I know it goes on, I have known that is goes on…but each time I am confronted with it I lose a little more hope for humanity.
Imagine this, you do this amazing shoot for a family and it turns out just everything you want it to be and you present it to them and they love it but they never order. A friend of yours goes to their house and finds that they somehow got the digital images and blew them up all over to show everyone. Then they went to all the grandparents house and found that they gave them to them too so they made their own prints. How would you feel that something you worked so hard on, that your client loved, was stolen from you by them because they loved it, they just didn’t feel like paying for it? You left your husband and your kids that day, went out and photographed them, gave them part of your soul, your time. Took time away from your family to edit them just right, not to mention the time and energy you spent corresponding with them, finding the location, the best time, answering wardrobe questions, etc. And gosh, lets not forget all the money you spent on your equipment, your insurance, all the time over the years that you spent learning and practicing to get to the point to be able to give them that product, those images. How would that make you feel in that moment? Pretty crappy right? Lets say this happened over and over again and there was nothing you could do to stop it? You just work and people just take. Hold that feeling…
So let’s talk…I am a photographer and I get lots of questions and people wanting to learn the way I do things. We all, as photographers, seem to have a hunger for knowledge. I think that is what keeps me interested in it honestly. A while back I decided to start selling things to help photographers along their journeys… sky overlays to enhance those days that have nothing pretty (or until you learn how to get both in the image “in camera”), tutorials, workshops, even virtual workshops for those of you who can’t travel or are on a tighter budget, and now actions and presets to help you easily achieve the look you are going for. I wish I had had resources like this to purchase when I first started out – it would have elevated my art in a new way and so much faster! Now, I work very very hard on these things-you can ask my husband, I can go a week and not come up for air when I am in the end stages of developing one of these products. Not only does my time go into it, all the time, effort, learning, sleepless nights and hard work that I have put in to my photography over the last 7 years goes into it to. Time away from my kids, wasted money on things that didn’t work, ups and downs and highs and lows. Blood, sweet, tears, and money (and the money doesn’t stop-I pay monthly just to offer these products and make them available so easily) go into these products…creating them, testing them, perfecting them, bringing them to you, supporting you in our groups, etc. So when I see people getting together in groups and conspiring to steal these products from me and my family (because that is what it amounts to-I pay my mortgage, my electric bills, my kids lunches, our medical bills out of what I make-this is my JOB) it makes me completely irate. And also just sad. Sad, that someone is willing to give their soul away, their morals, the values, etc. to save $60 on a product that took so much to create, that helps feed a family, that a fellow mother worked so hard for. And all I see on the internet is how we should be a community, support one another, come together as creatives and yet not one person comments and says, hey this isn’t right. These sites are everywhere-the napster of photography I guess. Tonight I came upon this site…sweet little nugget right? On a side note, I wonder how Proctor and Gamble would feel about an internet their using their logo as theirs (and yes I actually emailed the company to let them know that an intellectual property thief was using their logo as his/her-I am relentless)?
Not only do they upload it to one sharing site, the ask people to “mirror” it so there are lots of places to be able to download it….your mind blown yet? They aren’t getting paid for this, sadly they are just other creatives stealing from their community.
They are everywhere…all day everyday this is all they apparently have to do. I can do this all day and still not get all of it. People just sitting in forums talking about me that don’t know me, don’t care, don’t care that they are stealing. They got mad that I got them all taken down so I guess he decided to one up me…let’s see how much more we can steal, right?
