I never thought one day it would come to this but it did the past weekend.
I was informed by a soap group on FaceBook that one of my soap photos I published on my blog in July, 2011 had been digitally 'stolen'. It had been watermarked with someone else business name and being used on Etsy to promote and sell her own products.
I had been resisting to recognize the need to watermark my works to protect my intellectual property. Watermarking to me is compromising the integrity of my soap photos and very distracting in my opinion. All I want is to provide a simple undisturbed little spot online where I can share my interest and passion without drama, without advertisement, just a good read with eye candies. I had been acting like an ostrich hiding it's head in the sand thinking if I can't see it, must not happen to me. But guess what, it finally found its way to kick me on my butt!
Look at this photo she took from my blog post Happy Birthday Honey:
And she dare put her watermark on my photo?!
I was disturbed and shocked more than angry. The funny thing is the photo she stole from me wasn't even the finish product, but a progress photo only. My solution? I wrote a brief Etsy message to the shop owner that it is my soap photo she stole. Just because you download it from the web and put your watermark on it doesn't make it yours. And if you don't take it down ASAP I will proceed to report you through the Etsy proper channel. Oh yeah, no hi, no hello how are you, no my name is blah blah blah... just simple and straight to the point.
I have no problem showing you how to make certain style of soap, but don't take my work, make your own! Where is your artist dignity?! Or do you have any?
Sure enough she replied in no time claiming that she MADE the soap and it's HER PHOTO and she's not backing down. And further trying to explain to me that maybe our kitchens have very similar decorating style and materials, and also maybe we have very similar taste in photographing soap. REALLY?! That's the excuse you are giving me?! Is that the best you can do?! Oh she even tried to tell me how she made that soap cake (my soap cake) step by step. Well, except her story does not hold up, not even matching the photo. So I wrote her back and told her I still have the exact equipment I used to make the soap cakes and I have proof that I published my blog post last July.
Oh yeah, she took it down alright, together with the other cupcake soap photos she stole from some other soapers. And her last struggle was writing me another 2 LONG messages about she was doing this for good measure because she had absolutely no idea why there's a mix up. She said she makes bakery soap but she's old and not good with online social networking, and that her nephew was the one taking the photos and posting them on Etsy and FaceBook for her. She also said she will get down to the bottom of this mess by talking to her nephew and MAKE THINGS RIGHT AGAIN. I don't know what disturbed me more, the fact that she's such a great writer and smooth talker (she almost made me feel bad that I was accusing her for stealing my photo), or that on the last message she was using her religion to duck out! (She told me she's a true Christian and she's not allowed to lie and cheat... etc.)
The conclusion is, from now on I have no choice but to put watermark on every single photo ever going public on the web! And this watermark has to be right at a spot on the photo where it cannot be cropped out without damaging the focal point. I will do my best to put it in a way that would make the least impact on the photo composition and integrity. This means it will take more time for me to publish each post, I'm not liking it, I would rather spend time creating than protecting. But you do what you have to do to make it work!
The question is, which one do you like? Logo or name spelled out straight?