Dealing with the inevitable

If you put your photos where they can be viewed publicly, inevitably someone will do something with them that you probably don’t approve of. The internet makes this easier than ever. You could hunt down and sue every infringer but frankly I think it’s probably better to pick your battles. Case in point: I was alerted this morning to the use of one of my photographs in a contest at a site called, ironically, Here’s the contest entry:

Contest entry

And here is my original photograph:

Road to heaven
Road to Heaven
(Click to enlarge)

I’d critique the artistic direction the contester took my photo in but I think it speaks volumes for itself. The sad individual who used my photo for this contest will gain nothing from it but a bad reputation. Honestly, rather than be upset, I’m actually embarrassed for and the person who created this contest entry. (And a little perplexed that would open themselves up to such a potentially large liability.)

One of the most interesting comments on the contest entry was from the artist himself responding to criticism from another member of the site about the source of the background photo. He wrote, “Who is going to find out?”

Some may look at this as another example of why they don’t publish their photos on the internet. Let me propose an alternative view: these same shenanigans happen to your photos no matter where you put them. But on the internet, I found out about it within hours of the modified version going online.

How do you deal with this sort of thing? And does your response vary depending on the use and who the abuser is? I’m not looking for advice. I’m just curious how you feel about the issue. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Update: As of this morning, the contester has changed his entry, but not out of any sense of wrongdoing or newfound ethics. He writes, “Well if you all give this entry low ratings because it’s copyrighted I might as well delete this one cause that wouldn’t make any sense.” Don’t be too hard on him though, I have a feeling he’s just a kid. It’s our duty to educate children, not attack them.


By John Watson

John is the original founder of Photodoto, but after running it for 4 years he had to focus on different things. If you're interested in what John has been up to recently, you can check is personal blog or browse his photo blog.