They say that imitation is the purest form of flattery, right? So why is it that I get so riled up when someone blatantly steals my work? It’s one thing to be inspired, it’s another to unabashedly steal my photos and call my work yours. Case in point: I recently received a pingback on my blog from a sweet bridal website talking about alternative guestbook ideas. My bench was mentioned, cited, linked to, and wonderfully mentioned. All the proper internet etiquette was observed. However, when I reached the bottom of the post, I saw another link to an Etsy shop. “Cool!” I thought. “Someone is selling guestbook benches on Etsy! I bet they look fabulous.” Cue my surprise when I clicked over and saw this:
Uh, whaaa?? That’s MY bench, in MY house! And I am NOT this seller! Holy crap, I’ve been hacked! Through my powers of deduction by observing other listings in her shop, it seems she steals photos from brag posts on Ana-White.com. So not cool. Why it’s great and dandy to pull inspiration, it is still considered infringement to swipe photos without permission and not cite the original source. There’s no sourcing here. People who shop her Etsy store think these are hers. And this isn’t the only image. Check it out.
Yuck. So, what do you do when you’re confronted with a situation like this? You bust out your scary emailing skills!! I immediately flagged the listing, and provided the link to my images hosted on Weddingbee to the Etsy moderators. Then I emailed a very stern message to the seller, telling her that I expected these images to be removed before the next morning, or I would be contacting the Weddingbee legal team to order a cease and desist of these images (and yes, the ‘bee totally has a scary legal team to stop the pirating of images and content, which happens a lot. My boudoir pics totally ended up on some creepy German porn site alongside Kim Kardashian. How weird is that??) I gave her a bit of a stern lecture on the proper use and sourcing of images. She promptly emailed me back that she had removed the images, and gave me this bit of “advice”.
“May I suggest adding a water mark to all the photos on your site(s) so that these issues does not happen again.” Um, excuse me?! How about you not STEAL other people’s images and pass them off as your own! I do watermark my photos, but not on Weddingbee. You’re not supposed to promote your personal blog, because you’re part of a collaboration of bloggers on a main website. Oooh, that got me fired up all over again. I let her know that this practice was illegal, and if she wanted to “inspire” people she needed to create the products her vinyls are featured on herself. Besides, my bench isn’t even a vinyl, it’s something I transferred with carbon and filled in with a paint pen. It won’t look remotely like a vinyl. Sigh. I get just as angry for all those other poor posters on Ana’s site who just want to provide a little inspiration for fellow builders, and are now victims of theft. Oh, but on the bright side, Etsy did move quickly on the infringement and deactivated her listings. Thanks, Etsy team!