I’ve come down with a serious case of writer’s insomnia. I wake up at the ungodly hour of 3am with what Shaun lovingly calls “racing mind syndrome.” I used to chalk it up to worry and struggle to fall back asleep until 6am, when I would begrudgingly roll out of bed with a chip on my shoulder. These days, I realize it is part of my crazy creative process. So? I’m writing a book. Hold the laughter. I can hear it, and it’s not nice!
In the meantime, I have all of these topics swirling through my head and I want to share them with you. I’ve realized in teaching workshops that I can’t possibly share everything I’ve learned (and am still learning) about beating the odds in this insane industry in just 3 days. So after you come meet us in person (by signing up right here!), you can keep in touch with me on our learning website. I’ll be blogging (at 3am), answering FAQ’s, writing newsletters (join the list) and writing my book. I still hear the laughter. Tisk, tisk!
So my first topic today is a hot one. Grab some ice water, unbutton your shirt, and enjoy!
Competition. Yup. I have a lot to say about it. One of our biggest FAQ’s is, “Heidi, doesn’t it piss you off when people copy you?” The truth is, I don’t care anymore. Really. But, I did once and I want to share how I got over it because it was LIFE CHANGING.
First, lets define the two types main types of copying.
There is the illegal kind, AKA Copyright Infringement. This is a NO-NO. When someone uses or displays a photo you have taken, or steals text or content from your written work without your consent or crediting you, it is Copyright Infringement. Be it another photographer, an etsy shop, a blog selling cat food, or your client’s great grandmother…. it’s all the same. Displaying or reproducing your photography or copy without your consent is illegal over here in America. With the advent of Social Media and especially Pinterest, the lines have become heavily blurred and frankly it can become a full time job to keep up with it. I sure as heck know I don’t want to invest all of my energy into this aspect of my business. If you are confronted with copyright infringement, my best advice is hand the whole thing over to your lawyer. Send them the websites and let them handle the rest. Don’t have the money for a lawyer? Then you need to reexamine your business plan, and we’ll talk more about that in another post. Does it stink that some loser stealing your work is costing you legal fees? It sure does. Coming from experience, I can tell you the sooner you chalk it up to a Cost of Doing Business, the better.
I’m not giving thieves a free pass here. I like seeing a thief punished just as much as you. If you want your daily dose of industry drama, there are some fabulous websites out there trying to combat this problem head on. Check out the site PS Don’t Steal. Sometimes I grab some popcorn and read the comment section of sites like this. That shit can get REAL!
Is there anything you can do to protect yourself against this type of theft? Yes. The first thing you should do is register your work with the Federal Copyright Office. Peter Krogh wrote a very informative article HERE. Another thing that will help protect you and your clients from image theft is to watermark any image that you upload to the web. We released ONE unwatermarked photo to a vendor back-in-the-day and it was our most stolen image ever. The darn thing is even pinned on one of Pottery Barn’s inspiration boards with no credit or link back to HHP anywhere! Bummer dude. I’m sure it’s selling millions of pettiskirts all over the world. And I haven’t seen a dime. Forgiveness. Let’s move on.