I really couldn’t think of a better title for this blog post today. Allow me to explain.
A couple of weeks ago I was literally shutting down for the summer holidays: computer, brain et al. During July most of Denmark is on vacation so it’s a pretty safe bet that emails will be limited and the urgent desire for anyone to contact me is reduced. So I decided I was going to completely turn off my phone and only check in every two or three days.
So off we drove to Sweden via the Øresund Bridge and then hopped on to a ferry to the beautiful island of Bornholm, where the sun shined every single day (until between the hours of 7- and 9am on the last Saturday of our stay, which, coincidentally, was the same timeframe we had to pack down our tent).
Two days in to our vacation I decided it was time to switch on my phone and see if there was anything that required my attention, and low-and-behold there was a strange message from a former client from Texas, USA. It simply read, “Hey Matthew James Harrison check this out. They have a picture of you for sale!” Intrigued, I clicked on the link and couldn’t believe my eyes, for there, staring right back at me, was a photograph of me… FOR SALE!
Upon further investigation I could see that the image was available as a lovely shiny poster for just $5.59. Furthermore, there were more of my images for sale, too, including a poster for an exhibition last year, and a photo of The Crookes’ drummer, Russell Bates! Just what the hell was going on?
I quickly went to their About Page and found it to be full of sloppily-translated bullshit. For example, their Terms of Service contain some of the following tit-bits…
WallPart Respect the copyright of others.
This means we don’t steal photos or images that other people have shared and pass them off as your [sic] own.
We have no base of images, and doesn’t [sic] host and store the image on servers.
Wallpart.com only helps the user to find the images interesting him [sexist], the site uses data of the most known third-party search engines.
Process of search happens at user’s browser.
The user himself [sexist] makes search queries, all content displayed in a window of the browser is received from third-party search engines.
The displayed images are loaded from third-party servers, and aren’t host [sic] on the site hosting.
When the user make [sic] the order, we get the image from the user, he [sexist] is responsibility [sic] for use.
Wallpart.com doesn’t bear responsibility for the images received from users.
By the way, [sic] means spelling or grammatical mistake used in the original content, and not by my clumsy witch fingers. [sexist] means sexist.
Naturally I wanted to find out where these copyright-infringing scumbags were based, and luckily it’s really easy to find out on their Contact Us page: they’re just around the corner from Newtown station! (If you don’t recognise sarcasm, that was an example right there). In other words, finding an office or shop for these guys, so you can personally go round and slap them upside the head, isn’t possible. Spooky!
But alas! Hope may be at hand, thanks to the folks over at change.org. A petition was started there two months ago for wallpart.com to be shut down, with the simple description “…Because it’s illegal just selling people’s stuff without permission” sited as the reason for doing so.
As I write this there are currently 62,000 names on the list and it’s rising fast. Fancy adding yours, too?
It’s worth mentioning, that it isn’t just professional photographers who are being affected by this company – your everyday shooter is, too. I typed in the names of a few friends who I know are active on blogs and social media, and their images pop up as well. No matter who you are or what you do, the law clearly states whoever takes the picture is the copyright holder of the image. So the photo of me you see here actually belongs to my partner. I’m sure she’d appreciate a cut of whatever’s being earned on that picture.
But then again, who wants to buy a semi-naked photo of me climbing out the harbour anyway?
Answers on a postcard.