claim absolutely to own any content of, as you so insist. It simply cannot ever make sense to hold to this claim. You cannot change the physical laws of space and time to suit a fantasy. It is what it is, and you cannot ever force it to be anything else. All that can be done is to create better barriers to maintain exclusive access to what you might put there. Until the technological reality of those barriers materialize, the internet will remain what it is, like it or not. And then, when government starts to tax the privilege of partial individual ownership of specific content, let's prepare to hear the chorus of complaints that will result from that.

I hated the day I finally admitted that I did not believe in Santa anymore. I feel for you.


Posted by: Patricia Strand on 01/22/2013 - 9:07 PM

Robert, the public cannot take anything off the shelves of their local supermarkets without paying any more than they can do so on this site. I don't get why you think so.


Posted by: Mark Tisdale on 01/22/2013 - 9:22 PM

Dude, whatever, I already said I personally don't get hot and bothered over every little infraction. And I'm not going to debate someone who is as condescending as you are to someone you don't even know.


Posted by: Dan Turner on 01/22/2013 - 9:34 PM

Patricia, it isn't an accurate analogy when people say taking things off supermarket shelves is the same. If someone made a copy of items on a supermarket shelf so that now both of you have those items, that's it's an accurate analogy.

All bloggers are able to get their hands on is a low-rez copy of the hi-rez original. The hi-rez original is still in the artist's possession, safe and sound.


Posted by: Patricia Strand on 01/22/2013 - 10:13 PM

Oh, please.


Posted by: Puzzles Shum on 01/22/2013 - 10:19 PM

for example if type in puzzles shum into google it shows all my shard links like and other sites as while. but it says form fine art of american


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 01/23/2013 - 2:43 AM

Dan, suing for somebody taking work you created is "like your dentist suing you for not knowing how to do a root canal"? That really does sum up the coherence of your arguments. And then you chide Patricia for what you claim is an "inaccurate analogy", because you don't understand the meaning of the word property?

Robert - "to all intents and purposes the internet is a public place" - correct - "trying to claim ownership of some part of that place you put there seems ridiculous to me".
Fine. A public library is a public place. So you think that the librarian asserting rights of ownership over the books or the date-stamp or the chairs or tables is "ridiculous".

Robert, you do still believe in Santa. You think people magically leave presents lying around all over the internet for you to find and use and then you have a tantrum if someone says "look, that is a present you can have and use, but there are other things that you Santa didn't leave for you so if they're not in your sock then you can't have them.

Why are you here selling copies, anyway, if you think that there is no right to be paid for copies of things? You should transfer your work to Flickr with a Creative Commons license. It's completely irrational for you to want payment for this stuff now you've chucked it out onto the kerb, why are you trying to claim ownership of it? Why have you tried to put a wall round it to stop people getting a full-rez copy without paying you?

Robert, you say anyone is in the right stealing stuff because the chances of a so-called "predatory" photographer suing you are tiny - to which I agree - and because of that the photographer shouldn't have the right to sue. This is straight out of the "the only sin there is, is getting caught" school of morality. There is no place for right and wrong, only for the statistical probability of getting punished for your wrongdoing by a "predator".

Then you draw absurd analogies "you cannot change the physical laws of space and time". for goodness sake, man what are you smoking? Helping yourself to something you have no right to is not E=mc2

You have only one good argument behind your own case and that is that the chances of getting caught are small. And that's right. But trying to build that into a "therefore nobody has the right to try to catch you" is putting you out of touch with reality.

I wonder what you think of Getty's new picture search engine, which they say is much more efficient than anyone elses and that they have catalogued tens of millions of photos on. This will allow them to pick up internet uses and bill end-users for unauthorised use - I believe $1,000 per offence is the standard rate. So by preaching to people that there is no right to ownership of images on the internet you are potentially helping Getty to rake in millions of dollars from your misguided followers.

And, frankly, when I see your argument that getting away with it justifies theft, I'm inclined to think that Getty's "predation" might be a good thing. They've just pumped 12,000 very high-quality pictures into Google Drive to be available free for use within Google Drive documents, you know; and these are going to start popping up all over the web in large sizes attracting the "copyright doesn't really exist" users while Getty waits to pounce.

So, are you feeling lucky today, dude? Well,,,, are you?


