Plagiarism - Stolen Images - Using my work without my consent

in #photofeed4 months ago (edited)

I mean come on, you could have at least asked!

The Internet seems still to be the wild wild west of the intellectual property. Here I share the pain of a creator.

Ready for a long-overdue rant? 😤🤣 I am not an angry person so don't expect explicit language. There is useful information I hope here as well - no worries.

Today I want to talk about plagiarism. In this special case about my work taken without even asking me and using it to their liking.
There are a few nuances to the way people steel images. When used for promoting their business or insinuating it as their work it is especially painful. I am not being reimbursed for my work. Traveling to the place. Carry my equipment and be lucky with the weather. so many things that get you a cool image or maybe not. Here I will not even touch on the topic of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. There is no honesty and legal understanding and reward for the actual creators in the space.
I find it so awkward knowing that in some cases I would even allow them to use my images because I would support the project and my work would fit.

Not saying nonprofits should steel images - they should ask as well. But it does not hurt so much. Yet what's often missing is my name. All this work that went into. At least the recognition would help. Maybe someone hones and descent would like to purchase some of my work. It would be the right thing to ask me and state the artist. So much I can ask. Don't you think?

Even a small blogger or videographer or artist, also knows exactly what it means when their work is being stolen.


How do you find your images being stolen?
I use 3 different services and ways to do that.

1. Copytrack

is a wonderful service. It can not find and trace everyone but it's pretty good.


You can upload a lot of images for me it's 500 images. So you may be surprised by what images are being used by others. So I created a couple of folders to keep track of what I am searching for.


You can hand in a claim and then copy track takes a share if the claim is successful. The beauty here is without any investment up front. It finds some images but not all. If you find out some you can also do it manually.

The better alternative is here.


For free you can upload like 10 images. So you have to choose. After that, you will need a subscription fee that is not worth the deal when you are a normal person or a hobby photographer like me. A lot of images are stolen on Facebook or Youtube etc. Most claims can never be settled in a settlement license for you. So the success rate is limited and you would need a lot of images that are being stolen and successfully claimed licenses.
Since I can't upload more images I change some images and tracked these. Then I got tired of it. If you can follow up it becomes useless. I wish Plaghunter would work more like Copytrack and have the ease of use. Still worth checking out.

One image I had was more than 900 times stolen. WTF!
This one here:
Tongshop what?

3. Google image search.

Well, that is super easy. Just click on the little camera icon on the right of the search bar and upload your image. Bam here is the sources who use that image.

Being a lawyer and hobby photographer could be a super nice combo.


Want to see some more interesting examples that I found?

Alberta Camera Club

Lets start with an easy one.
Using my work to sell one's workshop better? Here is an example of someone offering a workshop. Looks like they can not provide their own work examples to attract attendees. Hey, ask me and potentially invite me!

I would probably have donated my work to help people play and practice Light Painting in Alberta.
I don't even know how the workshop went. 10$ is a fair deal. Is it?
Of all people they should know what intellectual property means and how images have to be licensed and should also teach it. Foremost lead with example.

I also don't know Lance Burnes, he seems to be the host of this lecture. He never reached out to me ever. Contact me comone appoligize! Super simple!


Mr. Location Scout

Someone who actually apologized afterward was Mr. Location Scout
Of course, he knew it was a shit move!


Selling my art

The worst is making money straight of stolen art.

"warehouse' Scam

The stuff that makes you angry is when someone is actually selling your work and I am not part of the deal. That sucks. Not only for me but also for the people who think they are supporting me. Even worse when they are being potentially fully scammed.


This stuff really makes me angry and I wish I was a hacker to fight this injustice not only against me. So many artists being f..ed


Take my art and make it look sh.t

Why are you guys doing this to my images? Taking is one thing then it up makes it even worse. It hurts my eyes!


Man there almost sooo bad it becomes funny! What should I do sue all of these people? No way.

Using my art in advertising?

That's almost like selling my art just cutting the middle man. I found a few results on that end. Way too many for my taste.


