Tuesday, January 30, 2007


When people hear this word they are most likely to think of a disease, cancer, HIV, etc... but that's not what I want to share today. Although this is my personal blog I try and keep a good mix of scrapbook related entries. Today I want to bring awareness to something I feel strongly about. Something that is going on in the industry that most people are completely unaware of, and if you have ever had your work published, or used by a manufacturer then you may be a victim and not even know it. Now some of you may instantly think "so what." But put yourself in my shoes. How would you feel? When you have finished reading all this, please share it. I truly feel that everyone, designers, manufacturers and especially retail stores, big and small need to know what is going on and together we can put a stop to it! If you feel the need to comment then please do so.

Here's what happened:

Last week while posting some sneak peeks on 2peas I received an email from someone out of state saying she saw my work at a local store. She recognized my wedding photo. I wrote her back and said she must be mistaken, I have never done work for that store. So being the sweet gal she is, she took a picture and emailed it to me. There we were, staring right back at me, Jeff and I on our wedding day and a mini album that I in fact did Not make!

My first response was anger. Then came shock and disbelief. Who would have the gull to steal out wedding photo and use it on a project. And yes "STEAL" is exactly what this is.

So I called the store in question, which as I already said is out of state. I will try and make a long story short so here is a gist of what was said. Turns out that this store creates ALL their sample display layouts and projects using the photo's off of other peoples projects. Where do they get these photo's? Old scrapbook magazines, manufacture catalogs and manufactures sample layouts. They simply cut the photo's out and reuse them. I was completely dumb founded! This lady claimed she had no idea that what she was doing was against the copyright laws. In regards to my photo she said she removed it while I was on the phone with her.

The next day I called back to speak with the manager. He told me that it must be a California law. No, copyright laws are not state by state. So instead of my typing out our whole conversations I'm going to share some of their responses and what I had to explain to them. (Repeatedly mind you.)

"But we are sent these layouts by the manufactures, they are using your photo's so we should be able to use them also." Answer: No. When a designer creates a project for a manufacture there is either a verbal or written contract that goes along with it. This contract states that you not only have permission to use the photo, but you are giving that company the right to use that photo and project how they deem fit. This includes advertisements, catalogs, trade shows, etc... Once that photo is cut out and used by a third party, they are then using it illegally UNLESS and here is the key word, they have PERMISSION to do so. Who do you get permission from? The owner of the photo. Not the manufacturer.

"It was published in a magazine that we purchased." Answer : Yes it was, and like manufacturers you sign a release for those photo's. People cut photo's out of magazines all the time. Here's what you need to know. If you decided to cut out my wedding photo and use it on one of your personal projects, besides being creepy, it is perfectly fine. Once you place that project in a retail environment for the purpose of marketing a product and gaining sales, it's a whole new ball game. This is then considered "Commercial" use and thus requires permission for the use of that photo. Imagine cutting out the photo's from a children's book and using them in the children's book you are writing, how well do you think that will go over?

"What I don't get is why anyone would be upset to see their photo being used, these are beautiful photo's, they should be thrilled" Answer: Aaaawwww. I just loved this one. My response to this was simple but two parted. #1. Most people would be thrilled, IF they were asked. But to walk into a store and see your wedding photo, or better yet your 3 year olds smiling face on a project you knew nothing about is in fact disturbing. You can't help but feel a little violated. Like myself, it was the initial shock factor that made me so upset. #2. Personally, I have worked my butt off the past few years to build a reputation in this industry. By no means am I "known" or a "scrapbook celebrity" but to my amazement and honor, people do recognize my work and my face. Case in point, the person whom informed me was someone I met who took one of my classes a few years ago. I then had the pleasure of spending some time with her at a CKU last summer, thus she knew who was in the photo! I don't care how great or how crappy a project is, to have it assumed as being one of mine effects my reputation and personally I want to be the only one who has the chance to build or screw up my reputation..Haha!

"We use these photo's because they are so great." Answer: Well duh! I can't speak for anyone else here but I am proud of my photography. In fact the companies I have worked for have also been impressed with the photo's I use, stating it's one of the best features of my layouts. In this industry, photo's sell! Just another reason to anger me when they are used without permission!

