Victim of Photo Theft

Yes, that’s me – I recently had a photo of mine stolen. The photo in question is of a group of guests at a wedding, which I’d uploaded onto Facebook alongside other pictures from the special occasion, tagging the couple and other guests in the photo whom I know.

The couple have a hashtag for guests to share snapshots of the big day, and I was scrolling through the feed when I spotted a familiar picture that another guest had posted on instagram. At first I didn’t think anything was amiss – a number of us had taken similar pictures from the same angle – but upon closer look the photo seemed more and more like the one I’d taken.

Now, when you’ve spent a while tagging at least 10 people in a photo, you start to notice details like the tilt of their head and their exact pose – everything was exactly the same as in my picture, and the person who’d uploaded the photo was seated right there near the back, as she was in mine.

I was astounded by the realisation that my photo had been stolen.

There was no credit given, I certainly hadn’t been asked for permission, and that person gave no indication in her description that she wasn’t the one who had taken the photo she uploaded. In other words, she was passing off the picture as her own. And despite liking my photo so much that she was compelled to screenshot it to upload through her Instagram account, she hadn’t actually appreciated it enough to “like” it on Facebook – yes, really.

Have I mentioned that the thief is in PR and is also a beauty blogger? If there were anyone well aware of issues surrounding proper crediting and what constitutes misappropriation of media, you’d imagine that a person involved in those areas would be it.

I’ve calmed down somewhat from being rather pissed off initially, but still feel the need to address this incident.

For one, I’m happy to share my pictures – I’m glad that my photo is nice enough that someone wants it that badly; I make no money out of my pictures and have nothing to lose by having it stolen. Plus, it’s of a joyous occasion that all of us had gathered to share in, the setting of the photo was cool (all credit to the couple for that!) and I can completely understand the excitement the person may have had in wanting a copy of that photo and share it.

However, the principle of this issue remains.

Taking something that does not being to you without the permission of the owner is, by all accounts and in all circumstances, considered theft. Also, basic courtesy demands that a person ask before taking something that belongs to another – even if it’s simply to borrow the item. Moreover, given the field that the thief is involved in, if copyrights mean nothing to her in this regard then her professionalism could certainly be called into question as well, as there’s no reason why she wouldn’t steal someone else’s photo too when there are bigger things at stake. Let’s not forget either that in the worst case scenario, stealing someone else’s media and passing it off as one’s own could well result in a lawsuit!

In any case, with this post I hope to let this incident go. I’ve naturally considered bringing this up when I next see the couple, but it achieves nothing and I can’t think of a way to mention it without being snide – “By the way did no one ever tell X that uploading a photo that’s not hers is copyright infringement?” is pretty much the nicest thing I have thought of so far. I can only hope that the thief will not steal from others again, and attempt to rise above thoughts wishing that the thief will one day have a taste of her own medicine.

PS: My photos subsequently appeared on the thief’s blog. While the thief described the bride as “a great friend”, the bride isn’t a great enough friend for the thief to learn how to spell her name right. Have I mentioned that they’re (sort of) colleagues as well? 

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