It does make sense to a "Lighting Company". Runchang Lighting from China care about my intellectual property as much as 😤
Lets take it as a compliment.


The innocent blogger?

There are so many honest bloggers. Especially here on Hive I witnessed the great attitude towards plagiarism. It is been called out immediately and results in downvotes. But then you find some that simply don't care.
What are the current bots working on that? There used to be a profile called Steemcleaner.

Bloggers move around and more or less live on the internet. They should know the etiquette and how to behave with intellectual property. Well, some are just really not aware or super stupid and or ignorant. NOT COOL guys!

Try to reach out maybe you can use my images. I am actually relatively easy to find. I found you guys!



There is a set of pages that steal my images and offer them as wallpapers. I can only assume the motivation. What people do for traffic top place advertising, I guess.

🙏 At least it has my name there 😎

Profile pictures

That's almost cool and funny. Not sure what my neighbor thinks (he is the one in the Light Painting)

Here someone loves the face of my neighbor and what I did to it with my light tools so he used it as his Profile Picture.
Also NOT COOL man! You should absolutely ask Daniel to use his face as yours.
There are better ways: Ok where is the good story? My work has been purchased by Nikon learning pages and also by Lonely-Planet to just name two. But I also donated my work to projects I like. The Band Kilombo approached me and ask me if they can use one of my images for their album. YES so much yes that was so cool. I love collaborating and seeing my work getting out there.


Please just ask me if you are interested in my work and we will find a deal that suits both of us very likely.


Even in the space NFT's it starts. People use someone else's art and try to sell it as their NFT's. In the process, I wanted to identify myself as a verified artist and Rarible denied me 3 times, them apparently being afraid I might not be me.
Find my NFT's here and let us help to solidify my work as an artist.


I really would like to hear and read what you guys think. What are you doing against plagiarism in your work?
It is not clear to me how the blockchain can solve that. We are working in the space between traceability and identity and data privacy. My identity is clear and one can find what I created. Thanx to Hive most of the work is traceable to this chain. Others still just use a quick screenshot. Well, I am curious how this space will develop further for artists to grow. NFT'S are already such a cool chance for artists like me. If it wasn't for finding the visibility.

WOW, this was supposed to be a quick easy post then I went to the length of looking around for some examples and boom 1300+ words. Sorry guys I hope you don't find yourself in this but if you do please comment and share what you are dealing with.


I hope you found this article interesting. If you have more questions please do not hesitate. I am happy to share my knowledge.

Gunnar Heilmann Photography

If you are interested in more of my art please also see:
My NFT'S on Rarible
Website YouTube Facebook Page Instagram Feed


Since I am one of the cofounders of the LightPainters project, I also help and support the Light Painting community as a curator - not only on the Hive.

We are Light Painters

To help and support the LightPainters community here on Hive I would appreciate your delegation of HivePower. Any amount is appreciated. It does not require much to get started, we are happy for any gesture.

How to delegate?
Delegate 50HivePower, [50HP]
Delegate 250HivePower, [250HP]
Delegate 500HivePower, [500HP]
Delegate 1000HivePower, [1000HP]
All the Hive Power will help to upvote the artist's contribution as part of the LightPainters community.

If you feel like light painting could be interesting for you, feel free to check out this crazy bunch at LightPainters on Hive: @lichtkunstfoto @fastchrisuk @fadetoblack, @stepko, @yo-hoho, @oddballgraphics, @martbarras & @rod.evans.visual

Thank you so much!


I am fully with you on that item. Crediting the sources, asking for authorisation whenever it is needed and not using images with a license not authorising anyone to use them should be common sense. It is however far from being the case.

On STEMsocial we for instance don't support anyone not crediting their source, both for images and text in fact.

I know how hard it is sometimes to credit everone for their work but its so important and if practiced should become less of a burden but an honor to collaborate.
Thank you for you support and focus on good creators. 🙏🥳

Thats the part that made me stick with this community, with so little exceptions.
Cheers from Berlin.

It is hard, but by repeating we will eventually (and hopefully) get there.

