One Photographer’s Story: The Birth of an Internet Meme – “Hurrr I’m a Hoers”

I’m not the first person who has had their work taken off photo.net or some other web site and used without permission, and I’m certain I won’t be the last. My experience may help someone deal with the problem if it happens to them.

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A passion that has developed over the last 10 years is horse photography; I’ve gone from being quite scarred of the huge beasts with their big teeth and iron shod hooves to being very fond of them. I’ve even learned to ride so that I could have a better understanding of the equestrian world.

Visiting a local stable in 2009, the horses were generally quite excitable and running around much more than normal. A couple of the horses showing classic Flehmen responses, after detecting an interesting scent and I managed to shoot off about a dozen frames of one particular horse.

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I posted one image to Flickr and Photo.net the same day.

Sometime later, I spotted the image with “hurrr I’m a hoers” on it. And before I knew it, it had gone viral; it had become a meme.

Wikipedia defines a meme as “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” In effect what that means is that everyone who wants to, pasts the image somewhere or writes (mostly inane) comments under it. There seem to be a fair number of web sites that deal with memes and a fair number of people who put together a collection of them on a third party web site. At one point, I did a Google image search on the meme and retrieved several pages of the image, an absolute nightmare.

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At other times, I’ve also found the unmutilated image on various web sites, including one that likened Katherine Heigel to the horse.

I wasn’t too happy that someone had taken my work and, I though, trashed it and so as far as I could, I wanted to get the images taken down. Looking at the sites that display the image, I realised that several of them were forum web sites and others that suggested that the chances of getting anything done about it were slim. However, there were a number of sites that I use and I decided that the battles I should fight were the ones I knew I could win (yes, I have read the Art of War). So where people have posted the photo or the meme on sites like Facebook, DeviantART, Flickr, Photobucket and a few others, I would contact the sites and get them taken down. The only web site that failed to remove the image as soon as I contacted them was hollywood.com, which needed some “encouragement.”

Here are a couple of examples or how to get photos taken down

Flickr

I found this page showing the meme on 2nd May

The bottom right of the flickr page has a link to the Copyright/IP policy and the link to the online form goes to this page: –
http://help.yahoo.com/l/uk/yahoo/copyright/general.html

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Facebook

On Facebook I found 2 iterations of the meme on 2nd May, here’s one.

To report a copyright infringement on Facebook, you start on this page
http://www.facebook.com/help/contact/?id=208282075858952

WordPress

On WordPress, the online form is here <ahref=“http://automattic.com/dmca/”>http://automattic.com/dmca/

I had an email response from wordpress within an hour of submitting the form, very impressive.

DeviantART

On DeviantART, I have had to serve take down notices (DMCA notices) by email to this email address violations@deviantart.com

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The information that Deviant requires to remove an image is essentially the same as the other sites, but need to be set out in an email.

Pinterest

The online DMCA form for Pinterest is here http://pinterest.com/about/copyright/dmca/
They have been very quick too.

Further Thoughts

The people responding to the DMCA notices at some sites may get back to you for clarification and I’ve had contact from Facebook and Flickr asking for further details and they have been very helpful.

Not everyone is helpful, six weeks after serving the notice on one web site, I’m still waiting for images to be removed from DIYLOL and I had to send a big invoice to Hollywood.com site before they removed the shot.

After removing the image, one person replaced it with an image saying “stop SOPA.” I took the screen grab below after getting the meme removed from one Facebook page. Clearly upset.

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Should I be upset at seeing my work spread around like this and if so why? Well, for one thing, Getty Images who have taken some of my equestrian work and have not touched that one, so I’m potentially out of pocket. The chances of selling that image are probably gone. And without wanting to sound like a dog in a manger, I don’t want someone taking and, I think, trashing my work.

How to find an image that’s been used (and/or misused)

There are a number of options available, probably the best known is www.tineye.com who have browser plugins for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer & Opera. You right click the image and click “Search on Tineye”. In Google Images you can upload an image url or even the image itself.

