Friday, July 22, 2011

Copyright anyone?

This morning I went through my Twitter account and saw – just by luck – somebody posted pictures of 'auroras boreales en Canada'. I was like 'hey, somebody else took shots last night! Let's check'em out'.

My stomach turned a little when I saw that as a matter of fact it were MY images I took on the night of July 21st, but with no watermark! I could swear I watermarked them before uploading them to

After checking that (I did in fact watermark my 4 shots and you can see the original post here), and some more digging, I ended up at the 'original' posters' Twitter account. A – what looks like – a genuine science and technology site.

Now I do LOVE science and I would do almost anything to help these usually under funded people out. But grabbing shots and removing watermarks (and NOT giving ANY credits or link back) is just plane old stealing in my book.

I sent a tweet out to them asking them to remove the photos from Twitpic but haven't recieved anything back yet.
I don't mind sharing pictures. As a matter of fact how would you otherwise get your work out?
But when I am missing out on potential clients that have no clue where pictures came from, that is another thing. Then you are pushing me into a corner and I have no clue how I will react.

If you look at the stats of these two images you'll see those shots got viewed approximately 9,000 times and got retweeted in about 1/10 of the views it got.

And to top that, they felt that they could repost this to their Facebook page as well.

SO here is my question. How would you handle this? Would you let this slide? Or would you sent them the bill? This is copyright infringement right? But I have no clue what I can do to people like this. Do I contact TwitPic?

Update 1
Here's the issue I am having. Thanks to all the privacy laws in place I can't see Twitter or Facebook page owners email addresses. I rather handle this through email though than shouting it in Twitter-space. So far they are not quick to react.
I got one tweet back saying, and I quote "we didn't remove it, our followers send us all the pictures, we just post them, send us the originals and we'll post them". So who did remove the watermarks then I question?
I tweeted again asking them (for the 2nd time now) to remove these shots. I am also filling in the Twitter Copyright Infringement form, but I'm not sending this off for now.
I like to believe these guys will remove the pics before I am forced to use more drastic measures.

Update 2
The owner of the page took the images down. SO that part of the issue is solved.
They claim they received these from an outside source and they were not the once that cropped the watermarks out. Could be, but how are we going to prove that?
I still like to find out who that 'source' was and go after them.

Update 3
The two pictures from yesterday were taken down. BUT I just found another one of my shots on their Twitpic page. This time around I sent them a simpler email. Asking them to take them down in 24h or I am filling a complaint through Twitter, and filling a complaint with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Update 4
After 24h the picture is still up and I am putting the wheels in motion. Yes it is a weekend (but I don't give a damn). I gave them 24h to comply OR...
So here goes.

Update 5
I just got a reply from the CEO of Twitpic notifying me that as of 7:30pm the photo has been taken down.
I also filled a complaint with Twitter. Awaiting the response of that.


  1. Unfortunate that they will take images from random people with no author information. I bet your images are not the first utilized in this way, even if it is not willful on their part. I'd still send them a bill though - ultimately it is their responsibility. The fact they removed them doesn't change the fact your copyright was infringed, but its a start.

  2. Got a long email where they explained what happend.
    I asked for the original sender's email. They were going to dig in their inbox. If they can produce that email I go after that person.

    The Twitter site owners claim they had no idea.
    Thank you exif data btw. Thief did not even change anything.

  3. Just terrible Olivier. Myself I'm not sure how I would handle it but I feel in my heart you are doing the right thing, So hope the right thing is done in return. Sadly there are down side to everything. Regards Coral :(

  4. At least the site took the image down and gave you an explanation of how this occurred. They need to rethink how they obtain images, however.

    I am curious as to what response you will get from the owner of that email address.

  5. Oh man Olivier! That's terrible and sucks greatly. Man I hope they haven't done that with any of my images as well. Jessush that sucks. Sorry to hear that. Great post!

  6. BTW if you are going to complain to the host of the image, that is Twitpic itself and not Twitter. I do not believe the two are at all affiliated.

    From the twitpic TOS:

    "TwitPic reserves the right to remove any image for any reason whatsoever. Specifically, any image uploaded that is pornographic or offensive in nature (including nudity, violence, sexual acts, or sexually provocative images.), infringes upon copyrights not held by the uploader, is illegal or violates any laws, will be immediately deleted and the IP address of the uploaded reported to authorities. Violating these terms may result in termination of your ability to upload further images. We reserve the right to ban any individual uploader or website domain from using our services for any reason. "

    Complaining to Twitpic has a good chance of success. Last week I managed to get one of my images off a site selling lens hoods - it was using one of my shots to sell them. Complaining to the webhost had it worked out in about 6 hours - the image went away. I did this without a DMCA notice, as the image is not officially registered (which I have to get on asap) and I don't think the UK recognizes DMCA takedowns anyway.

    I found two new infringements today (and a whole lot more hotlinking) but they are in Israel and Russia so I probably won't bother doing anything about it because the chance of success is so low.

    Good luck with your next move here. :)

  7. Thank you for your input Russel. Very much appreciated.
    I emailed them to take it down within 24h this noon. Currently it is still up. But i am definitely complaining to twitpic (thats what I meant).
    Thank you again.

  8. Intentionally removing copyright information is a criminal offense in North America (and probably elsewhere). For websites where the work is hosted you can file a DMCA Take Down request with the hosting provider. This website has excellent information on photo copyrights: