Thursday, March 31, 2016

When your own images are not your own images...

My CoffeeShop "ad" seen here is supposedly guilty of a crime. Yes, please let me explain. UPDATES ON BOTTOM OF POST! Still not resolved...

One of the risks of running your own photo website like The CoffeeShop Blog is using an image that you don't own the rights to and might have been stolen. In the beginning I always used my own images in my tutorials and before/afters so (I assumed) I would always be safe. But sometimes I get bored of just using my own personal photos so I will use images from photographer friends (with their permission) or from Pixabay.

Pixabay is a royalty-free site, thus the images they post can be used in any way you like. However, if I am using a portrait where the face is clear I message the person who posted the image to make sure they own the rights of that image and that they don't mind me using it on my blog. It never hurts to be too careful.

I don't know how well Pixabay can vet images before posting them for download. But I know some of the photographers who post up there regularly (like Jill Wellington) and I think Pixabay is an honest company and excellent resource. However, I know nothing is 100%. Heck, the Feds were able to hack an iPhone...

So today I received an email from Mediafire (one of the sites where I host my freebies) saying that a French company's lawyer notified them that I was posting an image copyrighted by them on the CoffeeShop Blue Velvet Luxe page and action download. I never click on email links so I went and logged into my Mediafire account and a pop-up came up with the same information.

In this email and pop-up, Mediafire stated it has suspended that specific download until this is resolved (I have 24 hours). Plus the lawyer's notice in the Mediafire email/pop-up stated that that if I don't take down the image(s) right away I will liable under French law for infringement!  Which I interpreted as "If I don't take the image in question down this instant I will be sued for millions of dollars and thrown in a French prison where they will make me drink the cheapest French merlot (which is probably miles better than the stuff I drink now)".

I completely freaked out and went into full-panic mode. I am one of those people who tries to do everything by the book, all of the time. I am unfortunately a worrier and have a tendency to easily get anxious (even when I am blameless), so I try to avoid doing anything that could be wrong. It just isn't worth the stress.

My first thought (after my panic-attack) was I had used an image from Pixabay that hadn't been properly vetted by Pixabay. It was only a matter of time, right? I immediately went to the post to remove the image in question so I could hopefully avoid prison and be able to watch my boys grow up.



Wait, this is a image of my two sons in a local park, photographed by me on my phone camera.

Weird. It must be the other photo I posted. That must be the image that was copyrighted by that French company.




OK, stranger still. This one is an image of my niece and my son, taken at our local park by me using my camera.

Yeah, I think I own the rights of both of these images. I have to remove my own personal family images from my own personal blog or face the consequences? Even I shouldn't feel guilty about this one.

I have contacted Mediafire and will let you know how it goes. Before I click on any links to resolve this I want to make sure it isn't a scam or malware. I think I can prove that these two images are my own. ;-)

However, until this gets settled I will continue my mini-panic attack because that is how I roll. Even when I am 100% in the right.  I think I will go take a walk with my kids (the same ones seen in the images above that I supposedly am using illegally). It is much too early to have a glass of wine.

I am posting a new freebie later today so I will keep you updated!!! Have a great Thursday.

UPDATE: Monday, April 11th: I still have not heard anything back from MediaFire, but I just checked my account and the download is active. I am surprised (an honestly annoyed) they didn't notify me, but I am happy that everything is back to normal. 

Monday, April 4th: Still no word back from Mediafire.

Friday at 11:25AM: No word yet from Mediafire today about whether they have resolved this issue. I will keep you posted.   

Thursday at 3:24PM: I had written Mediafire through their website about the email I supposedly received from them, and Mediafire just sent me another email confirming that the email they sent earlier is real. The message I submitted through their site was pasted in it for proof. So I went and clicked on the link to fill out a counterclaim form explaining that the images are mine and I have the children at home to prove it (and the original unedited images of course). Hopefully I will hear back soon that all is cleared up and Mediafire will reinstate my link for the action. I will keep you posted!!!

