Just Charlie G

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So some of you may have  seen my panicked tweets a few days ago. Some of you even helped me out for which I’m extremely grateful for. It’s been quite stressful but I’ve learned a lesson and it’s one that applies to blogging so I thought I’d share it here too.

The short version is WATERMARK YOUR PICTURES.

And here’s the long version for those interested.
I received a marketing email to my business email with a photo of my work at the bottom. At first I was  flattered as clearly they thought my use of their products was good enough for a mail out but then it occurred to me that I’d not been credited or asked permission so I emailed and the director called me.

He started the conversation saying that the girl who did the email and himself, believed that if I put an image on Facebook it was fair game. I said I thought that was untrue but even if it was true as a courtesy I felt they could have asked/credited. He agreed. I pointed out that if, as I now know to be fact, I was right and that the law was on my side, I would be entitled to invoice them the going rate for using my image for commercial purposes and that was my right, but before I finished he said “well if you’re going to be combative…” which I interrupted and said that I didn’t want to go the legal route I was just feeling a bit miffed and what I was going to say was that he was lucky I wasn’t going to do that! He agreed that I was right about asking permission and crediting and that in future his team would always ask permission from whoever they were wanting to use images from.  He then made a big fuss out of how good I am at what I do and that his firm like to nurture their talent and he asked if I had a salon he could help to promote or anything. I said I was mobile and so that dried up that avenue and he said well if I did ever open a salon then to go to him. He then said as a gesture of good will he would give me a discount on my next order.
I can’t explain why I just accepted that, but to keep the peace I agreed but little did I suspect that when I emailed him later that discount would turn out to be 10%. Which is of course, insulting. If he had just said let me send you a few bottles of xxxx, I’d have been thrilled!
“As a gesture of good will, I am happy to offer you a 10 per cent discount on your next open stock xxx order.
Let me know which colours you would like.
Best”
Now I don’t know about you but I was infuriated since actually it’s me being goodwilled by not suing them/charging them for using my image without permission.  All I’d like is a some xxxx or something, but to have to place an order and then only get 10% off is insulting… isn’t it? When he offered the discount I accepted and said thank you, but I never dreamt it would be a paltry 10% I was expecting 50%!
So I’d gone from being slightly miffed to feeling very cross indeed. Clearly this guy wasn’t going to accept that they had used my photo illegally.  When I raised this with him, he explained that the 10% offer was nothing to do with compensation, it was to thank me for blogging about the brand in the past, and that there would be no apology or compensation for the use of my image because they’d done nothing wrong. He claims that as my photo is on Facebook it’s in the “public domain” and is therefore fair game. Which is nonsense. You know that, I know that but there are many people out there who don’t know that.
So what can you do to prevent your images being taken?
I’m not sure there is much (well actually I think there are things but they are beyond my knowledge base), but from now on my images will be watermarked. It doesn’t make a jot of difference to anything other than making them less appealing potential image thieves.
You will see my next few posts feature pictures that aren’t watermarked, simply because I wrote and scheduled them prior to this event but in a week or two you should start to see the watermarked pictures filter in.
In my last email from this guy last night he said
“It was for this reason alone, that I suggested that in future, if we are to use images in the public domain – we will once again extend this customer service mantra by ‘going over and above’ to where possible, seek out the originator of the image and respectfully ask permission.

This will not be out of a legal obligation. It will be to uphold our customer service image”

Completely ignorant of his obligations to the end! I’ve heard nothing today so assume that will be the end of it.  You know what? If he’d have just said to me “sorry about this, have a couple of bottles of xxxx” I’d have been thrilled, I’m a small, minute, tiny business and it would have been a massive help to me. As it is, I’m switching brands and it’s taken all I’ve got to not name and shame this firm! There are people who are still advising I invoice the firm and tell them if they don’t pay up I’ll see them in court…but I don’t want to do that, but I’m mulling it over.

Watermark your photo’s people!

EDIT: I did reply to his email above with a few links to the copyright law and Public Domain… and received this back

“I once again assure you that there has been no infringement on copyright law. Having said that, I have instructed my team that to avoid potentially upsetting a customer, going forward we will endeavour where possible to ask permission.”

I’m interested to know readers, what would you do in my position? Because I’m finding the more this company refuses to accept they are wrong, the more I want to prove it…

11 responses to “Watermark your photographs!”

  1. Serenity of Beauty says:

    This is why I watermark my pictures! I spend a lot of time taking pictures, and I don’t see y someone should come along pinch my pictures, use it for their purpose and not get any crediti/recognition. Yes, watermarking probably spoils pictures a little bit, but if it prevents this sort of thing, then I’m all for it.

    Sorry to hear what happened to you x

  2. Computergirl says:

    That’s awful. So cheeky to steal your work, but also not even ask? I dont blame you for switching brands. xx

  3. Lauren Loves says:

    So rude!!! Watermarking doesn’t help though. I had a photo taken from my “you don’t need to go to salons, here’s how to do minx nails at home” post and a salon had stolen it for their website advertising minx and cropped off my watermark!!!

    Have you gone to google images, uploaded your own photo and seen how many people have nicked it yet? That’s scary!

    Lauren from Lauren Loves… xxx

  4. dempss01 says:

    The owner of the copywright of a photograph is the photographer (Copywright, Designs and Patents Act1988 s 9 (1)), and as such you have the rights to the photograph (Copywright, Designs and Patents Act1988 s 16 (1)). If copywright has been infringed, it means that a substantial part of the photograph has been used without your permission (Copywright, Designs and Patents Act1988 s 16 (3)). It’s as simple as that.

  5. Invoice him. If he doesn’t pay, small claims court is £25 charge to you, recoverable from his costs when he has to pay up…

    S xx

  6. betwixt beauty says:

    Watermarking photos takes forever and I barely have enough time to blog as it is. It’s a pain the the neck! Just one thing on Facebook though – they have a licence to use your images in their Ts&Cs:

    For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

  7. Charlie says:

    Thanks for the comments people. Much appreciate everyone’s thoughts.

    Betwixt Beauty, that applies to Facebook, but no one else right? FB could use it, no one else could. I don’t see how watermarking takes any more than a couple of minutes unless I’m missing something?

    Dempss01 – I sent him that! No difference. Total denial!

  8. Sparklz and Shine says:

    I put my name on my pics and yet I’ve had a whole post lifted and at least 2 pics used by ebay sellers. One actually blocked my name off the pic. As I don’t want to link what is a longstanding ebay account with my blog I had absolutely no way of complaining to eBay despite messages left on their FB wall.

    I guess if we don’t take a stand and fight back this kind of attitude will prevail – Alex Box has been talking about this a bit recently as an MUA has used one of her fairly iconic images on their website – you could not believe the cheek of it.

  9. Wow. This person’s ignorance is astounding.

    I have watermarks on some of my images, and my photos kind of suck compared to most folks’ out there (and they’re smaller – another thing I do to try and make them look less attractive to potential thieves) but it looks like I’d better watermark even the craptastic ones. (The thumbnails are currently being used on a Canadian Nail Polish site, and they’re linking to me…but it still kind of pisses me off that they’re essentially using my content to help their customers find out about products that are sold at their site.)

    …and yes, you did remove the company name.

  10. Lucy - Beauty and the Blogger says:

    This is so bizarre – so they’ve nicked your picture then sent you an email with it on? I might have to think about watermarking mine now.

  11. m4dswine says:

    My partner is a photographer and we’ve had this happen with some of his images. He normally sends a strongly worded email to the person who has used them and they usually get taken down immediately.

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