When eBay sellers steal your photographs

Ironically, this happened to Steve Morton a couple of weeks ago. I never ever expected it to happen to me. My blog is rather small and my photographs are far from professional. But I woke up this morning to a message from one of my readers, saying:

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Closely followed by another one which said:

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Off I went to look at the auction which is here. And this (below) is what I saw:

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Two of my A5 Cinnamon Siena photographs from this article – being used to sell a pocket sized Espresso Siena. The buyer is definitely not going to get anything like what is pictured!

Thus far I have contacted the seller and asked them to remove said photographs. No reply after 12 hours. Contacted eBay.de and reported it. No reply.

As I wrote in my previous post, it shocks me that nowadays people feel that Google is an enormous website full of free information and photographs which appear out of nowhere and don’t actually belong to anyone. Or that copyright does not apply to anything on the internet.

Yes I use Google images myself. I use it when translating technical terms, to make sure the words I have translated from and to mean the same thing. For photos I use on my blog, I check the source of each image. I avoid blogs and private sites and generally use stock images from online stores, where I can link to the item for sale under the photograph. Sometimes many sites use the same image, in which case I try to track back to see if it is free. 95% of my photographs I take myself.

If I really want to use a photograph from Google Images and it is from a private blog or site, I write and ask the photographer if I may use it in an article. I explain who I am and what my article will be about. I have never once had anyone say no. I credit them and link back to their site if they would like that. Otherwise if I use stock photos from a small retailer, I send them a link to the article and they usually use it on their ‘in the press’ or ‘testimonials’ section. If you are respectful and polite people are usually the same back to you.

I generally don’t mind people using my images if they ask first, and link and credit me. I like to know in which context it is being used. But I would NEVER agree for an eBay sale. What the person above is doing is selling MY Filofax, not theirs. And that is illegal and fraudulent. The buyer will not be getting the item represented in the photographs. Because said item is sitting safely on my shelf.

Hey ho hey ho, it’s off to watermark I go….

UPDATE: After my messages were ignored, I asked one of my German blog readers to contact her and I have now received a reply, part of which read ‘I just found them on google pics and did´t know that this is from your blog. I didn´t know that you will have a problem with it, which it isn´t in my opinion.’

This is happening too often to too many people to let it go. Yes it is actually a problem if the person who owns the copyright on the pictures you are illegally using does not want them to be falsely used to sell a totally different item to an unsuspecting buyer.

The nicest part is I have blog readers who recognise my photographs (or my windowsill or my desk!). Always good to take all your photographs in the same place then!

Thank you lovely readers!

The photos have NOT been taken down but a third STOCK picture of a Cinnamon Siena has appeared, despite the fact that the seller is selling an Espresso. I have now reported it to eBay.com

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Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

14 thoughts

  1. Aargh!!! Some people just have no idea do they – absolutely ridiculous. Even worse that it wasn’t even the same size or colour as the one that she is allegedly selling…

  2. Very early on reading through internet articles, I noticed that lots of images have watermarks on. So for ALL the images I put on the internet I add ‘(copyright symbol,blogname)’ Not sure how easy it would be for people to remove the watermark, but I’m guessing people who are trying to lift images for their own purposes are more likely to target images without watermarks than with them.

    You can add watermarks using standard photo editing packages that support layers, by choosing a paler colour for your chosen text and altering the transparency of the text layer, if you haven’t any other way to do it.

    I recently joined Pinterest and was amazed at how many of my images were already pinned on there by other people. I had no idea my pictures had been pinned, but with hindsight I’m glad I put watermarks on all my images as at least people will know they are mine. It seems to be a sad fact that putting images of anything online, that some people will consider any image ‘fair game’ for their own uses, without considering the original artist who created the image.

    Its not right and in a lot of cases breaches image copyright laws in more than one country. But since so many people seem to think its ok to rip off the images of others, all we can do in a small way to protect what we create, is to put some kind of identifying signature on the image.

    Hope that will be helpful for anyone else posting online and not wishing others to take credit for their work.

    Best wishes


      1. You are most welcome 🙂 You might be interested in having a look at Julie Prichard’s article called Artists for respect. https://julie-prichard.squarespace.com/artists-for-respect/ It has some interesting points about copyright on there.

        Copyright is a real can of worms, its just a shame that people don’t have the manners to simply ask if its ok to use the photo another person has created. Often the original artist is flattered that someone is enjoying their art, but its important to respect the original artist and ask first and credit the original creator with links back and acknowledging who was the creator of the image.

        Just good manners really eh.

        Best wishes


  3. I don’t really understand why people steal pictures from the internet to sell something they have – is it so hard to take a camera or even a mobile phone and take a picture of the real thing?

    By the way, I checked seller’s new listing and unless the seller “borrowed” somewhere else (or really weird lighting?), the Espresso Siena doesn’t really look like Espresso.

  4. They took down your photos. Reading the response to your complaint, I got so angry. Same with the philofaxy last month. Why on earth do these people think that their opinion is of any relevance? They are using other’s property willynilly and then find it appropriate to be offensive rather than just say sorry&thank you… sorry for rammbling, I am just really annoyed.

    1. I think what makes it the most annoying is that, as a buyer, I always look at the photographs very closely. This was not even close to the way the item actually looked.

      1. Janet, that’s what’s even more shocking: The seller not only steals photos, he or she is lying about the true item that is sold. Even if the seller would have had your permission to use your photograph, this item has absolutely nothing to do with the photograph. There seem to be no respect at all for those folks the seller is actually trading with.

  5. I just looked on the German ebay site and this is the translation:

    this offer was ended by the seller because it contained an error
    “dieses angebot wurde vom verkäufer beendet, da es einen fehler enthielt” from German
    Google Translate

    Hope they got the message that what they did was wrong.

  6. Yikes! Some people have no respect for other people’s property! Yes, there are images of yours on Google. I know, because I have seen them there. Google is very much in our pockets which I don’t like. I would never use anyone else’s photos to sell something of mine as it is not mine (the item in the said photo). I had googled Campomaggi a couple of weeks ago at most as I was curious to see their website. I have an ancient bag which has a little bit of interwoven strips but nothing at all like your Campomaggi. However, the difference was that I was just looking and not using it for anything at all. Do I want one – you had better believe it LOL Getting back to the E-bay mess – that is wrong. I have only used e-bay once re a knitting book but was way outbid and stopped. It makes me wonder who and how far you can trust e-bay listings. What a sad commentary on today’s world. I will keep my eyes open also and if I see anything of yours, I will let you know. A great trick (whispered – would be a cat paw). I love the cat paw on the right of your blog masthead! Hope the day got better.

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