it’s a sad state when a creative field like photography no longer seems to require what one would think is an essential element: creativity. over the years i have dealt with more than my share of image theft, copyright infringement, trademark violation and outright plagiarism. it can be exhausting, a tap on the resources, and — as someone who prides themselves on striving for whatever splashes of creativity and originality can possibly be eked out of this already saturated field — plagiarism and copyright violations can be downright disheartening and soul-sucking. to this artist, honestly, it makes me want to quit … to turn my efforts instead on removing every last remnant of scruffy dog from the internet and go back to writing novels … a world in which plagiarism comes with some mighty serious consequences!
yesterday my “Google Alerts” sent me to the page of a photographer due to a trademark infringement, but what i discovered there was far more extensive … a case of complete copy-and-paste plagiarism. in fact, excluding this photographer’s “assistant’s bio” and their “prices” page, 80% of their website’s written content is a direct copy-and-paste from the scruffy dog website — specifically from the “about the scruffy studio” page and the “why choose scruffy dog” page, which is such a personal page.
i’ve had photographers lift my entire session page — structure and fees — word-for-word. shameful, yes. but what i found yesterday was more than that … extensive and, to be honest, offensive … because this content is me, this content is the essence of scruffy dog photography … built over almost six years in business. it is not some other studio, not some other photographer.
i am offering screen-captures of the offending site only for you to see the extent that some people will go … or is it laziness? … when putting together their own business. i am dumbfounded that a photographer who claims to be a member of PPA — and in the business for almost as many years as i — still does not posses the kind of creativity one would expect in this industry…
the highlighted content is a direct copy-and-paste from the “about the scruffy studio” page, and of course, an infringement of the trademarked business line “your dog is our studio.”
again, i’m dumbfounded. understandably upset and frustrated. yes, my IP lawyer has been contacted; he has been forwarded all of the pertinent information — site info, screen captures with the highlighted plagiarism, etc. although there are numerous sites out there that would allow me to ‘out’ this photographer publicly, i will be emailing this individual privately first and requesting the plagiarized material be removed entirely and promptly. if it is not done so in a designated timeframe, i will have my lawyer take action.
in the meantime, i invite my fellow photographers to review the very important blog entry i wrote about Protecting Your Photography Business. this blog entry covers everything from protecting your images, trademarking, and handling plagiarism and copyright infringement.
as i mentioned there are websites that conduct a very effective public exposure of these kinds of cases … not really my style … yet. for those interested, here are links to the big one — Stop Stealing Photos (thanks, Liz and Jeremy!) — who handle image theft as well as plagiarism and IP theft:
and here is their facebook page
in the meantime, be yourself, everyone! this IS a creative field … try to be creative. and for dog’s sake, protect your own creativity.
ADDENDUM: it shouldn’t shock me but it does … within moments of posting this blog entry, a scruffy dog follower alerted me to two more cases where key paragraphs — in their entirety — from the “why choose SDP?” were lifted and are being used by other photographers as their own business mottos and descriptions. (thank you, Cathy W.) honestly, i would be far less offended if it were just things like fee structures and products descriptions that were rampantly and so exactly plagiarized … but what these photographers are doing is a complete copy-and-paste of whole paragraphs that are the absolute ESSENCE of SDP. these are descriptions of scruffy dog photography and of me and my approach to dogs and photography … NOT them, NOT their studio, NOT their shooting. these paragraphs have been a part of scruffy dog for more than five years, they have been the core of this business, its approach, and its very essence. they are no one else’s.
i’m starting to think it would be much easier and faster to go the way of PhotoStealers and just go public with this stuff … not to mention CHEAPER.
RESOLUTION OF CASE #1: i received an email from photographer #1 (connected to the screen captures above)
I have no problem changing my site wording. I’m in the process of closing my photography business and this email has confirmed my decision.
and a second email:
I have all but removed my site. I completely understand your stand and apologize. There was no malice intended. I was unaware of the extent of copy-and-paste but assure you it has been removed. Please feel free to visit my site to be sure it has been taken care of. The site will be completely removed the beginning of the year.
while it is never my intent to discourage people from pursuing their dreams of being a photographer, and my goal was certainly not to have this individual up and close their business, this certainly is a testament to just how far plagiarism and a lack of true creativity will take you — nowhere. any creative field has to stem from being true to yourself, true to your art, and staying true to that creativity through all aspects of it.
THE SAGA CONTINUES: people should know that, as someone who made their living for 17 years as a novelist, i take plagiarism and copyright infringement VERY seriously. this is why there is a copyright notification at the bottom of every page on the SDP site. i’m not sure how to make it clearer other than perhaps having an entry page to the SDP site warning people that they are about to enter a copyrighted area and “please leave with nothing other than smiles and warm hearts from viewing all the lovely dogs!”
TWO MORE CASES popped up this morning … it seems some people are utterly incapable of writing their own bios or describe their own studio/business … don’t you know who YOU are as a photographer? … or perhaps my wish has come true … they’ve finally cloned me and i just have to go find these people and bring ’em in so i have extra help at last!