Today, a story…

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Some months ago, while casually messing with the “Search image on Google” feature of Chrome, to my surprise I discovered several of my photos used all over the web, from Portugal to Australia in various places, some in commercial websites, ranging from a beer company to a musical group website. Of course I was definitely not thrilled with the situation and sent DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) take down notes to the relevant webmasters. By including the require DCMA legalese and digitally signing the e-mails I was able to have the photos removed in a quick and smooth manner. The responses from the various sites ranged from the overtly apologetic to the terse “Ok, photo removed” answer. It was alright with me, I was not looking for any kind of compensation, just don’t fancy having photos used without permission or credit.
Now enter the hero of this story that we shall know by the name of Manuel R., a Portuguese living in Tomar, according to Facebook.
First, I discovered he was using my photos, passing them as its own, in a forum that, for the little I read, versed a sensitive theme with which I, firmly and definitely, do not want to be associated in any way. On a superficial reading, some of the discussions bordered on downright racist, but maybe I’m just being over-sensitive on this matter. Anyway, I didn’t authorized and I don’t want my photos there, period. The take down notice was promptly acknowledged by the forum’s webmaster and the images removed.
Next I found out that the same images where in our charming Manuel’s Photobucket galleries, again posing as his own. A couple of legalese e-mails (the photos where in more than one gallery) took care of this again, for good, I wrongly thought.
Now let me explain that Manuel R., is not just a kiddie with little to do apart from prowling the web for photos. No, according to Facebook and Photobucket profile and galleries photos, he’s a fully-grown adult, which makes his actions even less acceptable.
In July I found the same photos again in Photobucket, in Manuel’s galleries and also on his Facebook page. By this time, as you can imagine, I was more than a little upset by all this matter, patience starting to get exhausted, as I have better things to do than trying to prevent this jerk from stealing my photos.
Some more e-mails sent to Photobucket and Facebook will take care of this, right? Uh, no! Wrong!
The sites removed the photos without any hassle, but yesterday I heard from Manuel R.
In a fairly long e-mail he started by being mildly polite, turned prosecutor in the middle and finished with physical threats. I can imagine his anger rising as he wrote, his face turning red, foam forming on his mouth. :), Ok, I’m being a little mean, but you know the picture.

He started by saying he was surprised he has received a note from Facebook threatening to close his account if he persisted on copyright infringement. He recognized he published the photos, not because the photos had any merit, read: “they are rubbish”, but because of the person pictured in the photos. Manuel informed me, then, where the photos were taken. Well, I kinda know that! I was there and I pressed the button. 

He continued by saying he has in his galleries mostly his own or shared photos. Yeah, right! His galleries are a joke. Apart from some dozens of cell phone quality photos of himself and his family, some from travel, again with appalling quality, there are dozens of photos of movie stars, politicians, fashion models, even images of comics characters, maps, symbols, flags, that I bet are just grabbed from the internet.

Then Manuel R. started the persecutory role. He overtly asked if I had sought permission from the lady in the image to use the photo, as I was using it, as he said, “to promote my hobby”. I didn’t, and of course I do not have to, as a personal blog is considered editorial content and the photo was made in a public place during a freely accessible public performance. I can be quite assured the person in question does not feel misrepresented in the photo, as she was using these same photos in her promotional website, without asking!!!

He proceeds to inform me of his uses of Facebook and how inconvenient it would be if it was shut down, and that it was my entire fault because I complained. He continued to the personal insults (what else can one use when there are no valid points to make?)
He says, and again in a rather liberal translation, the threat of Facebook closing his account was the consequence of “…an act of a rude kid with an enormous and ill-formed ego…”.
Great logic, uh! He steals the photos, publishes them and then others are to blame for the consequences! And BTW, Manuel, I’m not exactly a kid.  🙂
Then the funny part. He openly threatened that, if by consequence of my evil actions, Facebook kicked him out, he would find me and personally solve the matters “the way I deserve”, in his words.
I’m not sure what action I shall take next, but two things come to my mind:
1. Just ignore the bastard. He does not deserve much attention.
2. Reply to his mail with a polite but firm statement about copyright and ignore him after.

 

I’m open to suggestion. Please, tell me what YOU would do.
Thanks for reading.
p.s.  I’m including the original mail for your “enjoyment”
Cheguei ontem de férias e fui surpreendido com uma acusação de violação de direitos autorais de duas fotografias que publiquei na minha página pessoal do Facebook. Sendo uma pessoa atenta, tenho o cuidado de referenciar o material de outros autores não assinado. De facto publiquei essas fotos não pela sua qualidade particular mas pelo facto de terem como alvo a gaiteira R***** **** da banda ******, fotos obtidas na feira medieval de Fronteira. A maioria das fotos que publico são minhas ou partilhadas e estas não foram obtidas da página do autor que as reclama. Aceito que devo ter ainda mais cuidado com este assunto mas pergunto-lhe Carlos, a R***** sabe que anda a usar a imagem dela para promover o seu hobby? Haveria necessidade que me acusar de fraude através do Facebook? Não me poderia ter enviado uma mensagem para resolução deste assunto, à qual eu teria respondido com um pedido de desculpas e com a subtracção das fotos? Informo-o que uso o Facebook em todas as suas facetas, como passatempo, como meio de difusão das minhas ideias e dos meus hobbies e como agenda de todos os meus contactos profissionais e sociais, ou seja, é também uma ferramenta de trabalho. A advertência feita pelo Facebook de que uma nova violação terá como consequência o encerramento da minha página com todas as consequências que a sua atitude de puto mal-educado e de enorme e malformado ego acarretou leva-me a informá-lo de que se tal acontecer será por causa das suas pretensas fotos e que nesse caso terei que o procurar pessoalmente, coisa fácil como já indaguei, para tratarmos desse assunto da forma que você merece.”

