Published Jun 10. 2015 - 2 years ago
Updated or edited May 30. 2017

Image theft

We pride ourselves on many and good images. A lot of other people also like our images... some a little too much, actually!

Feather dealer - This US feather dealer pushes his feathers using Bob Petti\'s images of Bergman wet flies
The Bird in Borrowed Feathers
Bob Petti

I sometimes venture on a small image search on the web, and see if I can find some of our images on other sites. It usually takes about 30 seconds to find the first, and once I get started, I'm mostly overwhelmed by the number of copies of images from the Global FlyFisher I can find.

Illegal copies!

A very small number of sites have been allowed to copy content from our web site, usually in connection with a translation. They mostly write and ask kindly, and we grant permission to use and translate our articles on non-commercial sites, in newsletters, club magazines etc.
But we only very, very rarely allow other sites to use our images, and still I can find hundreds of copies of our photographs spread all over the world - literally.
I remember a US salmon fly tyer handing me a business card at a show in New Jersey. I said thanks and put it in my wallet, and it wasn't before I returned home and went through the cards I'd been handed that I noticed that the image of a Black Argus fly he had on the card was one of mine! And the fly was tied by my good friend, Danish Kim Rasmussen. So that guys was advertising his skills as a salmon fly tyer illegally using an other man's picture of a third man's fly!

Offended

In the worst cases I write people and ask them to remove the photos. I rarely get any reactions at all. Sometimes the images disappear, but mostly nothing happens. I only remember once having received an excuse after which the webmaster kindly removed our pictures.
I have several times received angry replies from people obviously offended by my questioning their "right" to freely use images from the web and some even questioning my right to call them mine!

Bunches - The Argentinean outfitter stole a whole bunch while they were at it, and blocked out our logo on all of them. The ones that aren\'t ours were probably lifted from someone else\'s site.
Block that logo! - A simple way of getting rid of the GFF logo and photographers name: so like this Argentinean outfitter and put your own and much larger logo on top to cover it!
The original - It\'s a pretty easy image to recognize and it is clearly marked with logo and copyright
Watermarks - This is what you can wind up getting if protection is taken to the extreme. Ugly and disturbing watermarks.
Image theft from Argentina
Martin Joergensen

So in stead of contacting them in vain, I have decided to expose them here. If nothing else, then for my own satisfaction.

Protection

Most of our images are protected by a simple anti-theft system. It's nowhere near being perfect, but it keeps people from simply copying or saving images. We also add a watermark to images. Nothing that can't be circumvented, but simple enough to stop most bland copying.
It doesn't take much skill to copy a picture from the web, and I personally haven't seen a protection scheme that can't be broken. The thing is that simply showing the images on people's screens expose them to copying.
We have older articles where the images aren't protected at all and we have our wallpapers where the images have to be downloadable. That's the whole idea. But these images all have the GFF logo and the originator's name in the image files.
Well, it seems that the temptation is still too big for many, and the beautiful high rez wallpapers are spread far and wide as gallery entries, article illustrations, avatars and even as backgrounds for event posters and greeting cards!
Thank you Global FlyFisher for delivering such excellent photos!

Mouse mat - Only 12 US$ for my image on a mousepad! Someone\'s making money off my work. Zazzle forced the seller to withdraw the product.
My photo: 12 US$
Martin Joergensen

Not much gratitude

Or rather: thank you GFF for being stupid enough to leave good quality images out in the open!
I do see places where the images are credited to us and a few places even have a link, but most have no mention of GFF and a surprising number of the images have been edited to remove all traces of the origin such as watermarks, logos or the photographer's name.
Quite a few even added their own names to cover up what they couldn't remove.
And they are of course placed on pages that are clearly marked as copyrighted by the "owners" and in some cases even protected by different copy preventing mechanisms!
Nice to see that people stand up for their rights! Too bad the content they so vigorously defend isn't theirs...

