For some time now, I’ve been sharing blogging posts that take you behind the scenes of content creation, with my experience and advice. Today I’m going to talk to you about blog copyright and especially about my experiences with “stolen” photos. Yes, when you start to create on the web, you can be confronted with a whole lot of not very nice situations to deal with.
Blog copyright : the basics
A rather singular idea hangs in the air when it comes to the Internet : that everything is free, with a cost zero and ultimately, without “owner” behind content whether audio, video, written or visual.
(I’ll take the blog as an exemple, but what I’m going to share with you is valid for all kind of creations.)
A blog is a website and a digital space that belongs to its author. This is what we call intellectual property. For a blog, we are in the “literary and artistic property” category (and not industrial property). Copyright is acquired without formality by the very fact of the creation of the work.
The blogger is therefore responsible for everything he puts online, whether he owns it or not. That is, if he/she shares a text, a photo, etc. of which he/she is not the author, he/she must ensure and he/she is required to comply with the provisions relating to intellectual property rights (authorization required for any reproduction of a trademark or work protected by copyright) or the right to respect for private life (dissemination of images, whether public or private figures, elements on sentimental life, health, heritage, identifiable persons, etc.).
For example, in my case, my texts and photos are my creations. When I work with a photographer, permission to distribute via my site is discussed, credit is mentioned and he/she remains the owner of the photos. In the event that brands send us a press kit with photos, the photos provided can be used by the blogger also according to conditions decided by the brand which has appointed a creative team.
The legal provisions may vary from one country to another. Verify on the official website of your country.
Le Bonbon stole my work
The case of stolen photos from content creators is not new…Whether it is to feed their own website or social medias, “reposts” as they are called without request for authorization, without mention of credit, etc. are common practice. This has happened to me many times, especially on Instagram and more recently on websites.
In June 2020, the 25th, I noticed that two websites : a small one (Maloufoodmarketing) and a big one (Le Bonbon) had stolen photos from my “food” category of the blog. This is not the same photo but to believe that they gave each other the word ! Whether amateurs may think they can use a photo found on Google Image, I mean, but when sites claiming to be professional with the word “marketing” or claiming to be “trendsetter” use photos without inquiring about copyright, besides being a lack of professional ethics, is ILLEGAL and just unacceptable. We speak then, in legislative jargon, of “counterfeiting”.
My first reaction was to take screenshots of both websites and post them in my Instagram story. One answered me, the other (I’ll let you guess which one) did not react. I’ll give you all the details (with supporting screenshots in the Youtube video).
In this post, I decided to talk more specifically about the Le Bonbon website because it was against them that I called to a lawyer. I also decide to testify against this site and these practices in this article to urge other content creators not to let this type of illegal practice pass. I also share this experience to alert the legislator (I hope) to facilitate the process in terms of recourse (because intellectual property lawyers exist, but the rates for entrepreneurs are often dissuasive) and above all : to measure the prejudices that a self-employed person can suffer as a result of these unbearable practices.
Le Bonbon is a well-known site, both in paper and digital versions. This site hits around 4 million visits per month. On 04/24/2020, the site publishes a post about Praluline which includes a photo of my post, La Praluline, dating from 2018.
As if it were not enough for the Le Bonbon site to publish my photo on a platform, it will multiply its reposts in the majority of its pages : Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Nice, Lille, Montpellier, Toulouse, i.e. 9 cities on the 10 it publishes on. My photo was also posted on social medias : Facebook and Instagram.
This type of practice (illegal, I remind you) involves several prejudices :
- economic prejudice : there are negative economic consequences of counterfeiting including loss of profit and loss suffered but also the profits made by the infringer. Basically, Le Bonbon probably “earned” money on my back.
- moral prejudice : the “authorship” of the work is not respected, there is a violation of copyright. And I am not even talking about the possible de-credibility that this can lead to in relation to potential clients.
- a prejudice in terms of SEO referencing : the site will appear before mine in terms of referencing. Basically, Le Bonbon “steals” some of my organic traffic.
All these consequences therefore represent a significant shortfall that we have quantified with my lawyer. This sum was requested from Bonbon for compensation following the damage caused.
Today, it’s been more than two weeks since my lawyer mail left (and arrived at the website headquarters). They immediately removed the photos from the Internet but did not respond (yet) to this mail.
Obviously, if Le Bonbon continues to play dead, we will step up a gear. But I believe it is time that we made respect our work by these mastodons of the net. And that if they are not able to respect the legal framework about blog copyright…like a speeding ticket, you get sanctioned !
And you, have you ever experienced the theft of photos or blog copyright ?
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