Why Stealing Instagram Images Is Never Okay

Hey booklovers,

I hope you are all doing well and staying safe. We just entered Stage 4 Restrictions here in Melbourne for 6 weeks which is disheartening but necessary.

Today’s blog is a bit more of a rant than anything about why it is not okay to steal images. This was brought on by a Instagram account stealing an image of mine (featuring Colin) and refusing to take it down, so #operationremovecolin was born.

Here is a rundown of what happened.
I received a few messages from some amazing followers (this is why our community rocks btw) alerting me to the fact that a giveaway image of Colin was being used by another account for their own giveaway.
So I check out the link and sure enough the image had been screen shot off my account then cropped.
Below is the giveaway post in question.

I messaged the account asking them to remove my image. No reply – they had seen it but ignored it.

I left a comment on their giveaway saying I did not give them permission to use my image and I would like it to be removed. They then deleted my comment. Clearly trying to hide that the image was not their own. During this time I get more messages from fabulous people letting me know they have seen it and reported it.

I left more comments requesting they remove my image, again they kept deleting them. I was so frustrated by this point that I put a story up with a link to the post encouraging people to report the post and account (this is where #operationremovecolin came in). I filled in insta’s copyright form and off it goes – we will get back to you hopefully within 24 hours they said. That’s a pretty good turn around time considering the volume of requests they would get.

By this time they have blocked me, but that doesn’t stop my friends checking to see if they have removed the post. They had not.
A few hours later the post had been removed  and #operationremovecolin was a success. The account was now set to private. Insta also got back to me saying that the offending post had been removed.  I am not sure if the account finally realised that they can’t steal images and get away with it of if insta stepped in and did it for them.

Not long after this I get the rude message below saying that the image was all over Pinterest and it was rude to call out this one account. For starters the image was not on Pinterest, I reversed searched via Pinterest and Google and my insta account was the only hit. And secondly if it had made it’s way onto Pinterest, the images are still subject to copyright. I did not bother to reply to this and just blocked the account. 

So what is the issue here?
Using images that do not belong to you and ignoring requests from the owner of the content.

Why is it bad?
1. It’s stealing
2. I do not want my brand tied to other accounts without my permission or input- This was my cat, my books, my giveaway post that were taken without my permission.
3. I do not want my brand tarnished if it was a scam. It may have been a legitimate giveaway, it might not have been. I did not build up my account only for it to be damaged by thieves.
4. The image that was stolen had taken time and effort to be taken in the first place. The photo had to be  staged, props were included, the photo is edited – ultimately its a form of art. Some people will argue that it’s just taking pictures of books – how hard can that be? If it’s so easy to do then why steal the image in the first place? When you spend you time creating something the last thing you want is to have it stolen.
5. Ignoring requests from the content owner is ridiculously rude. What made it worse was that this account was called out for doing the wrong thing privately and refused to talk to me. Then they erased any comments that called out that the content was stolen and blocked me. They had a chance to do the right thing, to apologise if it was a genuine mistake and to remove the image. But they chose to do the wrong thing and I encouraged my followers to help me out by reporting the image and account.

What should you do if you use someone’s image?
You should never use someone’s image in your feed without permission. If you make an honest mistake and are contacted by the content owner – listen to them. They may want you to delete the pic or just update the caption to credit them.
If you see an image you would like to share in your feed then reach out to the owner and chat to them. More often than not if you credit and tag them in the image – it would be okay. I am more than happy to have my pictures shared as long as they are credited and traceable.

Can I share pictures in my stories?
Yes – but you must tag the content owner. This way they can see it and know where their content is going. Just like when you do a shout out in your stories for accounts you love – always tag the owner and they will probably give you a shout out back.

I’m scared to share images now. How do I know what is okay?
The genuine rule of thumb I have is my feed is for my own content that I create and I use my stories to share all the amazing stuff I find in our community. If you want to feature an awesome pic in your feed just ask for permission – our community is great and bookstagrammers are lovely. If you share anything in your stories be sure to tag the owner of the content.

I’ve seen an image that belongs to someone else and they aren’t credited. What should I do?
Think about how you would feel. Would you want to know?
Please let the content owner know. Copy the link if you can or directly send the post to the owner letting them know. We really appreciate it. I have done this countless times in the past because I know how it feels to have it done. To see someone else take credit for your work is hard so please if you see it, tell the person who owns it. They can decide on how to handle it from there.

I’ve seen an image that belongs to someone else and they are credited. What should I do?
Nothing. If they are tagged in the picture or caption they will be able to trace it.

What are the key messages here?
Don’t take images that don’t belong to you and if you do so by mistake – listen to the owner.
Don’t be a jerk and ignore requests.
Don’t be a jerk and attack the owner for protecting their content.
Don’t think that because you found a picture on the internet – it’s up for grabs. Copyright is a thing.
The issue here is stealing content and framing it as your own.

I hope this will help you in some way by either protecting your own content or helping other bookstagrammers protect theirs.

Thanks for listening to my rant,
Kimberley xx

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