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 01/23/2013 - 2:56 AM

I guess I should say that I don't go round trying to sue people. I have asked a couple of times for pictures to be taken down and I have had to repeatedly request that my pictures are taken out of "give away the rights" photo "contests", where people have found them on the internet and then submitted them as competition entries (I wonder if those people think that everything on the internet is theirs if they take it).
Perhaps I should describe myself as "possibly an award-winning photographer", since although I do not go into photo contests myself, several other people have used my pictures for that and I have no idea if anyone has won a prize with one.


Posted by: Dan Turner on 01/23/2013 - 3:15 AM

"And then you chide Patricia for what you claim is an "inaccurate analogy","

Paul, if I make a copy of your car, you still have your property. No theft has taken place. So making a low-rez copy of your low-rez art isn't the same as stealing your car, is it?

There are probably intelligent objections that can be raised from having one's low-rez work copied, but no one here has ever done it. They insist on this horribly inaccurate "just like stealing cars, groceries, jewelry, clothing" silliness and then wonder why they're not being taken seriously.


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 01/23/2013 - 4:09 AM

Who's not taking them seriously?

Your analogy is, once again, false. If you copy my car you don't do me any harm because I do not own the intellectual property that created the car. Hyundai owns that. And once you set up your car manufacturing business you will find pretty quickly that Hyundai has patented all sorts of bits and pieces and you will be shredded in court.

Or mayve by "copy" you mean take a photo of it - though a photo of an object does not replicate that object, whereas a right click of a photo repicates all of that photo. Ok, it's no problem for me if you take a photo of my car (though if you use the photo for commercial purposes you are still likely to get sued for design copyright violations by Hyundai).

You see, your analagy is actually supporting my case. My position with my car is that I am the purchaser of it, not the creator of it. But I am not the purchaser of my photos, I am the creator of them. Therefore I have creator's rights over them, not just the limited right of usage that a buyer gets,

So the only reason to take what you say seriously is that it fools some people despite being almost entirely devoid of logic, and that whem people swallow these false arguments it is damaging to artists.

Your low-rez/hi-rez dichotomy is also false. The size of the image is unrelated to its value. To the best of my belief, the main market for my work only requires low-rez copies of it. I sell via the internet and mainly into the web and advertising print markets. So if every low-resolution usage were free, then I would have had to abandon my career and do something else to get the money I need to live on. I care a lot more about the $100,000+ I've made from my low-resolution sales than I do about a few hundred dollars from the large prints I sell here (is that what you would call an intelligent objection?).

I take it that you are just a hobbyist and not trying to make a living as an artist selling on the internet, otherwise it is hard to imagine that you would be so cavalier in your attitude towards other people's livelihoods.


Posted by: Mike Savad on 01/23/2013 - 8:00 AM

so based off dan's analogy:

it's ok to make your own money because it doesn't hurt the government
it's ok to make a copy of shoes, dresses, and other things, because it's a copy and it doesn't hurt the company.

the thing is, it does hurt because that copy of an image, is a potential payment back to me. so yeah, it does hurt me to a degree. why you think it doesn't or it helps us is beyond me. while i can accuse you of any wrong doing without proof, you really tend to push these ignorant beliefs about stealing is ok as long as it's just a copy of it. almost as if your convincing yourself.

there might be thousands of images online and you may take all of them. but it only takes 1 person to sue you, and you'll have no money left when your done. but that's not really the point, your actually hurting the other people because you took a commodity that didn't belong to you, but you felt it was good enough to steal. if a person gives permission, then it's ok.

@robert - changing the laws of physics? really? umm, that has nothing to do with anything. years back, people took things without problem. partly because they didn't know it was wrong, and partly no one cared, and partly no one could trace it. but that changed with reverse image searches and now you can see where your images have gone too. modified, changed, renamed, reclaimed, etc, it's gone now, but still associated to you. then DMCA came out, an order to remove those images, right now google will remove you from the search if one is ordered. more people are suing for the borrowing of images now. so things are changing and fast. you can't justify it by saying it's fantasy.

there will be a time when browsers will respect property like that, and a standard will come out that protects the image from being used or downloaded or whatever. i see it happening. just like google can close this site down with a flick of it's long finger. there will be a day when that happens.

there was once a time that these low rez photos - were high rez. they are still just as valuable, or people wouldn't be taking them. i see loads of them in magazines. blurred images that should be sharp, those are stolen. you can't compare a physical object when there is only a copy in existence. but when it happens to you, and you find a copy of your work in a magazine, on the cover of a book, as a part of a bill board, on tv, as a product in walmart, etc - i think you'll think differently what a small image can do. and if you tell me that your happy that it made money, even though you didn't, won't, and couldn't even sue for it, then you are lying.

and that's a fact. to find out that you could have made a TON of money off of a small image that you just consider scrap, shows that you don't really know the business and what a small image can do. why people insist on saying they can't make a large print from it is beyond me. there are more things you can do with a small image than print it out. what can i do with a small image:

anything on cafepress, most things on zazzle, cakes, web pages, advertisements, cd and book jackets, really anything that is up to 10" across, and that covers many things. each of these items can be worth $100's or even more a piece, to be able to use them in this way. why people think it's ok just to take it or use a copy etc, i just don't know....