I also found a plugin at this location http://jarred.github.com/src-img/ which is an adjunct to Google image search and works well.

I’ve also found a fair number of other images being used without permission, simply by looking for a credit “photo by Peter Meade.” I appears that a number of people genuinely believe that if you give credit for a photo, then you can use it. This may well stem from the creative commons license. Other people simply believe that if it’s on the web then it’s available. At least those are the “reasons” people have used.

This has just been a single case, one of many. Over time I’ve discovered that people taking and using others’ photographs isn’t just restricted to the odd shot on a meme website or on Facebook; in the first half of 2012 alone, I’ve had to deal with everything from small travel web sites to a major national newspaper. Of course if you are happy to let others use your photos and you like the idea of them being seen by a wider audience, then this is all a non story, but if you want to maintain control of your intellectual property or copyright material then it’s useful to know what to do. Hopefully, my experiences may help when you find someone using your work when you don’t want them to. The price of peace (of mind) is eternal vigilance.

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    • Timely and useful information.  I hate the thought of having to police the net though, seems like a losing battle.

      Thanks!

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    • Is it wrong that I'd be tickled to see one of my photos become an interweb meme?  While I'm sympathetic to copyright issues, I just can't work up a proper state of ire over copyrighted photos becoming memes, image macros or remixed to suit the pop culture zeitgeist.

       

      Almost invariably the organic nature of images becoming memes is because the image speaks effectively to the masses.  That's a compliment, regardless of whether we want to accept the terms of such attention.

       

      Also, those who object too strenuously and self-righteously about how internet pop culture responds to our our intellectual property risk experiencing The Streisand Effect.

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    • You need to ask yourself if this is really doing you any harm or are you just offended that it happened without your consent. Most of the sites that are using images in this way aren't potential customers. If they had to pay for it, it would never get used. I understand that we all have legal rights over our images, but people also need to come to grips with the nature of the internet. The widespread mentality is that any use without financial gain is fine. That includes taking your image and posting an altered version without any mention of you. If that isn't acceptable for you, you shouldn't post anything on the internet. Once it's out there, you lose a certain amount of control over it. It's the nature of the beast.

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    • Many sites using images without permission are for profit and exposure. The perception that no harm is done is akin to having something stolen and being philosophical about it; it's still theft with a perpetrator and an unwilling victim. 

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    • Good article, equally good responses.  Putting anything on the web with the expectation of no piracy seems akin to dropping a wallet full of cash on a public conveyance then coming back a
      week later expecting to find it.  I am reminded of Christ’s admonishment (Matthew 5:40), And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  I know, it goes against “conventional wisdom,” but I’ve learned it is a choice is between possessions and peace.  No one can steal what you’re willing to give away.  And if you put it on the web, that’s
      basically what you’ve done, law notwithstanding. 

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    • Good article, equally good responses.  Putting anything on the web with the expectation of no piracy seems akin to dropping a wallet full of cash on a public conveyance then coming back a week later expecting to find it.  I am reminded of Christ’s admonishment (Matthew 5:40), And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  I know, it goes against “conventional wisdom,” but I’ve learned it is a choice between possessions and peace.  No one can steal what you’re willing to give away.  If you put it on the web, that’s basically what you’ve done, law notwithstanding. 

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    • Most of the sites that are using images in this way aren't potential customers.

       

      I'm assuming you've never sold your work as Rights Managed.  Kind of hard to do if every schmuck on the internet is posting a copy of it.

       

      Is it wrong that I'd be tickled to see one of my photos become an interweb meme?

       

      No of course not.  It's YOUR photo.  That's the point.  If you want it to become an internet meme that's your choice.  But it you don't want it to be an internet meme you should be able to control that as well.

       

      Great article Peter.  It's nice to know the rational legal ways to handle this type of thing.  I'm in the midst of a DMCA situation myself.  It's nothing near as bad as what you are dealing with but it is mighty irritating.  The situation is only worsened by uninformed photographers that encourage the climate of pilfering.

