What Can You Do if People Keep Stealing Your Work?

If you're a content creator in any industry, I can almost guarantee that someone somewhere will steal your work. Unfortunately, it's pretty much inevitable now, especially with the advent of social media. The question is: what can you do if someone steals your work?

First thing I'd recommend is to actually identify if your work has been stolen. There's very little you can do if you're not aware that someone has stolen your work. One super quick and effective way to find out if your work is getting stolen or not is by doing a reverse image search on Google. I tend to a quick search of a few images every few months. Social media is probably the worst platform when it comes to content stealing. Unfortunately, in many cases, there aren't a lot of things you can do aside from performing takedown requests, which is a complete pain. In a recent video by Karl Taylor, he shows some pretty outlandish ways some people have stolen his content and even his likeness. It's incredible how far some will go just to fool people into thinking they're a professional company or creative. 

In all fairness, I've taken inspiration from Taylor too, because in my mind, he's a brilliant photographer. Having said that, there's a pretty distinct line between taking inspiration versus outright stealing content. 

Check out the full video linked above. 

Editorial Note:  Some of the claims Karl has made in his video are unsubstantiated and at times false. Much of the tutorial sales language is used across many photography tutorial companies including Fstoppers and is not unique to Karl Taylor or Fro Knows Photo. It should also be noted that the light beam photoshoot referenced in Karl's video was setup by Sony and not Jared Polin.

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Leigh Miller's picture

It's simple...once we as creators get our act together and row in the same direction.

Look at the music industry...use an uncleared sample of music or lyrics, get sued for lots of money.

Until we apply the same remedy to our business others will continue to steal and dare us to do something about it. As with anything else it takes coordination and commitment to foregoing short term gains for future benefit.

Tony Clark's picture

You would think that The Fro would know better.

Please read my comment Tony. "you think I would know better"?

Oh please, that is such standard, unoriginal boilerplate stuff. Lots of people have said and will continue to say the same things.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Photographers stealing other photographers images to place in their portfolio. How low can they go?

Ivan Lantsov's picture

rather steal his watch

Since my image is being used in the thumbnail to gain extra clicks, I will comment here.

First, the false claim that I stole his idea for the portrait image is unfounded. If Karl would have watched the video of mine he's referencing, he would have seen that that image was taken at a Sony press event for the Sony a7R IV. For those who don't know how a press event works. You show up, there's a bunch of different sets pre-made and lit and you go test the camera. So to say I stole his idea is blatantly false.

After Karl posted his video without reaching out to me to ask me directly, I found his number and called his studio. I made him aware this was a Sony Press Event.

The claims that I stole the scripts to his sales videos are false as well. In the clips he shared, are there similarities, absolutely. I wrote that script in 2011-2012 to promote my first video guide. To say "I wish I had a guide like this 18 years ago when I started because it would have saved me months if not years" is basic common sense sales. I do wish I had it when I started, it would have saved me time. It's basic common sense sales verbiage to use, i'm not the first to say something like that, nor is he.

"You can join me and be like my assistant". Yup, pretty simple again, i'm doing four photo shoots, you get to be a fly on the wall, it's like you're my assistant and it's the closest you can get to being at one of my bootcamps without actually being there. All basic common sense verbiage. Keep it simple, it will save you time, I wish I had it, it's like being there. So any similarities are 100 percent coincidence.

I told Karl that directly on our phone call and he said he doesn't believe me. I asked him to correct his video about his false claims and he pinned a comment that it was a sony event, but he refused to include that I told him directly I did not copy his sales scripts since he did not believe me.

He could have reached out to me prior to ask for clarity but he did not.

Jared Polin AKA the FRO.

Patrick Hall's picture

Ha, I think Lee and I said that exact line in our Intro to Video tutorial and probably most all our other tutorials. The idea that Karl thinks that's a unique script he came up with is pretty funny. I wouldn't let it get under your skin but then again, it's not me in the video so what else can I say?

I was also surprised that he almost claims copyright to traditional sales yadayada like “hands-on experience”, “stand behind me watching things I do” etc...

Motti Bembaron's picture

Well said, Jared. Very unprofessional of him to call you a liar and refuse to cut the part of the photo taken at a Sony event. It is obvious you had nothing to do with it. It shows that he had an agenda when making this video(I am the greatest...lol) and not really about dealing with stolen photos issue. Very small of him.

Tony Northrup's picture

Jared's totally right here. Jared didn't setup the photo he was accused of stealing; we have shots of the same model. The language he uses in his advertisements is very standard. There's no reason for Karl to think Jared based anything on his work.

I'm glad to see the editorial note added to the end of this article, but it's inappropriate for FStoppers to amplify Karl's slanderous video. It's also unfair that FStoppers put Jared in the article thumbnail. We in the photography community value originality, and the video unfairly damages Jared's reputation. Karl must release a new video correcting his mistakes and acknowledging he failed to perform due diligence.