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Dan Turner on 01/23/2013 - 1:03 PM

@ Paul " I care a lot more about the $100,000+ I've made from my low-resolution sales than I do about a few hundred dollars from the large prints I sell here (is that what you would call an intelligent objection?)."

Valid objection! Your livelihood is collapsing. Has collapsed. Of course you're upset. I get it. ["you are just a hobbyist"] I'm not, actually. I've primarily made my living as a commercial artist/graphic designer for nearly four decades. I owned an advertising agency for part of that.

My industry, like yours, has undergone many changes in that time. Entire professions, once thriving, are gone. Letterpress operators, typesetters, paste-up longer needed. Print publications and newspapers which were once household names have disappeared, along with their thousands of employees.

Your business (stock photos) has had three really good decades. But I suspect you'll admit that, at least for the photographers, business has changed a lot over the last 10 years, and not for the better. 400 million+ new images uploaded to the web every day? Most of them free for the taking?

I would say (have said!) that the handwriting is on the wall. The discussion has to stop being about people copying low-rez images (that ship has sailed and it's not coming back) and start being about new ways to profit from your existing skills.


Posted by: Mike Savad on 01/23/2013 - 1:28 PM

so dan, your telling us that when you have a client interested in a picture, do you tell them you have a low rez version they can do what they want with for free? that doesn't hurt your business at all? because that may be all they wanted.

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Dan Turner on 01/23/2013 - 1:42 PM

"so dan, your telling us that"

Mike, what I'm telling you is right there in black and white. No need to read between the lines or make up stuff that isn't there.


Posted by: Mike Savad on 01/23/2013 - 1:49 PM

but what i'm hearing from you is - it's ok to steal because you can't stop it and it's been going on for a long time so don't even think about it. that's what i'm hearing every time you tell us it's ok for china to take our stuff, that means we made it into the big time and it's time to celebrate. that you can't do anything with a small picture. that it's ok to take things because people probably won't sue you. that's what i hear you say.

but you didn't answer my question.

if someone wanted something from you, do you offer the small ones as free stock for them to use?

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 01/23/2013 - 1:55 PM

Well, Dan, my business hasn't collapsed yet and I've only been doing it for nine years, so I am part of the changes. Hopefully it'll remain worthwhile for another few years by which time I'll have replaced the earnings from elsewhere, The main reason I am here is because I can see the time coming when I will want to diversify more into print sales so I'm doing some groundwork. It's one of several different revenue streams I'm stacking up.


Posted by: Dan Turner on 01/23/2013 - 2:04 PM

LOL! You're in your own world, Mike. You just went off in seven different directions that have nothing to do with what I write or think. I encourage that kind of creativity, but I don't have time to correct you or focus you.


Posted by: Mike Savad on 01/23/2013 - 2:19 PM

am i? you still didn't answer the question, which places you under hypocrite.

it's ok if other people have their work stolen because it's small. but you don't offer you images for free. it's all related to things you said in the past. you know that if you offer your clients the small one, they would snap up, and you could lose that sale./

---Mike Savad


Posted by: Dan Turner on 01/23/2013 - 2:20 PM

Thanks for your reply, Paul. Hopefully your business model will remain viable long enough to make a switch, but experience tells me you're shaving it mighty close.

Here's the one thing that hasn't changed, and isn't likely to: Creating custom work for well-heeled clients. At that point 100% of the "he stole my photo" and "intellectual property" arguments cease to exist. That's where the money and peace of mind are...if you're interested in those sorts of things :-)


Posted by: Paul Cowan on 01/23/2013 - 2:38 PM

Don't worry, Dan, I've got my bases covered. If stock stopped dead tomorrow I wouldn't starve. But it's not going to stop overnight, it will probably dwindle gradually and I've already got other sources of guaranteed income, but they only amount to a third of what I get from stock.


This discussion is closed.