Stealing Stuff

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I don’t believe it. I think stealing someone else’s stuff is just plain lazy. It’s also against the law.

In August 2017 I published a blog post about Leona and Pearl O’Loughlin. Troy Taylor copied a section of my post and put it in his book, which came out September 2018. (Thanks to Maggie, a sharp reader of my blog, for giving me a heads up on this. She heard Troy’s version of Leona’s story on a podcast around the same time she read my post.)

Altogether he copied parts of eight paragraphs of my blog post text. Here’s some of “his” text:

And here’s the relevant section my blog post about Leona. Remember, I wrote this more than a year before Troy’s book hit the shelves:

I’ve messaged Troy through his Facebook page, but he has ignored me. Are there are other authors out there whose work he has, ahem, relied on a bit too heavily?

Then there’s All That’s Interesing. It’s a popular website that published my photo without my permission and cropped off my watermark. I’ve asked them to remove the photo. They haven’t bothered to respond to my email.

I spend a good deal of time looking for interesting mugshot photos for my collection and many of them aren’t cheap. I think the “ati” folks knew exactly what they were doing when they removed my watermark: cheating me and engaging in unscrupulous behavior. They also used my text without asking. Even though they credited me, it’s still not okay because they are using my work to draw eyeballs to their website, not mine. Here’s my photo as it was originally published:

So beware. Whether it’s an individual or a company, thieves are out there.

19 thoughts on “Stealing Stuff

  1. That really sucks. I guess since people get away with it they figure “who cares if it’s legal?”

    I had someone take a Buch of screenshots from one of my blog posts – a real butcher job – and then post them on Ancestry. She got really pissed when I asked her to remove them. I explained how she could post a link to my page, but she was too angry. I wrote a blog about that.

    Still, not like stealing your words and publishing them in a book!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve had that exact same thing happen to me on Ancestry. I didn’t do anything about it, but it annoyed me. All photos put online should be watermarked or there’s a high likelihood of them being reused/reposted/who knows what. Some people will even print them, pass them off as vintage photos and sell them. I hate watermarking but it’s necessary. But I expected to have a website crop my watermark off! Thanks, Eilene!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I confess to using photos from Ancestry on my blog, always with attribution. I think people do share these and reciprocate. I try to ask, but so many people never respond to messages. It’s sort of a gray area, I think. I know someone might take me to task, but I really do try to follow the rules and do the right thing.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’m not a lawyer, but imho, if a user uploaded a photo to Ancestry that’s outside of the US copyright date (currently 1925) it can be shared on your blog (& attribution is polite). If an Ancestry user doesn’t want a photo shared they have the option of making their tree private.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Being outside of the copyright date means that the original copyright no longer applies. If you scan an old photo that’s outside of copyright, I think you can copyright the result under US law, because it involved your work and because you own the original.

        There’s a dealer on eBay who’s selling the entire stock of the Brown Brothers stock photo agency, and is claiming to retain the copyrights to all the photos they’re selling. I don’t think they can legally do that. (See the listings here.)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I believe (and again, I’m not a lawyer!) that if you scan an out of copyright photo you own, you can’t copyright your scan because you haven’t added anything to the original work. I know Getty claims they can resell an image (from the Library of Congress, for instance) because they’ve tweaked it in Photoshop, but I think they are on legally questionable ground. At any rate, the reason I watermark photos from my collection is to discourage people from posting them without asking on their website—basically doing what All That’s Interesting did. I also only post low resolution images so they can’t be printed and sold on eBay. As for the Brown Brothers photos—wow! What a collection! I think that IF the seller bought the copyright to the photos, along with the negatives, and IF the photos are still in the copyright period, they can legally sell prints only.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’ve been reading up on copyright law. It’s complicated! Shayne, you and Eilene were right about scanning, and I was wrong. We can’t copyright our scans, even if we edit them in significant ways. For photos in the public domain, we can limit access to prints we own (say, with low-res scans or watermarks), but such usage is governed by contract law, rather than copyright law.

        The big question is usually whether or not the copyright has in fact expired. It can be difficult or impossible to know for sure, depending on when the creator died and whether an image was ever “published.” That’s where it can get complicated.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A couple have been posted on Pinterest with links to my blog. Another was posted on a Swedish museum’s website with a link to my original post. No one asked permission in those cases, but the attribution was good enough for me, because they weren’t for commercial gain. The Swedish site is actually very cool. It’s the Stockholm Museum of Women’s History. Here’s the page with my photo: Stockholms Kvinnohistoriska.

    Liked by 1 person

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