When you blog long enough, you begin to anticipate two eventual things: 1) at some point, you’ll discover someone has scraped your content off your site and/or plagiarized one of your posts and 2) someone will take one of your photos and use it without credit and out of context.
I guess I’ve officially arrived in the blogging club now.
About a year ago, I had the joy of experiencing the first blogging pitfall. I tried to chase the person down and get my post removed for awhile but eventually, I got tired of the back and forth. It just wasn’t worth my time.
But now they’ve brought my kid into, and it’s less OK.
The only reason I even discovered it is because of my eagle-eyed editor at work. He’s a huge film buff and is always watching interesting videos about the art of filmmaking.
He came into work today and said, “Hey, Jackie, I was watching this video this weekend. It’s a really long and funny review of ‘Titanic’ and at one point, they use a still photo of a crying baby and it looked a lot like E. to me.”
He had me at “Titanic.”
He pulled up the video in his office and pulled up the appropriate moment: 16:20 into Part 1. Check it out for yourself.
Yes, wedged right between Amy Winehouse and a boyishly young Leo is my crying daughter at her 1st birthday party.
It is a great picture, though.
I seriously don’t know whether I’m more angry or more amused. I mean, I feel it must be some kismet since “Titanic” is, as I’ve revealed before, my husband’s favorite movie. C’mon, we were JUST at the Titanic Experience over the weekend … again … because he loves it so much.
Of all the movies in the world.
And the surrounding voice-over leading up to E’s picture is also pretty hilarious. If you have trouble playing the video for some reason, allow me to share it:
“The original tagline was ‘Collide With Destiny.’ And then it suddenly became ‘Nothing on Earth Could Come Between Them.’ But something did come between them — an iceberg. Oh wait, they mean on Earth. An iceberg’s in the water. Oh, I get it. Then we all got inundated with this fictional Jack and Kate (NOTE: Obviously he meant Jack and Rose) story crap and we forgot about the other 1,500 people that died, especially that baby. Your baby is fu*!ed lady. Then everything about this damn movie became about these two, even f#@*!&g horrible fan art. This one doesn’t even make any sense. People cried. Kids cried. Little girls cried. Babies cried. And because of ‘Titanic,’ Leo got to f#*k all these women.”
He does make some excellent points.
All in all, I was prepared just to let it go. Sure, I wish I had at least a text credit. The site that created the video, Red Letter Media, is apparently kind of a big deal in film circles. The post with the “Titanic” review has nearly 700 comments, and the company has 20,000+ Twitter followers and 46,000 Facebook fans.
To quote Walter Sobchak, they’re not exactly lightweights.
But I was curious — how exactly did they end up with this picture. I started entering some obvious search terms into Google, i.e. “crying baby,” and my image never popped up. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d even shared it on the blog before since I wasn’t blogging yet when E. turned 1. Did they take it from Facebook somehow?
But then I started searching my site’s media library and finally found that I’d used it in a post about being sad on my own birthday. I’d called the image “Sad Birthday.” I tried entering that into Google, and pretty quickly got a hit — for YET ANOTHER SITE RIPPING IT OFF!
And this one? Well, it pissed me off. It’s on a post “celebrating” Obamacare’s second birthday and the caption under E’s picture says: “Obamacare at age two crying its eyes out.”
First of all, geniuses, she’s wearing a bib that says “Baby’s First Birthday.”
Second of all, clearly you’ve never seen this picture:
For this site, I’m actually tempted to send some sort of cease and desist letter.
So, what to do, what to do?
I’m frankly relieved that these are my first two experiences with something like this. When you put a picture of your child on the Internet, of course you take the risk of someone taking the photo and doing something with it. I’m not naive; I knew the day would come. This situation could have been a lot worse and scarier.
These two instances? They’re both actually pretty hilarious.
That doesn’t mean I like it necessarily and I certainly don’t condone it.
But what’s the solution? Start watermarking my pictures? I was emailing with some of my fellow lady blogging friends and we discussed this, but my point was that the place I’d most likely put a watermark — across a bottom corner — is kind of pointless. If someone wants the photo, they’re just going to crop that out. I don’t think putting a watermark on pictures magically protects them from being stolen. I could put them smack across the middle of pictures, but what fun is that for you all?
Oh wait, maybe that IS fun. Hmmm, so much to consider.
So, for my blogging friends, has this ever happened to you? How did you respond?
For the rest of you, can we all agree that, at the very least, the randomness of this whole incident is pretty hilarious?
And for future photo stealers — KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY, DAMMIT!
What would you do in my shoes?
I haven’t had it happen (that I know of). But I always worry about it. I’ve been trying to get a plug in that will watermark the pics but then it’s been an issue. I now do it in LiveWriter. But yeah, I imagine it’s a pain in the butt.
