Edit: It has since been clarified that my photos were shared using IFFT in the spirit of promotion and support of the tourism and dining industry in Belfast, without any malicious intent. Glad to have cleared this up! 6/11/14
I almost became a victim of photo theft yet again – the first time was in regard to a wedding (warning: this is the bitchiest post I’ve ever written and you’ll ever read), while this time was relating to Belfast Restaurant Week.
The gist of it was that I’d posted photos from my meal at Knife and Fork last Sunday to Instagram, with the hashtag #BelfastRW. On Monday morning, I received a message from Y who asked if I follow ‘Take Back the City’ on Facebook – she’d spotted my photos in ‘Take Back the City’’s “Belfast Restaurant Week” album, but they hadn’t credited me.
I was furious, and left a comment on each of my five pictures asking if they would credit them please. It wasn’t till later in the afternoon, when I checked the album, that the pictures were credited by my name, instead of my Instagram username.
I can’t believe ‘Take Back the City’ had the audacity to attempt to steal all five of my photos and pass them off as their own – and all this with nary an apology for the attempted theft! Really, what’s with PR people (the first thief is in PR) and their view that they can simply use other people’s photos? There’s no excuse for not crediting other people’s pictures – it’s basic courtesy, and even more necessary for a public site like the Facebook page of ‘Take Back the City’.
When ‘Belfast Restaurant Week’ followed me on Instagram yesterday, I discovered something even more bewildering: the pictures that ‘Belfast Restaurant Week’ had regrammed from other users – with the little regram label at the lower left corner of the photo – are exactly the same photos that have appeared on the Facebook album of ‘Take Back the City’!
Now – as far as I’m aware, Belfast Restaurant Week and its associated social media accounts is a ‘Visit Belfast’ initiative. ‘Visit Belfast’ is the official tourism promotion body here, and is, I assume, a government organisation, whereas ‘Take Back the City’ is a private body.
The question therefore is this: has ‘Take Back the City’ been stealing pictures from the ‘Belfast Restaurant Week’ Instagram account too? If so, does ‘Belfast Restaurant Week’ know? Or are the two accounts somehow related, and are sharing photos across the various platforms? And do the other people whose pictures are in ‘Take Back the City’’s album know that their photos are there?
I doubt that the ‘Belfast Restaurant Week’ and ‘Take Back the City’ accounts are related. Apart from the reason above, ‘Belfast Restaurant Week’ gave due credit in the description of each of the regrammed pictures and even thanked the users for sharing their photos using the #BelfastRW hashtag, while ‘Take Back the City’ hardly ever bothered crediting the photos.
I also think that even if ‘Belfast Restaurant Week’ knows that their photos have been ‘stolen’ (I’m not certain who the intellectual property of a regrammed photo belongs to), any confrontation of ‘Take Back the City’ has to be handled delicately – as much as their actions are disgraceful and despicable, ‘Take Back the City’ and its associated ‘Love Belfast’ brand are huge on Twitter and Facebook. They have numerous followers who refer to them for events and listings in Belfast and beyond, and many restaurants and organisers rely on them for publicity too – Belfast Restaurant Week included.
Thankfully, that does not apply to me. While I, of course, would love increased publicity and readership for my blog and posts, this space is first and foremost for my personal satisfaction. I will blog even if there were no one reading (and that’s more often than not the case), and I certainly do not appreciate theft – attempted or otherwise – of my photos.
Shame to all those who think they can be dishonest and get away with it. If you’re in Belfast and post lots of photos to Instagram, do check the albums of prominent sites to ensure your photos haven’t been stolen either!