PS: Berlin is a very nice city, and not very from from here (Paris). Too bad the last time I was there (in the pre-COVID era) the weather was so bad.

Ja dieses Problem kennt wahrscheinlich jeder Künstler, Fotograf etc.
Mich hat es auch ganz schlimm mit meinen Videos erwischt.
Einzelpersonen die sich an meinen Arbeiten vergreifen ignoriere ich mittlerweile schon
zum großen Teil, weil ich dann den ganzen Tag nur noch mit denen beschäftigt wäre.

Am meisten nerven mich Firmen aus dem Ausland. Die Chinesen sind zB.
sehr fleißig dabei meine Videos zu verkaufen. Sowas ärgert mich am meisten.

Aber das ist wohl der Preis den wir zahlen müssen, ob wir wollen oder nicht.

Age old story of theft in photography, unless you track down culprit then lay claim to produce proof of original, you have some superb photography stolen!

Live for the day when this type of theft stops.

"Don't set sail on someone else's star." African Proverb

It just seems so easy. Well and it is for the most part. Seem you are familiar with the topic.
Cheers from Berlin

All the way back to negatives not even digital yet, so yes it is an ongoing problem, some people steal! Cheers from Durban.

Ja, das ist sehr ärgerlich. Meinen Copytrack Account habe ich vor einiger Zeit gekündigt. Nicht in einem der vielen hundert "Fälle" ist denen eine Nachlizensierung gelungen. Also wozu die Mühe?

Bei mir sind etwa 8 Fälle mit Auszahlungen verbunden gewesen. Auf jeden Fall keine Cent-Beträge. Aber ja alles was so Facebook und Instagram Schwurbelei ist kann schwer für eine Nachlizensierung durchgezogen werden. Die achso unkommerziellen Blogger.

Das ist ja wenigstens etwas. Bei mir waren das unter Anderem Onlineshops für Dekokram in Holland oder Kanada. Selbst dort haben die nichts gerockt.

Oha das scheint ja ein echtes Problem zu sein. Hab ich mich noch gar nicht so mit beschäftigt, sollte ich aber wohl besser mal tun. Danke für diesen interessanten Beitrag. 🤗

Schau mal was du alles findest. Es werden nicht nur deine Ideen geklaut, oft eben auch deine Ideen. Meine Arbeit tu kopieren halte ich persönlich nicht so schlimm. Man probiert halt mal aus was der andere gemacht hat. Wenn ich das tue kommt sowieso was ganz anderes bei raus und so wird es meine Kunst.

Würde mich mal interessieren wo deine Kunst schon überall gelandet ist.

Ich werde berichten Gunnar.....

A suggestion, once a month publish a post with all the names on Hive you find that plagiarized photo's. I like looking at photo's and if there is someone that is stealing, claiming, or implying they are theirs I would certainly use some of my down vote power small though it may be, and then I would mute them so I do not accidentally up vote a known plagiarist.

Sometimes I think I am too good for that, I always assume people are more like me. Create art and share it with friends and the web to get some feedback, maybe make someone happy or inspire. Then you have some Trolls that have an entirely different brain structure and just want to annoy people .. that I can ignore but I never assume they would plagiarize photos. There used to be some pages on steem that had some automatic bots that would search for plagiarized images and text. That was awesome. Not sure what happened there.

Photo post can make people a little bit plus of Hive, and once the quality/integrity of the photographer becomes known the rewards can move a lot. I don't like voting on theft, and have a few people muted because of that. Abuse and plagiarism are sure ways to be muted by me. I think it is a tool people need to use more often.

I'll cross the bridge when I get to your level of content creation. I do some illustrations on instagram but I don't have a huge following and just starting out. Watermarking them was an option but they looked bad on the image. I thought about whether I should really be minding the art I share then I saw my fave artist from their early days up to becoming a star.

Their popularity and network became big and people can immediately tell if the work was theirs even without the watermark. The style being too specific and known by patrons for years. So I hear stories that their works get monetized without permission and fans themselves take initiative to call out these booths at conventions to protect the artist's work.

