Rich was looking for a picture of a building with an orange roof. He entered his request into Google and up popped a few thousand pictures. Most of them were unattributed and contained nothing to indicate their origin. We’ve all bumped into this over and over again. Google grabs everything. After the image is dumped into the big pile of nameless photographs, we try our best to identify anything that can be identified, but when a picture of a derelict Howard Johnson’s restaurant is the subject and there’s no embedded copyright information or even a signature or website address — it has passed its “use by” date. I know that my pictures are regularly stolen by Google and anyone else who manages to scan my site.

I gave up the fight to protect photographs years ago. It’s impossible to keep track of all of the pictures, I don’t feel like investing in software to embed information in the pictures and frankly, what exactly would I be protecting? It’s not like my pictures are a treasure trove of valuable material. I don’t sell my photos or make money on this blog. I don’t ask for donations. No one has to pay to visit me. The only one who does any paying is me.

So I’ve been getting notifications for almost a week now that this single photograph was copyrighted. It was plucked from a pile of pictures Google swiped from who-knows-where. Without a signature or website data, and lacking any embedded information in the graphic and obviously it having been taken from its original website by a third party (Google and maybe others), WordPress is hounding me about it.

Remember that this is a photograph of a derelict Howard Johnson restaurant located somewhere on earth. Since there was no money made by using the image and the original owner suffered no damages, exactly what’s the point? What’s more, can he prove he took the picture in the first place?

This is my letter back to WordPress today:

I would appreciate an actual HUMAN reply to all my requests for information. I have entered TWO counters and somehow, you seem to think I’m going to change my mind about them. Why would I do that? They are true. The material was NOT stolen from the individual’s website, but taken from an unnamed, unmarked, group of Google images. Since I never saw the photo in its original setting nor did the author of the piece, exactly what are we apologizing for? Why isn’t Google doing the apologizing?

Who STOLE the picture? Google stole it. Facebook stole all my private information, sold it, got me hacked and all I got was an “Oops, sorry” from them. There WAS real damage which took me months to unravel. You cannot blame a third or fourth party for a theft committed by a different organization. Moreover, if this website owner doesn’t “get” that posting all his work on Facebook (the least honorable of all our social media outlets) leaves him wide open to theft by FB and Google, he must be living in a different world than I am.

So let me say this again to whatever robot is reading my mail:


Neither he nor I stole anything. I think the originator should DEFINITELY sue Google. 

Google displays thousands and thousands of images from everywhere. Unless you have embedded copyright information in your photograph, you should not be surprised when your picture shows up elsewhere and no one has ANY idea where it originated. What is more, exactly what am I supposed to be sued for? Money? I live on social security. My goods? The bank owns more of them than I do. The money I made from using the image? That would be zero as in nothing. The money lost by its use? Also zero.

If you cannot be bothered to personally respond to me, do not bother to send out another notification that does not answer any of the questions I have asked. I asked you what you think I’m supposed to do about this. Your answer seems to be “call an attorney.”

I’m not on trial. I haven’t been accused of anything. I didn’t use the photograph, didn’t steal the photograph, and my guest author had no idea it was copyrighted because the owner didn’t embed the information in the picture — something that is easy to do if you care that much about every picture you take. I’ll give him a fair trade: he can use any of my pictures for free forever as long as he doesn’t slice my name off the bottom. He didn’t even include a signature. Nothing at all. So after Google takes the image and exposes it to MILLIONS of people and it gets passed around, how does he know it was HIS? There was NOTHING in that picture to indicate he took it. It was a derelict PUBLIC building. Anyone could have taken that picture. 

Let me know if he wants to bring a class action suit against Google. 

Why are you accusing us of thefts committed by a massive conglomerate? Because they are immune? Maybe he can get Google to apologize. I would really love to see that. I’d love to see Google bother take note of individuals with rights because as it stands now, they don’t care. They have so much money, they don’t have to care.

So if you keep at this, I quit. I’ve had enough crap from WordPress to last two lifetimes. This is a final straw.

Categories: copyright, Criminality, justice, Law, Legal Matters, Photography

Tags: , , ,

18 replies

  1. I can’t believe that you’re being hounded for a generic photo of an old Howard Johnson’s. There have to be thousands of such photos out in cyberspace. That’s crazy.


    • Nobody can actually prove it WAS his picture. And regardless, GOOGLE TOOK IT. If it was taken, it wasn’t us. This is of those really infuriating things about which apparently I can’t do anything. They have decided and that is that. With all the other crap in this year’s world, do we really need this kind of crap?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. the great google siege, Marilyn, maybe the person who took the photograph is lonely at this time of year, so many live alone now, it’s a hyper sensitive world, perhaps Marilyn, you could raise this issue with your followers, happy christmas,


  3. Right. Send out the big guns for one little, unmarked photo. This is nuts. What happens if you just ignore them?


  4. Oh my goodness Marilyn. This is just AWFUL. I can really appreciate how youvfeel. I feel angry with you. Just terrible!


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