Spurious websites featuring iNaturalist photographs without author permission

I found a website that is selling items with photos taken from iNaturalist. I have sent them a DMCA takedown email for some of my photos, but I’m sure they have many of your photos for sale as well.

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I don’t see how they’re going to sell anything with such a horrible website. Is it even for real? Appears to be out of Russia. How did you find out they were using your pics?

I’m not sure if its even safe to click the link–I’d be wary. Maybe warn folks to not click it?

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Occasionally I make a Google reverse search on my photos to see if they are being sold. I’ve had it happen before. I found a website for an aquarium shop in Oregon that had a dozen of my photos as well as many from friends of mine on their website. We had the photos removed, and a couple of months later, the website was down and the shop was out of business. I doubt I’ll have the same luck with a company in Russia. I haven’t looked to see how many photos they have stolen from iNaturalist.

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That “company” can be anywhere, it’s a scam site, so I’m not sure what any of us would do to that, because nobody would use this site, as it’s obviously not a real one. Just read the “about us” section.

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Many photos on iNaturalist are on Creative Commons licenses. Pictures can probably be used with attribution to the original creator, non commercial uses and a few other conditions. Some photos are public domain, and some with copyright retained by the author. I’m not going to click on that link.

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(just noting I removed the link to the website in question so that people don’t visit it and potentially have anything negative happen, and also reworded the title to more accurately reflect the topic)

also, welcome to the forum Phil :)

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I also check when StatCounter shows me my blog photos have been scraped.
Using GoogleLens to Send Feedback, seems to work better that trying to reach a ‘fake’ site. If Google doesn’t list them ahead of me in Search - that works for me.

My most popular download is the map of False Bay on my sidebar. Used as convenient - click - cover - for surfing porn at work? Probably the same intention with any random Nature picture.

Instead of clicking the dubious link, ask Google to search for it. Then you get the fake site info instead.

Why would anyone buy a photo which is freely available on the internet??

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I sometimes have wondered about that, too. There must be customers who do that. Otherwise, why would stock photography sites offer public domain images for sale? Are they adding anything of value to justify asking money for them? Maybe it’s just about convenience.

Based on the comments above though, it sounds like this particular case may have been a scam site. The primary goal may be to bring in clicks, and they’ll copy just about anything that works for that.

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Recently I found my photos from iNat on Shutterstock. I wrote a letter to the support service regarding license infringement, because photos were used for commercial purposes, with no credits and notifications. They responded quickly and removed the photos from the site.

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There is an old thread on the forum about a website which stole a ton of peoples’ photos off of iNat, and the purpose was not to sell them but to look like they were selling them so that the photographers would go and click on sketchy links on the website.

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Wow. Behavior like this often reminds me of the strategies used by predator and prey in the food-chain arms race. Not to in any way romanticize fraud by the comparison to plants and animals. But it is analogous behavior, and I - maybe perversely - find that comforting. We really are just animals. Sui generis in some respects, but still just animals.

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it’s not just clicking on sketchy links. if you’re sending the site a proper takedown notice without going through an agent, you’re telling the site exactly who you are and providing contact information. even if the site is reputable, there could be situations where the site can be obligated to make this information available to who knows who is the sketchy party on the other side.

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People love to steal. Dirty-grubbin’ everybody else’s stuff. It’s nice to fight it when you can but sometimes it spirals too far to get a grasp. I’ve definitely admitted defeat plenty of times because of that. Definitely be careful with sketchy links. This seems hopefully manageable but obviously be careful while doing so, because just like people love stealin’, they love trickin’.

You photos are pretty great. How deep do you have to go to see those animals? They look magical and wonderful .

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And a PS
Using StatCounter on a daily basis to check for my downloaded blog photos.
As usual ‘my’ screenshot False Bay map.

One came from Germany
And - one - came from iNat forum - and is in Tucson, Arizona.

I am actually very honored whenever someone reuses my iNat observations and I even encourage many to do so. I am not a professional photographer so when someone reuses my iNat observation this is some sort of endorsement that I am at least a decent photographer.

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I presume that Tucson forum user was me, though I didn’t actually “download” the picture, just right-clicked to open it in a new tab. After your earlier post, I wanted to see what your famous blog map was like!

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StatCounter shows me Exit Links, Downloads and Came From. Since I use it as a free service only the last few weeks info is available for me.