No matter how many times people steal my photos and try to pass them off as their own, it never fails to surpsize me.

Yes, folks, those are my legs. And that’s not my eBay auction. Gah.

One of my readers left a comment on Shoeperwoman (where this photo was originally published) yesterday, to let me know that my legs were on eBay. Sure enough, there I am, helping someone sell a pair of size 7 used shoes. Of course, nowhere on her auction does this seller indicate that the shoes pictured (she’s included no less than three of my photos, so my bed gets to make a cameo on eBay, too – hi, bed!) aren’t actually the ones that she’s selling. Mine are size 4, and were brand, spanking new when these photos were taken – I hadn’t even been outside in them yet: personally I think it’s just a little misleading to use a picture of a pair of brand new, fresh-from-the-store size 4 shoes in order to sell your used size 7s, but the frequency with which this happens suggests I’m pretty much alone in that.

Again, this is no big deal, really (or not for me, anyway: it may be a big deal for the person who thinks the shoes they’re buying are the exact ones shown in the photo), but it does lower my faith in eBay even more. I mean, who knows what you’re getting when you buy something there? How do you know you’re bidding on the item in the photo, or whether the seller just stole that image from some random shoe blogger?

Oh, and the seller’s response to my, “Hey, those are my legs!” email? She “thought the photos were from the Miss Selfridge website” (Because they always photograph their products on top of someone’s duvet, obviously) and she “will take them down at the weekend,” presumably after a bunch of other people have viewed them and assumed they were bidding on the shoes in the photo. Was very tempted to reply with, “OK, well, my daily rate for modelling shoes is £100 per photo: just let me know how many days you want to use them for!”

(P.S.  I changed the banner on this site today, as you may have noticed if you’re not reading this via a reader: I fully expect to find the photo of me advertising something on eBay any day now!)

  1. ow( I’d be furious! but I guess you have to get used to those things when you post quality pictures on the net.. Can you do anything about it? Like writing ebay or something?

  2. Why don’t you reply with that? Charging her, I mean. Not necessarily for modelling the shoes, but for the use of your photographs. Might make her think again. Or, you know, not.

    1. I’ve just checked and she’s actually removed them now, or I would have done! The thing is, though, when I contacted her, I did actually tell her that the images are copyrighted and she’d need to pay if she wanted to use them, so it was pretty weird to me that she replied with “Meh, I’ll take them down at the weekend…”

  3. Why don’t you add that WP app that won’t let people right-click to save your image? Or put a watermark on it? This happens too often to you that maybe you should start doing something to stop these assholes.

  4. LOVE the new banner! Also, the tights you’re modeling in those stolen photos are a wonderful shade.
    I am very wary of ebay. When I was at University a friend of a friend of mine would take a photo of a game system (whatever was popular way back then) and then also scan photos of the specs for that system and post them to ebay. People would bid on what they thought was a game system when really he was selling the specs for the system, information he included WAY at the bottom of a very, very long description. My friend who knew this guy was also kind of a jerk, so I guess it takes one to know one.

    1. Thanks, I’m glad you like the banner 🙂 I’ve heard a few stories like this now about eBay – and I guess it would be the easiest thing in the world to do, which makes me wonder how many other people are up to no good! I’ve always assumed that when the seller has an ACTUAL photo of the item, rather than just a product shot from a website, that it was a good indication of what the thing would actually look like: it never even ocurred to me that they might just have stolen that photo from someone else, but now I’m ALWAYS going to be wondering!

  5. You’re a victim of your own SEO: that picture was #2 on a Google image search for “miss selfridge bow heels”.

    Question is, did you add that copyright message before or after the eBay incident?

    1. I've been watermarking the images for months now, but even without a watermark, people still aren't allowed to just use images they find on Google.

      1. Well yes, but how many people even think of checking that they’re not infringing someone else’s copyright?

        btw, I’ve noticed that there are an increasing number of photo blogs that contain links to pages on photographers’ blogs but where the link is displayed as a graphic the same size and resolution as the original image on the photographer’s page. So I suppose technically it’s not a deep link (though I’m not an expert – please do correct me if I’m wrong) because the target isn’t simply a jpg. OK, clicking on the photo takes you to the original page (so the photographer does get a bit of credit through the link being followed or spidered), but it does seem dubious to me, particularly as there is no mention of the source in the text or title. What are your thoughts on this? Have people done this to any of your pics, or is it just wildlife etc?

        1. Yup, it's called hotlinking and it's the bane of my life – because the image is still hosted on our servers, it means that we basically end up paying for other people to display our images on their sites while they steal our bandwith as well as our images. It happens so much, though, that we just can't even begin to keep track of it (if I do spot someone hotlinking an image I will change the image name, though, so they just end up with a red x on their site. Some people are much crueller, and replace the image with something rude, but of course I would never do that 🙂 )

          As for the copyright thing, I think this is one of the biggest issues with blogging, and with self-publishing in general. The fact is that you're just not allowed to use someone else's photos or images without permission, but as you say, most people either don't know that or don't bother to find out. I know that most of the time people aren't being malicious when they steal images or even text – it's just that blogging, and social media, has made it possible (and easy!) for anyone to become a publisher, without knowing anything about the legalities of what you are and aren't allowed to publish. And as more and more people decide to publish online, the whole thing becomes even more complicated: there are a huge amount of bloggers who genuinely believe that as long as you link back to the person you took the image/text from, that makes it OK to steal whatever content you like: it feels like I'm fighting a losing battle most of the time!

  6. As well as the obvious, I think she's got another cheek – charging that much for a pair of second hand used shoes! (Lovely as they are.) It really would never occur to me to use anyone else's photos, though.

  7. From bitter experience it doesn't do to get too legalistic with people, it gets their back up, they become entrenched and refuse to budge.

    Actually, I was thinking of you when I sold my first pair of boots on ebay. I used a photo from my blog and wonder whether at some future stage this photo will come back into circulation.

    Interestingly enough, my boss and I were talking about creative commons copyright licences in this context through the week. We both agree that they are not worth the HTML that they are written in but the key is to notify people of what they can & can't do in relation to your stuff.

    On a side issue and on the QT I must pick your brains sometimes about an idea that we had for knocking shoe (and other fashion counterfeiting) on the head once & for all.

    I love all your blogs. So glad to find this one.

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