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    • Jeff & Michael, I don't think anyone here is encouraging the use of images without permission. Nor am I uninformed about the the legalities or the ethics of it. I think many people don't want to accept that the internet is a double edged sword that while it's a powerful marketing tool, it's also akin to giving everyone free access to do with it as they please. Keep in mind I say access, not permission. Just because most serious photographers feel that it is a violation to use an image without permission doesn't mean that everyone who views your images online feels the same way. And yes Peter's article points out that you can take action against that sort of infringement. But you have to be realistic about your expectations. If you don't want to deal with the possibility of misuse, don't post it on the internet. That applies to anything, not just images.

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    • I am very upset and displeased mwith our society. We will convice a shoplifter for taking what is not theirs out of a store. What I want to know si why this this any different? It is theaft just the same. You cannont claim to not know who the picture belonged to as there is information on most professional photos that tell you how to gwt in touch with the photographer.

      Those to take by theaf these photos need to be set down and forced to read the copyright law and then explain what they read to someone who needs to hear that they know what they did was wrong and punishable BY LAW.

      I have a really big itch when people take other people's things and claim they didn't know it belonged to some one else. Read the item, it should have a copyright notice tacked on to the photo some where. If you see it then you know you are doing wrong. If you don't see it then open your eyes!

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    • Did someone do you wrong? Yes. Do I endorse such thieving behaviour? No. Can you get control back and remove every single copy of the image? Unlikely. You won't win this battle and you won't win the war. If you truly want to protect your images, don't post them or oust them with a fat defacing watermark, after registering the copyright. I don't make my living with photos, so what do I know, but it seems you spent a lot of time with this, on one image. The Internet is inherently anti-copyright, something to take into consideration with every keystroke.
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    • I can see both ends of the spectrum in this situation. Not oblivious to the fact the internet has it's great benefits, (world of knowledge in your hands), and major downfalls, (sometimes over exposure). Looking at this from the business side, it would upset me to see my work used without the purchase of permission, (copyrights). Compare to music, the downloading of a "free" mp3 file without permission. This form of "sharing" is stealing. As with any business, however, there needs to be certian percautions one must take before marketing the product. I am VERY grateful for the time and research put into this article.  It has been very helpful to me. I have just recently, past 4-5 years, become more serious about my photography. So I have myself been researching how to protect my work.  An injury earlier this year left me unable to do physical labor, so I'm forced to look for another form of income. We always hear that success can be found in doing what you love to do for a living. Photography being my passion, I've resolved to fulfill that dream now that the opportunity is here. It is okay for someone to enjoy the fact that other people have used their work and made a meme of it, as well. It is quite flattering for us to know our photographs are liked by the public; whether or not they are posted for profesional purposes. There are always two sides to every token. One of the greatest actions one can take, is to defend what we have worked so hard to accomplish. Therefor, if it is work then proper actions should be taken. If not, the it doesn't really matter.

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    • Should I be upset at seeing my work spread around like this and if so why? Well, for one thing, Getty Images who have taken some of my equestrian work and have not touched that one, so I’m potentially out of pocket. The chances of selling that image are probably gone. And without wanting to sound like a dog in a manger, I don’t want someone taking and, I think, trashing my work.

      Having one's work used without permission or trashed sucks, and I can feel your frustration. But a photographer should ask himself these questions BEFORE posting their work online. Especially for a pro whose livelihood depends on it.

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    • Something big seems to have gone unaddressed: how'd it get on the internet in the first place?!  This sounds like a pointless effort to get the genie back in the bottle, and a missed opportunity to grab some useful publicity.

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    • I'm shocked that in the year 2012 anyone would think that they could post a picture online and have an expectation that the picture would not be reposted elsewhere. My expectation is that you should either heavily watermark the image, or expect it to be copied and have a notice that explains you require attribution (and ideally a link to your web site) if the image is reused. If you intend to sell an image, you should watermark it. If you want an image to propagate the web for self-promotion, require the attribution and follow-up with the 'net searching to ensure you got it (and enforce attribution where you didn't).

