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PhotoStealers.com Being Sued, Asking For Support

By Hanssie on June 18th 2015

I became familiar with PhotoStealers when I got a pingback on an old portrait session of a long time client. The link took me to the PhotoStealers’ website informing me that another photographer had cropped out my photo and was using it on her website as her own. As I scrolled through pages and pages of the PhotoStealers.com website, I was in shock and awe that 1) people would stoop so low as to steal someone’s work and 2) that the person who runs PhotoStealers, a photographer named Corey Ann, had dedicated so much time and effort to track down these people. Each entry had documented screenshots, linkbacks to the original photos and in many cases, the reaction from the accused. Supported only through funds and ads, Corey Ann’s passion was to track down “fauxtographers,” as she calls them.

Photostealers-lawsuit-1

It was destined to happen in this lawsuit happy world, and now, Corey Ann is facing an impending lawsuit from someone she called out on the site. At the same time, Corey Ann is dealing with another photographer she featured who had been stealing Corey’s own work. This photographer has been trying to take down the PhotoStealers site by hiring hackers and leaving negative reviews, posing as a former client. Corey Ann is gearing up to file a lawsuit of her own. She has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to keep the site going and to pay for impending legal fees.

In just a few hours and at the writing of this post, 83% of the goal had been met. If you are interested in donating, you can check out her GoFundMe page here. If you have a few hours and want to catch up on the extensive story of the battle between PhotoStealers and the plaintiff, with screenshots, check out this site that documents the timeline of events.

[Thanks Chris for the tip!]

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com. Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. robert garfinkle

    So, my ma has a business, a while back, many years ago, she had a co-worker steal her customer list and open up a similar business. that woman’s business was destine to fail. Why? because all that lady could do was steal, and she’d undercut my mom’s prices to get the sale. well, suffice it to say – that woman’s business did fail…

    and so will those businesses that are run by crooked people – you get sued, bad reviews, and you, in the end, know nothing except how to cheat from others, lie your way through life. it lasts a short why until the game is up, you’re caught… people don’t tolerate it well…

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  2. Stephen Jennings

    She could accidentally damage someones reputation pretty easily.. it is quite risky what she’s doing. For example, I have watermarked photographs all over the place, social media, my site, I’ve seen my stuff on google and bing image searches. I also sell photos non-watermarked as stock from my site or other places. So if she had seen someone crop/edit/change whatever an image they legitimately purchased rights to, attacked that persons reputation as a fraud .. well she would be legally liable for libel. I get it if she’s using cases where the photographer brings the issue to her, in which case she’s awesome, but from some of the cases I read on her site it seems like she found them? Maybe it’s just her writing style or something..

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    • Barry Chapman

      From what I read she says she contacts the person who she believes has appropriated photos before blogging about it, to give them the chance to remove the offending images and/or explain. It would seem to make sense also to contact the photographer whose images have been used, but that doesn’t seem to have happened in Hanssie’s case.

      And of course the issue she’s most trying to highlight is photographers using the work of others and claiming it as their own. While purchasing your photos from a stock agency means that others have the right to post them on their websites, does it give them the right to claim them as their own work?

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    • Stephen Jennings

      Which is great, but still kinda iffy.. I mean if you used stock photos, free, paid or otherwise (which is completely legal to do if you have rights tot he photos) to advertise your business would you admit it to a random blogger who contacts you?

      I mean you can tell these people are using photos that are not theirs .. their photos are usually out of focus, grainy, just plain horrible images and than suddenly BOOM perfection lol.. anyone can see that. I’m just curious as to how Corey Anne can be so certain she’s targeting a legitimate source, it seems mathematical that eventually she will target someone who broke no copyright infringement and end up on the wrong side of a lawsuit.

      Really going over her site the thing that sticks out most is.. damn .. there are a lot of horrible photographers out there getting business, I don’t know why I find that so depressing lol. :P

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    • Dustin Baugh

      You should check out the blog, and specifically this case. It’s not a case using stock photography on their site. It’s them stealing pictures off other people’s business sites, erasing their watermark and adding their own. Then making up full background stories about the clients in the photo and what they did at the photo-shoot that they never shot.

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    • Terry Osborne

      Stephen, I hear you on the possibility of getting it wrong but Corey is pretty meticulous on the images she pulls out that are stolen. In fact I have even seen examples of people posting other people’s pictures on their Facebook page and then making up children’s names and taking credit for the images. In all honesty these idiots almost make it too easy to be outed because they are so blatant, mainly because I think they don’t really give a crap about anyone but themselves. Let’s all get behind Corey she is doing all of us a great (free) service.

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  3. Michael Old

    ummm …..just wow – reading through everything

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  4. Tosh Cuellar

    what a way to waste a few hours, what a wild battle that is, very interesting stuff

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  5. Barry Chapman

    While I admire what Corey Ann has been trying to do with her site I wonder how she does it . There are just so many photographer’s websites out there that I can’t imagine how you’d go about finding photos that had been appropriated from others. Is there more to it than just looking at websites all day and being able to notice when (and where) you’ve seen a photo before? I know there are programs to check if your own images have been posted online – does she run those checks on photos of others?

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    • Justin Haugen

      If I’m not mistaken, people bring examples to her.

      personally, I would never run a site like that without anonymity while also running a photography business publicly.

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    • Ryan Venedam

      Sometimes there are photos that stick with you, that you definitely remember as someone’s work. Usually people bring some kind of documented evidence go her first, and she goes from there. If there is any doubt, a quick Google reverse image search can’t hurt!

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  6. Justin Haugen

    ughhh, my brain hurts after reading everything >_<

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    • Hanssie

      I had to skip through some of the stupidity in many of the posts. I mean, who has that much time on their hands…besides the two accused?

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    • Justin Haugen

      I skimmed through a lot of the nonsense. What a mess. Ultimately, I’d like to see Corey come out on top in all this, but i wonder how far is too far. At some point you have to be realizing you’re dealing with relentless idiots and there is a point of diminishing returns in getting people to fess up to their mistakes.

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  7. Jesper Ek

    Cheaters gonna cheat…

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    • Paul Empson

      “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men ( or women ) to do nothing.” ;-)

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  8. Adam T

    I think the photographers that had their work stolen should ban together and file a class action and repay them with a hand full of Karma

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