So you've been ripped.. Now What?
Firstly, let me say that image ripping is wrong, but we all rip music, so there is also the debate about that.. Is it wrong? Some argue the fact that people are collecting your work, using sites like flikr to collect their favorite images into one place.. Is that wrong? YES. deviantART offers free accounts with a favorite option.. Which i have seen many an account with only favorites.
That leads us to blogs. One of my images was used on an emo blog based in Russia, i couldn't understand anything, but after having it translated, my name (or a link) was not mentioned anywhere.. Now, i would be personally fine with someone posting an image on a blog, under the circumstances that;
a) they credit and link back to me
b) don't use it in a derogatory way, or manipulate the final image.
Blogs and other online thefts aside, there is also the very real possibility that your work will be used in a commercial way, making your thief some money. Two of our very own members have been affected in very real ways.
`larafairie Was startled to find out some time ago that an American porn company had been using an image of her, a self portrait (taken when she was underaged no less) on the cover of a PORN DVD!
I asked Lara about her ordeal, but didn't go into specifics due to litigation in progress.
The image in question, a fantastic self portrait:
The following is taken from an online news source:
"Lara Jade Coton, who we interviewed here, has filed a lawsuit against TVX Films and its president Bob Burge. The suit filed in Tampa, Fl., accuses Burge and TVX Films of copyright infringement, civil conspiracy, misappropriation of her image, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit also names a number of online retailers in claims for copyright infringement.ljade.jpg
Lara Jade, an 18-year-old photography student from England, had posted a photo of herself on deviantART. The image later turned up on the cover of a pornographic DVD called "Body Magic." Lara Jade was 14 at the time she took the self-portrait.
When contacted, Bob Burge told Lara Jade that he had obtained the image from an adult freeshare website but couldn't remember which one. He also agreed to change the cover, claiming that it would probably increase sales.
"We're asking a jury to award damages, including punitive damages, for the outrageous conduct of Burge and TVX," Lara Jade's lawyer Richard A. Harrison said. "We're also asking the court to stop these pornographers from using the picture and to impound any copies of the movie or other materials on which Lara Jade's picture appears.""
I wish Lara all the best in a suit i cant picture her losing.
Another member, well known and loved deviant arstis Bruno Mercier, also known as `Pixydream.
I asked Bruno about his dealings with Image theft, and he was more than happy to answer my questions, seeing as his lawsuit had already been settled.
The image in question:
S: Who stole it your image, and what did they do with it?
B: I frequently check Google and in November I found a french Web Site, a Publishing House, which sold a book with my picture as a cover. So I took the precaution to take some screenshots of the book and of the order page then I downloaded their catalog in pdf.
S: How did you deal with them?
B: First, I wrote a small mail to the publisher to ask him if he bought the pic via one of my libraries/agencies. His answer is simple, he found the pic on the internet (at dA) and as it wasn't protected, he thought he had the right to download and use it for his needs. He added, he had the intention to send me a word but he forgot. So, I explained that I was the author and that he had to ask me the permission before using my pic for commercial purposes. I said I was sorry but that it was not possible to pursue the commercial exploitation of my picture without any payment. I was a professional and my pictures are my only way to earn my living.
S: What kind of responses did you receive?
B: The first answer was quite polite. The man said he loved my work and especially that pic. But when I began to speak about money, he started to insult me. He said I wanted to exploit the situation to make my business. Then he posted my name, e-mail address to his forum in order that members started to spam me. They did... even the author, an incredible 70 years old woman who wrote a surrealistic e-mail to me when she said that it was a true honor for me to be on the cover of his novel. Incredible!! So I took one or two days to decide what I wanted to do. And then I took the decision to require a lawyer to complain. So I warned the publisher that I would lodge a complaint against her publishing house, against himself and against the author of the book. I have shown that I had all the evidence of commercial exploitation and abuse of my picture. However I added that I was, ready to negotiate a flat rate for the commercial exploitation of my photograph.
S: How long did it take to get resolved?
It took about one month but finally one day I received an e-mail from their accountant saying that they wanted to negotiate a price. This negotiation was a bit hard but at last we [finally agreed] on a correct price.
S: Why its worth fighting?
B: It is a matter of principle. Any commercial exploitation merit pay. If you do [let is happen] once, [then you might let it happen more] and this is not possible, above all if you are a professional. You deserve [your fair share] and [by not claiming it] you do a disservice to the entire profession. Any work merits pay.
S: Thank you Bruno, anything else you think is necessary for the story?
B: Yes, check regularly Google, but don't be too hard with the little rippers, they're just kids and they don't steal your work to earn money, but in the case of commercial using, fight!..
Bruno fought, and he won. This is likely going to be the case if your image is being used for commercial gain. It may seem like a lot of work, but its worth it!
Fighting online theft
DO NOT email anyone with your REAL email address, create a new one and use that. What happens is they will put it on forums and post it so people harass you. (thank you `cweeks for pointing out that tidbit to me)
A friend and another fellow deviant `nikosalpha has been dealing with image theft on his incredible portraits, and while specifics are available, i do know that Penthouse (Greece) has been using his work. I left a comment on his most recent journal advising him about embedded image protection.
There is a simple way to protect your image without a big visible (and ugly) watermark..
Metadata is essentially information embedded into your media that stays there.
Through Photoshop (most versions CS, CS2, CS3 for sure) all you have to do is go:
FILE > FILE INFO, and it will bring up all your embedded info. Simply embed a copyright warning in the correct box (if in doubt, use the HELP function on your software)
For instance, i might use "©Scott_Alexander_2008"
Now my image is protected with an invisible, digital watermark.. but lets not stop there.. Lets have the internet tell us any time someone posts my image with my invisible copyright!
God bless google! Google alerts, one of the best kept secrets on the interwebs.
From here, i can enter into my Search terms: ©Scott_Alexander_2008, tell google to notify me once weekly (more if you are a big shot) and have them sent directly to your email!
Just like that, you are informed of every infraction that takes advantage of your work!
Fighting REAL LIFE theft
If you are lucky enough to run in with the real life thief, If they are making money off of your creation, you should fight back. Put away the golf club or 2x4, and Call a lawyer.
If in an online shop: Screenshots! Take as many as you can, and ask your lawyer what else would be needed.
If in a gallery/shop: Take pictures of your item on sale. If in doubt, call a lawyer or consultant and discuss your options before doing anything. I would suggest a picture as soon as you notice, tell the clerk you are taking it so your significant other, or parent can buy it for your birthday, they wont ask questions..
DO NOT sit on it and let them get away with it. Chances are they have done it before, and will do it again.. It is your duty to not only protect your work, but that of your fellow artist.
The BEST way to deal with this kind of theft sadly, is the inclusion of a big ugly watermark..
Other dA resources and articles on ripping
How to report theft on flikr - by equivoque
How to report theft on photobucket -by Gild-a-lily
Copyright on the net 101 - by cosfrog
Art Theft awareness and prevention -by sofine127
Protect your work! - by Netbug009
Embedded Copyrights XMP - by cypher-neo
How I Dealt With An Art Thief - by dragonWinter
How to deal with ripped art - by Killjoy
To watermark, or not to watermark - by Elandria
Finding out who you are dealing with.. WHOIS.NET
What to do...
An abundance of online watermarking tutorials!
Some of the many tutorials shared by our friends and fellow deviants!
If there is ANYTHING not covered in this news article, or any of the others, note me directly about it, i will research it and add it to the news. If you have a story you would like to tell about real life ripping, note me as well.
I hope that this wall of text helps somebody, thank you for reading this far, and if you just skimmed it, please fav it for more exposure!