"The manufacturers should state that we cannot reuse these photo's when they send them to us." Answer: This statement was just so stupid. This is not the manufactures responsibility. It should be a no brainer on your part. This is about as dumb as saying that gas pumps should have signs stating "Gas is for vehicle and small engine use and should not be used to make a bomb or start a house fire." Or maybe every retail item in every store should have a tag in plain site that states "Do not place this item in your pocket or bag and leave the store without paying. Cash registers are located at the front."

Are people really that dumb? Don't answer that.

Here's the delio people. There were may more questions and answers but you get the idea and point I am trying to make. I told this store that I would keep them, their location and the persons involved confidential. They agreed to change out all the projects with photo's they did not have permission to use. I believe they are blowing smoke out their ...well anyway I'm not in that state so I cannot double check their claim to do so. But I did inform the manager that all it would take is one person to take pictures of all their projects and post on a board like 2peas asking if any of the photo's belong to them. You can bet that someone, knows someone, who knows someone in those photo's! I then told him I would not want to be in his shoes if they decided to get together for one large law suit.

To recap, for those who may be a wee bit slower than most. It breaks copyright laws to take a photo from it's intended use and reuse it on an item intended for marketing purposes. Once again, you CANNOT remove a photo from a layout, magazine, catalog etc.. and reuse it on a project that is intended to be used for marketing purposes. Marketing purposes include store displays, store advertisements, creating projects for manufactures (yes even designers have been known to steal photos) or even on layouts you intend on submitting. It is against the law. If you have any doubts do a search on copyright laws and read the section entitle "Commercial."

If you suspect that a local store may be doing this then please inform them. If you do not feel comfortable approaching them with this information then ask someone else to do it. If you think you know who a photo belongs to and are pretty sure they didn't create that project then let that person know. My intent isn't to cause panic and chaos, it's to bring awareness. This was a large chain store that for all I know could be doing this nation wide and it's wrong.

This post is about knowledge. I gave this store the benefit of the doubt they they were ignorant to what they were doing. Now they know, no more excuses. I even informed them that stock photo's are readily available.

Please pass this information on!


laura kate said...

this is just creepy! who DOES that!?

that's like someone saying that just because they bought a print of a ansel adams photo that they could trim it down, scrap it up, and pass it off as their nature pic...no.

i *can* believe that a not-so-bright person might do this. but a store owner?!?!

boggles the mind.

Jules said...

This happens to designers all the time! It is more common than not. I taught at conventions and use to find my kits on line for sale w/other people's names listed as designers!

Laura said...

wow, so sorry this happened to you, and YES it is TOTALLY creepy and I am glad you shared your story. Us Peas have to stick together!!!

Anonymous said...

HOLY CANNOLIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a very crappy thing for anyone to do!!!

scrapoflife said...

Uck! Just plain wierd, and incredibly naive on their part. For your (and their) information, copyrights are stated at the beginning of each publication. Look in the front of your CK mag. Point that page out to them.

I would also inform your photographer, and have him/her give them a call to inform them they are in violation of copyright laws, and let the photographer decide whether or not to pursue it legally. Sounds like these people are making a practice of stealing photos.


Gwyn said...

I remember reading about your saga as it unfolded last week at 2p and it still amazes me at the lack of knowledge regarding copyright. To be honest, I think the internet plays into a lot of this thought process, in that there can be the mindset that "if something is online, it's okay to 'borrow.'" Thank you for bringing this to the attention of us.

BuckeySandy said...

Unbelievable!!! Does the photographer know about this???
Have you told the folks that you originally did work for about this store's habits???

Zee said...

I told the store about the magazine copyrights. I was going to add it to this post and grabbed CK but could not find it, truthfully I didn't have time to read every page either in looking for it. But the store was informed. I will add that this is not a LSS but a large chain craft store, so don't think this is happening in just LSS.

I have tried contacting the company I worked for and hence whom they stole the photo's from but with CHA this week I have not heard back.

I had no intent of pursuing legal action with this incident and told the store I was in touch with the photographer and his lawyer. This wasn't really true as my goal was to inform them of the laws and take down my photo. I was going with the scare tactic..haha. With that said and knowing they used my photo from a manufactures laser copied layout, I cannot help but wonder how many of my photo's may have been used as I completed many LO's that went on to be in the manufactures hot picks layouts for retail display.

