Hacked Off

29 Jun

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.

Uh, yeah. That’s my husband and me on our wedding day. Creepy. I’m so not ok with this. And what’s worse is that her vinyl is not only a complete knock off of my layout, but a poorly made one.

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!

18 Responses to “Hacked Off”

  1. Ashley M. June 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    How rude! That is def. one thing I worry about while shopping on etsy. A lot of times there isn’t any way for the shopper to know that isn’t their work that they are displaying as their own. Grrrrr. People like this make me so mad…

  2. Heather June 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    That is entirely disturbing. I’m glad you found it and that her listings were deactivated. She sounds like a psycho!

  3. Melinda June 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Holy moly! That’s really creepy and awful. Glad it was swiftly taken care of, but you shouldn’t have had to deal with that at all!

  4. Amanda June 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    That is absolutely terrible! It wasn’t even a good imitation, and telling you to watermark your photos so people like her can’t steal them? Wow. You had every right to be riled up.

  5. Nellie June 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    That’s so gross. People are idiots! So glad you discovered it and took care of business.

  6. GoHausGo June 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    So disturbing!! Thanks for sharing! You’re a tough cookie! I think you handled it perfectly.

  7. Creen - Colleen June 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    Whoa crazy!!

  8. Barefoot & Married June 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    That’s terrible! I’m so sorry – that’s lame.

    Have you ever read regretsy.com ? They expose a ton of people like that who steal other artists’ work.

    • killer b. June 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

      I’m a huge Regretsy fan, mostly because they expose the shady sellers and often “happy-go-lucky” policy that Etsy has on trademarks and calling out. It seems if you can manage to find the right channels to report fraud and theft, then Etsy is quick to act. So at least that’s good news!

  9. Ashley @ DesignBuildLove.co June 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    DUDE! That’s insane!!!!!!!! I can’t believe she was doing that! Go Etsy team!!!

  10. Julia Elizabeth June 29, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    It’s bad enough that they used your bench, but your FACE?! On your wedding day?!?! Taaacky.

  11. Megan June 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    What a creeper!!! As if you aren’t stressed enough with the move, here comes a thief to take credit for your hard work.
    Keep your head up and be glad that Etsy’s team is awesome. : )

  12. Stephanie Brooks June 30, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    WTH??? I would be mad as hell!! Did you tell Ana? I read her site everyday and I love looking at the brag blog!! So sorry that happend to you!

  13. killer b. June 30, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    Thanks so much for all the support guys! I was a bit concerned that perhaps I overreacted, but this makes me feel a lot better about it. Theft is theft, and unfortunately the internet can make it really easy to pull off with none-the-wiser. A big shout out to TheWeddingRecycler.com for bringing the listing to my attention!

  14. suburbianbliss June 30, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    I am SO mad for you!!! What a B****. Seriously. How rude of her to tell you that you should have watermarked your images. It’s illegal to steal people’s photos!! I’m glad you got it all taken care of but that just makes me SO mad!

  15. Sunny M. June 30, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    You go girl!!! I would be ticked and would’ve done the exact
    same thing! All of it is just wrong, but I still can’t get
    over her using your wedding photos…what a moron!

  16. Ruby Tuesday July 1, 2011 at 12:53 am #

    This is insane! I can’t believe she suggested you use a watermark! She clearly stole this photo too – http://www.etsy.com/listing/69041889/storage-labels-for-laundry-room-vinyl

    And, the original DOES have a watermark that this seller just cropped off – http://showandtell-sausha.blogspot.com/search/label/laundry%20room

    • killer b. July 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

      I did mention that to her, she said that some of her buyers were “inspired” by the photos to build their own pedestals! Seriously, there’s something off in this chick’s brain. She honestly believed that she was doing us a favor by stealing our work.

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