How would you handle being ripped off?

[caption id="attachment_14847" align="aligncenter" width="711"] Copycat Image For Sale $5000 on Left                                                                             Original Photo On Right[/caption] Copyright infringement in some form or another is a constant issue photographers struggle with, whether its having work copied by other photographers, or people blatantly claiming your work as their own. I often get requests from people who wish to create artwork directly from my photos, and I never know how to respond. The other day I received an email from a man interested in creating a painting from the image shown above. Curious to see who exactly this artist was (and his artwork) I entered his name into a google search. Turns out this artist who was asking for my "permission" had already gone ahead and painted the portrait- over  4 months ago!  To top it off he also had listed the image for sale, asking for $5000 and not a single credit or mention was given to me! Have you ever dealt with a similar situation- How would you handle it?  


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  1. I was asked by someone on Facebook if she could use one of my photos for her digital art. Everything checked out and I sent her a high-res file. Once the work was done, she sent me a copy for approval before posting and then included full credit to me for the photo.
    I was happy with the whole process, but I can understand your frustration. I wouldn’t want to get lawyers involved yet – the only real winners in a lawsuit are the lawyers. I would email this artist and ask him to remove the image, or the next communication will be from your legal team. If he refuses or makes any comment about that image selling, you have to go to court.

    • It’s nice to hear that there are still being who have integrity and ask permission prior to posting or creating work. I doubt I will peruse legal action-but still Frustrating!

  2. Brett

    That is hard. I know many like Trey allow people to use their photos for personal use. He is trying to make money off of your hard work and talent. I would tell him NO, ask him not to sell the painting unless he is willing to meet you demands as in compensation. Can’t be nice to a thief.

  3. Scooter Grubb

    I protect my work for the benefit of ALL of us. I have had artists paint a couple of my images and I sent them a letter outlining my release conditions. One agreed and handled it professionally and one got nasty and told me that my work wasn’t that good … curious that he wanted to use it.
    Individually we must protect our work for the benefit of all of us.

    • I completely agree, it’s so very important to protect our work, in addition to the individuals in them!

  4. Carl Hensley

    To the layman (me) this is about as blatant a copyright infringement as I’ve ever seen. The “artist”‘s “derivative work” would hardly bring 5 cents let alone $5K. That aside, I think you should send the message to this person and all of those reading this post, if prior written permission is not obtained legal action will be taken. If you belong to a professional organization that offers legal services then you could avoid any personal financial liability in pursuing action.

    On an upnote, I love your work and your impact on the photographic community. :)

    • Thank you for your kind words and support Carl!

  5. You can ask the artist to remove the painting for sale or ask for a percentage of the sale and credit for the image.
    Isn’t he also violating the privacy rights of child in the photograph? My understanding would be that model release forms have to be agreed upon when photographing people or minors and using them for commercial reasons goes beyond the original agreement.

  6. ps. you can also contact absolute arts and ask them to remove the image because it violates your copyright.