Thursday, June 07, 2012
(Make yourself a cup of tea - this is going to be a long one.)
Over the last few weeks, a number of eagle-eyed readers have let me know that one of my most popular nail photos was appearing on the Glamour magazine website and on e.l.f. cosmetics' blog without proper accreditation. Most often it's individual, personal bloggers that are guilty of offering "source: Tumblr" or "source: Pinterest" or - my personal favourite - "source: Google" by way of image credit, usually linking to that site's homepage rather than the actual page on which they found the picture.
When hobby bloggers do it, I assume that it's because they're not familiar with intellectual copyright and don't really stop to think about how discourteous it is to post someone else's work without giving them due credit; as far as they're concerned, they're just sharing pretty pictures. This actually happens quite a lot and when you guys spot it and let me know - for which I really can't thank you enough x - I'll usually just leave a comment or drop them a quick email, at which point the vast majority of bloggers have the decency to add full credit and a link.
When it's people who make an actual paid day job of writing for online publications and should therefore know better than to use a photo without (a) checking that they have permission to publish it and (b) providing credit and a link to the verified original online source, well, I really start to see red.
To be fair, Glamour were great about it, immediately updating the article with proper credit and a link to my blog post when I got in touch to let them know that the image was mine.
The response from e.l.f. cosmetics was a little less stellar.
For several days the company simply ignored repeated attempts to contact them via Twitter and failed to respond to several comments on their blog post pointing out that they'd used my photo. (The very first comment on the blog post is actually from the lovely CherrySue, letting them know the error of their ways!)
When I emailed their director of e-Commerce requesting that they add proper image credit and a link to my original post on both the blog post and their Facebook page - a very simple operation, I think you'll agree - the e.l.f. solution was to have someone paint their nails like mine, take a photo of their paint job, remove my image from the blog, and insert their new photo instead.
Given that e.l.f. used my image to help pull in over 800 Facebook likes and garner more than 60 comments between their blog and Facebook page - which I note is about 10 times the activity that they usually enjoy on their posts - I really didn't think that whitewashing me out of the picture when I requested a simple photo credit was really an acceptable solution.
After some more back and forth, e.l.f. ultimately just added the text "This nail look was inspired by a look we saw on Pinterest by Lyndar The Merciless" to the blog post.
Himself reckons that this muddies the situation even further and that it now looks like the new e.l.f. image is mine; that's what most of the comments, including my own, point to as they reference the original pic.
What a mess.
As for how they came to use my image in the first place, e.l.f. offered what I'm going to christen the Pinterest defence - "well, our writer found it on Pinterest and it wasn't linked to your blog there" - which, frankly, is no defence at all. Leaving aside for a moment that fact that one of the comments on the pin in question is from someone pointing out that the image is mine and helpfully providing a link to my blog, the e.l.f. writer didn't even cite Pinterest as a source in the original post. My image was simply added as though it was her own.
I now watermark all my nail images but since there are several older versions floating around the Internet, watermark-free, I have no doubt these sorts of incidents will be repeated.
I guess I'll just have to hope that future offenders will be a bit cooler about sorting them than e.l.f. have been.
PS - I not trying to put anyone off Pinterest; I love seeing my nails on inspiration boards. I am delighted with how well-received my nail designs are and am so appreciative of the exposure they get, but seeing them credited improperly or not at all does break my little heart.