The website WallPart (intentionally not linked to) claims to be "the world's largest online shop of posters...with over 10 billion images." What they do not tell you is that their database is filled with stolen and copyrighted images from photographers around the world. If this wasn't bad enough, the Poster Shop might actually be using these images to spam photographers who use their copyright take down form in what might be the most diabolical phishing scam of all time.
I first heard about WallPart (also referred to as Poster Shop) a few months ago through one of my local wedding photography Facebook groups. Many friends of mine had actually found dozens of their wedding photographs up for sale through the poster printing website. Everyone in that group was up in arms about their photographs being ripped off and sold for profit without their consent, and rightfully so.
The recommended course of action was to contact the website immediately and demand that they remove their photos from the WallPart database or else legal action would be taken. Fstoppers has articles covering stolen work in the past (remember when Lee Morris had his wedding images stolen by another wedding photographer?), but this situation is a bit different. It turns out that the worst bit of advice for dealing with the Poster Shop would be to issue a cease and desist through their website. If this sounds counter intuitive, read on.
According to the tumblr Peter and Company, the real business WallPart is involved in is not the selling of prints at all. WallPart is actually not going to photographers' websites and stealing photos to sell on their store page. Instead, they are simply pulling images from Google Images and displaying them as potential art work you can have printed on your own poster or wall art. If you were to search for your name, brand, or image through their search box (which we highly recommend not doing), you are bound to find one of your images in their database. Many of these images are banners, pngs, and advertisements that were never meant to be printed int he first place. Furthermore, every image that is displayed on their search results page contains the exact same title and description found through Google's search function. Here are a few searches I did for "Chase Jarvis", "Trey Ratcliff", and of course I had to search "Patrick Hall" as well.
As Peter and Company reports, it appears the sole purpose of this website isn't to sell prints at all (there does not appear to be any proof that actual sales are happening) but rather to target photographers who are featured on WallPart's website. Photographers are known to freak out when they find their images being used without their permission; it is a behavioral condition that has been reinforced in to our sole existence. If and when a photographer does find their work on the website, they are without a doubt going to issue a cease and desist through WallPart's DMCA/Copyright link at the bottom of the page. Strangely enough, this link at the bottom of the page is one of the only clickable links on the entire page which is not consistent with most legit ecommerce sites. This contact form is the whole purpose of the Poster Shop's website. The contact form is a phishing platform that is used to spam the user and potentially infect their computer with malware and who knows what other nasty adware and spyware.
Throughout the website's existence, much of the functionality, search results, and contact forms have changed. One day you can search for your name and find stolen images only to search 24 hours later and find the results page completely empty. It's clear the site was never meant to run as a business and the functionality of it as a whole is pretty broken. The site is currently hosted in Russia and has been known to change hosting domains in the past after being outed by tech savvy visitors.
It is pretty sad to know that their are websites and companies out there like WallPart preying on photographers who are simply trying to protect and maintain the copyright on their own creations. In today's world we can never be too sure where an email or contact form is actually sending or what personal data is being sent to a company in general. In the case of The Poster Shop and other sites that are sure to follow, DO NOT VISIT THE SITE and give it traffic and by all means DO NOT FILL OUT ANY COPYRIGHT VIOLATION OR DMCA FORMS. The website Change.org has started a petition to remove WallPart with over 50,000 supporters but there is no telling if the site will actually ever be banned forever.