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    • I'm with Micah on this. 

      Putting content on the net is specifically purposed to increasing exposure. You hit internet GOLD by creating a meme. You have a gallery of photos that matches this.

      Presumably your gallery of photos of horses is for sale for people with an interest in using pictures of horses in a serious way. In other words, there would be no unauthorized use of your pictures in that horse gallery without a payment agreement. 

      So the scenario - if everything had gone your way - would be this: Meme creator would have encountered the image, decided not to pay for it, and moved along. All other traffic on that gallery site would have carried on as normal.

      With the way things have turned out, the image has been wrested from your control and has a life of its own. It's probably fair to guess that the exposure it receives is hundreds, if not many thousands of times greater than your original image gallery.

      So what have you lost in terms of potential income? Nothing. If everyone played by the rules, you *STILL* wouldn't have made that money. But the point is, you also wouldn't have had the opportunity provided by having a meme made from your content.

      When I read this article, I expected to read an article by a photographer who had made a success of increasing his profits by taking advantage of exposure through a meme. Instead, he's just griping about cease and desist orders.

      What I don't understand is why you haven't tried to capitalize on this, by providing alternatives that enforce including a photo credit. I have seen thousands of images inappropriately used in PPT's, memes, "funny" emails and whatnot with lo-fi photographer credits. These images have been watermarked, then lazy ass recompilers on the net just include the credit because they are either unwilling or unable to remove it. I *have* seen interested viewers visit the original photographer's profile. My parents do this ALL THE TIME. 

      Do my parents then go to the sites and buy the images? No. Because they have no need for serious use of these pictures, they are just looking around enjoying what they see.

      But it DOES answer the question of how to increase exposure dramatically by taking advantage of the popularity of a meme.

      Did you actually lose any money from this meme being created without your knowledge? Yes, but probably less than a Frappaccino.

      Did you lose any money from having the image removed instead of watermarked? Yes. Considerably more than what you lost from the meme being created without your knowledge, but in all seriousness, probably far less than the price of a car. Even a rusted out Pinto.

      So you lost more because you were rigid like a tree, not flexible like a blade of grass.

      So much for the Art of War.

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    • Peter, get a life. Copying is the most honest form of flattery. Microsoft would not be where they are if Windows95 would have been copy protected.

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    • Kieran : spot on comment. Can't believe that op did not take advantage of the meme.

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    • Anything I now post online is sized so small you'd have to work miracles to get anything out of it. On the other hand, if they could get anything out of it, more power to 'em!

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    • Sadly copying is a fact of life on the internet. Its not only photos. I was writing travel related articles for a news paper with images with the condition that my copy was used  for single use only. These articles were put on the newspapers website as part of the agreement which I was quite happy about. Subsequently I was upset to find these these  articles were being used by numerous travel or other websites without my permission including the national tourist website of the SE Asian country where I live. The newspaper apologized but were unable to control use of this or any other copy. So there was nothing I could do.

      In practice the promotional value of that copied work gave me more benefit in terms of getting my work known about; as the copy was attributed to me. So it was not such a bad thing in the end.

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    • Putting content on the net is specifically purposed to increasing exposure. You hit internet GOLD by creating a meme.


      Can you cite an instance where a pro photographer actually benefited financially from such infringing "exposure"? 

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    • Putting content on the net is specifically purposed to increasing exposure. You hit internet GOLD by creating a meme.

       

      Can you cite an instance where a photographer actually benefited financially from such infringing uses?

