Today, a story…
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.”