September 1, 2007

You know you’ve arrived when …
other photographers start ripping off your images and text from your website

Someone let me know that when googling my name, there is a link that comes up with another photographer’s website.  So I checked it, and sure enough – there it is with some of my images, and a copy of the original HTML-based design of my website, One Perfect Moment, as it appeared at the time. My entire website ripped off!

Here’s the screenshot of the Google search …

I then followed the trail to this photographer’s other website.  And it is all duplicated there as well – the entire website, and some of my images.

That’s the screengrab of the one page, with an image from a wedding I photographed last year.

Here’s the photo as I had it on my blog post at the time.

.
Even better, the bio section on her website, sounds strangely familiar. A real sense of Deja Vu.
(I blurred the non-relevant text.)

.
And here is another image that was ripped off from my website :
(I blurred the non-relevant text.)

This image too is from a wedding I photographed last year, and here is the original photo.

.
Mandy Austin Photography – imitation (not plagiarism) is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery.

And even if your website designer ripped off my website’s design wholesale, you have a certain measure of complicity for appropriating images and text for your bio that are not your own.  It is unethical to misrepresent yourself like that to clients, nevermind the plagiarism.

.
edited to add:

Shalyn from Florida Website Design who seems to be mostly responsible for
the rip-off / wholesale mis-appropriation of my website, has now contacted me.

So for anyone who has been following this debacle from the various photography forums that I posted this on, please check the Comments here for further updates.  And thank you for all the support I’ve been getting here and via emails and private messages.

 

 

help support this website

1 Prevost September 1, 2007 at 3:03 am

I think that I shall never see,
A person I pity more than she.
Instead of developing talent for real,
She prefers a shortcut—steal from Neil.

There is no excuse for acting like a jerk,
She owes an apology to Mr. Niekerk.

2 Neil September 2, 2007 at 6:26 am

update 02:

Before I even get to the email that Shalyn from Florida Website Design sent to me, I must report that I have just been flooded with email subscriptions to various email lists.
Strange co-incidence.

Here’s a link to a screengrab of what my inbox looked like briefly before I upped my Spam filter. *shrug*

3 Neil September 2, 2007 at 6:28 am

update 01:

This morning (Sat) I managed to speak to Mandy Austin, and later on the morning Shalyn from Florida Website Design left a message on my phone. Both conversations were interesting to hear how much back-tracking both of them were doing.

And then I received an email this evening (Sat) from Shalyn. A long one. Full of bluster and lies and contradiction. I’m going to respond to parts of it here, out in the open:

.

“My name is Shalyn and I am from Florida Website Design, the company that is currently building the site MandyAustin.com. Our current client Mandy, informed me that you have given her a call this afternoon in regards to website infrignement and fraud.”

I’m not sure where the claims of fraud came in, but I did tell Mandy that it is unethical and misleading to clients to promote yourself on work that isn’t yours.
She insisted that many photographers use stock images. A statement which sadly is true, but .. still remains unethical.

.

“I would like to ask you to address all matters in regards to MandyAustin.com website design to us. We are responsible for all the contents and images that is on the site. Mandy has no responsibility / concern in regards to this design. The site is still under construction and have not been fully launched. With this, I would like to kindly ask you to absolve Mandy Austin’s name from any false accusations especially from your online blog that I personally saw on your site. I believe we can handle this professionally and not have to be all over the public eyes.”

Hmmm. Sorry. No such luck.

btw .. there are no “false accusations” from my side.
I have the screenshots of the website, and Google also points to your website if you search for my name.

This means “your” website at some point contained my name and my business name.
There’s nothing false in my statements about this.

.

“For the record, we did not intent to copy your website at all. We have never seen your site before or recall seeing related links from your site. There are many websites out there on the web and many resources where us designers can grab our information.”

This comment from Shalyn made me laugh.
Well, not actually laugh. More a Bruce Willis-like smirk.

Shalyn, if you didn’t copy my website, how on earth did MY images get onto the website? Those images were appropriated along with the entire website design. Those images didn’t magically appear cropped and positioned … on the exact pages that I had them. They were snagged from MY website. Along WITH my website.

.