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    • The people above who have criticized Peter Meade are a shame.  Their arguments narrow and short sighted. Peter is right full stop.  The analogies that I have read to say that Peter should stop moaning are pathetic and would never hold water in any mature debate.  Whether you put something on the intenet, in a shop window, on a market stall, on the pavement outside your shop entrance...the properties owners deserve respect.  Poetry and short stories receive this same respect and no author will tolerate his or her work being used without consent.  Philosophical, economic, or plain argumentative justification for criticizing Peter, no matter who disagrees or why, is a punch in the face of a serious moral standard to do with Respect and courtesy.  Oh and the gentleman who quoted the bible verse has mis-represented the words of Jesus out of their contextual foundations, I will come and take your car and ask for your bank details, oh and a packet of crisps - and you're response is?  - just praise the Lord.

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    • Chris I agree wholeheartedly that intellectual property rights aught to receive the respect that the law affords them. But I don't think the debate here is whether the usage without permission is moral, but rather if it realistic to expect to be able to post something on the internet and not have it be used in whatever manner the viewing public sees fit. Arguing the morality of it is little more than a declaration of your own views. There are millions upon millions of people surfing the internet that simply do not see it the way that most photographers do. They snap pictures all the time and post them without regard as to what might become of them. I doubt that they would give you the consideration that they don't expect to receive themselves.

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    • Hi Siegfried, Yes I take your point.  It's true.  I guess I was making a subtle unconscious decision between the everyday snaps and the professional images, the latter was what I was referring to. I guess I am naive here.  But it was the manner in which just a few people responded to Peter that annoyed me a wee bit, that's all.

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    • That will teach you, Pete, to post your photos on a site unpaid, such as photo.net. This is a sad state of affairs, but if you want to sell your photos by "advertising" them on free photo sites, this is going to happen. Good luck.

      Having said that, now I must encourage you to lighten up a little and move on. In 100 years we will all be dead and it just won't matter to any of us at that point, will it?

      Having said that, I will say that I do enjoy your photography. Again, good luck.

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    • This sounds like a pointless effort to get the genie back in the bottle, and a missed opportunity to grab some useful publicity.

       

      Micah, there have been countless internet memes.  Please list for us all the photographers that "grabbed some useful publicity" from them.

       

      Also, those who object too strenuously and self-righteously about how internet pop culture responds to our our intellectual property risk experiencing The Streisand Effect.

       

      Lex you are mistaken.  "The Streisand Effect" involved a photo that hand been viewed on an obscure internet sight a handful of times (<10) and a chunk of those views were Streisand's lawyers.  Memes by definition are the opposite of that.

       

      You hit internet GOLD by creating a meme.

       

      Keiran, please list for us all the photographers that have "hit internet GOLD" by having their uncredited work circulated in the form of a meme without payment.  If you asked the average person to name ANY photographer I guarantee you 90% of them couldn't name one let alone a photographer that rose to fame due to an internet meme.

       

      What I don't understand is why you haven't tried to capitalize on this

      Because no one has ever demonstrated that you can consistently profit from your photograph being defaced and turned into an uncredited internet memo.

       

      In practice the promotional value of that copied work gave me more benefit in terms of getting my work known about; as the copy was attributed to me. So it was not such a bad thing in the end.

       

      Which has zero to do with the defacement and uncredited circulation of this gentleman's work.

       

      My problem with all the business moguls in this thread is no one has ever shown me a photographer that benefited financially or professionally of one of their pieces being used in an uncredited fashion on the internet as a freely distributed meme.  Seriously would any of you hire someone or be more inclined to look at their portfolio because one picture they took became an internet meme?  And the nature of internet memes is such that most are so trivial and fleeting that no original artists have made any significant money off of them that I know of.

       

      Every once in awhile something goes viral and someone turns a profit but that is rare.  I personally don't want my work entered into that lottery.

       

      Peter, I must applaud you again for a great article.  If we photographers keep the pressure up a lot of the main sites will decide they don't want to hassle with these legalities.  This isn't about stopping email forwards.  There will always be idiots that think everyone on their email list needs to see whatever clever photo they discovered on the web.  The main point is to get your work taken down from major sites and give them a wake up call.  If we all did this it would raise awareness and have an impact.

