PDA

View Full Version : Other engraving business site using my work



Sara Gould
07-10-2011, 10:32 AM
I came across another engraving business website that has stolen dozens of photos of my engraving work and used them to make their own website. I have found work from two other engravers included as well - mostly electronics engraving since this is what I am most familiar with. The site in question also has photos for wood, leather, and glass engraving. One of the wood photos is taken from laserbits but I don't know about the rest.

I've sent an email to the site and will be moving forward with copyright infrigement legalities if I don't hear from them. If you'd like to see the site in question drop me a private message.

Dee Gallo
07-10-2011, 10:39 AM
Hi Sara,

This is distressing to say the least! If I were you, I'd make sure the photos on my website are not "stealable". I don't know the particulars, but I know my webmaster can do it.

cheers, dee

Douglas J Miller
07-10-2011, 10:58 AM
There is no real way to make a image totally 'unstealable' on the web. You can block downloads and all that, but with a screen capture function like most photo software has, they can at least get a low res image. It's still worth making the effort, but totally stopping it, no.

Sara Gould
07-10-2011, 11:21 AM
Doug is right. I plan to watermark images from now on but the only way that's entirely effective is to go across the middle of the photo and I hate to do that.

The site isn't linking from my hosting so I can't do much to stop them except document my case and send a cease&desist letter. Their ISP should respond to that by taking the site down.

Scott Shepherd
07-10-2011, 11:46 AM
I've kept photos off of my website for 4 or 5 years now for this exact reason. I've had two other shops contact me about it. One actually asked if I could give them some photos of my work so they could put them on their site, and the other one the person actually told me that I needed to put photos on my site so they could use them to show their customers.

One of them got a detailed explanation why they weren't going to get photos of "My" work to use on "Their" site, which was justified because they were new to the business. However, the second one just didn't get a response because they've been in the business for many years now.

I'm about to go live with a new site that does have photos and it was a real labor to figure out what's "safe" to put up and what's not. It's a real shame we can't just put photos up of our work and be done with it, that we have to worry about these creeps.

Doug Griffith
07-10-2011, 1:16 PM
You can never stop anyone from capturing your screen but you can make it difficult for them to swipe the image itself by right clicking or drag and drop.

A few things you can do without getting into scripting or server side tricks:
1) instead of an IMG tag, use a DIV tag that is the same dimensions as the image. Then set the background of the DIV as the image using CSS.
2) wrap an IMG tag with a DIV. Then, in the same DIV but after the IMG, place an absolutely positioned DIV on top of it using CSS.

Tim Bateson
07-10-2011, 1:57 PM
I have found my work on other sites and find it to be a complement. I loose a few customers over price or competitors, but most come back for the quality. So good luck to those who have used my images. You'll get a few customers, but I'll get them back soon enough.

Tim Bateson
07-10-2011, 2:00 PM
...Then, in the same DIV but after the IMG, place an absolutely positioned DIV on top of it using CSS.

I'm a hack at html programming and would always like a few tips, can you give a mock-up example?

Larry Bratton
07-10-2011, 2:09 PM
You can never stop anyone from capturing your screen but you can make it difficult for them to swipe the image itself by right clicking or drag and drop.

A few things you can do without getting into scripting or server side tricks:
1) instead of an IMG tag, use a DIV tag that is the same dimensions as the image. Then set the background of the DIV as the image using CSS.
2) wrap an IMG tag with a DIV. Then, in the same DIV but after the IMG, place an absolutely positioned DIV on top of it using CSS.

and then bring in the IRS and the CIA and WE can put a stop to this :)

Scott Shepherd
07-10-2011, 2:19 PM
I don't find people running a business that are trying to take my business and my customers away from me a complement. I have several large customers, and while we have great relationships, they aren't immune from someone with more sales charm than me, offering them cheaper prices. The last thing I'd ever do is to give my competitors help in telling them who my customers are so they can skip the years of hard work it took to get them, and start with the names and data right off, not having done a darn thing, other than basically rummage through my trash, electronically.

