Those of you who follow me on social media may already know that a certain well-known web shop (let’s just say their store name rhymes with “Sworn Shitty Bore”) recently violated my copyright policy by taking a photo from my blog and using it as their own to advertise one of their products. Since it took me nearly two weeks of relentless emailing to finally get them to take down the photo I decided to take the whole thing public and share the full story with you.
Let’s start with a little background information. I was a regular customer at the web shop that stole my image and over the past few years I’ve ordered from them quite a lot. But, as a blogger, I am also on their affiliate program, meaning that I have an affiliate link that allows me to earn a bit of money whenever someone clicks through to their website from my blog and buys something. Mind you, I am only talking cents here. Over the past four years I’ve made a little under 20 bucks from being on their affiliate program, so it’s not like there’s big money to be earned there. In addition to be being an affiliate I also write reviews and upload pictures to their Customer Reviews and Customer Images page now and then in order to earn points that can be spent on orders. Mind you, I always copyright these photos with my blog name and I upload these photos of my own volition, meaning that I’m okay with these photos being featured on their website. Turns out that it’s not doing me any good though, because as it turns out the point system doesn’t even work. The other week when I tried to use my saved up points to pay for an order I got an error message saying the point system is unavailable, which resulted in me having to contact customer service to start the strenuous process of having points converted to actual store credit. So! In short:
1. I am a long-time personal customer with the web shop that stole my content
2. I am on their affiliate program (though it’s not earning me much at all)
3. From time to time I upload product pictures to their website to earn points (which turn out to be worthless as the system doesn’t actually let you spend them)
Now for some reason the store seemed to think that me occasionally uploading customer photos to their website and regularly featuring their products on my blog gives them the right to just take whatever photos they want from my page and use them as their own. Guess what, IT DOESN’T! On January 2, as I was browsing the shop for jewelry, I all of a sudden noticed that they had used a head shot from my blog to advertise a pair of earrings. My face! On a photo that I took! And not just that, they had removed my copyright from the photo to use it as their own. Disgraceful. And it can’t have been easy to steal the image either, as I have right click disabled and have a plugin that protects me against image theft. So either these people are completely oblivious to the fact that you can’t just steal another person’s image and use it for commercial purposes or they just don’t care that what they’re doing is completely illegal. So! In short:
1. They stole a blog photo of my face t that I took, created and copyrighted
2. They removed my copyright from the image
3. They used the image as their own for commercial purposes
I immediately emailed them, asking them to remove the photo asap as it was a clear violation of my copyright policy that clearly states that use of content created by Kiss & Make-up for commercial purposes is forbidden without my express permission. After 10 days I finally received an email with a half-assed apology from them (“sorry about this mistake”) saying they’d remove the image. Which they eventually did. Thing is, how do you accidentally steal someone’s photo, accidentally remove their copyright and accidentally put it on your website? This obviously wasn’t a “mistake”. They just didn’t think they’d get caught or called out for it .
So if the issue got resolved the end then why am I still complaining, you ask? Well, fact remains that my face was on that website for god knows how long without me ever giving my consent. If I hadn’t been browsing for jewelry that day I may have never found out that they were illegally using my photo for commercial purposes. So who knows what else is out there? Who knows how many of us are having their content stolen as we speak. Sure, in the end my photo got taken down, but only after I bombarded them with emails and social media messages for days on end. The
sad frustrating truth is that some people just don’t not give a fuck about copyright laws and don’t blink twice at twice at stealing your content, removing your ownership and using it as their own to make money. After all why would you pay for a model to model your products or pay for a professional photo when you can just steal someone else’s work for free, right? Sigh.
Have you ever had content stolen? Have you ever had to deal with copyright violation?