Photography Theft!

Photography Theft

Last week I was tasked with transferring assets for six properties on behalf of my employer; which I did successfully. Upon checking that the domain names had successfully transferred and the new website is working, I find that my photography was being used, without permission. In the case of the first property, there was a miscommunication between parties, and suitable compensation was agreed upon.

The second batch of five properties was another story; after transferring all domain names and assets, I again checked that everything had been transferred successfully; and guess what, this company, which will remain nameless for the time being, had literally stolen my photos, downloading them from the previous websites that the company I represent hosted on behalf of these five properties.

Given that the photos were downloaded from our websites, prior to the closing of the sale of the properties, before we took down these websites, then reuploaded to their websites, after removing the watermark at the bottom right of the photo, this was an egregious, intentional breach of my copyright. I suspect that Photoshop’s content-aware fill tool was used to remove the watermark, which works well on simple backgrounds, but often does not work well on more complex backgrounds, see the images below.

Starting with the original photograph that I took;

Stolen Photos - Original Image

And the stolen photograph, I have circled the distortion in red after watermark removal.

Stolen Photos - Altered Image

I have written an Email to the company, who are infringing on my copyright, basically giving then two options, remove the photos, or pay me $300 for a license to use my photography. I’ll give them a week to make it right, and as I don’t have spare cash to get a lawyer, I will name and shame them publicly. I’m sick and tired of people stealing my work and using it for profit, while I get nothing for my hard work.

Update [Sep, 04 2020, 11:10]: This issue has potentially been resolved. A representative from the company infringing on my copyright reached out to me at 5:26pm yesterday, with an offer to pay my $300 asking price for the photos. To cut a long story short, I submitted an invoice, and the representative for the company said, I should get payment in 5 – 7 days. Now, I wait to see if the check arrives, then I will share all 706 photos with a license to use them. I’m not greedy, all I want is to be paid for my work.

Update [Sep, 08 2020, 10:17]: I thought this was dealt with, but, I get an Email from a different person who said, to get paid I have to fill out a contractor contract, and a W9 for them to send me out a check. The first person to contact me is supposedly new and did not know their company procedures when agreeing to have a check sent out. The bottom line, I am not signing anything legally binding with this company, they have already proven the type of company they are when they stole my photography. After some research, I discovered that I can create an invoice in Pay Pal, which I have done, and I have asked to be paid by credit card, which they can apparently do without having to fill out any contracts.

Final Update [Sep, 09 2020, 14:12]: I have received payment, minus Paypal’s fee and I have sent a link to the photos and release. I’m happy this has been dealt with, I just wish I did not have to chase after this company, why they didn’t just contact my employer, and ask about the photos I don’t know; that would have been the right thing to do. Anyway, it’s done, I have been compensated for my work.

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