Martin Boekers
07-10-2011, 2:37 PM
Most vendors such as JDS, Marco etc allow you to use their images. Some give direct links to a web page or let you download
from an FTP site. So for those that is part of their business practice.

Now if this is something that you actually photographed that is another story! First I believe that you can embed a digital signature
in the file so it's easy to trace ownership. Second is this site in the same area as you? If so start with a small claims suit, easy and
cheap to file and will get more attention than a cease and desist letter. If they are in your area or even not check with local authorities
to see if they have a valid business license and are paying taxes. This is public info and should be readily available. Most that will "steal"
like this are probably those "flying under the radar" Chances are good that they don't have the "proper" business paperwork.

It's best to have disclaimers on your website as it reinforces ownership and rights.

You can not only get them to stop but make things very difficult for them. ;-)

Scott Challoner
07-10-2011, 3:07 PM
Steve, were you the one who recommended Tineye a few years ago?
I think this would be an easy way to search for your photos on the web. Once you load their plugin, all you have to do is right click on a photo on your site and Tineye will find other examples on the web. It's too bad that we have to do this, but this should be an easy way to look for copycats.

Doug Griffith
07-10-2011, 3:11 PM
I'm a hack at html programming and would always like a few tips, can you give a mock-up example?

The basics. I wouldn't code it inline though. Margin, padding, and whatnot may also nee to be defined.

inline for a 100 x 100 pixel image:
<div style="width:100px; height:100px; background-image:url('image.png');"></div>

or:
<div style="width:100px; height:100px;"><img src="image.png" width="100" height="100" /><div style="position:absolute; width:100px; height:100px; top:0; left:0;"></div></div>

Larry Bratton
07-10-2011, 5:00 PM
Steve, were you the one who recommended Tineye a few years ago?
I think this would be an easy way to search for your photos on the web. Once you load their plugin, all you have to do is right click on a photo on your site and Tineye will find other examples on the web. It's too bad that we have to do this, but this should be an easy way to look for copycats.

I personally haven't found Tineye to be too useful.

Adrian Hill
07-10-2011, 5:35 PM
Are you doing this on your website - you know "the modern one" ?

I ran a quick test and pulled the entire site (219) files with all HTML, CCS & images contained in the /TMF2/IMAGES/CONTENTS/ directory. It took (22:13:29 - 22:15:53) to do it. Of course I wont use the pictures etc - it was just to see how effective the DIV trick is.

Joe Pelonio
07-10-2011, 5:45 PM
I'm wondering if any copyright lawyer would even take this case. Seems like the harm done to Sara would be hard to quantify. I think the best option is to have a lawyer send them a letter, then do whatever is possible to protect pictures from being downloaded.

Adrian Hill
07-10-2011, 5:56 PM
This is the way I think it works. The problem is not with the picture being downloaded, nor is the problem with the picture being shown, I think that the problem lies with the owner of the picture not being credited for the picture. There are hundreds of pictures in books and magazines. I am quite certain that they do not get permission to publish the pictures per se as long as the owner is credited.

Also, what happens in magazines were pictures are taken and then changed in photoshop (you know, celebs shown holding hands or with additional kids or whatever the tabloids get up to) who then holds the copyright on the picture (the person who took the picture, the one who did the photoshop job...etc) I think this lot could get very very complicated.

How do you protect yourself...I honestly don't know, even if you do watermark the picture, the watermark can be removed with clever software...nothing made from bits & bits is fulllproof.

Doug Griffith
07-10-2011, 6:39 PM
Are you doing this on your website - you know "the modern one"

I don't do this on my sites because the images aren't anything I wish to protect. Also, if you are using a website grabbing utility to download an entire site, that will get everything regardless what HTML/CSS tricks are done. For that, I might use JS and headers to confirm a human is actually browsing the site.

I put together a quick page showing 3 methods of embedding an image. Just append "/hotlinktest" to my URL.