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    • Microsoft would not be where they are if Windows95 would have been copy protected.

       

      This reveals a grave lack of understanding of the issue here. Even if true, Windows is an operating system with programs third parties create. A standard of interchangeable uses. That creates ongoing utility for the system. An image has none of that. It is a static and isolated phenomenon. Its pecuniary value is enhanced by its scarcity. Windows' ongoing value, to the contrary, is enhanced by it popular use.

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    • well, as for why people think it's free

      here's the text from a search:

      XXX XXXX's Photos, Phone, Email, Address, Public Records - Spokeo
      www.spokeo.com/---
      19 Results – XXX XXXX's photos, phone, email, address, and public records for free! Find more about XXX XXXX's biography, profile,  ...

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    • Since horse photography is the OP's business is there a way to turn this meme into a marketing win?  As you point out this shot happened because you understand horses and what it was doing - what a great way to present yourself as a knowledgeable photographer with a good portfolio of classic horse photos.  I think I would consider embracing the meme and making it part of who I am.

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    • One can argue that the words "Hurr I'm a Hoers" added as much to the internet success of this work of art as the picture did. This may qualify as a derivative work under US copyright law. Do Meade and photo.net have permission from the unnamed artist who added the words to display this here?

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    • "This may qualify as a derivative work under US copyright law."

      If merely adding words were enough to allow use of other's copyrighted images, anyone's image could be used on magazine covers and countless other uses. It doesn't work that way. In any event, use of a derivative work still requires permission of the copyright holder of the original work so such a designation changes nothing.

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    • Thanks for the great story.  And thanks to Jeff Sudduth for your excellent responses to the various trolls and fools from the "good exposure" and "everything should be free" camps.  The bottom line is that the image belongs to the photographer.

      All I can add is that if you post your shots on public forums, expect them to be stolen.  So consider watermarking, or post them judiciously and at very low resolution.  Unless you enjoy your work being stolen....

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    • This isn't just about "the internet".  Flickr is a magnet for image thieves.  If you want your images stolen, upload them to Flickr.  It really is that simple.  You don't have to talk to more than 5 or 10 photographers before you find one who's been ripped off far worse than you have been (by actual profiteers) because of images they put on Flickr. 

       Also, something to ask yourself is whether or not memes are "stolen" images.  Since they serve the purpose of comedy, they arguably fall under fair use as parody.  You took a nice, although somewhat awkward photograph of a horse.  OK fine.  Somebody found it and put a funny caption on it.  Do you still own that image?  Certainly you own the image of the horse, but you don't own the caption, or the captioned version of the photo.  I would bet many people would see the caption as value added, not value destroyed as you seem to think it is. 

      And then there's the question of what potential could have come from the meme.  Is it possible to turn this kind of "negative attention" into positive attention?

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    • whether or not memes are "stolen" images.  Since they serve the purpose of comedy, they arguably fall under fair use as parody.

       

      Just because something is funny and used for something completely different, doesn't make it anything remotely approaching parody. Moreover, parody is not limited to comedy. Under this funny = parody theory, the same can be said of interesting, opinion, political ect ect. and suddenly its all legit because parody can be those things too.

       

      That's a mighty long stretch.

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    • Sure you are in the right legally and it is your decision, so this is just what I would have done, if it had happened to my photo...

       

      I am definitely with the guys who would try to turn this from a Meme RAGE into a marketing WIN. 

       

      Write all the sites that you have mentioned, tell them that you are glad that they like your picture but they have no license to use it currently. And then be the good guy offer them to license it as CC-BY. So they have to clearly give you credit on the image. 

       

      So I can understand your frustration with the what has happened, but from a business point of few you could have tried to use this popularity to your own advantage. You probably didn't lose any sales, nobody making a meme would have paid for it in the first place. Maybe its a reason or it not being accepted into getty, but who knows. 

       

      And yes it might not be the best usage of your photos but still it might get circulated between horse buffs and if it only got 0,01% into looking into your other work that could have turned out quite well for you, financially and marketing wise.

