Photo used without credit or permission

February 9th, 2020
Just a little rant:

I was in the little town of Montezuma, Indiana yesterday, and managed a few photos. A couple of which are posted to the site. I decided to get a little history of the town to add to the descriptions, and found on of my photos from 2017 on the citiy's web site! It is used without my permission, without any credit. And certainly without any compensation! This is a montezuma.in.gov address, presumably the municipal government.

Here's what I came across:
Montezuma It looks like it is posted a couple of places on the site.

This photo wasn't posted here, but was posted to my blog:
Montezuma

Most disappointing, and I did add a comment to the web page expressing my dissatisfaction. We'll see what, if anything happens.

The most disappointing this is that I'd've been honored to let them use the image if they had asked, and given credit. I'm not a professional, and they're not a commercial organization.

Anybody else have this kind of experience? It has taken the shine off my Sunday...
Any suggestions on how to proceed?


Aside: After all this, I did check google's image search, and tin-eye, bit found this.

February 9th, 2020
gee they probably do it all the time, hoping no-one will notice! hope they respond accordingly Larry!
February 9th, 2020
i wonder if we should all put a disgruntled comment there in your support lol
February 9th, 2020
Very wrong... but they probably don’t know any better... it’s amazing how many people don’t...
February 10th, 2020
You know, I might think about calling them up just to ask for the credit on the image(s) that are yours. They were probably just trying to do things on the cheap.
February 10th, 2020
That is sad but I've heard of it happening before. Other members on here have complained about this in the past. I don't know what they did about it.

On the other side, there have been some pictures posted here that were taken by someone else but the 365 member took credit for it and didn't give credit to the person who took it.

It is a shame that these things happen.
February 10th, 2020
Sorry to hear this has happened to you. I bet that you are furious. What can others do to protect their work? I hope that you hear back from them and you are properly compensated, and given the earned recognition for your work. Very interested to hear this pans out for you.
February 10th, 2020
@lsquared I'm pretty sure this goes on all the time. It's interesting that they found it. I checked google and came up with their site but not any reference to yours. I did not search for very long though. this happened to a friend of mine. she didn't pursue it. I guess that the internet just opens us up to this kind of thing. hers was watermarked too. they just cropped away the watermark. wait and see if you hear from them. they may be more than gracious and fix it. or they may take it down. somehow I am doubting compensation but maybe a photo cred. be flattered, know that you are showing something to others who might not otherwise see it! I'm sorry you had to be upset by something like this. we all really love your photos! you've shown me places I will likely never go!
February 10th, 2020
@lsquared I did find your photo on google images under the search Indiana King Hotel!
February 10th, 2020
This is a problem and I think you're right to address them. I'd also want to know how they found your image and where they took it from. Another point, and I don't know if it really helps, may be the size of the image posted. Please keep us informed as you go through this.
February 10th, 2020
Wow! This wrong on so many counts :-(
Hope you get some response from the web site.
February 10th, 2020
I do hope you get a response, at least to credit you on the photograph. I had a similar experience here and again it was a local government site. Conversely, I was asked if my image could be used and I agreed provided I was credited in it. They used the image but didn't credit it. Next minute, I found it was being used as their cover photo on Facebook as well, also uncredited.

I guess at the end of the day, people think anything on the internet is available for public use and it isn't considered theft because it is up there already. The rise of the meme just adds to that - reposted everywhere, copied and forwarded thousands of times without a thought.

I love your photographs. On here, I tend to change the privacy settings after a few days as a number of mine were showing up on pinterest and instagram, taken and published as if someone else's and I just didn't like it.

Do let us know what happens. I think a challenge is right. To my mind, it is just good manners to ask your permission first, even if there is no financials involved.
February 10th, 2020
Send them an invoice along with proof it's your photo!
February 10th, 2020
Lots of great comments and thoughts here, thanks all!

No response from Montezuma yet, but that's not really surprising. We're talking about a town of under 1,000 people, probably a part time "web master".

I'm willing to chalk it up to ignorance, not malice. Especially if they respond (in an appropriate manner).

That said, the casual way that people seem to treat IP (Intellectual property) is pretty frustrating. From using photos to downloading music to any number of other examples. And if it were to turn out that somebody else copied it and got paid... well, that would change everything.

I'll post any updates.
February 10th, 2020
That stinks! I have our local government use many of mine, but it's always been with my permission - Can't imagine just spotting one of mine somewhere (other than our local newspaper - editor and I are friends and I told her she was free to use any I posted on FB with my name). On the positive side, I'm glad I found your site - do like your b&w photography very much.
February 11th, 2020
Shame on them! I know that IP is a often over looked issue but still extremely important. I am hoping that they do the right thing and at least give you credit.

I wanted to add this, why not tell the city that they should give you credit for the image and also make a donation to a charity of their choice.for the use of the image.
February 11th, 2020
Stripped down the bare facts this is theft of intellenctual property, not to mention violation of copyright. I'd be taking this further if you have time and energy.
February 11th, 2020
They probably googled pics of the town and it came up, so they used it. I think that's one of the downsides to posting online.
February 11th, 2020
Yes I have had a similar experience .. Took a night shot of our local town which I was pretty chuffed about .. posted it on the Local page .. The local hotel whom were in the shot asked if they could use my photo with my credit for some promo stuff .. not a problem .. Then I got told by a friend that my photo was another FB page that was used for grumps and grizzles of local shops etc. I did not want to be associated with that page and asked them to take it down... which they did but they could not see what was wrong and could not see that they just needed to ask...
February 14th, 2020
Quick update: No response to my emails, no action as far as removing my photo or adding credit.

I guess it's not all that surprising, but is disappointing.

I suppose I'll reach out again next week, after they've had a full week. I wonder if I could find a cease-and-desist letter template on the web. Looks like their town council meetings are the third Thursday of each month ...
February 15th, 2020
@lsquared who did you email? if it was a general email, can you dig up the name of someone in a position of authority and follow up with them? because honestly, how difficult is it to apologize profusely and remove it, or ask if you'd be willing to leave it up giving you credit as photog?

that said, it's been not even a week... given "bureaucracy" (in a town of 1000???) perhaps your note is going back and forth between folks trying to figure out what they need to do now... or you know, perhaps the person tasked with checking the general email box is off sick...
February 15th, 2020
@northy I started by adding a comment to the photo, which seems to have gone to moderation (as I would hope). I followed up at the sites "contact" page. It wouldn't surprise me if they don't check the web site real frequently.

And really, I only want an apology, and either credit or take down the photo. It's the principle, not the dollars (for me, at least).

There's a phone # / address for the town's utility office on the site as well, that would be the next step.
February 22nd, 2020
As with all copyright issues, the legal implications from a bunch of different directions are quite sticky and blurry on this one. The bottom line is, to avoid that, the city really should have asked permission to use the photo. The most critical question that as a photographer would be on my mind if this happened to me is "who owns the property"? Being "historic", is the property currently "publicly" owned by the city? I wasn't able to find that out online. If so, that gives the city a lot of legal standing here, and is legally better for you as well. No third party for you to get in trouble with. If it is privately owned, that's a whole 'nother can of worms because now there's a third party to this story. That isn't at all good for the city and as ridiculously unlikely it may be, still 'technically' legally bad for you as well. If that is the case, and presuming this is all about "principle", then I strongly recommend going straight to a cease and desist letter to have the image taken down.
Write a Reply
Sign up for a free account or Sign in to post a comment.