Stealing Images is Wrong

Eric Herman Headshot

I could almost let that headline stand alone, but for the sake of driving home an important point, I’ll elaborate.

I was recently talking with my good friend, David Knox, founder and fountainhead behind Lightstreams Glass Tile, when he mentioned that he had recently been the victim of image theft. Specifically, another company that sells glass tile lifted his images off of the Lightstreams website and posted them as if said images were their own. To make matters worse, the offending company placed their own watermark on the images as if to “protect” their own rights. 

Wow! That takes a form of brass that is almost mind-bending! Unfortunately, it’s not all that unusual. 

Over my years covering this industry, I’ve seen many instances where one company takes the work of another and posts it on their website. Not surprising, it tends to happen to the best companies who have work that is worth showing off. In the case of Lightstreams, their site is loaded with spectacular images of high-end custom work featuring the company’s distinctive and visually dynamic product and like many others, they’ve been ripped off by lesser firms. In Lightstreams’ case, they’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars on professional photography, so it’s no stretch at all to say that the crime here is grand theft. 

This is a serious problem for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s theft, plain and simple. Second, it’s fraud; a scam to deceive potential customers who may very well wind up spending their hard-earned dollars with a company that does not have the capability of delivering the product claimed to be their own. And third, it compromises the reputation of the entire industry. In effect, through this form of thievery, a very small number of unscrupulous players bring us all down with them. 

With all that in mind, let’s be categorical on this front — stealing images is wrong.

If you’re guilty of this crime, stop it. If you’re considering going in that direction, don’t. And if you’re the victim of this theft, take immediate action to make the offending party cease and desist. 

I often wonder how the imposter’s internal conversation goes: “Hey, I know, let’s steal other people’s pictures and act like they’re our own.” As if that’s some kind of viable game plan. Do they not think they’ll get caught eventually? Is lying considered a productive strategy? Frankly, the whole thing mystifies me, and just flat out infuriates me. 

It reminds me of the time figure skater Tanya Harding decided it somehow made sense to have a moron club her No. 1 competitor, Nancy Kerrigan, in the knee with a metal pipe, rather than simply compete on merit. To me, those who steal images are that stupid, that wrong and that pathetic. 

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