       

      And never underestimate public opinion, it might well happen that due to your DMCA take down notices your name gets out there, with some verbal abuse and what not. You basically will be branded the bad guy. Is that really the stuff that you want to turn up when someone Googles your name?

       

      So I am not trying to bash you or anything, just trying to provide another point of view on the whole issue.

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    • Should I be upset at seeing my work spread around like this and if so why? Well, for one thing, Getty Images who have taken some of my equestrian work and have not touched that one, so I’m potentially out of pocket. The chances of selling that image are probably gone. And without wanting to sound like a dog in a manger, I don’t want someone taking and, I think, trashing my work.

      I don't disagree with your stance on this. It is pretty clear that your copyright was infringed. You can be upset for whatever reasons, but that doesn't change anything--this image will never make you a dime. Even if you some how managed to scrub it from the entire internet (impossible), Getty Images and others like them will never touch this image. Write it off and move on. Don't sacrifice time you should be spending creating something new trying to salvage an unsalvageable image. 

      All that said, this is a great write-up on the process and the mechanics of dealing with this kind of thing. I'm sorry you lost out, but that's bound to happen given wide-spread lack of knowledge of or complete disregard of copyright law on the internet. 

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    • Seriously? It's one image, not a very good one and funny at that and you're trying to battle over one image?! I would be flattered I took such an amusing picture. This plays into intellectual property and actually letting things be for the "common good". I can see battling over something that was actually great and artistic, but one silly looking image and you're up in arms over it. Here is some supplemental material that proves how photographers can be such babies, without saying a thing about photographers. This is coming from a fellow photographer. http://www.everythingisaremix.info/watch-the-series/ There will always be more photos to take. The fact that one was ripped to display to the world and probably never made a buck on is so small of an issue, but people choose to whine about something because proper credit wasn't given. How about we be men and be humbled by our experiences. It's like you're just embarrassed that your picture is being used for something that makes you ashamed you took the picture in the first place, when most of the population of the world that has seen the picture doesn't know you took the picture anyhow. Just let it go. Sometimes you have to give the dogs your scraps. It'll take the focus off of your meal.

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    • I thought the article was spot on. I worked in the photography business for more than 20 years. Much of what I did was annual report and industrial marketing. The idea of someone taking material from an annual report and using in  their own strategy is abhorrent.

      Some folks here seem to not be aware of what the copyright symbol actually is. Let me clarify. When a work of creative art , no matter the medium, is marked for copyright it is not actually copyrighted. Many years ago you had to actually apply for a copyright in writing and have it approved by the Copyright office before you could mark it as such. There was so much work being applied for that they did what they could to solve the problem. That was where, the 1978 copyright did not change this, we stand today. When you apply a copyright symbol it is a "declaration" of your intent to file for an actual copyright document. If an issue came up the office of copyright would recognize whoever applied first, period. At that period of time, prior to the Internet, courts would actually hear and decide cases of copyright infringement. People generally understood that and an actual cases of it were pretty rare.

      Folks seem to think that somehow placing the work in a public forum allows for violation of this simple rule. If you are serious about your photos being used in a commercial forum than before you say anything to anybody APPLY for a copyright quietly. Once it is approved, a lengthy process to be sure, you can then sue for infringement.

      Some folks think that the 1978 rule change made this process an automatic warrant of copyright. It did not, however it should also be noted that the copyright is only good for 7 years. To make it permanent you must register for patent or reapply every 6 years or so.

      I personally have BIG issues with people that consider plagiarizing it be alright , but I feel it is a "moral" issue. My children were talked to sternly when it was apparent they were in fact plagiarizing someone else work.

       

       

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    • While many people around the Net think along the lines of "The widespread mentality is that any use without financial gain is fine," this is flawed because there is also the other side of the coin.  Even if someone is using another's image and not directly gaining financially from it, the photographer who owns the image may be directly losing money due to the unauthorized use.