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33 comments:

  1. Seems to me YOU might have cause for action against whoever claims it is THEIR photo LOL.

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    1. Thank you Belinda! I shouldn't even get worried about this, I did nothing wrong. But getting a notice from a lawyer freaked me out!

      And if they are that desperate to steal my family snapshots, that is just sad. ;-) Rita

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  2. You've done nothing wrong, probably someone trying to make some $$

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    1. Thank you Elizabeth! I know I am not in the wrong, but my crazy brain is still stressed thanks to that lawyer notice. So annoying! Rita

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  3. Oh wow... I totally feel you! I'm also a worrier and am no stranger to the panic mode. I hope everything gets resolved quickly! (You clearly did nothing wrong... I want to insist on that! ;)

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    1. Thank you Nathalie! That makes me feel better. I know I shouldn't do this to myself, but I have been this way since I was a child. I am feeling better already, but until I hear back from Mediafire and am able to make this right I will be in stress-mode. Crazy, right? Rita

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  4. Rosalie CoddingtonMarch 31, 2016 at 11:26 AM

    That is very strange....I think you should be careful...there are so many crazies out there with way too much time on their hands. All the phone calls saying they are from microsoft and need to get into your computer to "fix" a problem ( my friend's Mom fell for that one) it took forever to get her computer cleaned up again. I get you though...I would be stressed and worried too...just the way I roll.

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    1. I know, that is why I don't click on links unless I am 100% sure. But it is coming up as a pop-up when I go to my Mediafire account, so I am pretty sure it is real. However, I will wait until I get confirmation from them. At least I know that my image is my image!

      Crazy how we can get so upset, even when we know we didn't do anything wrong! I wish I could get rid of that part of my personality... :-)

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  5. Perhaps the French are upset by your use of "Luxe". That's a french word right? My money is on scam.

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    1. I was actually wondering (with my incredibly guilty mind) that maybe "Blue Velvet Luxe" was a copyrighted term. But the letter specifically said image/video. And Luxe is such a common word, you see it everywhere. But I know that doesn't mean anything. Crazy!

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  6. Oh my! This has got to be the most stupid thing I've ever heard of! I would report this to the Better Business Bureau or something. This is crazy. I know this upset you though cause I too am by the RULES kinda gal but when I'm RIGHT I'm right. I was reported on FB once for posting a picture of obscenity. The picture was of one my grandgirls in a full bathing suit!!! Lordy! Well, for what it's worth I just prayed that God would intervene and solve this problem quickly! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

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    1. Oh no Cindy, your photo of your grand girl in a bathing suit was considered obscene??? I post topless photos of my boys in their bathing suits all of the time. Goodness, I guess people don't go to the lake or public swimming pools ever?

      And thank you so much for your kind words. It is my fault for getting so upset about something so minor, but I will be happy when I am proven innocent. I hate having these types of things hanging over my head. That is the good thing about trying to do your best to be moral, you don't have to feel guilty all of the time.

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  7. I smell a rat. But, what do they have to gain by you taking the photos down? Did you look up the lawyers? Weird. Wise to be cautious, but I seriously doubt you have anything to worry about. But a good educational moment for all.

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    1. I know, it doesn't make any sense. Maybe they are linking the wrong post and action? But if so, that is a big error on their part. Someone made a mistake and I am ready for it to be over. And you are right, it is always best to be very cautious. Rita

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  8. Oh my gosh, what a scary scary thing. I hope it's resolved soon. Good luck. xx

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    1. Thank you Johnna! I know in the big scheme of things it is no big deal, but I will be happy to get it resolved. I hate being persecuted for something I obviously didn't do! If they were concerned about a Pixabay photo I could understand, but my personal family photos? Crazy!!!

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  9. Oh my gosh. That is just the strangest thing to happen. And I agree - it certainly feels like someone is trying to pull a fast one. Given the care you take to cite your sources and check with owners, you are the last person this should happen to. Please let us know the outcome. We are all part of Team Rita!

