As a working photographer you expect that sooner or later you will find your images being stolen and used on the internet. In some ways it’s a cost of doing business in this day and age. And in many ways you kind of have to enable it. Just maintaining a website and filling it with images puts you at risk. Then if you do any type of social media marketing, which you should, you only increase the risks you take.
Even being aware of the risk and possibilities it is still incredibly annoying to discover your work is being ripped off. On Monday I worked a full day and then went to photograph an indoor bandy game, a sport which is surprisingly popular in Sweden. The match started at 19:00 so I needed to be there by 18:00 just to get in place and get my equipment in order. The match went on until 21:00 and then I had a little over an hour of work tagging and uploading pictures. After than I drove a half hour home, and continued to look at and work on pictures. So all in all it was a pretty long day, as it often is when you are doing sports photography.
The next day I saw a newspaper, UNT, had printed one of my pictures from the indoor bandy match and felt pretty good about my work. Then I got an email from another photographer at my agency, who sent me a link to the website of one of the teams from the bandy match. There on their website was my picture front and center. At first I thought maybe they licensed it from our agency, but the picture was identical to the one used by the newspaper. The same picture, the same crop, and the same size. Hmmmmmm.
Now even though I said that as a photographer I anticipate this, it still pisses me off to no end. You expect this from the random fan blog. However to see a club blatantly steal images and use them, well it’s on another level. It’s incredibly disrespectful, and what made it even more annoying is that they have done this to other photographers in our agency. They have been caught doing this and asked not to behave in this manner. Yet it seems they continue to choose to take pictures post them on their website, and roll the dice.
I immediately called the club and asked them to remove the image. I was given a lot of apologies and excuses. It seems the webmaster is new and doesn’t know what is expected of him. I found it awfully convenient that his predecessor also did not know what was expected of him. And for all the apologizing they it on the phone it still took an incredibly long time for them to remove the picture. Apparently the webmaster not only doesn’t know what’s expected of him, but is also incredibly difficult to track down. It was only when I threatened to mail them an invoice for using the image that I got some results. Imagine that!