Leigh Miller's picture

Agreed...but Tony...why do you support Squarespace, a company that partners with Unsplash, a company with zero respect for a photographer's right to earn decent money for their work?

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

So, if stupid photographers chose to upload to Unsplash knowing very well they are giving away their images, that's Squarespace's fault? Which in turn translates to bad on anyone that supports Squarespace? No. Those dumbass photographers are big boys and girls. They made their decision. They can live with the consequences.

Tony, Carl did the same thing you do on your videos, make a mistake and then add a footnote later. Are you going to start taking down your videos also when there are blatant errors?

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

There's a big difference between an adjustment or information correction via footnote/annotation vs slander. Don't you think?

Tony Northrup's picture

Felix, we handle errors in a variety of different ways depending on the severity of the error. We certainly have taken down videos where we made serious errors, though that does nothing to rectify the mistake to the people who have already seen it. That's why I suggested creating a follow-up video that corrects the mistake, something we've done many times. Mistakes are inevitable; it's critical to correct serious errors at the same volume as the mistake.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I doubt he sees it as a mistake. No one in his right mind would slander another like that. It was very little of him and I lost respect for him. His video had nothing to do with how to deal with stolen images and everything to do with his ego.

But Tony you didn't take down your video attacking Steve McCurry, even though it contained obvious, horrible mistakes. That was really shameful. Shame on you for putting that garbage out into the world.

user-244549's picture

I wish people would stop attacking Tony. I find his channel to be, without doubt, one of the most humble and valuable on YouTube. They make mistakes, of course they do - have you seen how much content they push out? - but they own them when it happens too.

In case people have forgotten Tony and Jared had a bit of a spat a while back... and yet, here Tony is defending him because he's doing what sane people are supposed to do, evaluate the evidence and then make a judgment call.

I can see why some people may not like Tony and Chelsea but I can't see how anyone can accuse them of being dishonest or deliberately misleading, at all.

Tony's vicious attack on photographer Steve McCurry was the most vile photography video I've ever seen on YouTube. It was horribly defamatory, and premised entirely on Tony's stupid mistakes.

Leigh Miller's picture

Pretentious...your image for more clicks?

I agree with you though. I wish we as professionals could air our beefs privately with each other before blowing sh#t up like that. Would solve so many issues. It should be us against "them". Not each other.

Pretentious? No, it's a FACT, use my image in a thumbnail with a salacious headline, people are going to click it.

Jared is right you know. Jared is a big name among photography content creators and most of us know who he is. He puts out A LOT of quality content. SO when you attach an image of some one that is WELL KNOWN into your video then label it with "People keep stealing my SH*T" What do you think is going to happen? People are going to think this person in which they have spent a lot time learning from, watching videos, and some one that they believe is trust worthy is stealing images. They are going to think he is a fraud. Therefore They will CLICK (keyword here) on the video to see what the heck is going on. Karl Taylor used The Fros Image as click bait with the possibility of reputation destroying false allegation. That is fact. Jared is right to defend himself.

I clicked the article because of Jared's pic.. I know who he is, I don't know the other guy though. I probably would've passed otherwise since there are articles about stealing images posted all the time... so I guess it's working.

Will Murray's picture

One assumes you intend to litigate on the basis of reputational damage.

Probably not, because everything in the video is either 1) a real stretch to see any similarity or 2) wrong but having minimal to zero impact.

This was all just click bait...from the video to the article to the parties involved commenting above.

I think that Mr. Taylor is severely deluded to even think any duplication of script or a similarly themed image in the video is original or unique to him. Like the techniques I've seen him demonstrate in the few videos of his I've seen, it is basic stuff that a lot of people naturally develop over years of shooting as they strive to improve.

The flourescent tube shot - I could probably take that back to at least the mid 60's when that was popular, shooting a model in futuristic clothing with the tubes as a feature - nothing new in 2014.

He mentions it himself, about 'taking inspiration without even realising it'. It happens a lot more than you think.

The guy has made himself look a fool.

I should also add, Karl Taylor is not alone in thinking that he and his techniques are unique. He is one of many.

Irene Rudnyk's picture

Even thou you didn't set up the Sony event shoot, that idea is not that uncommon, I have seen futuristic setups with models and LED strips before, it's not that original, it's really cool, but yeah, many people have done it before. To claim it as his own, is kinda funny


I gotta agree with Jared on the scripts stuff. I see and hear those types of lines from a lot of channels and people. That would be like saying because some called their guide a "complete beginners guide" That they are infringing on my "complete beginners guide. It's nonsense. People creating "TOP (insert your favorite number) Lists" should be in litigation with one other according to this video.

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