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Has Someone on the Internet
Stolen Your Work?
Michael Starr - The Accusation of Inanimate Objects
6 x 12 x 6 inches wood shoe
last, croquet ball, carved figurine — This image was not stolen but the others here were.
This is the continuing story of three companies: Polyvore.com who asks its readers to steal copyrighted images from other websites, then republishes them. GoDaddy.com, who has registered polyvore.com as an Internet entity, and points browsers to them when their web address (URL) is typed in an address box in a browser. At first, we believed Godaddy was polyvore's webhost, but we later learned that that honor goes to Dyn.com, which rents hard drive space on the Internet and is, thereby, Polyvore's webhost.
It all began with this notice from DallasArtsRevue Supporting Member Jeanne Sturdevant, who originally found the offending Polyvore site.
Warning DallasArtsRevue members: A site called Polyvore.com has been publishing copyrighted images from DallasArtsRevue for several years. DARts Member Jeanne Sturdevant brought this infringement to my attention May 27. Apparently images are being selected for their adherence to color schemes, so they can be used to design fashion displays. Essentially, Polybore asks its readers to steal images for that use on their site.
As I have been recommending to all artists for years, Jeanne did a simple Google search for her name and found this site. There are likely other sites that do simialr image thefts that do not use website or artists' names, so their activities go largely unnoticed.
Artists Whose Work Has Been Stolen: Polybore.com has used stolen images by me, George Bailey, Anna Palmer, Ray-Mel Cornelius, Jeanne Sturdevant, Lynn Rushton, Silvia Thornton, Ester Ritz, Kapil Dixit, Norman Kary, Donna Ball, Charlotte Smith, Ellen Frances Tuchman, Morton Rachofsky, Kirstin Erwin, Polly Perez, Brian Row, Nancy Brown, Ross Von Rosenberg, EASL, Marie Van Arsdale, and other member, former member and non-member artists, including some whose names I do not recall. There are also images I do not recognize, though maybe you will. And Jeanne Sturdevant keeps finding more.
Polyvore promised to respond to questions within 24 hours, but has not responded to any of us who have asked them to stop stealing our images. Obviously, they know they are in the wrong. The images themselves, however, are gone. So that's the best-possible response.
Visit Polyvore.com and peruse their page of images at http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/search.things?displayurl=dallasartsrevue.com to see if any of yours are there, too. I'd been linking that page regularly till the evening of June 2, when that page no longer showed any content whatsoever. So apparently our concerted complaints finally accomplished something.
A subsequent search for George Bailey only retrieved two images from the It's A Wonderful Life movie and what looks like a rock star. "No results found for Jeanne Sturdevant." My name netted a page of images, none of which are mine. I searched for several others from the list of Artists Whose Work Has Been Stolen, just above, and have found no instances left.
Also use their site Search box at the top right of most pages for variations on your name (try distinctive first or just the last names, among other variations), and/or Google or Yahoo "your name" [and] Polyvore (include the quote marks and brackets) to find more images there and/or elsewhere.
I learned who hosts that site by searching the online WHOIS database at http://domains.whois.com/domain.php?action=whois, which all of us who have websites must notify when our contact information changes. My first visit there indicated that GoDaddy.com was Polyvore's webhost. Apparently someone updated the information, because on my second visit, Dyn was listed as their webhost.
Sorry if this is confusing. Me, too. And the info keeps changing, so I keep rearranging it. I hope it makes sense.
J R Compton
Editor & Publisher
Some of the DallasArtsRevue Supporting Member's images that were stolen:
Jeanne Sturdevant The Gathering 2004 acrylic painting 11 x 10 inches
Since the Godaddy contact, though pleasant and informative, failed. I believe what turned the tide was Polyvore's own http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/help.copyright page that includes a How can I get my images removed from Polyvore? notification via this online form at http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/copyright.notification , where many DallasArtsRevue members listed the web addresses where your stolen images were found and the web addresses on DallasArtsRevue where they were stolen from, and demand that they be removed. I don't know how effective that may be, but it's a first step.
