Stolen Photo Wins Samsung’s Live In The Moment Photo Contest

Stolen Photo Wins Samsung’s Live In The Moment Photo Contest

Certainly, we've talked about how to always protect your photos and watch for thieves. In fact, Fstoppers' very own writer, Noam Galai has had his photo stolen, and turned into one of the most iconic pieces of pop art in the last 15 years. So what happens when Samsung foolishly awards a fraudulent submission a Samsung NX300 camera?

The image, originally taken by Hengki Koentjoro was submitted to Samsung’s #LiveInTheMoment instagram contest by a user who simply flipped the image horizontally, and applied a filter. Claiming to be his own photo, Instagram user bogdhan was then publicly contacted by Samsung about winning the category #MyCommute, and awarded a Samsung NX300 digital camera, two months ago.


However, it wasn't until yesterday that the truth of the origin of the image emerged. The image in fact was not his own, but Koentjoros. Hengki Koentjoro was notified of the fraud in place, and that the photo thief had actually won a contest using the stolen image.

Samsung has not yet responded to the claims, but thousands of photographers and fans have come forward, publicly criticizing Samsung for allowing copyright infringement to win a contest and for their ignorance on the case. However, Samsung has removed the photo from their Facebook page.

As for the user and thief, he also has been receiving his own stream of criticism, causing him to delete his Facebook profile, and dozens of messages on his instagram photo contest winning thievery. Leaving only the following message --


“I suggest you all nicely to stop harrassing me with such comments and mind your own bussiness. I read the rules before I participate and I’m very aware that it was respected. So stop being some guy kissass’ers in order for him to claim a prize that he dosen;t deserve.”

Hengki Koentjoro is represented by TobinOhashio Gallery Tokyo, and they're not happy. Saying that removal of the entry would not be enough, calling the acts of both Samsung and bogdhan “despicable”. Adding “Just deleting the picture, sending a kind mail to the original photographer and hoping that ‘everything is alright now’ is far not enough.”.

I've reached out to Samsung for their response on this issue, and have yet to hear back. Be sure to check out the amazing work from Hengki Koentjoro, original creator of the image.

UPDATE - Samsung's Statement on the issue --

Samsung Camera took down the photo which was identified as stolen from all social media channels, disqualified the user for copyright infringement and violation of contest terms.

Additionally, Samsung sent a personal message to photographer Hengki Koentjoro:

"Thank you for alerting us in regard to this issue. We take copyright infringement very seriously and it is very unfortunate that present case has taken place. We have disqualified the applicant of this picture and he is no longer the winner of the contest neither will he receive the prize. Further we have taken down the winner announcement posts from all our channels."

[via ImageAndView]

Zach Sutton's picture

Zach Sutton is an award-winning and internationally published commercial and headshot photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. His work highlights environmental portraiture, blending landscapes and scenes with portrait photography. Zach writes for various publications on the topic of photography and retouching.

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Previous comments

give the original owner of the picture the prize he deserve

Some of you want this guy who entered the picture to have the prize after all I have read he entered it. Take this one step further.. What IF it was YOUR picture that was used what would you want to happen??

it's a weird situation right now. As if someone robbed you and the thief decided to put the robbed item as a trophy in public space where everyone can see BUT no one can touch the thief nor the trophy because there's this barrier called Instagram. Digital crime yo!

I believe there is a large fine ($1750) associated with a violation of copy write laws.

Samsung and all other organizers of such contests should take copyright infringement more seriously. What kind of contest is that where someone use a nickname?!

How on Earth is this Samsung's fault? How are they supposed to know every single photograph in the world, who took it, where it's from, etc? That's ridiculous.

It is solely the fault of the thief. Samsung did the right thing by removing the image, and I'm sure they'll take action against the thief who swindled them, as should the actual photographer. Samsung's culpability in this really is zero, because it's impossible for anyone to be omniscient, which is what people are actually blaming them for.

Folks need to stop blaming Samsung. Those who do that don't just look foolish, they are foolish.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than to see something of yours taken and used as somebody elses. It is theft! Plain and simple. Just as if you were to break into a person's home and steal from them.How sad to think you would deserve to win with something not yours.

I am sorry but I have to stake the side of neither deserve it. If Hengki did not enter then he is not a participant also the work submitted is not his. The copyright is his and this is an illegal iteration. If you want to claim that he was unwillingly entered then well you are giving legitimacy to the photo thus then the other guy should win because he modified it or they should both win.

In this case the runner up should become the 1st prize winner and Hengki should have his photo acknowledge as a a theft and receive an honorable mention

all my photos are watermarked.. its a shame that someones original was changed.

I really don't think Samsung should be admonished in any way. How could they know this was an original photo from a photographer in Indonesia? the guy broke the rules of the contest, he is the offender. I'm sure Samsung doesn't know about my photos and I don't expect them to. They handled it well.

Don't believe that just because your image is on a website that Tineye is going to find it. Period. Or the others. Depends somewhat on how well your image has been SEO'd. Sure they have their own search routines, but many websites are not having their images "crawled" due to poor SEO on the website or by blocks made by the website host. This is an issue with some of the major Photographic website hosts...and has been for years. Also, depends on what meta data has been applied to the file. You might find the file through normal website search and not find it by image search.

He did not enter it, His image is different from the "winner". The runner-up should win. The original artist should be compensated by Samsung outside the issue of the competition for their huge mistake. The "thief" should be prosecuted by both the original artist AND by Samsung and Samsung should absorb the costs. Probably not going to get any money from the thief, but it helps spread the word that this is wrong. The thought that the thief made changes thereby making it an "original" is baloney. That is his apparent reasoning (he said he read the rules and did nothing wrong in his mind). I hate those people. Do you think the thief would have shared the reward?