I want to reach a point where my patrons would recognize my works due to the style and that serves as my indirect watermark. While the idea that someone out there is taking free money out of your effort is a pain, there's little control to stop these from happening at any point in the future. What I'd just do is focus on building a name for myself and let the works speak for me if I do get to that bridge and decide to cross it.

Thank you for your support. In some ways, I am in a place where people see my work as mine and send me images that were stolen and where. To have a huge following I guess these days artists have to do a lot of social media work to establish and maintain the status. My next-door neighbor has today some 900k followers on Instagram that comes also with some pressure I would not want to have. Free to create whatever I want to on my own time would be the perfect place to be. That would require some solid support that also I am far far away from. Yet I place I dream of some times. What artist doesn't?

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It means a lot to me!

So sad to see such behavior happening again and again all over!
This happened to me several times too.

I bookmarked this and will read it carefully in the next days, as it has interesting info and I should check some of my works too, especially those on the NFT market.

I am sure that if you find your works stolen by businesses based in EU you could get a proper payment by chasing them legally.

I had a few cases where the license claim was successful. Surprisingly even a substantial one from India. I did not expect any of that to go through at all. For the Law firms its always a matter of cost versus effort.

I guess you're absolutely right about this cost vs. effort. Though I know about a case where a photographer I know sued a newspaper for EUR 1 (of course they had to pay all the court & attorney fees as well).
I had a case with an Indian customer who bought an editorial license for one of my photos but later used it commercially, I didn't follow through it as I didn't think I could do anything.

Yep ... Soooo many cases. Its nothing kids learn in school. You dont steal things. Images on the internet seem free to use. One guy used an image for an event and i literally answered that he dound the image on the interent. That was his excuse. He was raised that way. Education on the topic will take forever if no serious consequences are the result of theft.

Unfortunately true!
But then if anyone else copies his event announcement or the event idea he will most probably cry to the heavens, lol :)

In the last few decades several countries has changed their political and social systems/orders and I see that some had lived for years with the belief that "what is mine is mine, what is not mine belongs to everyone."

For example, I was consulting a small company, IT stuff, probably ten years ago and I noticed an intern who was removing Shutterstock logos from an image they downloaded. As I was selling licenses at that time I went and talked to the management just to find out, to my biggest possible surprise, that they needed Photoshop only for this. So imagine - a person, manhours + software. Instead of buying that image for few dollars and doing something meaningful!!!

OM fing good - that is so crazy. What's wrong with the people? If all would pay a small amount to the artist one may be able to live off the work. 😤

I ask myself that too, almost everyday.
I guess it's the mindset some folks have - whatever could easily be taken, have to be exploited.
Perhaps it is a decease, an illness that could hardly be cured.

This was more of a glass half empty post from you than I was expecting haha. It's certainly not nice to see one's creativity being used for someone else's gain. It's like the technology has overtaken law and there isn't a great deal to be done about it. It's a sad inevitability or consequence of the internet.

Doing a quick google on my Oviedo 2017 winning image, I found it on a Russian language website for something totally unrelated and sadly I have zero chance of recovering anything there....

Well for the most part its not avoidable if you create compelling art. Often I try to take it as a compliment and a with humor. Once a shot of Kosmai (war monument) ended up on a school web site in Kongo. Not even stating my name. I found this rewlly cool. Write them tobputvmybname there. ... I saw in Google analytics that I had a single visitor that week on my page coming from a Kongo IP address and my picture was taken down. Did not write me back or anything. No Nigerian relatives would send me 100,000,000,00$. Awkward enough I was sad.

I’d have settled for $1,000,000. I’d be happy with that lol

Oooh Huhmble you. To many gready gready people on this planet hey. Teach your wisdom to us. 🙏🥳🥂

It's a very interesting post mate. I know I've been stolen too but I cannot imagine how many times and for what purpose. I'm kinda busy atm but I'll look at the tools you talked about in a close future.

Happy new year!

