Intellectual Property & Fraud Online

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September 26, 2007 at 10:50 pm

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Justin and I are no strangers to folks stealing our copyrighted works (photos, writings) which we’ve posted online. I’m sure at this very moment there are blatant copyright violations of our photography and writing that we are not even aware of,

I stumbled upon a month or so ago thanks to my logs in WordPress. The text on that page is mine, originally published here on GeekHabitat.com on ; the images advertising my

site are server redirects I put in place–the site was originally hotlinking images directly from our servers, thus not only stealing our copyrighted work, but our bandwidth as well.

Well, the latest in this saga is my recently renewed concern over Flickr.com, especially now that we have a child and, like all doting parents, are posting zillions of photos of her and our family there.

It’s bad enough for someone to steal your copyrighted works–it’s vile, low, crappy and, yes, illegal. What’s worse? In rather alarming numbers, there are people who actually steal photos people have posted of their own children for the purposes of populating fake user profiles on social networking sites like Orkut.com. You read that correctly–they steal the photos and post them as if the photographed children are in fact, their own sons/daughters. WTF?

Discussion about two of the most recent incidents of this appalling new twist on copyright violations can be found

and

on Flickr.com.

This follows on the heels of two of our friends finding people who should know better (businesses and blogs) illegally using their copyrighted photos from Flickr.com, as well: !

So…

Right now, in the absence of much time to mull over options and “elegant solutions,” I’ve taken the knee-jerk reaction of marking ALL of the nearly 500 photos in my Flickr gallery as only viewable by friends and family. This has many downsides that impact my friends and family, including: one must have a Flickr account (free or pro, either works) to see the photos and one must be logged in; it also negatively affects our family’s eStarling photo frames because they only pull in Flickr RSS-fed photos marked PUBLIC. Oh, it also breaks stuff like the Flickr preview/teaser box used in the navigation bar here.

I will be looking into the best solution.

Justin’s Flickr

account is presently still public, but only because I didn’t remember his login information.

I’m not trying to be paranoid, but I do think some increased precautions are needed to protect our photography (, afterall) and Sara’s right–now and in the future–not to have her image abused by idiots/thieves/lowlifes who feel the need to create false personas online, complete with charming little children (photos of said children stolen from other people’s photo galleries.)

It happens more than one would ever imagine, as evidenced by the fact there’s

for people who have had it happen to them or spotted it happening to someone else!

Oh, and don’t be surprised if I start watermarking all of our images (including those on . I hate watermarks, especially those that are manually placed in a hard-to-clone/-crop out region of each photography, but I’m tired of knowing we’re basically leaving the keys to our vehicle sitting in plain sight just waiting for the first thief to come along. At least with a vehicle, only one thief can steal it at a time, though!

With intellectual property, legions of thieves and make off with your work at the same time, each leaving with a perfectly reproduced copy of your work and very little to go on to track them down. /sigh

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