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    1. Thank you Paula! It makes no sense because what would anyone gain from this? Did they link the wrong post and download? Very odd. I am still waiting to hear back from Mediafire.

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  10. Was the letter you received in the form of an e-mail, or paper letter? Law firms general handle official correspondence with paper letters, through to USPS. If you received a e-mail, I'm betting it's a scam.
    If any case, good luck! I'm praying everything works out. *Fingers crossed*

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    1. I am so sorry it is so confusing. I went back to my post and added more information. I received an email from Mediafire with the lawyer's comments. I did not click on that but logged into my Mediafire account and the same message came up as a pop-up with a link to fight the suspension. So I think it is real, but I am not clicking on anything until Mediafire confirms this is real. Things will work out because I didn't do anything wrong, but it is such a waste of my time to have to fight something so stupid!!!

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  11. This is just ridiculous. You don't own the rights to your own photos of your kids and niece?! Incredible. I too would have freaked out though when seeing that email. Like you I try to do everything right and would never intentionally use a resource that I wasn't allowed to.

    In your case though you haven't done anything wrong so that should lesson the panic a bit (hopefully) but I get where you are coming from. Good luck getting it resolved quickly.

    Lisa D.

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    1. Thank you so much Lisa! I am sure this will pass soon. Annoying but the cost of being out there on the internet I suppose. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  12. The world is such a Sad Place right now - for so many reasons. So many Scams going on, too. I encountered them in just trying to find a place locally to live the past few months! I do hope it's resolved and that you are exonerated! 8-] Your offerings have been Such a Help to me since I 'discovered' you this past year! Thank You -

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    1. I hope things get better for you Lynden! And thank you so much for your incredibly kind words. I think 99.9% of people I deal with are amazing, so I am not going to let this get me down.

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  13. You might want to start adding a copyright watermark to all of your own photos. I've seen some that are large and transparent, and others that are smaller but opaque. Place the watermark close to the main design element in the photo so it can't be cropped out by someone "lifting" the photo. It's a shame, but you have a right to pre-emptively defend your own work.

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    1. I have thought of that, but I always upload my images web-sized, so if anyone says they have the original they won't be able to prove it. I only have the full-sized versions.

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  14. This is terrible. I can't believe this has happened to you and I will be waiting to find out what happens next, These are YOUR pictures. It's scary to think we'll have to watermark all our pictures in the future. Good luck and I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed for a good result for you xx

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    1. It is so frustrating, but hopefully it will be resolved soon. Thank you so much!

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  15. Perhaps as "quidni" suggests you could add a watermark to the preview image on Mediafire but remove it for the digital download. It's awful when things like this happen and it does sound a bit suspicious. I think I would want to see a scan of the letter from the lawyer and check if it's a genuine lawyer. Even so It's easy for anyone to create a genuine-looking letterhead. Please keep up the good work, I love using your stuff.

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    1. I always upload my images very small, so no one would ever be able to use them for a stock image. So if anyone ever tells me they have the original, they would have to prove it with a full-size image. So luckily that makes it safe for me!!!

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  16. Dang, Rita! I must say I was laughing at your post because you wrote it so cleverly and good thing you can produce your own kids in court! I also must say...that photo of those little boys in the BIG tree is FAB!!! No wonder France wants to steal it for their own! Keep us posted.

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    1. Hee hee, thanks Jill! If it takes me flying to France and having some wine and cheese to prove those are my photos, so be it. ;-)

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  17. Just catching up on my email, and saw this posting. Loved your response to this, by the way. Most law firms have way better things to do than be bothered with something like this. My grand-father was a judge and my son works for a 'Yuge' ( Trump's word ... ;-) ) international corporate law firm. I asked him about this and he burst out laughing. My advice ??? Eat some fries, enjoy a Chocolate Eclair followed by a glass of Bordeaux wine ... all while thinking of the Statue of Liberty. Good things from France. This law firm probably has its headquarters in Nigeria and is owned by a prince who needs to send you some money ... right away. Good luck with this.

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