Ethical??? What’s your view on this?

Mon 12th, Aug, 2013

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Hello lovely Beach Cottage ladies.  I thought you might be interested to see some of my old cottage from a couple of other places…

Recognise that Sitting Room up there?  That’s my Sitting Room…only looking a little different…as if by magic someone waved a wand and covered my walls with polka dots!

This image is being used at the moment at this site Not on the High Street, here  - my pictures have been used from our living room and photo shopped with a Polka Dot Wall Sticker Set…




This one above is one from a while ago from Dalani Home with an image showcasing my whitewashed stencilled crate on my deck and photoshopped on top with accessories from the brand Stoneleigh and Roberson

These are not the only occasions my images have been used by other people to promote their businesses…

Neither of these parties contacted me and neither were given permission by abeachcottage to use or alter these images in any way.

What do you think?

I’d love to know your views on this ladies???


p.s. as of today I have not had any response from my attempts to contact either of these brands.


source :  top screenshot  notonthehighstreet    bottom screenshot Dalani.com.au

thanks to those readers who have alerted me as to the use of images from abeachcottage.com

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83 Responses to “Ethical??? What’s your view on this?”

  1. Smaggle says:

    Holy shit. That’s not cool. Did they at the very least link to your photo? How did you even find them? Ew. Makes me feel all icky.

  2. Theresa says:

    That is so wrong. Where is their own creativity? Jeez credit where it’s due.

  3. Rukmini Roy says:

    Argh, “chor”. That’s what we call thieves in India. That’s your room and I can tell with my eyes closed. Pure unethical.

  4. Karen says:

    Beyond wrong. I would be sooooo pissed.

  5. Oh my — I have been there and it is not a happy situation! Here’s what I have done and it is VERY strictly enforced. (1) Beef up your copyright statement! This is on my own website on every single posted page.
    ©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
    Please respect the words and images on this page.
    All rights reserved.
    (2) We have copyright laws in Australia that protect any original artwork or publication, so let them know that YOU know that. (3) Send them a bill for your services. The last time I found someone using one of my copyrighted images that is sold through my stock agency, I sent them a bill for 300 euros (I was living in France at the time) and they took it off their site quick-smart! You deserve to be (a) compensated and (b) given due credit for the work that you have produced.

    What a dreadful and lazy thing for them to do! Hope those ideas help and consider contacting the appropriate government regulatory agency regarding those who are infringing on your work. What they have done is THEFT!


    • sarah says:

      thank you very much for your input… I am sorry to hear that you have been in the same situation as this :-)

  6. Helen says:

    Heck Sarah, I think it’s outrageous that other people are using your intellectual property for their own commercial gain. The owner/creator of blog content should receive royalties from other parties who want to utilise the output from your creative endeavours. And now I am stepping down from my soapbox
    Kind regards

  7. Felicity says:

    That’s just plain mean. I can imagine you had steam coming out of your ears when you saw these. You should be paid and those sites boycotted. :(

  8. Belinda says:

    That’s not cool at all….I’d be chasing them down with a large stick. No seriously I’d do whatever you can to stop it, it’s your livelihood.

  9. Aysegul says:

    Recently read the very same thing on a Dutch photohraphers blog…She immediately sent them a bill and they immediately took the photo off ..I am from Turkey and I also see some of your photos on blogs and some sites here. I even wrote your link to couple of them in the comment section, but so far none of them were in commercial nature.. So I am keeping an eye for you on this part of the world :))

  10. Jenny says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Highly unethical is the polite way of what I think these other websites have done, surely there is something that can be done to stop this happening. Tells you a lot about there creativity and the orignal ideas that they are providing for there customers. Your true style and creativity will come out on tops in the end when everyone realises that its your ideas that have been copied.

