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Photography, Copyright Infringement, Pirating, The Internet

April 29, 2014

Baltimore Oriole male sm June 8 2012 copy 2
I had a photographer’s internet high last week as well as a photographer’s internet low.

The High –
Mid-week I was emailed by a woman from Canada. She asked if she could use a Baltimore oriole photo (shown above) I had posted two years ago at my photo-blog, SilverLining-MaryMcAvoy. She wanted to use the photo in a children’s summer camp education program about bird nests. I was thrilled she’d found my photo-blog, a blog I stopped posting to in 2012 after moving away from the subject of the blog, which is a small pond in New England.

Of course I googled the site of the program she said she was representing and was assured that her interest in my photo was legitimate.

A similar request was made of me about six weeks ago. Interestingly, it was also a request for use of my Baltimore oriole images, this time at an educational tourist site in Ohio. Again, this was for a non-profit. So, again, I sent my photos in full resolution with no charge.

My SilverLining photo site clearly shows this message:
Copyright image for SilverLining-MaryMcAvoy

Both women followed the internet code of ethics by asking my permission to use the copyrighted photos. I happily gave permission and sent the requested high resolution photos – free of charge. I also offered additional and related photos.

One of the extra photos I sent to the woman in Canada is a male Baltimore oriole removing a “fecal sac” from the nest that contains his hatchlings. The image is below. I was fascinated by this bird activity and by the tidiness of nature – that hatchlings poop in neat, little sacs that the parent can pluck from the nest intact – like a biodegradable diaper – and remove from the nest. (The quality of this image is not great. The oriole nest is designed to sway in summer breezes, and it does, causing many of my 300 mm handheld shots to be a bit shaky.)
Male Baltimore oriole removes fecal sac from nest 6-2012

The Low –
Before sending the image to the woman I decided I’d better restudy about fecal sacs so that I could inform her with accurate knowledge. So, I googled the topic to refresh my memory.

My googling produced a link that led me to a flickr site where my wondering eyes beheld my own photograph, doctored into a watery looking image.
my photo on infoway

And, on top of this illegal use of my image, the flickr page indicated that the edited image was copyrighted to someone named Bryan Adams.
my Baltimore oriole image on infoway site

I used the contact information shown on this flickr page (an enterprise called “infoway” that builds websites and, it seems, uses photos like mine in their work) and requested that “infoway dot us” immediately remove my photo from use. A response came within 24 hours assuring me that the photo would be taken down promptly. And on Monday I was again contacted confirming that the image had been removed. I’ve checked and it has been. I’m grateful for their quick action.

The initial reply from infoway included an explanation that the image had been used only for “promotional” purposes, not “commercial” purposes. I wrote back saying that to use my copyrighted photo for promotional purposes that benefit infoway is commercial use.

Quite on purpose I’m not linking to infoway or the Bryan Adams flickr site in this post. I certainly don’t want to reward bad behavior by linking back to them and upping their SEO ranking. But please go have a look at the thousands of images they have on this flickr site. I’m guessing a good percentage of the images are pirated from photographers who have no idea of this use of their photographs. You’ll find the flickr site if you google this string of terms: bryan adams flickr infoway. You’ll know you’ve arrived at the right place if you see this (unless they change it in the meantime):
image Bryan Adams flickr infoway

I guess that all photographers should take the time to periodically google their own image names to see if their images have been lifted to another site.

I reduce the size of nearly all of the images I put on the internet to minimize the likelihood that they will be reproduced. I imagine that all photographers know to do that. I guess the lesson here is that our low resolution photos can still be edited into a usable image for the purposes of others.

I suppose I should start to watermark all of my photos before uploading them. The thing about doing that is that in order to keep the watermark from interfering with the impact of the image, we all tend to put our watermark along an edge. It’s so easy to crop out the mark. So, I’m not sure that’s much protection.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2015 4:43 pm

    It worries me the number of people who try and claim others’ work as their own, especially if they then copyright it to themselves too! It’s a very nice image, I can’t see why anyone would want to ruin it by making it all blurry like that.


    • July 18, 2015 11:12 pm

      Sorry to be so late with my reply.
      It is worrisome to try to protect your work from being used by another w/o permission or credit to the original creator.
      Just keep an eye out for this by now and then oogling descriptives of your own work.
      I visited your site and love your images of the models you’ve made!
      I wondered if the metal one was an Erector Set, a great building “toy” from my childhood.

      Liked by 1 person

      • July 19, 2015 4:55 am

        Thank you, I loved building them! The metal one was a birthday present so I’m not sure where it was bought, but it was manufactured by Dreamland Products, if that helps?


      • July 20, 2015 2:31 pm

        Thanks Amelia. I was curious because my brother had Erector Sets when he was young and I thought maybe the metal model was updated Erector Set!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. May 3, 2015 6:00 am

    Do you know how to prevent your photos from showing on google search? I would like to disable that, if there is a way. Maybe you know something about that too? Thanks!


    • May 7, 2015 1:50 pm

      Hi Iva, I’ve looked at your site and, just reviewing two of your photos, it looks to me as if you are not labeling them or that you are labeling them with a numbering system that makes sense to you only. For instance, the photo of the winding road that has lettering saying No Entry as the road passes under a bridge has numbers as its label. You haven’t relabeled the photo with descriptive words such as “winding-road-passing-under-bridge-No-Entry.” Search engines cannot “see” photos, they can only read the word desriptions (labels) we give them. So, I’m guessing that your photos are not even being seen by the google bots and therefore they are not being categorized and filed by Google. Here’s an article I wrote last year as a guest blogger on a photographer’s site. It might help you understand the importance of labeling. And you will also better understand how, by not labeling, your photos are not being seen by search engines (bots) so they are unlikely to be showing in a google search.
      Hope this helps, Mary



  1. Perspectives on Watermarks (and Various Methods to Protect Your Images) | The Daily Post

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