Sorry it’s happening to you.
Yeah, the time I found the stolen content was random, too. I started getting a lot of referrals suddenly from one site, hunted it down and found the ripped content. They may have ripped the content but at least they gave me a link back! It wasn’t plagiarized; it just was scraped and put on a new site. But it still credited it to me and linked back to me. It still wasn’t right but that’s why I didn’t fight it as vigorously as I would have if it had been flat-out stolen.
I feel like that’s how these things normally get discovered though — pure randomness. There’s no way I know of to police it that vigilantly.
Nothing is easy, is it?
Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups says
I feel like you’re handling this really well. I don’t know if I’d have the same sense of humor about it. Legally what’s the rule? Isn’t the photo your property? Maybe just try reaching out and have the same humor and appreciation that you have in this post but mention that you don’t want uncontrolled photos of your daughter posted. Obviously these are pretty harmless but if someone used her photo in the wrong context it could be more detrimental.
Caroline Calcote says
My pictures have been used by others without getting any credit or letting me know, but I haven’t searched to see if my kids pictures have been stolen and used. I’m almost 100% sure that they have been, but I am too scared to search. Based on strange, scary, search terms that I often see leading to my blog, I can only imagine and it’s not good.
I think the instances that you found with E’s image are not that big of a deal, although it’s crappy. I mean, if the Titanic people had written one e-mail to you asking if they could use the image without identifying E. and offering (small? reasonable?) compensation, you likely would have let them use the image. Really, it’s no harm to her because it’s generic, you know? It’s just theft and their creative/PR people should be ashamed of their shady practices. It’s criminal and you could pursue it but it’s just not worth the time, effort, and expense.
As far as the Red State ad, that pisses me off and I’d probably think it was worth a little time, effort, and small expense to try to get them to stop using it. But in the long run it still doesn’t really harm E. because it’s still generic. Babies look unique to us as parents, but in a short ad or scroll-by they are pretty generic to the public. Pics stolen of older children would be possibly more damaging because I think they are sometimes less generic.
Man, I am so rambling in your comments today. I’ve thought about this a bunch since I overshare pics of my kids so much. I do water mark my pictures in the lower corner where it could be easily cropped out (and it has been in cases where my pictures have been used without my consent). I don’t mark them thinking that will make them less stolen. I mark them because when they are shared with consent, or without consent by stupid people who don’t bother to crop them, they contain my blog URL and the fact that they are my original photos is communicated.
I love your rambling comment. Lots of food for thought. And your point about the watermark is a great one and one I hadn’t considered. What tool do you use to easily watermark them? I think you’re a PC though, right? Wonder if there’s something with Mac’s Automator. Now I’m rambling.
Yeah, I’m sure this isn’t the first instance — just the first time I’d found it. And that’s only through a series of random events. I’m with you, in a way I don’t want to know. I’ve always been careful with the kinds of photos of E I’ve shared — none with any hint of nudity or otherwise likely to be used in more unseemly practices.
I know how video production works, and the one in the Titanic one bothers me less than the blog one. You’re right — it’s a generic kid crying. It might as well be a stock photo as far as they are concerned. But, right or wrong, from a content standpoint, the Obamacare one pisses me off and I’ll probably send some type of email.
It’s an interesting/scary/thought-provoking topic, huh?
Caroline Calcote says
I edit all of my photos using Lightroom (even if just to resize them) and have it set up to watermark them when I export them. Yes, I use a PC. I don’t know what a “Mac’s Automator” is, haha.
My first question is, did they give you a link back? If so, I’d let it go – but send them an email letting them know you are disappointed they didn’t ask first.
If there is no link back, I’d say it’s your choice whether or not you want email them and ask for a link, or take the photo down. Based on their politeness might help steer you in the right direction.
Nope, no link back or identification of my site in either instance.
It’s probably because I’m in video production myself but I’m a little bit more forgiving of the “Titanic” video inclusion than of the Obamacare blog post. Perhaps, if I’m honest, it’s also the topics. It’s also a lot easier for there to be a link back in a blog post versus a video. The image is on the screen so quickly in the video that if there had been an on-screen courtesy, it would have been virtually impossible to catch.
In the grand scheme of things, neither instance is outrageously egregious or harmful to my child or brand. But, at the end of the day, the photo is clearly mine and was clearly used without a) my permission or b) with any compensation (attribution or otherwise) to me.
I think an email alerting them to their theft, which could have been innocent, is definitely step 1, and you’re right, Ben. My follow-up response will depend a lot on their response.
Thanks for the input!
dude… you got stolen from by redlettermedia… that is AWESOME
My husband also strangely love Titanic. I can’t believe your photo has been used that much I’m scared of where my pictures will end up someday. Now I’m just gearing up for the day.