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My Most Stolen Photograph: A Love Note

My most famous photo: A Love Note. Its the one that no one seems pay for. And, how I plan to avoid future theft of my intellectual property.

A Love Note Image

Love Note, ©1997 Matt McKee
Love Note, ©1997 Matt McKee

The image “A Love Note”, below and in the header, was one I created back in 1997 on a 4×5 camera, working after hours in Mike DeCicco’s studio, after a long day of photographing products for an educational catalog.

He had a very nice fountain pen in the props drawer and it just called out to be included in a conceptual, editorial image. He was kind enough to give me access to the studio and, while handing me the keys, he said, “Just lock up when you are done.”

I shot it, scanned it on a Leafscan and plopped it into my blog. And, then didn’t think much more about it.

Since then, it has appeared over 200 times online. Without payment. Without credit. Without acknowledgement.

In other words, my property was stolen.

The Pixsy Revelation

About a year ago, I started using a service called Pixsy.com to see where some of my images may have ended up. To my chagrin, a sizable number have been used by people who swiped them right from my portfolio sites and used them for everything from blogs to commercial sites and contact us forms.

What really was surprising was the number of people who swiped who really should know better. After all, if you are a writer or a blogger, you have a vested interest in protecting your own intellectual property.

Therefore, how can you justify stealing someone else’s?

A friend of mine said that I shouldn’t be surprised and that, in a way, it was flattering.

I disagree.

Nothing is more flattering than getting fair value for your hard work. Seeing it stolen is just discouraging and disheartening.

By the way, the image is available for use legally, for a fair value fee. Just follow this link to download it for your blog.

ps. Since I started using Pixsy.com, I have recovered several use fees for stolen images. Not enough to offset the loss of potential income, but enough to pay for the service and time wasted on thefts.

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