      For example, I had a simple but unique image of a new camera that appeared in many Google searches for that camera, and thus brought many people to my blog when they clicked on the image.  I then earned income from these blog visitors through affiliate sales and the sales of my photography e-books.  When others stole my image and began using it on their sites, their "version" of the image began to appear instead in the Google searches, people were then led to their sites, and I immediately saw a dramatic drop in income.  It was back to ugly copyright watermarks for me at that point!

      So while the infringing sites may not be gaining financially (and I would argue many of them actually are in some way because they are trying to attract visitors for some reason), they have not only stolen the image but have stolen potential (and likely real) income from the original photographer in the form of lost website traffic.

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    • I understand you are upset to see your work used in this way, especially if you try to make a living of it.  Nevertheless, it is unavoidable:

      - Many people honestly don't realize that using a photo from flickr could be a copyright violation.  For games or movies, most people know that copying is illegal, and you need p2p software for it or need to visit special web sites.  Photo's, on the contrary, are all over the web, and >90% of them are just snapshot that are uploaded by people who don't care about their copyright.

      - Even if they know, many people don't care that using a photo from flickr could be a copyright violation.

      This is a battle between you and the internet, which you will never win.  The only thing you can do is don't post photo's on flickr anymore, and if you do, post only low-resolution images or images with big watermarks or consider them "lost" for commercial purposes.

      As a closing remark: I think many of those meme's are fun and for me personally, I would care much more if my photo is used without permission in a magazine or a company brochure, than in an internet joke.

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    • There is not real way to win here unless you wish for this to be your full time occupation. You should concentrate when they use your photos for advertising or other commercial use. Otherwise it's hopeless.

      My son posted a funny picture on Facebook and he is now known as the Laundry Room Viking with a million hits. He is all over the world now with fans in Europe and Asia. LOL? Who knew?

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    • May I be so bold as to say you've added something to the zeitgeist that many people never have an opportunity to do? You took a snap of a horse, one of probably hundreds, and it's now known throughout the world. Be proud. That shot was never going to amount to anything otherwise.

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    • Great article. Thanks for the TinEye.com reference, I've found a lot of my art on other websites in just a few minutes, some commercial. They think we'd never find it, that program is wonderful.

      And no, having your images circulate the web, mostly without any copyright notice, gets you nada! You beginners can be happy something 'happened' with your snap, the pros among us will stay vigilant. Thieves abound. I've made thousands of dollars from folks that lease my artwork for their sites... heck with free, I can't eat free.

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    • You took a snap of a horse, one of probably hundreds, and it's now known throughout the world. Be proud. That shot was never going to amount to anything otherwise.

       

      How exactly do you know? You just explained that the image is greatly popular. Since so many deemed it to be of use, then others may have found it unique and suitable enough to pay for the use. Now that won't be virtually impossible. The author here explained that he sells images so he would seem to be more greatly more knowledgeable about his potential market than you. 

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    • Hi Peter,


      Sorry to read about the improper use of some of your images.  As you may remember, I found some of mine and posted the infraction here:

      http://www.photo.net/casual-conversations-forum/00az3S

      Several years ago, there was an abundance of support by most PNers about the taking of images off PN by others and used elsewhere.  I believe the message I was reading of late was "who cares". 

      Well, I still do, and I support and appreciate your article.  The article is informative and I would say it is supported by many, many pros that don't visit PN.  Good job.  Take care.

       

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    •  That shot was never going to amount to anything otherwise.

      Last year I sold two images taken at the same stables as the Flehmen shot, each of those was licensed for 700 USD for 1 year's use.

      I photograph horses commercially.

       

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    • OK...so I'm a little late to the party! The internet for the most part is a vapid, vacuous, lawless place akin the the Wild West. Anything that one posts seems to be fair game because many associate web sites with "public domain"; acess to most is free. Also keep in mind that over 50% of all internet revenues are still the domain of the porn industry - it used to run at about 80%! 

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