It started as a great night out with my girlfriend, we had some pizza at "our pizza spot" in Chelsea. Then we desired to see a local fashion show at this rooftop bar/ lounge where every Tuesday night they organize small "runaway" shows.
We get there and - surprise! - the show is not being held because of a holiday party. No problem. We decided to go up - since we were there anyway - have a drink and then leave. We grabbed a table by the window and ordered two glasses of wine. Beautiful and breathtaking views the Manhattan skyline!! As we chat about our planes for the New Years, I take a few pictures pictures with my phone.
Once we finished our drinks, I asked for the check and we were on our way out when we decided to check the view from the terrace; there I took a few more pictures.
On my way home - on the subway - I started to lightly edit some of the images I took that night at the "Rooftop Bar" and to prepare them (with hashtags of all-kind) for posting on social media. Once I got above ground I hit the sent button and "off they go" my images on social media. Got a few likes, not many - but hey! I don't have many followers either so that wasn't a problem for me.
A few days ago a friend of mine sends me a text message around 11:30pm: "they are using your images!" + two screenshots from his phone - from Instagram - with the "Rooftop bar's" account. The last two posts on their account were two of my pictures with no photography credit, no link to my account, no nothing to associate the images with the photographer(me). It was like I never took those images, instead, it look like "the rooftop bar's" PR person took the images and posted them on Instagram. They literally took my images that I hashtag with their name, cropped out my name, hashtags and left only the pictures that were then posted on their account as a new post. My friend also tagged me on one of the images. As soon as he did that I get a notification with a new like from "The Rooftop Bar". They liked the same image on my account as the image they posted on their account (taken from me); and they changed the "caption" on their photo by adding pc: @flaviunasarimba.
These are the images on my account:
And these are the screenshots from their account:
This is with the changed caption:
So after seen all of this I write a nice email - not to strong but not to weak - that I sent to the place's Instagram inbox and also to their email from the contact page on their own website:
The next day, a manager responds to my email:
To witch I reply:
That being said, I start typing comments for each picture:
Not more then 15 minutes after I posted the comments, they took them down and added pc:@flaviunasarimba to both of the images. No "I'm sorry" or any sort of apology or anything whatsoever.
It's not hard to realize that this happens everyday on Instagram, where places like "The Rooftop Bar" are taking images form customer's Instagram accounts and literally advertising their place with the photos, FOR FREE!
It's a shame because they don't care about professionals like me, they don't care about the art, they don't care about the law, they don't care about anything when it comes to this matter. if they can do it, and get away with it, even better! If not, they will just take the images down when they get caught. And I should know this - That when I post images to Instagram, all of them will become "public property". I used quotation marks because the terms and conditions of Instagram say that only Instagram can use the images for self promotion but it doesn't say anything about users stealing images from each other.
The bottom line is this:
- for photographers - to be careful what they post and what they hashtag and how they hashtag they own images on Instagram. To make sure that the images are watermarked (not like mine) - in this way is harder for people to take an image with a watermark and pretend its their's.
- for the other ones - you should be ashamed for taking this sort of actions and complying to being sneaky.
Thank you for reading!
Comments are welcome!