Sorry, guys, but the ‘copyright’ itself has to do nothing with this story. If the stealer had published a freeware, non-copyrighted photo as his own work the fault would have been exactly the same: wearing borrowed plumes. So stop whining about stealing photos.

Firstly what fantastic publicity for the photographer and his representatives. If anyone wants to steal a photo of mine, win a competition and then get me into the press then please do.

You can read the terms and conditions but from what i have read there is nothing to state that you have to own copyright of the image to enter it. We all know how difficult holding on to that copyright is with the digital distribution of images.

The photographer should under no circumstances be awarded the prize. He did not enter the winning image into the competition and he did not create it. Unfortunately for said photographer his work has effectively been rephotographed.

Samsung has simply been naive in promoting a competition with a set of terms and conditions that do not define a photograph or an image and or ownership of it. I see the issue between photographer and winner. The photographer could always sue for the damage it has done to him!

You people are 100% slow. Screw the lil camera..Copyright was violated..Samsung should give Hengki 100,000 dollars for his picture being stolen. Now we are back on track.

Did Samsung steal his photo? Samsung is not the guilty party.

And $100,000? Please get real. That is a ridiculous sum of money for the crime. No profit was made from the theft and if anything the artist is getting free publicity out of the deal. If you still think that the artist deserves the money, please feel free to send him a check.

First off, I agree that the theft was a problem and Samsung made a mistake.

HOWEVER, how many pictures are there out there? Samsung is automatically supposed to know every single one of them? They made a mistake, took down the picture and announcement, and will not be rewarding the theft. Yes, I think a written letter of apology would be perfectly in order. Beyond that, it's called a MISTAKE.

Call me crazy, but don't post photos online in locations you are worried about being stolen. Disable right click on your website and don't post to FB (where I found the stolen photo sitting quite nicely on Koentjoro's page). It's kind of like putting a TV on your front porch and expecting people to not steal it - it's still illegal, but there's common sense too.

Samsung should award the camera to Hengki

As a full time pro I am appalled as an artist and honest human I am nearly speechless

The thief said the photographer didn't deserve the prize. Did he even apologize? geez.

This happens much too often for us and other photographers. We use the reverse google image search which is much more accurate than tineye and find our images are stolen all the time. Usually a quick DMCA letter and it's taken down or they purchase it.

But Samsung should have done a simple search online of the winning image. They could have saved themselves a lot of headaches.

Could just be me, but I actually think the flipped photo is more powerful than the original. It could be because I, as an English speaker, read from left to right so I immediately saw the biker sticking out against the background and identified it as the subject where in the original my eye was first drawn to the large dark patch and the trees. Just an observation.

Wow, so much banter. I just think Koentjoro's an amazing photographer. Contest or not, least his photography is now recognized for the awe inspiring work it is. I'm just saying, I didn't know who he was, but I do now.

In case people haven't see it, the person who stole the image has posted another, claiming they are a poor old woman who just wanted a camera for her grandson's birthday. I rather doubt an old woman was posting Pepsi and minion stuff on her page, let alone what appeared to be a selfie of some guy holding a knife (that one's been deleted).

Oh, they just deleted it. Guess the realized nobody believed them.

The guy in the image riding the motorcycle did not consent to being photographed, so the prize should be sent to me for mentioning this fact.

Okay, this is easy to fix: Give the camera to the #2 image, Apologize to Hengki and give him something else, give the guy who stole the pic and ''won'' a big middle finger.

The second place winner should get the camera!
Hengki should press charges for theft of his photography to be used in a fraud.

He should also sue the thief. This is awful.

The thief must be so proud.

This is worse than copyright infringement.. it is also Fraud. I should think that criminal charges should be filed as well.

Samsung: "We take copyright infringement very seriously"


Someone please steal my photos! I need the press haha...

What amazes me is the thief's arrogance. What a prat!

Unfortunately it is
a sign of the
times. Currently we are in an era of true with rare creations authorial
and a flood of copies and plagiarisms of artwork without true authorship.

Not only should he win the camera and be stated as the winner but the other guy should be prosecuted and taken to court. Examples need to be made of people.

Just goes to show how subjective and cavalier the epidemic of "photo contests" has become. There is no process to vett out fraud, let alone protect photographers rights. The Instant-Gramme/FaceBook policy alone will make any self respecting photographer's blood run colder that it already is. I wonder how Samsung assumes its own interests in rights to the image on top of that, upon receiving it in the submissions inbox. I will bet they want it for breakfast too. Much of this discussion misses the point of the trivializing of the art of photography and the creative rights of photographers...A well made inkjet print of this beautifull image probably sells in the photographer's gallery for 10 times what the phone is worth! These contests for swag are a joke. ~TEU~ PhotoTrainer:com

Give Hengki a camera. How is Sammsung or anyone supposed to verify if a digital submission is stolen? How could anyone intelligent be angry at the company? There is no way to accuse them of anything. This is always going to be an issue. The rip off artist should be sued and made to return the prize. Case closed.

This is NOT Samsung's fault. Sure they should have took a few extra steps to confirm who's photo it was but it was a stupid little contest via instagram.

The blame should go to the loser who stole the photo. Who is it? What's his / her name? Where is he or she located? Why are they protecting this person?

This person and his personal info should be blasted all over the web.

For me it was ok. A cloned picture for a cloner company. Lol

The best and time tested way to prevent image theft is by using a visible watermark.With tools like <a href="" title="" rel="nofollow">Mass Watermark</a> available its best to watermark before you upload