  11. Hhhmn, It’s not Ok at all. You have put the time and effort into studying and learning about photography-and setting up your images. You deserve to be paid for your work, If they were to go about it the right way you would have sold them the rights to use the images at a reasonable rate. The only thing is- have you registered the copyright of your images? Some countries require the images to be registered in order to follow up. Have they also picked up your images from Pinterest- if you have a ‘Pin this’ it may exclude you from pursuing this. You could send a cease and desist letter. There is a way to prove in the metadata that the image is copyrighted- if you have that set up on your camera- it is very easy to do in camera( you have a 5D2?) – just read the manual and add in your name and website- copyright details. Another option for you is to set up an online account with a company like Zenfolio and sell digital downloads- with pricing for personal and commercial use, have a link to it from this blog, or a stock photo account. Also only EVER upload photos to your website here as 72dpi and 960px on the long side- same as for facebook. This makes it pretty hard to get a decent print of the image, and certainly not poster size, but they still look great on a screen. Perhaps it’s time to put a (c)……. in a corner on all your images here, do you have Lightroom? It’s easy to do from there on export. Terribly disappointing for you.

    • ps, i think those polka dots are hideous!

    • sarah says:

      thanks for all your info!

      I have requests for people to pay for the rights to my images ALL THE TIME from brands and so far haven’t sold to anyone – the whole point of me taking photo is for *my* blog!

      • I know you want to keep them for just you and if you sell them then someone else can use them on their website/blog, but they probably won’t as they don’t want to pay for them. Just make them really, really expensive! You’re good at this photography gig, maybe you could also sell other different sorts of images that don’t make it onto your blog. Imagine your images being poster sized and used by brands in shops or as advertising in magazines, could be fun!

  12. Paddy says:

    Send them an invoice, Sarah!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Send them an invoice ……. If the shoe was on the other foot I am sure they would not sit quietly and allow it to happen . Very unethical and shows a lack of professionalism on their part. Good luck


  14. Hayley says:

    That’s what happened to my husband… We have a shutter business and his photos were on another shutter business website…!! It really is hard when it happens as you feel they are taking all your hard work.

  15. judy gill says:

    omg Sarah I cant believe someone would do that to you it is awful.it is quiet unforgiveable what they have done to you.my thoughts are with you judy xxx

  16. Susan says:

    NOT ethical! Not only are they not giving you credit for your photo and or sending people to your site… they are messing with your pictures! You don’t want polka dots all over your decor! That is just not right. I would continue to send them notices :( So sorry this happened to you. (Your pictures are just that good!)

  17. Beth says:

    Very unethical. I know of a dog breeder whose photos of puppies on her website were used by multiple other dog breeder websites to solicite their puppies for sale. Bad business!

  18. Victoria says:

    Oh my gosh…no, not okay! Not okay at all!!! I’d be hopping mad over this! Harass them until they either take your photo’s down or send you a compensation check! I’m not sure if you already watermark your photo’s but if not, you may have to if people are doing this! Not to mention, those polka dots are horrible!

  19. Alice says:

    Gobsmacked! Though eBay(and the rest of web world really) is notorious for this… The same picture of the same blogger over and over again advertising the same item from different sellers…All I can think of is sending them an invoice as suggested above… Some nerve!!!! It is really disappointing :(. Most definitely not an OK thing to do.

  20. Oh my goodness!!! That’s just over the top isn’t it???? It’s wrong wrong wrong…I’m sorry you have to deal with this sweetie. The internet really is like the wild wild west…xo

  21. Mel says:

    Hi Sarah – as a marketer I can say that it is wrong and if you can to track down the agency who put the materials/website together. It is likely that the actual business may not know where the images came from and the creative agency were the ones that found them and just put them together for their client. But end game is that the company has to pay unless they sought permission.

  22. Coline Bettson says:

    Hi from Canada.

    This is interesting. Thank you for bringing it to a broad range of attention.

    Credit must be given, wherever an original is used – in music, art, writing, etc.

    Please follow up and see that your home photos are listed as ” source.”

    Martha Stewart may advise you, if you write her blog. . .

    You have a lovely home !