And now you are sitting here thinking wow I didn’t know those existed and some of you may close this out and go look – free stuff? Hell yeah! First, watch out, I downloaded some of them…most of them contain viruses because lets face it, these people suck, half of them are foreign and just looking to scam people. So your saving $60 may cost you a few hundred for a new computer; I literally almost lost my MacBook today. And a few of the files weren’t even what they said they were-just a big ole virus! I hope most of you hang your head for what this part of our industry has become, what our world has become, everyone wants something for nothing; people who don’t want to work for anything they get, just want it handed to them. The sense of entitlement is overwhelming. Whether they are asking for advise in a rude way or demanding you tell them how you edited something (that took you years to perfect) or just plain out stealing things you created, its wrong (I wrote a piece on something similar not too long ago HERE). In the depths of all our souls we know that you don’t take things that don’t belong to you. I hope when you see these things in groups that you stop it, stand up for what is right, speak your mind. Since when is standing up for what is right, so wrong? People don’t do it on the internet anymore, they just join in it seems. Its saddening. Most of these people are someone’s parents…if they are doing this imagine what they are teaching their kids, probably without even thinking about it. This was from a local to Northern Illinois Mom’sPhotography Group after I released the virtual workshop-just one of many:
Law enforcement? Yeah right, not on something like this. If I called my local sheriff’s department I think they might laugh in my face. Its stealing, just like if they had walked into a small business on a downtown street and walked about with out paying, then went back in a got one for their friend, and then their other friends….or just grabbed a bunch and started passing them out to whoever wanted one…just a larger scale. The governing law on this type of material infringement is the DMCA (more about that HERE). You can email the sites and have them take the files down-guess what? Amazingly enough almost every contact for I went to that was labeled DMCA reporting gave me virus pop-ups. I wonder why? Half the emails get returned because they leave out a letter in their email addresses; its really cowardly. There are services that assist you (more money) and services that protect you (a lot more money) but it is almost cost prohibitive for small businesses. At this point, though, I don’t have a choice so I have signed up and am moving all of my products into this service. Everything will be tracked so that if they are uploaded to another site (because no product should ever be uploaded anywhere, only downloaded) everything about that person is recorded and sent to me so that I can proceed with prosecution and recovery of the price of the item. There are other ways they can tell if they are being passed around to others but I am not privy to divulge that information obviously. Its sad really, like having to lock up my house like a fortress to keep people from stealing my things. Its maddening really. Have you ever noticed the signs in Wal-Mart about motioning for theft? It says so we can keep your prices low; because the more that is stolen, the higher they have to raise their prices on nice normal people who are doing things the right way just to survive as a company and keep bringing products to the masses.
And here is the other thing…the more of my salary that comes from the sale of products, the less sessions I have to take so I can spread my work time back into the support of my groups, of my purchasers. The more stealing instead of buying that goes on, the more of my salary that has to come from shooting so the less time I have to focus on my groups and their support. The more demand there is for freesharing, the more of my time goes to stopping this and going through one by one and having them taken down, site by site. Takes so much time. You feel beat down; do these people not realize you are a working mom supporting her children? That you created these things and should be able to freely profit from them so you can pay your bills instead of having to hunt down the thieves that live online?
This whole thing ties into what happened on my page Monday- I noticed in some of the groups that were freesharing my products that they were trying to come up with ways to get into the Private Purchasers FB group. I have gotten a request from a certain person several times and declined because her name didn’t match a receipt. I messaged her to ask her for her receipt and apparently that was not what she wanted. I fully believe that she has the products from someplace else and was trying to shame me into letting her in. In fact, I was already writing this post Monday when it all went down….
Part of the reason that this whole thing got started on my page Monday was because of my policy to only let purchasers into my purchasers groups. It is one tiny line of defense I have; part of that line of thinking is to prevent people who have stolen these products from hanging out with us and receiving support for something they got by stealing…I only let those who purchase products into my support groups. If you don’t have my product then why would you want to be in the group? It is so we can support, uplift, critique one another, and so I can help if you have issues with your products. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to join that don’t use the product. You can see that whole line of craziness here:
And its not just products being stolen, its also images. People want so badly to be a seasoned photographer (again, something for nothing) and get clients by making them think that they are instead of biding their time like we all did that they literally take other photographer’s images and place them on their websites. I mean it is insane! I even had a lady photoshop a baby out of my image and put a client’s baby in it! I mean talk about going the extra mile…it didn’t even look believable.
What happened to honest & integrity? Working your butt off and then laying down at night with a clear conscious that you are doing whats right and still getting ahead in the world? DO people just not care about that anymore? I guess not. So it is forcing me to contract with a company that does digital tracking on intellectual property just to keep this stuff from happening again. It isn’t cheap but I would rather lose money than give away things to thieves.