If I find out within the next month that they have not replaced the photo's I will have someone take pictures and I will post them publicly. If my photo's are amongst them I will look into taking legal action and hope that others will do the same. I believe one warning is enough.

phamil said...

OMG, Danea!!! I can't believe that! Thanks so much for letting us know about it. Makes me want to go to my local stores and check out the samples to see if I know anyone!!!! Thanks for the info, and I'm so sorry that you're having to deal with this!

Laura0711 said...

I had a designer use a scan of part of one of my pages in a scrapbook page they said they made - in an article they wrote on a well known scrapbooking website. I was so shocked. And to think, I don't even think they fired this person after I proved my case... It's pretty scary what people can do with our stuff once we share it publicly.

Anonymous said...

On a slightly different tack...
please - when you're talking about pictures PLURAL - it's "photos" - no apostrophe!
If you're talking about the quality of a particular photo, as in "this photo's my favorite" - then it's apostrophe s (short for 'is').

Zee said...

Is that seriously all you have add to this? If you have a problem with my spelling that you feel the need to correct then contact me directly, I don't need to be publicly corrected. And at least have the courtesy of adding your name if you are going to do so. Gee, I just love these people who feel so powerful when hiding behind anonymity. If you follow my blog, the last thing I claim to be good at is spelling and grammar. Get over it, I have. Ha!

My hormonal response at this time... Bite Me.

DH said...

There always seems to be a jacka'ss in the crowd.

Zee said...

please - if you are going to make a comment towards one of the posters on my blog, you need to know that there is NO apostrophe in jackass! As in "There always seems to be a jackass in the crowd."


erin yamabe said...

this is unbelievable...seriously they need a BIG dose of reality and glad to hear you spoke your mind and hopefully got them to UNDERSTAND what they did was beyond wrong! i've not had that happen with any of my published stuff, but have had a few projects literally stolen from the lss i taught at! and that shocked the .... outta me. who would take my personal work and photos???

Yer Daddy said...

now what tha heck has Jack's ass got to do with anything?
I would like to see your face and Jeff's face at my house sometime soon.
Give'm hell girl.
ooOO(what the hey is an apostrophe doing in there?)

Anonymous said...

i a'm s'o prou'd o'f yo'u fo'r standin'g u'p fo'r yourself an'd othe'r scrapbooker's. an'd i lov'e th'e wa'y yo'u tal'k t'o tha't gir'l.


Anonymous said...

gosh, that is just plain creepy, aside from the fact that it's illegal! And to think that they think it's ok to do that! some people....

Susan Wright said...

I for one will make sure all my groups, clubs and forums come and read your entry today. We need more supervision and policing in this industry. It is growing by leaps and bounds.
I recommend calling the corporate office. You can be sure this store manager is not going to tell them. I worked for Barnes and Noble for 10 years and trust me. They will want to know if a potential law suit is brewing.
Good luck sweetie and keep us posted. Sue

Latharia said...

Thanks for spreading the word. I'm stunned.

Jessie said...

people who use other people's things without asking suck. i am sorry this happened to you!

NancyJones said...

I agree with you whole heartedly. I also would like to add.. That it should be illegal for them to take your projects and post them up in a store or a magazine WITHOUT your consent as well. I have had this happen recently and I AM NOT THRILLED AT ALL. ESPECIALLY since I was not aware my projects were printed off a website and used on their wall!

Sandie said...

Oh wow! I can't stand sucky people like that. Being naive is one thing.. but that's stealing. And you can't blame naivete on stealing. It just doesn't cut it. I'm sorry this happened to you, and they're lucky you didn't post their name from the start!!! Many ... probably including me.. would have. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

christina said...

omg well this is just plain rediculous not to mention CREEPY. I will be letting every forum. group and what have you know about this and will copy and paste your post ver batem so that there is no confusion into what happened. THIS JUST CREEPS ME OUT.

donnacr said...

Danea , I am sorry this has happened to you and Jeff . And i have to agree , it is just down right creepy and annoying ! How can people even think they can use somebody elses photo or layout without that person's permission ...and really why would you want too ! Sheesh , give me a breaK ....as for the Jack Ass maybe he/she could just get a LIFE and go SPAM somewhere else !