They Took Our Photo Without Asking
THANK YOU to everyone who messaged TXT Stories about their unauthorized use of our photo of Sensei. After many messages, emails and a $300 invoice, they finally messaged me back and agreed to pay for the photo, 100% of which is being donated to Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
Not only do I feel justice has been served, but I’m glad this raises awareness around using someone else’s work without asking.
Below is their email.
We received your invoice to donate the $300 to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. We are more than happy to do this donation in your company’s name. Attached is a materials release for your photo of Sensei.
We sincerely apologize for the time and stress this situation may have caused you, and have implemented policy changes to make sure we avoid using copyrighted material moving forward.
We will follow up with a confirmation of the donation to the Humane Society.”
We were at the airport on the way back from San Diego and I saw a video shared by a Facebook friend featuring a cat. I took a closer look and I said to myself, “Hey, I think that’s my photo!” Mary helped me look through one of my archives and confirmed that it was. The cat’s name is Sensei and he has recently passed away. Initially, I was very upset and felt I needed to defend Sensei’s honor. They also cropped out the watermark.
At the time, the video had just under 1 million views. The video is a text conversation between a cat and their owner about leaving the stove on and it’s actually pretty funny. The video has gone viral from people tagging and sharing the video over 300,000 times.
Once I realized the photo was mine, I messaged them on Facebook and sent them an email asking for them to remove the video or add the proper photo credit. I also shared the video on my page asking our audience to message and email them, to either add the tag, or remove the video all together. A lot of you did that! I really appreciate your support!
What’s ironic is…
Ironically, this statement is listed on their website…
“Warning: this is copyrighted material and duplication, exhibition, or distribution, including uploading to the Internet, may result in legal penalties.”
They can take someone else’s content, but they don’t want anyone to take theirs?
Here is how they responded
I got this response from them a few hours later.
“Hi Adam! So Sorry about that! We have an outside editor who helps us cut them. We didn’t know he was choosing the lock screen wallpapers from Google. We gave you credit on the video and tagged you in the description”
I was satisfied with that response and when they added the tag, I got a few hundred new likes to my page. The next morning, I got messages from prominent Facebook pages with millions of followers. They asked if they could share the video thinking it was mine because of my share. I told them the video wasn’t mine, but if they wanted to share it, they need to properly credit my photo of Sensei.
They removed the tag!
Two days later, they removed the tag from the description of the video and added it as a tag in a comment instead. I was okay with that too, since people were still seeing that it was my photo.
Today, I noticed that they left the photo credit in the comment, but removed the tag. Someone brought it to my attention and that’s why I am writing this blog post.
At the end of the day, I am flattered they wanted to use my photo, but they should have asked to use it. I most likely would have said yes. This ordeal has eaten up a lot of time, which I can’t get back. I selfishly wanted to take advantage of the popularity of the video.
The video in question is below and I’ll let you decide how you would like to support us. You can comment on the video asking them to put the tag back in the video description or send them an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please share this post too. I am hoping to get national attention around taking other peoples’ photos. Several photographers have reached out and said something similar has happened to them.
You can also see the original post here.
Thanks for your support!