I have spent the past few hours dealing with a number of cases of people taking images of mine and placing them on their FaceBook pages. FaceBook is very quick to respond by removing the images, which I very much appreciate. Since this is an on-going problem I'm going to spell it out, this time with photos. Your ability to access my proofs of your competition is a privilege not a right. Me putting them on-line is a contract of trust that you will respect that there are my property, and that you have the ability to license a digital file or purchase a print from said proofs.
There are many photographers who make you pay for proofs, or for them to photograph you at all. I feel punishing the many for the actions of the few will affect my business.
And while we are on the subject of business let me spell this out for you. To cover two phases at the Plantation Field Horse Trials I have to hire a second photographer which mean I am out-of-pocket their day rate, travel and meals before the first horse enters the dressage ring. I shoot with at least two cameras and have four spares for remotes (how to you think I get those shots underneath the Weldon's Wall) and back up. Not to mention telephoto lenses that are fast enough to shoot in pouring rain (if you show jumped in the April 2011 horse trial I shot you), fog and impending thunder storms. And I do stay out there in the pouring rain, exposing my equipment, albeit under a $300 lens specific raincoat. And there is all the superfluous equipment, monopods, tripods, remotes, cables, computers, storage, etc.
And let me toot my own horn here. If you were running in any of the recognized events this year I also volunteered as a fence judge for a number of your fences too.
You all received an e-mail from me from the June event alerting you to your proofs. This note also informed you that 20% of my profits are going to the True Prospect Recovery Fund. So not only are you stealing from me, you are stealing from a donation to a charity!
The landing page of my proofing site spells out exactly what is allowed with proofs, and the penalty for stealing them.
The image we contract for will not bear the watermark that is on my proofs.
I hate that this watermark is so obliterating of the image. But it has developed over the years from a simple © in response to those who have stolen my work. And yet it continues. (Photographing your proof with your cell phone or screen shoting and/or cropping the image are still infringements.)
So let me spell out what happens when I catch you.
1. I screen shot your page(s) of images.
2. I report you to FaceBook or the web host.
3. I lock your folder of proofs so you cannot get to your images, and explain why it is locked.
4. I keep your name on file.
5. Any current or future images will not be available to you until you pay for the infringement.
At this point in time there is no argument for "I didn't know better." There have been discussion threads on popular equine websites, there have been articles in national equestrian magazines, there have been public international lawsuits regarding music and other intellectual property. Oh, and my damn watermark spells out that, "IF THIS IMAGE IS BEING VIEWED ANYWHERE BUT AKDRAGOOPHOTO IT HAS BEEN STOLEN, AND PENALTIES WILL BE APPLIED!"