How It Works

February 2nd, 2015

If fotoLibra is informed of any unauthorised usage of a fotoLibra image by a UK limited company we will immediately follow it up with a demand for payment. If that isn’t successful, and the image belongs to one of our Pro or Platinum contributors, we will institute court proceedings.

Getty Images allow bloggers to use their 30 million images for free. We will not pursue bloggers who use watermarked fotoLibra images, but we will send a request for them to link to the original Preview image on fotoLibra.

However, the commonest misuse of watermarked images from fotoLibra is by aggregation sites.  The Internet is a wondrous thing, God wot, and sometimes it will do things without reference to any human agency. Someone with a name like Dave Spart in NYC has created an aggregation site to generate stories. Its sole raison d’être is to attract humans to click on a link. That is all it does, and all it wants to do. As a result Mr Spart is now a billionaire.

What his app does is borrow, steal or create a story, usually in pictures, which then has a compelling headline added, so people are enticed to click and read it. The Mail Online loves using these. Spart then charges his advertisers per click. And he is very successful at attracting advertisers.

You’ve all seen what I mean: You’ll Never Believe What This Teenage Mom Found In Her Attic! or Awesome Landscape Photos Show Terrifying Effects Of Nature; 23 Fruits And Veggies That Practically No One Knew Existed. #5 Is Trippin’ Me Out or This Pilot Stuck His Camera Out The Window And What He Captured Will Blow Your Mind. You know the sort of thing. They Cannot Help Capitalising Every Word. And It Clearly Doesn’t Take Much To Blow A Typical Punter’s Mind.

One of the biggest click stories recently was based on a book titled “What I Eat” by Faith D’Aluisio and Peter Menzel. The writer and photographer spent four years and a million dollars researching, writing and photographing the book.  It was concentrated into 20 images online, headed with catchlines like “What People Eat Around The World”, “See The Incredible Differences In The Daily Food Intake Of People Around The World” and “80 People, 30 Countries And How Much They Eat On A Daily Basis.” Spart probably made a fortune from the feature. No payment — or even credit — was made to D’Aluisio and Menzel.

Is this fair? No.

Will it be stopped? No.

Will D’Aluisio and Menzel be compensated? No.

Will Spart get richer? Yes.

Will fotoLibra pursue unauthorised image usage on our contributors’ behalf? Yes, under the terms we have described above.

Will we sue Mr Spart? No. He’s in the US, and he’s richer than us. And he is probably unaware his site is using any of our images … if it is.

I’ve never found any of our watermarked images on his site.

But I’m still annoyed!


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7 Responses to “How It Works”

  1. Max says:

    “We will not pursue bloggers who use watermarked fotoLibra images”. Egad! This seems somewhat at odds with your earlier post here

    Just to be clear, is this statement based on the assumption that any blogger who’s happy to snaffle a watermarked image is unlikely to ever pay for it anyway, so at least fotoLibra might get a teeny bit of ‘link juice’? I can’t imagine that many of the ‘budget bloggers’, especially outside UK jurisdiction, are going to bother responding to such a link request, and might just choose to swap the image out for some other poor schmuck’s instead. But perhaps I have insufficient imagination.

    For nor do I imagine that many of the casual readers of those esteemed publications will subliminally become aware of the glorious image resource that is fotoLibra (fees be upon Them) by noticing the watermark as they devour the latest gossip or linkbait the images may be being used to illustrate.

    I can imagine, if I try hard, that maybe more of fotoLibra’s – of course by that I mean fotoLibra’s contributors’ – watermarked images will show up in direct Google Image searches that other would-be publishers might perform as they scour the web for pictures they can nick I mean license.

    So, could you elaborate on the business case for your declaration which even falls short of ‘stop, or I’ll say stop again!’ (

    While I agree aggregation sites are to all intents and purposes unpoliceable, Getty has approached the thorny bloggy issue by doing an ’embedding’ deal, and Klein has stated in a recent interview with Yale ( that ultimately ‘it’s the data, stupid’ (scroll to ~12 mins in that linked video). Alas and alack, fotoLibra is slightly less powerful than Getty, and remains a mere ‘good old-fashioned’ image library.