Get ready to find some and not be angry at people. Decide what you possible claim, and rectify with putting your name where it belongs and be wise in what is worth persuing. Like in life some people you'll never change their mind, they'll never understand your view and so its your decision how close you let it come to you. Don't waste your time 🔥🙏

Aaaah and yes - Happy New Year!

You spoke wisely man 🙏

Makes me so mad when people steal artists work, especially the NFT folks who are bragging about making tens of thousands of dollars but won't even credit the artist let alone pay them :(

I hope the place evolves and only allows for identifiable artists to earn in these volumes. It does not have to be public but it should at least happen to some degree. Create that trust in the platforms.

Thanks for sharing these tools... and Happy New Year!!

!discovery 32

thanx @lallo it is super interesting. Yet it feels somewhat awkward when you do it the first time. It's like; hey man he googles himself. But in reality, it's like protecting your work and your art in a way. It should be part what you do as a creator. I realized that way to late.

This post was shared and voted inside the discord by the curators team of discovery-it
Join our community! hive-193212
Discovery-it is also a Witness, vote for us here
Delegate to us for passive income. Check our 80% fee-back Program

Your content has been voted as a part of Encouragement program. Keep up the good work!

Use Ecency daily to boost your growth on platform!

Support Ecency
Vote for new Proposal
Delegate HP and earn more

Thank you guys its an important topic here in this space and I am glad you see it as relevant.

Hey @gunnarheilmann, here is a little bit of BEER from @lallo for you. Enjoy it!

Learn how to earn FREE BEER each day by staking your BEER.

Wow, this was a fascinating read. Thank you so much for the information. I'm new to hive and learning about how to credit images properly. I'm very sensitive to this topic as my sister is an artist, and so am I. She paints (oils and acrylics) and I am a musician. Using someone's intellectual property without permission or credit is really trashy and scummy.

Even musicians used my work for album covers. I probably would have given it without royalties to small artists. Being credited is almost ok. But quickly asking to use it especially if it's not just a link can be so easy and means the world to a creator. Glad you take in our views here. It can help and start with awareness.

You are an amazing photographer!
I was appalled by reading this. Thank you for putting the sites up where you can check if your work has been stolen etc.
I really feel for you, the one in the Alberta Camera Club really got me. They of all people should know what they did was illegal and morally wrong. I read it and said out aloud sue their asses!
A brilliant post you have made, and I can feel your pain and anger.
Did not know is not an excuse.

Well, small steps and droplets create awareness that may not benefit me directly in the here and now but your support here is already somewhat awesome. Share the stories and they will move through the system. Karma comes back then 😎

Yes karma will get them!

never tried to search and check. maybe i will be disappointed that no one stole them 😂

overall the most frustrating is when corporations do it (but at least there could be money made :) ) or when someone claims it is his photo.

It's funny isn't it? In a way, it shows admiration but also shows the cowardness of not asking for the use or supporting an artist to create more.
Corporations should learn to respect others' work as they demand the other way around. Yes absolutely agree I will always at least try to send a lawyer at them 😎

Danke Gunnar für dieses Posting und die interressanten Informationen.

Freu mich das du nun auch hier bist. Rock on.
Freu mich wenn auch dir der Artikel gefallen hat. Cheers!

@gunnarheilmann this post is marked by spamminator???

What are you doing against plagiarism in your work?

Can we really do anything ? May be one can find a lawsuit but its not easy to get to the conclusion. Some NFT sites have a feature to report theft or plagiarism - only after that, they investigate. Recently I saw a tweet from one of our great artist - someone was selling his art as NFT in millions in opensea. He came to know, only after some of his fans told him in instagram. He would not have even realized that, unless the fans reported. Then he reported and opensea worked, but this is just one example.

I think if the community starts watching out for each other we will get closer and closer. So we should do the little things we observe and point them out in a nice way. If people repeat the pattern I always stand for a full-on block. Working with a true identity helps. The blockchain offers solution for that.