Adrian Hill
07-10-2011, 7:39 PM
I still don't get it - if I right click on any of the images I can still copy them off. A lot of sites disable the right click but this doen't help either because the web sucker can still get past it (and it is annoying because disabling the right mouse button is effective across all tabs within the browser)

My website downloader is also bright enough to trawl the entire directory structure of the site on the server and simply suck down whatever it finds, whether it is linked to a page or not. There is a way to stop directory listing from being done this way - i can't remember how though.

Dan Hintz
07-10-2011, 8:57 PM
Not to mention I can usually open the source for the page, find the path to the image file, and bring that up by itself.

Doug Griffith
07-10-2011, 8:59 PM
I still don't get it - if I right click on any of the images I can still copy them off. A lot of sites disable the right click but this doen't help either because the web sucker can still get past it (and it is annoying because disabling the right mouse button is effective across all tabs within the browser)

My website downloader is also bright enough to trawl the entire directory structure of the site on the server and simply suck down whatever it finds, whether it is linked to a page or not. There is a way to stop directory listing from being done this way - i can't remember how though.

Actually, the downloader won't be able to read a directory. It willl only be able to recursively retrieve linked files.

How about this method?
use javascript/ajax to load the image. (this way disabling javascript won't show images and downloaders should fail)
disable right click of images (only done on last image. requires javascript disabling to bypass)

Then store the images in a protected directory to prevent manually entering the image URL in the browser.

I put an example of this on the page. (not a protected directory though)

Scott Shepherd
07-10-2011, 9:01 PM
This is the way I think it works. The problem is not with the picture being downloaded, nor is the problem with the picture being shown, I think that the problem lies with the owner of the picture not being credited for the picture. There are hundreds of pictures in books and magazines. I am quite certain that they do not get permission to publish the pictures per se as long as the owner is credited.

Also, what happens in magazines were pictures are taken and then changed in photoshop (you know, celebs shown holding hands or with additional kids or whatever the tabloids get up to) who then holds the copyright on the picture (the person who took the picture, the one who did the photoshop job...etc) I think this lot could get very very complicated.

How do you protect yourself...I honestly don't know, even if you do watermark the picture, the watermark can be removed with clever software...nothing made from bits & bits is fulllproof.

Adrian, it's not complicated at all. Photos of celebrities, etc. that go into magazines are considered editorial photos. They are pretty much free to use if they are in the context of it being an editorial document. You also can't take a photo of people without their permission and use it. That's why you see people blocked out all the time on tv.

When it comes to business, it's very simple. If you didn't create the image and you don't have permission from the owner of the photo, then you are breaking the law and you will lose in court. There isn't much gray area there. You also cannot take anyone else's photos and modify them in any way to create your own version of it. That's also illegal.

There are many many cases and stories of sign shop owners out there where bad things have happened.

I was reading another forum and this guy was bragging about how "sick" his latest vehicle wrap was and how happy the customer was with his design. It was all skull based stuff, very dark, "wicked" looking wrap. He actually did a good job on it all. Then someone spoke up and said "Hey, isn't that a famous photo of the killing fields of Cambodia". Sure enough, there was a famous photographer that took this photo.

The guy blew it off, said he didn't give a hoot.

Someone contacted the guy that took the photo and he was apparently appalled that a photo that was from Cambodia and people being slaughtered was now being used as a background as a "pile of skulls" to look "wicked". He came after that sign guy with a vengeance. It was looking very bad for the guy when we last heard from him. He disappeared off the site and was never heard from again. I feel pretty certain it cost him a fortune to get it resolved.

One thing I try really hard not to do and that's use photos I don't have permission to use. That's a fast track to a bad place.

Doug Griffith
07-10-2011, 11:01 PM
Not to mention I can usually open the source for the page, find the path to the image file, and bring that up by itself.

Try the last one on the page now... without screen capturing.

