A Tumblr Site Aimed at Outing Photo Thieves

A Tumblr Site Aimed at Outing  Photo Thieves

It's sometimes hard for me to believe that people can be so unscrupulous as to blatantly take steal someone else's work and pan it off as their own. But sadly it happens far more often than we are aware of. Which is why someone has created a Tumblr site dedicated to outing offenders in our industry. So, if you catch wind of a "photographer" or service that is clearly ripping off your fellow shooters you should consider submitting the intel to Photo Stealers Submit Form.

An Excerpt from Photo Stealers:
"Coleen is based in the UK and instead of just lifting a few images here and there, she not only stole all of the images from a photographer but commissioned a website design exactly like his. No sweetie, just because you changed the colors doesn’t mean it is like totally different!
Her original URL is down but here is the mirror site from her web designer: http://dev.swiftcreations.co.uk/coleensullivan/index.html
Source: http://www.martinleckie.com/"



via [PhotoStealers]

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Coleen Sullivan: Telephone: 07960 370025 | Email: info@coleensullivan.co.uk let the spamming begin.

Spam sent... 

EDIT: delivery failure.. no such adress.

I know we hate it when people steal images, etc., and people need "educating" about it. But I would suggest that people think twice before trying to "contact" Coleen.

Threatening and harassing someone isn't exactly much better (you could argue it's somewhat worse) than theft, so please, let's not drop to that level.

Leave it to the person who has been stolen from to deal with it as they wish, and then to the relevant legal authorities if they are brought in.

What is worse? Exposure or Obscurity?

Christopher Hoffmann's picture

Obscurity.. Then she would be able to continue deceiving people regarding her work and abilities. 

I see no similarities between the two sites ;-)

Ziggy M's picture

nothing similar at all… :) one is purple and the other is grey

Charles de LA FOREST's picture

coleen's site is down... how strange!!

Zta's picture

Is there a change that both photographers had the same web designer make their website and everything here is perfectly legal?  Maybe stated in the identical footer on both sites?  I didn't bother to check of course, and I think a service like PhotoStealers is great, but I'm just saying that I hope they research things carefully before burning some innocent culprit (or their inbox) =)

How could the fact that they BOTH had the SAME picture on the same page with the same design be coincidence? 

He didn't say that it was a coincidence that they had the same pictures and design, rather than it might have been a coincidence that they used the same very cheap, with no legal knowledge, student WebDesigner, and that he/she might be the one with the direct blame in the case, where Coleen could have bought it in "good fate" and only can be blamed indirectly (which she most certainly can!).

After all, it's fair to assume that a "professional" photographer orders a webdesign rather than designing and building it them self (that does require some knowledge after all) ...

So i think what Zta was trying to say was basically: "It is very easy to determine if someone stole something... Question is, who did the actual stealing?..." 

Regardless though, Coleen should at least have been questioning the origin of the photos, making sure that they where ok to use in this scenario, that the rights where in order, this is a thing she should have know to ask for, being a photographer her self, not that I can't begin to understand why you wouldn't wan't your own photos used instead as a photographer any ways...

Let's say that both of these websites are designed by the same web developer. But the photographer Coleen is also to blame, because she put these same pictures on hear website, or if she din't but developer did, but then she accepted these pictures to be on hear website and dint do anything to remove them.

Ziggy M's picture

Even with that scenario there's some legality issue with stealing a photo from one site and using it for another. If your scenario is the truth then the designer is really the one to blame.

The original photographer (Martin) is well aware of this thief and all of the images on Coleen's site were his original works, some with his logo still intact on the site.  It is not a case of the web designer, she did this all on her own.  Beyond that, this isn't her first rodeo - she's done this before.  

Brian Carey's picture

The fact that this is being discussed and brought out is a good start, thanks for this! On a more positive note as Oscar Wilde once said: "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about"! :-)

Shannon Wimberly's picture

she could have at least flipped the image :/

If this is only a case of the second photographer developing on the same platform as the first, and the tumbler site accuses the second of theft, the tumblr guy CAN and should be sued for libel.  So far from what I've found, the sites are from ANOTHER web development platform that this particular site is based on a standard design.  

Be very careful, if this is the case, and you contact Colleen you are liable to be sued for both harassment AND libel, all that has to be proven by Colleen in libel cases is that what you said is untruthful AND DONE IN MALICE!  You can lose your butts big time.  

Ziggy M's picture

It's not really libel if there's proof of it. One tog's photo is shown (and thereby claiming it as her/her own work) on another tog's site. Most people would call that theft, and the libel accusation has no leg to stand on.