Ahh the pain, the pain. I have been posting my photography online since at least 2006, and it has been constantly stolen. Even now, so many wallpaper sites give away my photos without even mentioning my name (some even claiming the photos are theirs).

I finally wised up and started leaving watermarks on everything I post on Hive.

But those are all very useful services you link to. Thanks for pointing them out!

In the past I have been watermarking as well but got tired of it. Remember what @lightcaptured was writing. Some people even go through the effort of reading watermarks. As crazy as it sounds. So I stick with creating my own style (I am very far from it) and then people notice. In some aspects in Light Painting people know me by now. That helps.
Glad you like the blob post.

Indeed. Everything could be "fixed" in Photoshop. Big logos and "curly" signatures only drive me away.
I always put my tiny logo at the bottom, right-hand side of my images. As I 99% of the time post-process in Lightroom, that happens automatically on export, it doesn't cost me even a second.

Yes, I could absolutely tell an image is your, you definitely have your own style already, kudos! That is extremely hard to achieve, IMHO.

With regards to the "wallpapers" sites.
I figured out this kind of theft comes generally from sites outside EU that utilize the API of Instagram.
So once I deleted my public profile there, all that disappeared.

Funny how if you try downloading images from Instagram, they are in low resolution and high JPEG compression, but through the IG API everybody has access to the original content. It was like that back then at the time I deleted my account there. I wrote several times to the Instagram legal team, nobody gave a fuck. So I did that same in return. I don't need them.

I have had several illustrator and photographer friends whose work has been ripped off and even sold as unauthorized nfts... I know it's long overdue but it almost makes me feel hectic and nervous to check because I'm rather overwhelmed at the moment. Thanks for all the advice.

Especially in the NFT-space, it hurts me in the guts that we get that for. It's so new and we all want to make this great for all involved. I wonder how to address the issue before we all lose trust in the space. How can one trust that the actual artist is benefitting from the sale etc. when more and more cases arise. Once identified the blocking the access for a blockchain as a whole should be the result of such fraud. The penalty should be harsh so the motivation to do so weighs strong.

So far I know of some well respected artists that are not on the cryptosphere and they find it stressing and they don't know really how to approach, I know one magazine in particular that had all her ig feed stolen (from many artists) and finally got the riping account closed, but others have not been so lucky on their claims. I still have not embarked myself to sell my art there, but economically I need to consider because times for an artist are difficult enough, I'm not very tech savvy so been postponing it, but certainly would not love that anyone took advantage of my work. Certainly at least among very well respected artists (I know some big names) NFT is talk in very deterring terms, as copyright thieves, environmentally unfriendly, money laundering... and it's NOT ALL that but certain malpractises from NFT users are settling this impression to the point it seems it'd almost go against your rep if you do. I've been more into music but this year I gotta sit down and paint again and try to find an outlet for it... so I need to consider, but I get the enthusiasm (being around here) and the concern/don't do it from my fellow artist friends (I'm talking of people that have big names, not mentioning though)

For me, this also becomes a bit troublesome. I should create my own account .. so I did it on rarible before someone else mints my work. But getting it sold I am lacking the experience and the reach online to get the NFT'S moving. I hope it starts at some point so I can move my digital artwork more there. The space is moving so fast it is hard to see whats going to last. Yet small mistakes can have a long-lasting impact.

Thank you for sharing your input here. It's very much appreciated to see that I am, not the only one struggling with these topics. Cheers

Hi, I was downvoted by @adm, I am wondering what happened? I took all the photos and write the content by myself. Can you check out if there is any mistake?
The post is

All social media like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are a big pile of content theft and identity theft. They are thievery havens.
Stealing photos and art of others including poems and paintings.
Stealing personal photos to pretend to be someone else.
Stealing articles and posts, etc.
All to get fake social status and be in the centre of attention.
And Facebook allowed it all as they refuse to take responsibility for the content posted on their platforms/apps.

Yep - That could be another topic but it is such a rabbit hole I did not want to get into alongside this article. This would be so extensive. Anyhow, I am in a good place and find my peace with it I guess.