It's rare that I get the opportunity to combine the words 'good news' and 'copyright infringement' in the same article but I thought today I'd take the opportunity to do so.
At the weekend Instagram user @darrenna_photo tagged me on a New York 'Commercial Retoucher and Image Editor' profile on Instagram calling himself @double_dodge. I headed over to check the image I'd been tagged in only to find a very popular image of mine being used in this double_dodge's retouching portfolio.
At first I just assumed somebody had shared my shot on one of those many image farms with no credits. Obviously this isn't ideal and although it happens a lot, it is still an illegal use of my image but unfortunately these many minor infractions still are't worth my time to report every single one of them. So although at this stage I thought it might have been a simple re-share without credit I decided to scroll through the image comments to see what was being said of the shot.
I scrolled through the usual comments of 'this is cool', 'great' etc but then I came across a guy called @gifted_mindset who asked double_dodge the question,
'You did this retouch?'
I think you'll agree that's hardly a very ambiguous question and should quite clearly get a straight answer, stupidly though, double_dodge responded with,
'@gifted_mindset Yes it's all my work. If you are interested in me, you can write to me at Direct. We will discuss the conditions.'
I'll just point out at this stage that I subsequently spoke to @gifted_mindset afterwards who, understandably then assumed from double_dodge that he had retouched my file for me. This is certainly not uncommon and although I never use an external retoucher myself it's totally understandable for gifted_mindset to not peruse his suspicions of image theft any further based on what double_dodge replied with.
So coming back to this image clearly not simply being a re-share; bot factories randomly re-sharing images from Pinterest is one thing but an actual human using my image to promote themselves directly and touting for work directly off of it is something quite different entirely.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time I've had work stolen and used in this way on Instagram and in the past I've taken the official route of 'reporting' an image under the terms of 'Intellectual Property Violation'. This is a 'simple' ten step process that seems to accuse you of wasting their time more than assist you in getting your image removed.
Once you've signed your life away via that program stating your phone number, your home address and you signed saying that you understand you could loose access to your account and threatened with liable for damages should you be found to be the fraudulent one, you'll receive an email from Mr Instagram stating everything again and giving you a handy reference number. Mine was 'Intellectual Property Report #1677600095879382'
I seriously hope that's a randomly generated number! Please tell me there hasn't been that many Intellectual Property Reports cases filed! PLEASE!
Unfortunately this process ultimately results in a bit and back and forth and then maybe the image gets taken down but it can take weeks.
Frankly I couldn't be bothered to go through all that again so I decided to take matters into my own hands. One way to go is to send the guy a message asking him to remove the image. This has resulted in no joy in the past and usually you simply get an immediate ban from the page if you're lucky. In other cases I've had night clubs steal my shots to promote club nights and then when asked to remove the shot they proceed to openly take the pi** in the comments section of the shot stating that there is nothing I can do and to go away and 'get a life!'
Ain't copyright infringement fun?!
No, this time I decided to take it into my own hands by outwardly posting his thieving actions on my Instagram profile and asking you guys to go to work on berating his thieving actions on his own profile.
The results of your actions was nothing short of outstanding! :D
In less than eight hours you guys managed to get him to remove the shot which is amazing considering how long the official channels take. I managed to grab a few screen shots of the comments you all left on the image before he removed it and some of them are frankly hilarious (if not a little scary - you know who you are ;) ).
Be warned, strong language is a staple in the following images. Just to set the tone I think @dan_shortt wins the award for keeping it simple with the comment that gets straight to the point, 'Eat a d*ck scumbag'!
*Clicking on the images below will enlarge them...
You guys freaking rock!
Thank you so much for your support in this and I hope that if enough people get on his case he'll have to remove his account because to my knowledge a lot of those images on his profile are definitely NOT his.
As of Tuesday April 25th 2017, double_dodge's account is still active and operating under the guise of being a New York retoucher with a profile that could potentially be comprised of all stolen images. I am throwing that accusation around lightly, I know for a fact that there are at least five other photographers work on there that I know of so if you'd like to check to see if yours is among them then please do so at https://www.instagram.com/double_dodge/
So once again, thank you guys, it really was quite humbling to see so many of you step up like that when needed and it really does show you that we can make a difference when we need to expose these idiots who think they can not only steal our work but profit from it as well.
Lastly, I'll just add that it's a shame that this slightly uncouth and heavy handed approach is so much more effective than the official one especially when you consider how quick companies like Instagram and Facebook our when it comes to removing pictures that even hint at the sight of a nipple. I wouldn't have had to resort to this public beasting had the official route of getting stolen images removed proved itself even slightly effective in the past. Let's hope this can be improved in the future although I did love reading all of your comments ;)
If you'd like to check out my Instagram profile for yourself then please take a look via following link https://www.instagram.com/jakehicksphotography/ on there I post some of the ideas and projects I'm working more than the finished images I share on here and on Facebook.
:WARNING: Sales stuffs below...
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