Copyright protected - Oftentimes site owners will guard our images - which were illegally copied - with fierce vigor! In all fairness I have to say that this webmaster removed our images upon request.<br />
Well protected
Martin Joergensen
Avatars! - People love Steve Violette\'s salmon fly and my Canadian sea run cutthroat. The images are illegally used by dozens of people as personal avatars.
Avatars!
Martin Joergensen

Avatars

No, not the movie with the blue, oversize Pocahontas types, but the images that people use as their mark in forums and on social networks.
A whole handful of guys with names such as Torrish24, Penfold, Black Rat, Steinfluen (The Stone Fly in Norwegian) and many more have found Steve Schweitzer's fantastic picture of Steve Violette's salmon fly on a couple of whiskey bottles worthy of representing them online. We're honored, of course, but Rat, Stone Fly and Torrish, you know what? It's not legal!
Lots of other of our images are used in that way, and none of the users have ever asked permission. A permission we would not have granted, so that might be why.

Selling England by the pound

OK, having your images copied seems close to unavoidable once they are on the web, and I can only find a small comfort in the fact that most image thefts from GFF are made by private individuals and non-commercial web sites, who gain nothing else than having a great picture on their web site, their forum profile or their business card.
I'm not forgiving them! No siree! They should know better. It just doesn't hurt that much, just annoys me.
What hurts is the pros stealing. People selling stuff using our images or selling products with our images on them.
That's a friggin' pain in the beep, and I wish I could do something about it!

Gone to China - I literally don\'t have a chance of knowing what\'s going on on this Chinese page. But I recognize the image. I took it and it still has our logo on it.
Swedish shop - This Swedish shop advertizes a reel on sale - with my image!
I recognize these pictures! - Because I shot all four of them. And now they help selling fishing gear in the Czech Republic. Not OK!
No go!
Martin Joergensen

What you can do

With our images? Not much, actually. You are welcome to use the wallpapers as intended: as a background on your computer screen. But that's about it.
You can pin an image on Pinterest (we even have a link to do that) and you can like an image on Facebook, Tweet it or do similar things. The image will be shown as ours with a link back to us. That's fine.
You can't use any image from GFF as your avatar, as a background for your event poster, as an image posted in your online gallery. And of course you can't sell your product promoting it with our images, nitwit! No matter how much you attribute it to us, link to us and print that the copyright is ours. You simply can't!
You can ask for permission, and depending on the purpose we will sometimes grant such a permission. We have a weak spot for club newsletters and materials for non-commercial teaching, so don't be shy. Ask.
Commercial operations can ask too, but must expect to be asked to pay for the use - or turned down.

What can I do?

Not much, actually. I can keep on protecting our images as I do, and just live with the fact that they get copied.
I can try to chase down the worst offenders, but it's often in vain.
I can watermark all our images thoroughly, but honestly don't want to do that. It's not difficult. Modern web technology can watermark each on the fly so that I don't have to edit every single file There's more than 20,000 images, so that's impossible anyway. Automation could be a solution, but I hate watermarks, so that's probably not going to happen.
So for now I'll just moan and groan and hope that people have enough respect to at least ask for permission.

Comments

Hi Martin, Is simpl...

Hi Martin,
Is simple, put them on social media websites and report them to google, yahoo and bing and your hosting provider for piracy. Those sites will be down or will loose the positions in internet searching engines.
Another solution when you post first time a photo : add a specific tag with the name of the photo and globalflyfisher. The searching engines will take in consideration first apparition on web and will help globalflyfisher to have a better position.
cheers
Lucian

The biggest theft I ...

The biggest theft I ever had was a fly company that stole my patterns, copied them, made them into commercial flies and put them in a catalog. That jerk then sent me a catalog and asked me if I wanted to buy the patterns. Sometime later he he then contacted me and asked where he could buy the materials to make the flies. Piracy knows no bounds. There are assholes everywhere. I assume if I put something out there, its will get ripped off. I love when competitors steal images and use them on their sites....I only wish they would buy the stuff from me. Ebay slugs are the worst, they copy all including the text and offer goods at 20-30% off retail prices. ALL of my stuff is copyrighted. I had an author publish a column exactly copying my text word for word with no credit. I almost sued that local newspaper that is part of a giant chain. The editor was friends with one of my customers and got an earful on the golf course. It is a very small town and we are all neighbors.


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