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16 thoughts on “Today, a story…

  1. Almost lost for words Carlos. This is one of those few situations where I would personally invest money to see this though. I mean copyright abuse is one thing, but making threats is a completely different ball game, and people lik this should not feel they can just get away with this.

    • Pedro, thanks for your support. Really appreciate.

      Sincerely, I still cannot understand the guy. He did wrong and got caught. If he just had some dignity he should shut up and keep a low profile. Before his e-mail, I never made the repeated infringements public and never asked for anything, just the removal of the photos.

  2. How annoying and rude!! His email doesn’t deserve any reply, but I would watch his pages to make sure he doesn’t use any of your photos again. And if he does, have his account shut down!

  3. Seriously, some people got nerve! Being in the wrong and trying to twist the matter of guilt around! Sorry to hear that, that’s really a hassle… Still, I wouldn’t deign him with an answer. (Virtual) paper is patient and I’d treat his threats as (just) a clear and poor sign of loss for arguments. Just watch his accounts and take action if he still hasn’t learned his lesson. Good Luck!

    • Thank you Eva. The option of simply ignoring him is gainning strenght.
      Yes, you are right, as the mail progresses and the arguments keep getting weaker and weaker, the anger tone rises correspondingly.
      Have a good week-end.

  4. that’s quite a cautionary tale. i haven’t been watermarking my flower photos, it makes me want to do the search too and see what turns up. good luck with whatever you decide with the jerk

    • Thank you Pat. I very much hate watermarks, and never used them, until a few months ago, when i felt
      it’s the only way of making it a bit tougher to have the images used without consent. I always include
      the copyright information in the metadata but it is not a deterrent, at all. Some people simply
      ignore it. The photos I found in this guy’s Photobucket galleries still had my copyright notice included. 🙂
      Have a nice week-end.

  5. Acho que não é nada que uma carga de porrada não resolva.
    Em meia-hora eu arranjo uma dúzia de marmanjos para dar a carga de porrada.

    Tem gente que enfim… que a mãezinha e o paizinho nunca deviam ter feito o truca-truca.

    • Obrigado pela sugestão, Remus. Se calhar funcionava e era mesmo o que ele merecia. 🙂
      Contudo, acho preferível apenas ignorá-lo. Por esta hora já se deve ter acalmado.

  6. I would do the latter…tell him & forget him. What a jerk! Some people cannot be reasoned with, they don’t have the intelligence. Thanks for the info on what you did so far, I had no idea. Who knows if my pics are being used, even though I use a watermark (but it could be cropped out). I only had one person ask if they could share my pic on their blog. Good luck with it 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment, Sharon. The more I think of it, the more I’m convinced it’s not worth the effort of replying to his mail, because, as you very well say, “some people cannot be reasoned with”, and I believe he is one of them.

      Regarding the watermarks, that I’d rather not use, if possible, is really the only way to try to protect ourselves, not a very strong one, I agree. The one that I use now is very easy to crop out.

      And then, the excellent tools that photographers can use to enhance the photos can also go against us. Some time ago I made a little experiment. Picked some photos and put a big, ugly, centered watermark on them. It was a really nasty thing, a copyright symbol and a name, semi-transparent and emboss. The photos were not really usable that way. Then got the images back in Photoshop and using the content-aware tools, in 5 minutes the watermarks were out, with little trace left. Wonderful tools for removing power lines and watermarks… 😦

      I don’t mind to share the photos, but the keyword here is really “share”. I don’t mind at all if someone wants to use them somewhere (non-commercial), if they just ask and I’m all for it. What really ticks me with this guy is the picking-and-using-as-his-own attitude and in the end blaming the others for the possible consequences.

      Have a nice week-end

    • Hello Hanna.
      I totally ignored him and still think it was the best thing to do. So far , never heard of him again. Just in case, I’m keeping a close eye on his Facebook pages and will report him again if I see any one of my photos there. There was a slight progress, as on his last posts on Facebook, the photos were not his own but have a credit line. I hope this is a sign he learnt something about copyright. Time will tell. 😉

  7. This kind of thing is happening to professional photographers everywhere unfortunately, but even knowing this I was struck dumb by this guy’s attitude. Hopefully he will now at least credit the originators of the images he pinches without permission. Best, Nicholas.

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