False Advertising

man thinkingThey say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but is that really true? I think that someone taking credit for work that they did not do is very insulting and intrusive. For someone to get online and present your work as their own just makes me really angry. The past few months I have seen an influx of this on my timelines and it’s causing people to really reevaluate their social media presence, leave some sites altogether, and even take legal action. It’s really a shame that things have to get to that, but lately people are really getting bold with their audacity to claim work of a talented and hard working person.

A few years ago, I was reading an event planning industry magazine focused on tents. There was a cover image that was of a beautiful wedding tent with stark white tents and bright colored fabrics draping the sides and ceiling. The inside story listed the planner, tent company, and florist. Pretty cool because they were a Michigan company and event planner. A few months later, I was doing industry research. I came across a profile of a planner that had the tent magazine’s cover image on their website listed as one of their previous events. The planner I had come across was NOT the planner listed in the magazine. This was some years ago, but I was totally floored at the audacity of people’s intentions. I thought this couldn’t be a real thing. But I started to see more and more people I follow say their images were being used on someone’s website as their own, people claiming they had produced the outcomes, and recently that the original creator was the thief. People are seriously getting out of hand with stealing other people’s work, and we as creatives have to be diligent in protecting our work.

This is not just with images. I just last week saw a poet who had her e-book printed into hardcover and it was being sold on a website, all without her knowledge or approval. My business partner has had conversations with people about projects she wanted to work on, and later seen a similar project pop up online as an event. Either way, it’s your property and you have to protect yourself and your work.

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My advice is to actively keep track of your work and it’s presence online and in media. Because I feel strongly about this, I would take action immediately. Reach out to the person first, but if there’s no change in behavior I would take legal action. Remember to document when and where your images were taken. Keep them organized and have a paper trail so you can defend your work. It is theft and it is your right to get credit for your work.

It isn’t fair that people can’t create without fear of people taking your hard work as their own. But if you have a product, trademark or patent it. If you have images, watermark them and keep documentation for your records.

This is something that really makes my blood boil and would love to see thieves like this punished by law, but sometimes it’s not always that simple. But we can start by protecting ourselves and our hard work. Ok, that’s my piece and I’ll get off my soapbox now.

Has this ever happened to you? I’d like to know your thoughts on this, or how you protect yourself and your work?