The way it works:
1) on page load, the background of static divs are set using AJAX and CSS.
2) the CSS references a CGI script that pulls the image from a root level directory (outside of public access).
3) htaccess verifies the IP address and denies access to the image pulling script.
4) Javascript disables right clicking on a per image basis.

Turn off Javascript = no images
Directly access image = Apache denial
Directly access script = htaccess denial

Adrian Hill
07-11-2011, 4:14 AM
I ran a test on one of my own websites. The downloader happily retrieved directories that have notong to do with the site at all. I think this is why one needs to deny directory listing in .htaccess.

The ajax thing works very well. Right click is blocked and the downloader in unable to get that picture. Seems that short of screen capture that picture ain't getting copied - well done!

Frank Corker
07-11-2011, 6:44 AM
Well I think it was pretty dispicable of them to use it without even asking you. Yes as Steve mentioned, it's flattering that they want your stuff to show because the quality was obviously better than they could muster, but very bad order indeed.

Martin Boekers
07-11-2011, 11:05 AM
, I think that the problem lies with the owner of the picture not being credited for the picture. There are hundreds of pictures in books and magazines. I am quite certain that they do not get permission to publish the pictures per se as long as the owner is credited.

Also, what happens in magazines were pictures are taken and then changed in photoshop (you know, celebs shown holding hands or with additional kids or whatever the tabloids get up to) who then holds the copyright on the picture (the person who took the picture, the one who did the photoshop job...etc) I think this lot could get very very complicated.

How do you protect yourself...I honestly don't know, even if you do watermark the picture, the watermark can be removed with clever software...nothing made from bits & bits is fulllproof.

Actually (most) magazines do get the rights to use the images. Many are purchased through stock agencies or papparazzi. You are allowed "media" rights if you photograph a public figure IN a public place. You cannot imply sponsorship of a product or endorsement. Technically (& legally) you cannot change the context of image and if things have been modified (not just color and cropping) in PS it should be acknowledged as an illustration. Rights can be sold as little as one use to unlimited rights ans should be in a contract. If you feel your rights have been infringed you do have the right to take legal action. It may or may not be worth it depending upon the infringement. Some magazines really don't care and will pay a settlement or print a retraction as they feel they recieved more value then the penalty. Nice ethics!

Take it from a photographer, if you take an image with a couple "identifiable" people in it, it becomes a much more salable product if you have those sign a release.

Sara Gould
07-11-2011, 11:32 AM
The reason I posted was in case anyone wanted to check his site for their own work since it doesn't seem like anything is his own.

As for using photos- giving credit is not enough and you can be sure most magazines and websites would be sued out of existence of they didn't properly license photos. Some photographers say that going after copyright violators is part of their income stream.

Sara Gould
07-11-2011, 12:21 PM
I'm wondering if any copyright lawyer would even take this case. Seems like the harm done to Sara would be hard to quantify. I think the best option is to have a lawyer send them a letter, then do whatever is possible to protect pictures from being downloaded.

Hindsight being 20/20 I have a pretty good idea what to do if this happens again.
A lawyer would take the case if the images had been registered with the copyright office and watermarked. This would prove ownership and show intentional theft. Actual damages do not have to be proven as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act lays out a minimum and maximum award and stipulates the coverage of legal fees by the infringer.

Ross Moshinsky
07-11-2011, 12:48 PM
Why don't you just email the person and have them take it down?

Honestly, most people don't understand copywrite law. On top of that, the internet is the wild wild west. Although there are laws, the answer is, who is actually going to enforce them? Give people the benefit of the doubt sometimes. I'm sure they will be more then willing to take the photo down.

Sara Gould
07-11-2011, 12:52 PM
Why don't you just email the person and have them take it down?

Honestly, most people don't understand copywrite law. On top of that, the internet is the wild wild west. Although there are laws, the answer is, who is actually going to enforce them? Give people the benefit of the doubt sometimes. I'm sure they will be more then willing to take the photo down.

I emailed them Friday and said they had 5 days to respond or take things down.