    I hate that my comments on the fotoLibra blog always seem so negative, so I would love it if you (or your readers) can give me an ‘up side’ to this (NB: telling me that the lost revenue involved is tiny will not make me feel any better).

    To make amends, I do have a suggestion. Rather than merely turning the other cheek, why not ‘reach out’ (possibly my most loathed Newspeak phrase) to the perpetrators and ask them if they’d like to become affiliates for fotoLibra? After all, they did choose to ‘fly fotoLibra’ (albeit as stowaways) and each decided at least one image had utility. Perhaps, in exchange for a small fee, they might like to actually license it and then enjoy the opportunity to make a teeny wee percentage on images others subsequently license via said affiliate link? Alamy has finally (and rather quietly, I might add) ventured into those murky waters ( – so why not fotoLibra? Sun Tzu has much to teach.

    Sorry, I mean How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Capitalization, And The New World Order, And Lions And Tigers And Bears Oh My!)


  2. Derek Metson says:

    Agree with you all the way Gwyn.

    Copyright abuse has always been around. It’s just got much easier with simple misuse of technology. Even picture users that used to be reputable and honest now want something for nothing and certgainly don’t want to pay.
    People who should be making a good income from skilled photography are now undercut by people who just want to be able to say ‘My picture was on the telly yesterday. Isn’t that wonderful!’ No, it isn’t!

    • John Cleare says:

      I think another of the problems these days, Derek, is so-called Picture Editors who can’t tell a good picture from a mere snap. Or don’t care. Anything for an easy life.
      Indeed, I’ve worked with Art Directors ( again ‘so-called’ ) who were hardly old enough to shave and who didn’t know chalk from cheese.

      The Picture Researchers with whom we used to work were educated, erudite folk, usually charming ladies who knew their subjects and were equipped with well developed critical faculties – where are they now ?

      It’s a different world

  3. John Cleare says:

    Indeed, safeguarding one’s intellectual property is fast becoming a full time job.
    A chum of mine ( quite famous ) is an adventure film-maker, a one-man band, and he placed one of his old films with a specialist digital film rental firm from whom he receives a very small fee per rental. Recently he discovered his film has been ripped off and is on Youtube, and to he was able to discover to his horror how many times it had been unloaded and viewed worldwide. He calculated the total payments he would have received had these been legitimate rentals and it came to several million pounds. But what can he do ? Who is responsible ? It’s a sad state of affairs.

    Meanwhile returning to your lazy Editing blog of the autumn, our bête noir, even from supposedly educated journalists, both broadcast and print, is WAS SAT or WAS STOOD rather than SITTING or STANDING…and so on. It really grates. Do schools teach Grammar now these days?

  4. Kevin Fitzmaurice-Brown says:

    I have used a very successful method against infringers even in India. Scared the hell out of them.

    This millionaire is on thin ice. Just inform him that there are images on his site that are illegal copyright infringed and that you will contact his advertisers and inform them and prove with evidence of the infringement.
    That because he does not control his site that is no excuse. He owes money.
    He thinks he is invulnerable. Now Inform him that you will contact all his advertisers and tell them. They are given 3 days. after that they will be charged with being an accomplice to the fact. They have been informed and if they continue to advertise their will be charged. Most infringers immediately drop the image. Those who don’t lose all their advertisers very rapidly Amazon etc have dropped their ads within hours of me informing them and providing evidence. So this millionaire can be stopped easily ! Please forgive typing on friends old PC and keybaord is crap

  5. Mike Mumford says:

    Just doing some much needed spring cleaning of backup my files. Came across Gwyn’s blog, it must have got lost in hyperspace, I look forward to the next watermarked blog as its the only way I find of protecting my work. Please see my latest ebook on Lifeboat History:

  6. Ian Garfield says:

    I am in the wrong job. I was going to start up one of these aggregate websites, you’ll never believe what happened next. It blew my mind. . . .