Adam Turvey's picture

i doubt this is actually the work of "Colleen" but rather the company designing the website for "her"...... maybe someone needs to get a statement from  "http://swiftcreations.co.uk/" 

"Done in Malice" is normally harder than it seems, but if you consider her a private citizen and not a "public figure" then all she has to do is prove it is published. So if she did not do it, and it was the web-hosting site, then any coverage of the topic could be sued by her for libel. Done in Malice only applies to public figures. I personally think she isn't a public figure, but even still.
And to the one saying libel is only if there is proof of it, yes- but if they did just use the same web designs, or it's the web designers fault, and we were blaming her, along with saying she stole a picture, libel comes back into play. 
Truth Since libel is by definition false, if a journalist reports something that is true it cannot be libelous, even if it damages a person’s reputation. Truth is the reporter’s best defense against a libel suit.----This means that if it's the web designers fault, she can get a lawyer.

seanc's picture

name and shame

RickSmuldersNL's picture

Here on a colleague website a similar story. :( 


Martin Beebee's picture

I really don't see any excuse for this at all -- even if it's a new web designer. Didn't Colleen notice the photo on her home page wasn't hers? That's an incredible misrepresentation (aside from the actual theft), and she has no business portraying herself as a professional photographer. 

The only real question is how do you get this info in front of Colleen's (and similar stealers') potential customers?

Anthony Thurston's picture

I think its great that people are getting outed for stealing images. But I think that we need to tread this line very very carefully. Who is to say that the person actually stealing the images is the one doing the reporting to this website?(not in this case but possibly in others).

All I am saying is that I hope that htis guy on tumblr is doing his due diligence and atleast confirming that the correct peopleare being tareted and that innocent phototgraphers are not having their names and livelyhoods dragged through the dirt.

If your images are stolen, consider using ImageRights.com for recourse.

I am the person that runs this site so I want to clear a few things up:

• Almost always the owner of the images comes to me with the report when they find a site that has stolen images.  Sometimes the thief won't take them down and despite filing DMCA's, the websites are still up.  A lot of these are small photo operations who just ignore, ignore, ignore even after my blog goes up (see Cara Mia/Glass Slipper).  At least if a client is googling them, this site will pop up and they hopefully will see their work is stolen and they may not be getting what they THINK they are getting. 

• Regardless if the owner emails or not, I always double and triple check to ensure the images are stolen.  It's pretty easy to find out which one hit the internet first.  It's not always who owns the copyright but generally it's pretty easy to figure out what is stolen. 

• I always screencap the heck out of the offenders site so if/when it gets taken down there is a record of the stolen works in case one of the original photographers didn't get a chance to see the images before they went offline.  Generally these jerks are stealing from more than one photographer so not all owners may know before the site/Facebook goes down.  

• Pursing this legally isn't easy as I found out the hard way as well as other photographers.  It's basically a waste of money to sue someone for doing this - which is why the tumblr started.  The victims of Meghan Kunert were all venting on forums about how there was NOTHING they could do since she stole from photographers out of the country.  Now this gives photographers an avenue to pursue and may deter someone from doing it in the future.  They know they can't be sued but they CAN be shamed.  

Douglas Lochmiller's picture

I run hot and cold on the issue.  First, I am flattered that others like my photos enough to want to use them to represent themselves.  But, second, I hate the idea that there is a good chance they are trying to use the photo as their own.  They obviously are not a professional photographer, and their clients will quickly find out with the lack of quality they are receiving from that person.  With the Internet, stealing photos is just the nature of the beast.  I know it is an extra expense, but I use Digimarc to watermark my photos, and use their service that crawls the web looking for your watermarked photos.  It it finds one,  it lets you know where it is located.  At least it gives me a little bit of security.  I figure that is the best I can do.  If one is found, I just cross that bridge when it happens and try to "rectify" the situation.

This is my website and content that has been copied and the topic of this discussion. To be honest I only discovered it by happenchance and was quite flabbergasted when I first saw it. I have never seen anything quite as blatant a rip off. The web design company also had it featured in their portfolio section as an example of their work, which is particularly galling. After some lengthy research by myself and others worldwide it transpires that quite a few of the web companies sample sites are rip offs. I don't think Coleen Sullivan actually exists to be honest. The director of the company seems to have been in prison and been fined for dodging paying for train tickets and other offences. Therefore it would seem unlikely that even if a court would make a judgement in my favour he would just disappear with his laptop and start again under another name. If this was America different story ...

Check out this guy and his stealing efforts. Claims that he paid for the images legitimately. But doesn't realize that even if he buys stock imagery, he cannot claim them as his own. Plus, after allegedly being a photog for 30 years you'd think he could use his own imagery.. right?