“Please keep in mind that color and website layout cannot be copyrighted. We have submitted many copyright files from the copyright office and knows the rules and regulations. Mandy Austin’s site was a template from an available online source. Most of our sites have been baselined from a built website template that you can use as an open source code or you can purchase for a copy. If you visit one of our sources, you will notice thousands of website templates, http://www.template monster.com. Your previous website designer might have used the same / similar website template to build your current site. “

They built and changed the website according to MY requests through numerous emails over a period of weeks. No templatemonster there. Sorry.

.

“As for the photos on the site, the gallery photos was provided by Mandy and the side bar photos was taken at free photo online sources such as …. and so much more.”

Shalyn listed a number of websites there which I snipped from the quote there. Anyway, Shalyn. The sidebar photos were NOT from “free online resources”.

Once again. They were ripped off from my website, along WITH my website. And as I said before – they didn’t magically appear correctly cropped and edited ON THE SAME PAGES AS MY WEBSITE .. by accident. No fluke. No random chance.

.

“Again, we have no intensions to persnally copy your website. I have personally built over 100 websites over the years and I have seen many similar sites all over the web. I am sorry if I have given you the impression that we are trying to steal / copy your contents, this is not the case at all. Please see MandyAustin.com once again and let me know personally any information that violed the rules of copyright infringement against your website.”

But you did copy my website. I’ve clearly shown it. There are the screenshots. It is that simple.

No amount of sidestepping and bluffing, and wriggling is going to get you away from the obvious. Everyone else can see it. :)

4 Neil September 2, 2007 at 7:02 am

update 03:

Oh this gets even better!

Here is another screengrab.

Note the text where it says: “Thomas Nance will be your photographer.”

Mandy, exactly who is Thomas Nance ? Another photographer whose website got ripped off ? hmmm … we’ll follow this up and see where it leads. :)

5 Thomas Nance September 2, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Thanks for the heads up Neil. Yea much of the text used for Mandy Austin’s web site is word for word what I wrote for my site. And it is comical that they left my name “Thomas Nance” in the text that is still showing up on Mandy’s site! Brilliant. About as brilliant as the rest of this web-jacking story.

I will call you to further discuss information and details. I have been a member of the PPA for years, I plan to call their legal department on Tuesday.

Mandy Austin needs to get over to “Florida Website Design” and shoot some head shots for the staff. Those on their bios page are terrible. http://www.flsites.com/aboutus.htm

…….Or since they seem to like your work so well Neil, they should hire you to shoot their head shots!

Thomas Nance
http://www.nptimaging.com

6 Neil September 25, 2007 at 4:40 am

Here is my final and official response to this situation.

The facts of the situation are this:

I found Mandy’s site via a Google search on my name where her URLwas indexed with my full name and business name on it (Neil van Niekerk / One Perfect Moment) .
Images of my clients taken by me, to which I hold the copyright, and for which I have the original RAW files were being used on her website.

Text that I wrote was taken from my bio page and was being used on her website.
(screen shots of the above three items are available with this blog entry.
At least one other photographer found text from his site on Mandy’s site. (There is a screenshot of this too.)

When I contacted Mandy directly, she refused to discuss the matter with me, going so far as to hang up on me.

Shalyn from Florida Website Design emailed me and claimed the following:
“Mandy Austin’s site was a template from an available online source.”

“… the gallery photos was provided by Mandy and the side bar photos was taken at free photo online sources.”

Neither claims are true. Neither Shalyn nor Mandy can provide me with a link to the template sites or royalty free sites where they claim to have found my site and my images for “free”.

Mandy has since posted on at least one online forum claiming that I am “defaming” her and that I attempted to email her boss and get her fired (I didn’t know she had a day job) and that I am persecuting her because she is young and female.

I have no intention of pursuing the infringement further since the site has since been taken down, but I will continue to defend my copyright for both my website and my images every time Mandy chooses to bring the topic up and claim to be a victim here.

At this point I will be happy to discuss this situation with Mandy or her web designer privately if they choose to or I will be happy to discuss it with their laywers, if they chose to pursue it that way.

I will not debate this further on online forums where people who don’t have full knowledge of the situation or a clear understanding of copyright, yet are voicing uninformed opinions on the topic.

7 Neil vN September 26, 2007 at 12:30 am

what the duck

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: