Yesterday, the heavy-hitter photography news site ‘F-Stoppers’ posted a news article warning people to stay away from a website, which they say will ‘steal your photos.’
In this day and age of easy litigation, F-Stoppers would have to be pretty sure that your information was correct before going out and making that type of claim AND naming the business/website involved. So; my gut reaction is: This information is true and should be passed on. Fact is, I personally know one individual in town (Yes, in Thunder Bay) who has had their art ripped off by this site!
Word has it that the site mentioned in the article closed down and then reopened again on a different server. Likely they were shut down by the previous server owners. There is no telling how many times that same close/move/reopen cycle could happen.
How could this kind of theft happen, you ask, and how can they get away with it? Well, the answer can be pretty simple and pretty complicated all at the same time. Copyright, or intellectual property rights are a huge topic complete with a very fat law book called the Canadian Copyright Act. The book is heavy enough to make a great flower press. There are lots of little caveats within the law to read about and mull over. In a giant nutshell however, the law says that whoever makes the art has the sole right to copy, sell or distribute it. (Some exceptions apply.)
Internationally, many countries abide by a treaty that relates to international copyright rules. These players are all agreeing to play nice in the world-wde sandbox. You can see a list of the players HERE. If you head over and read the page, you will immediately notice that it can get pretty complex right off the bat. Some countries, (think of a really BIG country) are conspicuous by their absence on the list. So if they don’t subscribe to the same laws as everyone else, do they have to follow the laws? And who polices copyright infringement anyway?
Generally speaking, photographers (also known as authors for the purpose of copyright, because we author our own art work) are the police of their own copyrights. If you see an infringement, it’s up to you to deal with it. Now many site administrators have a form that you can fill out if you see an infringement of your work on their site. This form is called a DMCA takedown notice. Many sites make this available online, including the site mentioned by the F-Stoppers article. In your frustration at seeing your art being stolen, you fill out the form.
Now here’s the kicker. The ultimate tick-off. The RUDE bomb. According to the F-stoppers article, “it appears the sole purpose of this website isn’t to sell prints at all … This contact form is the whole purpose of the Poster Shop’s website. The contact form is a phishing platform that is used to spam the user and potentially infect their computer with malware and who knows what other nasty adware and spyware. ”
On a cheerier note, keep shooting! Photographers Rule the World!