    Coline, Toronto

  23. That is just outrageuos.
    It seems that it is Oakdene Designs who’s resposible for placing your photo on Notonthehighstreet.com, and your photo is not the only one they’ve STOLEN. I spotted another photo that I know for sure is not theirs…
    I’m following you from Finland, and here we’d be entitled to send an invoice.

  24. Marcie says:

    This is just wrong. The reality is, when you create a world of entitlements, some think everything should be theirs too. Stealing becomes sharing, spreading the wealth around. The “takers” are growing in numbers. Expect it to happen again, that is reality. I’m sorry to say that. What can be done, speak out and up!

  25. andrea says:

    Maybe they found your image and didn’t know the original source. However, upon your contacting them, they should have the decency to reply. As far as polka dots, they are AWFUL, SO not beach cottage, and how dare they desecrate that room in that manner. AS IF. It looks like a pegasus crapped big colorful dots all over the room. Who would pay for that?

  26. Annie says:

    I’m writing to you from the States. Since your images are copyrighted, you should be able to take legal action against these sites. I love the comment about sending a bill. That would get the message across! It’s very unethical to steal someone’s images. Go get ‘em! =)

  27. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. says:

    Oh no, totally not appropriate!

  28. Anonymous says:

    That is very unethical of them. I think you should follow up on it.
    Emma x

  29. jami says:

    NOT COOL. Have they at least taken the photos down? I’d submit a nice little invoice for royalties.

  30. MDN says:

    UNETHICAL practice by these sites!

    Pursue them legally. Demand payment for the time your images have been used to date. Demand damages for modification of your images. Demand they remove your image from their websites. (You don’t want to do business with this type of organization, do you?) Demand payment for any other type of damage as a result of their posting w/o sourse permission/acknowledgement. Of course, demand payment for your legal representation costs. Make them pay through the nose for this type of theft.

    Know that you’re swamped; however, if these jerks aren’t reproached legally, they’ll continue to steal and manipulate your (and others’) work. Just demanding repayment yourself w/o getting “the law” involved isn’t much of a deterent. But, using the law – legal counsel – (which is totally on your side on this) will send a strong message – to them – and hopefully, others. I’m not into encouraging folks to take legal action; but, in this instance, they’re denegrating your work and the integrity of your site. They’ve stolen from you!

    Agree w/ many suggestions about beefing up your copyright statement, marking your images, and publishing images w/ difficult to reproduce dpi. Also, include a way for sites to access (and pay for) your images. Make it easy for vendors to do it the right way. (Then, if in the future this type of activity continues, you’ll have additional cause to collect damages.)

    It’s a shame that you, the creator/owner, are the one who must put forth extra effort to protect your work and keep thieves at bay. Your work is wonderful and creative – and worth protecting!

  31. Mimi says:

    Not Cool! Not Ethical! and just plain lazy on their part that they have to steal your lovely work. Shame on them! Mistakes happen, but not to respond to your inquiries, makes their guilt shine.

  32. Diana says:

    It sure isn’t cool at all. You work hard at everything you do. They have taken advantage of you in every way. The polka dots are awful!

  33. Nadine says:

    I think you should place prices for your images on your website, a private charge if someone wants say a good size to hang on their wall, and a great big charge for commercial purposes with limits upon what they do with the photo. After all, the second photo you could have styled much better. Whether or not you then charge people for use is up to you, But stating up front there is a charge will ensure some people /companies pay. I agree that you should chase the culprits, perhaps put a message on your site that due to breaches of your copyright, charging for your photographic art is to pay for the lawyers who will chase down miscreants. There are some programming codes that do not allow right click copy of images, but I am sure that these robbers are aware of how to bypass those. Bottom line, sue the bejeebas out of them, contact the Copyright Council of Australia for help. Good Luck

  34. shar y says:

    I am beyond shocked that they would do this. I agree with all that it is unethical and you should send them an invoice and orders to cease and desist. Also, keep us informed of who is doing the stealing. Spread the word and we all stop using those websites/vendors. Call them up for their dishonesty. I will surely not use either of the 2 above. Even if it weren’t stolen. Polka dots! Ick!

    Good luck Sarah!

  35. Ruth M says:

    I think this is definitely WRONG! I do not have a blog or a website, but I had a similar thing happen to me. As a member of a craft co-op sale, I sold some handmade items. A few weeks later, I saw one of my creations in a craft mall booth with a jacked-up price. Yes, it made my blood boil!

  36. bonitarose says:

    I have had my images taken and used before too. It’s frustrating. now I have a copyright statement on all my blogs and on facebook. it’s so frustrating.. ppl think just because it’s on the internet it’s free for the picking. NOT.

  37. jaime says:


    Suspect you have already checked http://www.copyright.org.au/ .

    This is a widespread phenomenon, unfortunately. Watermarking your photographs can help; I have seen people who have resorted to placing their watermark in the center of their photographs in order to discourage these thieves. It is a sad commentary on society today that so many people’s moral compass has been ‘deactivated.’

    On the one hand, it is rather flattering that people want another’s photographs, but it would be even more flattering if they asked permission.

    Have you considered having a lawyer send a cease and desist letter to these companies? It really would not be all that difficult to prove you are the originator of the photographs (she says tongue in cheek!)

    Good luck with this, and as several people have mentioned – watermark your photographs, and make your copyright statement very strong.

    As a final thought that just come to mind, and as much as I despair suggesting this, there is also a method that makes copying your photographs impossible. That may be your best recourse.

  38. Kim H says:

    That’s really, really crap! What’s even worse is that they don’t even have the decency to reply to your contacting them. Totally unethical and good for you for outing them. x

  39. Jill says:

    If your images are copyrighted and you can prove that was your original image that has been reproduced without your permission I would go after them legally. My aunt is currently in the process of a lawsuit with Amazon for “other” stores using Amazon to sell their items, but have illegally taken my aunt’s copyrighted images to use for their store or products.. It will be a long and drawn out process, but if she wins it will change a lot in regards to copyright and business’s using them! From what I have heard a lot of people are watching her case to see what happens and if it will set a precedent. So sorry this has happened to you!

  40. At least, it means, if you ever doubt it, that your pictures are magazine worthy or as good as a profesional’ pictures…. It’s a small bright side though, when you’re being stolen your images…

  41. merilyn says:

    you know my opinion on this sarah! … shokkker!
    In the past i reported to you seeing your photos being used by someone else without reference to you or your blog and told you of other’s being exploited too!
    via designseeds.com and her respect ideals.
    when I was studying art we had a business component which taught us about copyright laws.
    I don’t put my artwork out there for that very reason …
    toooo easy to steal it and I worked tooo hard to create it!
    the problem is not everyone is educated about these matters … albeit they must be a bit dumb!
    original work is what we all should be aiming for not copying others or more to the point … stealing!
    it is a real problem and needs serious vigilance to stop it! what to do is the question?
    good luck honey! always willing to help with this matter of copyright! cheers m:) x


  42. Candice says:

    Hi Sarah I am still catching up with your posts and web life from down time here . Wow I am feeling your pain. After reading the many replies you have as they are all so awesome , I am so cranky for u . I have spent a long time waiting and learning to blog for myself and to guide and help my teen daughter for her photo blog to be . It is very tricky to be a one of a kind blog and we are working very hard off-line to create .that . Baby Steps . My biggest fear is to be seen as a idea copy blog person by error..Well after the theft you have experienced I just want to scream and throw white paint everywhere . How can we help ? I would love to support you in anyway . Theft is a horrible thing to experience . These cowards who didn’t reply to you are thieves. Its that simple . They would of responded if it was done by error . Group Hugs from Candice , Sunshine Coast . Time for coffee need 2 sugars feeling bitter . .

  43. Keren says:

    Oh wow, that would totally give me a shock to see my own personal house photos re-jiggered with foreign items and then put in a shop for all to see! Did you feel kind of weird when seeing that?? That is totally Not.On. I would imagine one of the first things you should always do when using the internet for your own shop etc is to check you are doing everything above board. Surely!! How hard would it be to check copyright? And then maybe do something crazy and set up your own styling set? Wow. Sorry that this has happened to you.

    • sarah says:

      you would think so! or you would pay for copyright for images…

      I just was horrified to see my wall covered in hideous dots!!!

  44. Lidija says:

    This is nothing else but cyber crime and intellectual property theft :((
    The only thing that gives me comfort is that they didn’t stole fotos with little, handsome Barley :)*
    xx Lidija

  45. Candi says:

    When I find our images being used for anything other than to be pinned I send a bill for $1,500 Canadian. People know better, I’m tired of people pretending they don’t know. Lack of common sense as an excuse especially in the internet age is inexcusable.

  46. Babynurse says:

    That’s really not ok, as some others have said send them .an invoice. I’m sorry this happened to you Sarah. I love your home and your blog

  47. Mary says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Is the photo used from Instagram? I believe anything that you post to Instagram can be used by anyone. I heard of a similar story from someone that had taken a photo of their child and it had been used by someone else for advertising. I think you need to check the terms and conditions of any of those so called free apps, especially Instagram.

  48. Jodi R says:

    I would send them a bill. The copyright on your Blog is plenty clear enough. Keep the screen shots and even if they take it down I would still expect them to pay for the period they have used it. So unfair of them to try and steal your creative property & they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

  49. CC says:

    I watched an episode of Oprah once and an American family had travelled O.S. and drove past a supermarket and saw their family photo supersized being used to advertise the business. It had apparently been taken from their Facebook page without authorisation. Since then I’ve always assumed that what I put out on the net can be lifted by anyone so am very careful what I put out there. That’s easy for me but very difficult for professional people like you where it’s your work. Hope it gets sorted out. Must be what all the designers feel like when they see their bags & sunglasses etc being ripped off & sold in markets.

  50. alison says:

    Very unethical! It’s awful that on top of your hard work that goes into your delightful blog you now have to put in more hard work to protect it.

    alison xo

  51. I’ve had my images ripped off a couple of times. I watermark all my images, but they just cropped them a bit closer. I contacted them about them ripping them off, and they acted like I should be grateful that they deigned to use them, but reluctantly removed them. Talk about rude!

  52. Invoice them. Period. They need to pay you for using the images AND take them down. Commercial purposes even…the GALL of people. What would they do if someone just took product from them without paying? I have had it up to the proverbial “there” with the disrespect for photography as valuable content. It needs to stop. The theft of imagery and the lack of budget for photography has to stop. If the content you created was not worth something to them, they would not be using it. They want to sell something and they have used your work to do so because it makes their crap look good. Go get them, Sarah. Shame on them both.

    • sarah says:

      thanks, the worst thing is the attitude of the website company who believe they can just wash their hands of it and pass the buck! :-)

  53. I can’t believe how bold they are. In my opinion these images belong to you. Can’t believe you haven’t had a response from them. They obviously don’t think you can do anything about it. I hope you can. It’s your hard work!

  54. Nikki says:

    That’s just plain ridiculous, and basically everyone has said above what I was going to say. Not on, not right and not nice. PS: BEAUTIFUL blog and stunning pics. Love it all. :)

  55. I would not let this go- this is completely unethical and illegal. Unfortunately in the wildly free and easy environment of the internet- there seem to be quite a lot of individuals and companies who don’t have the slightest clue as to what is unethical – they just have blatant disregard for the intellectual property of others. So when you see this kind of abuse- you need to enlighten them.

    Your blog is just absolutely gorgeous- What a beautiful way of life. Love it!


  56. Thea says:

    It looks like they have photoshopped onto someone else’s photos now. What a cheek!

  57. Cizi says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I’m appalled by this, can’t add anything to what’s already been said about copyright and what should be done etc. This kind of highly unethical behaviour is very distressing. Sending lots of caring thoughts, to make up for it, a little bit. Cizi