George Bailey, from whom several images were stolen, contacted Godaddy by phone. He says, "The images were taken by a company called dynect.net located in New Hampshire. Their number is 1-603-688-4988. No one was in, of course, so [he] went to dyn.com/contact and filed a complaint. Everyone needs to do this." I followed suit and left a complaining question why they were doing that.
The next day, George wrote, first saying, "I filed a complaint with the FCC. It was form 2000A under Deceptive or Unlawful Advertising and Promotion Complaint. Hopefully, this will come close to the problem or they can conduct me someplace else. I mentioned all three groups involved."
At the form 2000A page, click the radio button for Broadband Service and VoIP. Then click Next>>. Then the Deceptive or unlawful advertising button and Next>> again. On the Choose a Filing Method page, select the yellow Online Form method. Then fill out the form. George was not specific about which selections he chose.
An hour later he added, "I have also filed with the Federal Trade Commission and I would advise all the artists involved to do so. Information about this company can be found on the internet for the complaint. The company [Polyvore] lists its address as 426 Pope St, Menlo Park California. Company email: is firstname.lastname@example.org. Website the polyvore.com."
Later, in answer to my query, George said, "In the information I read from both the FCC and FTC, both agencies are really involved with internet fraud. If I hear more I will inform you and the Revue. Thanks."
Before that, George replied to my reply:
I am contacting the FCC and at least file a complaint with them. godaddy was very cooperative. I also contacted dynect.net who godaddy said was responsible for downloading the files.
Meanwhile, Jeanne Sturdevant first sent this Customer Inquiry to GoDaddy:
new Customer Inquiry
Name : your full name
Phone : your phone number here
Domain Name :
Shopper Validated : No
Browser : your browser and version number
Other : Copyight Violation by your client www.polyvore.com
Issue : Your web hosting client www.polyvore.com allowed one of my paintings to be posted on its web site without my permission at this url:
This image was stolen from:
This image and images by over a dozen other members of www.dallasartsrevue.com were posted on www.polyvore.com without permission of the www.dallasartsrevue.com's owner and without the permission of any of its members who created these images.
As web host of www.polyvore.com, your immediate action on this matter will be appreciated
George Bailey Madam-Sosostris the Clairvoyant and her Oddities oil on canvas 24 x 48 inches
Polyvore promises a one-day response time, but they have not yet responded to Jeanne or my notices from late May, although it was a holiday weekend. And now all the images I searched specifically for, are gone.
The following is not yet finished:
How to find copyright violations
Probably our method expressed above is better. But first you have to find the violations. I still recommend searching for permutations of your name, which of course, only finds you thief sites that have used your name. They're comparatively easy to track down. You just have to search.
How to Find a Copyright Violation on this webdesign.about.com page may also help.
How to get them to stop
- Contact the site itself and complain. There's usually a Contact link on the home page. If not, see step 3. This is and has been the most effective method for getting an errant website to stop stealing images.
- The site may have a complaint form. State specific web addresses where your work is published by them, and the web address where it was stolen from.
- Link to Who Is to find out the site owner's name, web host and email address.
- Contact the Webhost and complain to them using those same stolen-from and published-on web addresses.
- Probably the most effective way to get webbers to remove copyrighted material is to complain to Google on their Report alleged copyright infringement: Image form. Be sure to type your "digital signature" exactly the way you have already spelled your name on that extended form.
- If your image is being used by a blog, use the Google Blogger Help version of the form, Report a Terms of Service Violation. See note above about digital signature.
"All of these methods can be circumvented.
If you absolutely can't afford to let your images get stolen,
you shouldn't post them on the Web."
I saw this advice on site after site in my search for a magic image keep-safer, but this version came from Webdesign.about.com.
How to stop webpage visitors from stealing images
Ultimately, you just cannot, although there are certain, sometimes effective techniques. Ultimately, however, almost all of those techniques can be twarted by a simple screen snapshot.
Several people suggested watermarking all our images. I do that with almost all of my images, including several that Polyvore stole. They simply cropped off the watermarks. That would be less easy if the watermarks extended across the whole face of the image, but that's just ugly.
about this thorny problem can be found in the Copyright Notices + Image File Names section of the immensely popular DallasArtsRevue page, How to Photograph Art.
Tech Talk Point: Online Copyright Theft & Combatting It More Effectively
since May 29, 2011