City View was the first image I searched for and was shocked to see a local venue using this image in its advertising. I entertained the idea of “lawyering up” after continuing my search, finding it used a few more times.
The next image I searched for was Philadelphia 471, and this one is clearly an iconic image- celebrated by collectors, critics, and art writers all over the web. I love that this image has moved so many people, and then I started to see it used on websites that offer applied arts services. Imagine my shock. Fellow creatives, stealing artwork.
Back to City View, and the catalyst for this article. A vendor on AMAZON was selling copies of my image printed on canvas. Amazon responded by taking down the item but when questioned about damages and reimbursement for any sales, I was met with the same automated email, “Thank you for reporting copyright infringement.”
Long story, short. I was led to believe, over 10 years ago, if you take a photo, it is yours without the need for copyright forms or applications. This is true, but if you want to be rewarded financially for the theft of your work, you must have it legally copyrighted through the US Copyright Office.
I began applying right away and had to dip into my work fund to pay hundreds for the processing. The Ben Franklin Bridge portfolio is taking the longest to be copyrighted.
Google has taken steps to reduce this burden on artists by adding a query option to exclude images that are not in the public domain. At this time, I can see no errors with my work being included incorrectly, so that’s a start. Thank you Google.
I sent out invoices to the other offenders and was ignored by all, except one. A sincere apology, an explanation, and praise for my work accompanied a check made for the amount invoiced. Why can all people be like that?