Ross Moshinsky
07-11-2011, 1:20 PM
Friday at what time? It's only Monday in the AM now. Saturday and Sunday simply don't count because they are not business days. So you essentially have given them a few hours.

You may be upset, but some people don't know HTML. I can imagine in my head the ping pong of emails between the owner, the web developer, and you, and although it is only a 10 minute process to do what you want them to do, it will probably take them until the end of the week.

Joe De Medeiros
07-11-2011, 1:24 PM
I have seen a few websites where they split the image into segments 20 or 30, this just discourages the casual user, but you can still screen capture it and crop the picture out.

Sara Gould
07-11-2011, 1:24 PM
Did I say I was counting Saturday and Sunday? Why not give me the benefit of the doubt too? I'm actually not terribly upset, I just posted it to help the engraving community, not to share a 'I'm so mad, I'm gonna sue em all!' story.

Sarah Holbrook
07-11-2011, 4:39 PM
Sara, I'm sorry to hear someone is using your photos without your permission. I hope that your actions to get it straightened out work!

I'd think twice before putting in measures to make images more difficult to copy. Having images readily downloadable helps web crawlers build a good index of your site (so people can find you via image search) and it helps customers! Before I buy an item or service I almost always catalog some images + url or print the page to pdf to keep in my own reference library. The only thing that context-click disablers or background images do is annoy me; I can always take a screenshot.

Craig Matheny
07-11-2011, 9:53 PM
The only way I know to make your photos theft proof is use flash and do a scrolling display

Sara Gould
07-11-2011, 9:58 PM
Thanks Sarah, I agree that it helps customers. The ironic thing about all this is that I ended up doing a search for my business after a potential customer wanted proof that I was a legitimate business. Finding the photos reminded me of just how easy it is to fake things on the web! I'll never be annoyed by that question again.

Doug Griffith
07-11-2011, 11:28 PM
The only way I know to make your photos theft proof is use flash and do a scrolling display

That just makes defining the image bounds a little less controllable during a screen capture. A scrolling Flash image is just an image that is scrolling frame by frame where a screen capture captures one of the individual frames. I just did it on a high speed scroll and the image came out crisp.

Craig Matheny
07-11-2011, 11:48 PM
Correct but lets get honest does a screen capture photo truly say look at the quality of my work in this fuzzy image? I would rather force that then let them just do a save as and have full access original file.

Doug Griffith
07-12-2011, 1:17 AM
Correct but lets get honest does a screen capture photo truly say look at the quality of my work in this fuzzy image? I would rather force that then let them just do a save as and have full access original file.

I hear you but a screen capture is more or less the same image as the original. It's what is displayed on the monitor and what the website viewer sees. Possibly with one more layer of compression or color correction. When I design websites, I often just take screen captures within the graphics program I'm working in. What I see on my screen is what the website visitor sees. Print is a completely different animal.

As far as stealing my images, I personally don't care. The value in what I do is not the representation but the item itself. For others, the representation is the item so it matters. I would do a trick similar to what I demonstrated and force them to put in more effort to swipe the image. More often than not, they'll move on to an easier solution. In the end, any image can be stolen so it's just how difficult you want to make it.

Rodne Gold
07-12-2011, 3:03 AM
My customers often save an image out of my website and mail us to ask us info about that product , would be very counterproductive for me to try stop ppl saving the images off my site.

Steve Clarkson
07-12-2011, 10:02 AM
The way I see it, there is a very simple and effective way to fix this problem........

Simply Google the picture stealer and write a scathing review of their business and mention the fact that they stole your photo and also include your website address directing potential customers to the actual maker of the product in question. Then do the same thing on Yahoo, and Bing, and Hotfrog, etc. Then whenever a potential customer finds this business on Google, they will see the review.......I GUARANTEE the infringing business in question will remove the photo in exchange for deleting your "reviews".

Mark Ross
07-12-2011, 12:26 PM
Yeah, the long and short of it is, if you did not register it properly with the copyright office, hard cheese with a lawyer...from the U.S. Copyright office...

"Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?
Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration (http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.pdf)” and Circular 38b (http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ38b.pdf), Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), on non-U.S. works.

And even if you do, good luck collecting statutory damages. You have to prove what those damages are. I worked for a fortune 500 company and we had a product that was "chinese" copied. The best we were able to do, is eventually stop the infringing product at the point of entry into the USA.

If the person who is infringing is running a corporation or LLC, good luck trying to bring them in personally instead of their company. You will have a heck of a hard time collecting. If copyright laws actually WORKED? The RIAA would still be suing the pants off of EVERYONE who downloads illegal copies of songs...they have stopped...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122966038836021137.html

The best thing to do is to what was suggested here and protect your pictures as best as possible and find another way to beat them at their own game...

Maybe hire anonymous to hack their website?

Martin Boekers
07-12-2011, 12:56 PM
Here is an interesting case that recently happened in St Louis.

http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110621/film_nm/us_hangover

They ended up settling out of court, The studio that made the movie is considering digitally altering the tat on the DVD
editions. ;-)

So the little guy can go up against the big guy!

May not be easy but it can and does happen.

Pete Bejmuk
07-12-2011, 4:30 PM
watermarks, custom scripts to prevent the right-click menu and using CSS overlays can all be worked around in the end.

about a year ago a friend of mine asked me for help getting photos of some famous celebrity off the Playboy website, because when he used right-click/"save as…" all he got was a blank GIF. it took me all of three minutes seconds to figure out the DIV shenanigans and tell him how to save the pictures.
Now the majority of people wouldn't figure it out, but you're dealing with people who do this for a living, who WILL figure out how to get around your methods of stopping.

you just have to be vigilant and use legal threats.

Mark Ross
07-12-2011, 6:03 PM
Yes, what this article shows is "Whitmill, who created the original tattoo and registered the copyright". If you don't at least register, even if copyrights are supposed to be automatic, your chances of ever collecting a single thin dime are pretty slim.

As a side comment, Pete, just use a bit torrent and search under the word playboy...you can get every single centerfold ever done in one easy to use .zip file...lol...

That brings up an interesting point...I wonder how many people who got the famous playboy bunny outline as a tattoo paid the royalty, checked to make sure it was okay etc.

Then there is the guy that put all those Disney tattoo's on his body and Disney was going to make him take them off...

Doug Griffith
07-12-2011, 6:57 PM
I just programmed a method that should be the best of both worlds:
http://www.themodernform.com/nosteal

I'm curious if anybody can grab the smiling image?

No screen captures!

Edit:
Oh Dang. I just figured out to do it. Not a simple process though.

Douglas J Miller
07-12-2011, 7:22 PM
You mean this one?

Sorry. I missed the request for no screen captures. And yes, all I get is the frowny face otherwise.

Doug Griffith
07-12-2011, 7:27 PM
You mean this one?

That's a screen capture. Anybody can do that for any image. My method would just slow them down.

Greg Bednar
07-12-2011, 7:35 PM
First of all Sara, that's a very nice website you have. Second of all, that's a very nice website you have, and last but not least, take heart you are the inspiration for others who have no original inspiration or original thoughts. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - think of how many people are loving you.! - I'm not a philosopher ( obviously,) however this happens all the time. It's unavoidable. And it takes deep pockets to go after the deep pockets, if you go after the little guy, he'll just close his business and move on and reopen another business under another name and you've spent a boatload on legal fees. - For the most part it is a time consuming and unproductive chase when your obvious talents can be best used to line your own pockets instead of those of the lawyers. ( my apologies to all the lawyers out there )

Bill Cunningham
07-12-2011, 9:28 PM
My customers often save an image out of my website and mail us to ask us info about that product , would be very counterproductive for me to try stop ppl saving the images off my site.

Yup Same here.. Not only does it help the customer explain exactly what he or she wants, but I get at least 50 hits a day from Google images alone.. Many people search by pictures. I've heard 'some' are worth a thousand words..:rolleyes: