It’s Just Pennies From Heaven When Copying Images from the Internet


These images were done for my photo group that I talked about a few weeks ago. The subject was coins. The question for the day is, “Do you think it is OK to copy photos you find on the internet?”


After getting my photo removed from one submission because the moderator thought there was not enough bark in a unique photo, I made sure the coins were plentiful.


Talking with a friend of mine brought up an issue I have been noticing more and more. If you want to shoot a nice image others will ooh and ah over, just copy ones you see published.

I like these discussions with my creative friends because they always seem to go in different directions. My friend sees this as no problem, but I don’t agree.

I purposefully submit on the first day to the photo group so as not to be influenced by other photographers’ work. Not to unintentionally steal any idea. He would wait to make sure to best the other entries, but “That is not what this discussion is about,” I say. “It is about copying.”

“Copying does not matter because the internet encourages imitation, not creativity anyway,” he says seriously. “Huh?” is my reaction.

“Skill has to be learned over time, so how is copying fair?” I counter. He snaps back that “You can’t rip off skill.” Yes he got me there, but he is still off the point. Copying does not necessarily mean one needs to be highly skilled.

I guess I have to be philosophical about copying. I discussed this subject before in a four-part series on creativity. I do understand the part copying plays in learning a craft, but those copying for the sake of getting a memorable image, well that is just not cool in my book. What do you think?

If one sees a beautiful or unique shot, is inspired by the composition and subject matter, tries to faithfully replicate it – is that being inspired or outright stealing an idea? My friend and I had differing opinions. His view is if it is good, it will be copied. Does copying exactly equal inspired?


I shot all these images before we were to post them, but was sure there would be photos like above and below. There was both since each setup is not too original.

I wanted to make my submission a bit different from what others might do, so I thought on the matter until I came up with a WAY to be different. My friend did like my submitted photo.


There is an advantage to taking photos of wildlife. It is hard to copy exactly when you have a subject you can’t ask them to look a certain way, show up at a prescribed time, do something cool and memorable, or move to where the light is ideal. Just not something easy to duplicate. One reason why I like wildlife images, it is the uncertainty.

I’ll have another post on a discussion this friend and I had about wildlife photography too. Of course there was another intellectual disagreement.


Another friend asked me how I got the coins to stand, like seen in the image above posted previously. I am happy to share with you as I did tell her.


The coins standing do so by a kneaded eraser, used for drafting. It is kinda like malleable clay. I went on to explain the falling ones too. It is fishing line attached to each coin. See the coin swing above?


The malleable eraser holds the fishing line like putty to the back of each coin.

I guess if one does not want their work copied, then just don’t post it is the moral to this story. A few of my recent posts have had very unique photos. I like to inspire creativity but not outright copying.  What prompted this post was you guessed it, an exact copy of a very unique photo setup of mine was copied. And not by this photo group either…


So, what do you think on copying what you find on the internet?

The subject for the photo group is Winter Macro in a few weeks, I will have that for sure… How about an image from Too Much Snow in Buffalo? Check it out and let me know what you think? I will do a post on some of my options to get your opinion.

And next post for you gardeners chafing at the bit with primroses dancing in your head, needing a bit of Springtime – a post on blossoms on the windowsill. Well not all of them anyway in Shiver Me Timbers, You are Not a Houseplant – What’s UP? See what I grow indoors.


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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70 Responses to It’s Just Pennies From Heaven When Copying Images from the Internet

  1. franzisofie says:

    This is a great new way to look at money. I think that copying is no creativity. Better be inspired by a shoot and think about it but not copy it. Maybe you find a new setting where you can use the idea. But your potos are very unique! I’ve never seen such good photos with wildlife birds!

    • Copying in art can lead to skill and creativity, but it should be kept in one’s own little world – away from the public – looked at as a learning experience. I agree, finding new ways to express an idea is the best form of learning while creating.

  2. In the fashion industry, there are companies that look at what the high-end designers are doing and make knock-offs of those designs. (Not stealing their brand, but making clothes based on the look of other designers for a mass market.) Their whole business model is based on using other people’s ideas. The high-end designers expect this. When other people copy their ideas, they are trend setters. I think the same is true in photography and other creative fields. It’s stupendous to be a trend setter and come up with new ideas, but it’s perfectly acceptable to use other photographers’ ideas in your own work. How can someone be a trend setter if no one recognizes the genius of their ideas and imitates it?

    • Using ideas is fine, I encourage that. It is copying exactly that I find as a problem. Think of an award winning image or painted artwork – I myself can copy the painted piece fairly well and it is called counterfeiting. It is fine to hang in my own home for personal use, but not sell or post to the net for sale. I kinda look at it this way. A photographer sets up a studio shot or even one in nature (like one of mine copied) and it takes a long time with many snaps of the camera to get it just right, then I post my ‘masterpiece’ (get the sarcasm, I know I have no masterpieces), then somebody comes along and does it exactly the same way with exactly the same subject in exactly the same pose. Frosted…

  3. ginnietom says:

    I dislike, but it’s commonly use in net…a penpal lost half of her portfolio stored in a great worldwide community…but remember, if NSA could actually watch them, why is everybody shouting ??? it’s part of our modern world and usual as smoking cigarettes…:-)))
    …or we disapprove and sign yougov or other anti-spy lists…or use creative-common-rules…

    have a nice sunday…:-)))

    • True everybody is watching. And it would be pointless to create and hope people did not want to see. I think I needed a chill pill when I saw my composition “again”. I just needed to post my thoughts.

  4. The coins are like a magic trick! I feel uneasy about the idea of copying other people’s photos. Most of the photos on my blog are ones that I took simply based on what I saw (occasionally, I grab a photo from Wikimedia Commons, with full credit listed). I think you’re talking about the second photographer copying the idea, though, not actually copying and pasting another’s work? Copying an idea can be frustrating, too. When I first started blogging, there was a fellow blogger who seemed to constantly copy my themes and writing. I haven’t followed this person in years, so I don’t know if it still happens, but it was very frustrating–especially when I was just starting out. As always, this is very thought-provoking, Donna.

    • You are right, it is not about stealing an image to post. That happens here daily, sometimes a couple of hundred leave the site a day. Not much can be done but grumble, but this post looked at copying in the light of stealing an idea. And not just the idea (which is not so much a problem) but the actual recreation by their own hand of the printed piece and not saying where the original was ‘born’. I think if they recreated my photo, like Connie mentioned in the fashion world, at least mention the first person creating it – be open on where you took the idea. If it is worth going to the trouble to recreate – it must be worth something. I know there are coincidences, and have seen quite a few suspiciously like my own, but this one in particular had the tell-tale way I did it. I myself could have hidden the way I staged the photo with Photoshop, but did not – and neither did the person recreating it. I have seen what you mention too. A blogger has a unique writing style and up pops their twin. I don’t think this is coincidence either.

  5. aha! this post received more comments and reblogs than any other. as with politics and religion, people take strong sides at times!
    i loved your photos and your willingness to share how you shot them!

    • Right clicking I tackled a long while ago too. I have given up on those doing it to a point, like on Pinterest. It happens so much here, it was impossible to keep abreast of how the images were being used or even if the blog was credited. Many times this gives an artist more exposure too – in my case I believe that did occur. My beef is like say, you as an artist – I copy your painting and post it as my own. I offer it for sale on etsy or even a fine arts site. I can do that as I paint myself. You would be fuming and rightfully so. My photos are on Pinterest with no return link and that bugs me. They are on blogs too with no back links. But I take and post so many images it is hard to deal with this form of theft. I look at those taking them as not having my following and that makes me smile.

  6. pepaulmier says:

    I do not agree with copying, but great photography or anything else can and should be used to inspire creativity. A student that races to better the master.

    • I agree with your statement too. I enjoy teaching or instructing others and would have no problem if a student bettered me, I would be proud. Read my posts on creativity and you will understand my thoughts on the creative process. Everyone creative gets inspiration from something or someone else. It is a building process that never ends in the creative world.

  7. At first I thought you meant literally using your photo and that would be totally wrong even with a credit to you unless you actually gave permission. I can see how copying your idea would be annoying, and the best way to do that would be to mention you. However, often the format doesn’t allow for that (although that’s probably not the case here). We all get ideas by seeing what others are doing and trying or even imitating it. My business card, which is unique, is closely styled off the card of another nursery. Do I say that on the card, no. I got the idea for the stickers on my note cards from some unique stickers on someone else’s cards. I may go to a garden and copy a plant grouping or hardscape, where do you draw the line? It is all part of the creative process, and in the long run I try to be flattered when someone uses my idea.

    • It is odd to compare getting permission of use for a photo to that of an idea for an image, either photographically or artist designed where the photo is carrying more weight in the discussion. They do seem like different executions of using others’ work. I can tell you, although I am not really familiar with how you were inspired for your graphic promo items, but if it is a copy of the layout and exact font of text, the graphic artist doing the original would take issue – of course if it could be proven beyond doubt. There are ways to determine that too. I was a graphic artist for a number of years to support (first year) and earn (two years prior) for going to undergraduate school. I can tell you it is a very competitive market and using someone’s layout was a big no no in any form. You are familiar with when my image was used on commercial promotion handouts. It was a big graphics firm in our area too. I was lucky to have caught the individual. They should have been fired, and maybe they were. I am assuming you mean you took the bigger idea of the stickers and not the design, copy (words used) or graphic on them. No one has ownership to such a general idea unless it is trademarked. I guess the example would be the big, yellow smiley face every one uses so freely. Or did you ever see the ad on those car air fresheners shaped like a spruce tree? They made a huge issue of those copying or even drawing the graphic of the smiling tree. Both examples are so simple anyone could think of them or draw them, but somebody did it first!

  8. I love the creativity that I find on the network and copying the work of others is a serious discussion. I do use the work of others when permission is granted and the artists are given attribution. Beyond that I think the ideas, and the inspirations that come from our community are fair game if they are used as a starting point for your personal journey. If you are just copying something and taking credit as original work that is pretty creepy.

    • You nailed it Charlie. Precisely the main point. My friend, a casual photographer like myself, did not see my point. He was adamant if it is published it is free game for anything chosen for it. I can’t show this image because it was someone some might know. I have seen professional photographers shame their peers for doing this, posting side by side comparisons. I have done an image that I inadvertently made very similar to another blogger, but it was done before ever reading their blog. When I did see it I was pleased because the photographer is pretty well known. I was kinda proud my work looked like theirs. I have also seen images like mine on pro sites. It really makes one wonder how they came to such similarity. Two I know even subscribes to my blog.

  9. Don’t leave us hanging (haha pun intended!)! Who copied your set up?

    • Can’t tell you. The one with the same photo would be known by some as a garden blogger – making the jump into more artistic photos. The photo I did was years ago too and only surfaced as a rehash recently. I know I did overreact at first, and I kept this post in the hopper for so long not sure I even wanted to bring it to discussion, but like I said at the beginning of the post, it is happening more and more, and not just to me. I am seeing it in many places, photo sites especially.

      • Interesting! I guess because I don’t consider myself a photographer, I never really think about the composition of my photos too hard. I mostly just want to capture an interaction or an organism. But I can see that for an artist like yourself that would be very important. I’ve had other scientists scoop my research ideas before and it sucks!

  10. janechese says:

    Hmmm… I have seen work that almost copies another person’s work and in a case that I am thinking of, while this person was praised I thought that she could have done something a little different just felt like she was “stealing”.Yes, people have stolen ideas all through history and copied someone else’s work to learn the process or even to make money as a copy artist but that makes them a good technician, not an artist. If they have taken an idea further- then it is worth noting,.I am more impressed by what a person does differently. Except for what is new in technology, most of what we see has been done before. I like what you did with these coins, especially with the narrow DOF obviously took some effort to set up.

    • I guess the most infuriating part is that their readers praise them up and down for the images, and you as a photographer would not think their main body of work is that spectacular. I think many of us develop our own style for the most part and that is what is being copied. It is like PlantPostings said with her writing. It is more likely to happen in writing too. If it was a bird on a homemade perch, and since I posted on creating the backyard photo studio for birds (which I credited to the one that taught me), that would be nice they actually succeeded and got great images from that. That was not the case. It was an artsy image and one based on a lot of factors coming together like light and weather being huge components. I think I took over 100 photos to get many really nice compositions, but the one posted was in place like a studio shot. It was how I kept it in place that was what gave it away specifically. I play with dof a lot, sometimes it works and other times it can be overkill.

  11. Just about all the pictures in my blog are either mine or my husband’s photos. If I want to copy someone’s photo for my blog I always ask permission first and state in the blog that person’s name and “photo used with permission”. I feel that photography even on the internet is personal and the person that created that art work should, as a courtesy, be asked permission to duplicate his/her photo. It seems to me that the people that duplicate (download or copy & paste original work) people’s artwork for their personal use and benefit are greedy, selfish people. But I do believe that people learn from exposure to other people’s artwork and it does inspire them to look at art work from a different perspective.

    • You and your husband take wonderful photos. The internet is really a strange place for artists. Even personal professional websites are having images stolen for other people’s sites, wedding photographers especially are prone to having their images posted under someone else’s name. They are probably copied most often by others since it is such a cutthroat business. I am sure the wedding photographers also inspire others often too. It has been a while since this happened and I am over it, but I hope the person copying learned something from it. I hope they had an empty feeling from the praise too.

  12. alesiablogs says:

    I had some of my stuff “stolen” and it really bugged me. I understand your frustration. I do not know the answer, but I had to finally just let it go.

    • It was not a thing stolen, but that way I photographed something. That bugged me more than if they took the original image, but I guess in a way saying it was their photo idea amounts to the same thing. I am over it now, but was not for a while and could not post this until I was. I did not want to sound bitter.

      • alesiablogs says:

        That is why I put the word stolen in quotations. You did not sound bitter at all and I think it is good you shared about it.

        • Funny thing on the internet, many don’t think it is stealing. I am tossed on it sometimes because when the images leave my site, often I get an influx of visitors. Plus, I had a record company buy an image a band wanted to use on their CD and another took a photo to her publisher to put in a book, so sometimes when people are honest, they come back and pay for the use. It is not always a bad thing. But when you “know” a person and they copy like this it seems wrong to me. Had this person said, “I liked this photo from GWGT and copied it to see if I could do it,” I would have been fine with that, flattered even.

          • alesiablogs says:

            You have made a very valid point. Know you are WAY appreciated by me! I love your work and I am glad to have found your site. You know I think about those groups of folks who charge for their newsletter or some kind of class they give, but you give of yourself freely and that is what makes you special.

  13. dear donna…why ib tarnation do people have to copy anyway?…after all, they can come to the greatest animal and birds blog i have ever seen and just look and look at the beautiful pihotos and even get treated with the story behind them….bernie has come so often to look at your sea gulll picture that you took…he just can’t get over what a great job you did and i think that it looks like that sea gull was posing for the picture….did you ever read jonathan livingston sea gull or listen to the vinyl record of the story…?..just amazing donna and your stories are just a s good…donna, i hope that you don’t think we are stealing but i DID post your sea gull on my desk top lap top…please tell me if you want me not to!..bernie just loves it so much and every time that he looks at it, he discovers something new…he noticed yesterday that the sea gull had already passed the tree…oh it is so nice donna!
    one time when we were at the park mom golden took a bunch of bread to feed the seagulls and they almost took HER away..ha! easy enough…she is 88 pounds soaking wet!..we had to rescue her!
    just let me know dear american friend if i should take that flying sea gull off the desk top and send him for a spin back home!!
    is that a canada toonie i see in your money picture donna?….our toonies have bears on them and our loonies have geese…and our nickels have beavers…our quarters have deerr, our dimes have the blue nose ship and our penny[alas!..they are gone!] have two maple leaves… our queen elizabeth…of course is on the front side of every coin.
    take care and gold bless you this cold windy sunday…love terry

    • I do have a bit of Canadian money living on the border. I always liked the designs on the Canadian coins and bills. People used to say it looked like play money because of the color and the big face of the Queen, but I think it makes our money look plain. When I travel, I bring back coins from places I go and am always amazed how big some coins are. Again, makes ours look so plain. I think the mint is getting better now though. Newer money is more interesting to look at. They only did it to thwart counterfeiters, ironic to mention that in a post on copying.

      By all means keep the seagull on your desktop as wallpaper. I have no problem with that and am honored my seagull caught your fancy. I kinda worry when posting them that people think they are ordinary, but so many have such interesting facial expressions. I have a post coming called Here’s Looking at Cha. It has this seagull flying with two others leading them in flight and from under his wing he gives me the evil stare. I thought it funny at first, then thought like your mom, the gull had a plan for me. It was eerie.

  14. Very strange. The purpose of amateur blogging is self-expression. If you are simply imitating others it is not self-expression, just self-exposure. Some people are desperate for approval, I guess. It’s easier to understand when there is an economic motive. I don’t expect to have Judy’s pictures or my writing copied. If it were, I suppose how upset I’d be would be in proportion to the amount of effort was put into whatever got copied.

    • Exactly. I put a lot of effort into getting this one image (yet still got a number I liked anyway which was a reward in a way) then to see it where I had to do a double take and make sure it was not the one I posted. I hope it took this person all day to make their one image. HA! You are right, in my example of wedding photographers, it is self-exposure for sure. I have seen the original of these wedding photos and they are truly magical and to have a hack come along and try to replicate it waters down the original in a way. Just like Connie mentioned on those duplicating those high fashion gowns seen at the Oscars for instance – then in few days seeing the off the rack frocks selling for hardly what you might pay for your electric bill. It is almost like a joke in a way on the original. Like, “See I made your dress and it is cheap and easy to make.” Not that my one photo is any thing like these examples, but I am just making a point.

  15. Julie says:

    This is a hard one, how do you stop others imitating your ideas, I look at your excellent photos and want to learn more about your techniques and what sort of camera you use. I would be very flattered if anyone wanted to copy my efforts, maybe one day! But would be really irritated should anyone duplicate a photo, without the courtesy of asking. A modern dilemma.

  16. lulu says:

    Certainly, you have provided food for thought. I don’t often copy photos, but they can definitely be sources of inspiration. If I do want to use someone else’s photo, I ask permission if I can find the source of origin.

  17. Tom Clarke says:

    Hi Donna,
    As an author and publisher of both paper and ebook content, I consider it an infringement of US copyright law to make copies without my written permission. I recently noticed that someone is offering free copies of one of my ebooks. Apparently he (unlikely it is a she but you never know) purchased a copy of the ebook, hacked into the digital rights management (DRM), and is now offering it to anyone!! Free!!

    It galls me to see someone at a workplace take a book to the copier. Sometimes whole workbooks are copied that way. Do they think that most authors actually make a profit from writing and publishing their work? A few make the big time but my guess is that 98% do not.

    I have one title that was not self-published and sells for about $20; I earn roughly $1 on that book. The average book in the USA sells 200 copies over its lifetime yet will take hundreds if not thousands of hours to write and publish. What are these people thinking?

    The issue that you present is precisely the same issue: immoral people thinking they are better than the law. May God forgive them!


    • That is terrible that your book got put online as a free offering. I did not know you could get past the DRM. What an enlightening (in a bad way) experience you must have had to have this happen. I did not know the stats on copies sold either. When one looks at it in those numbers, writing and self-publishing a book is too much work.

  18. Oh my, I’m sorry someone copied without your permission one of your photos. Blessings, Natalie 🙂

  19. Andre T says:

    agree with your opinion.. i think try to give link back or credit is a better way.. or permission is best way 🙂
    dont worry.. keep move on

  20. Phil Lanoue says:

    Well as you say photographing wildlife is a different er, animal from photographing still lifes.
    But I often do have people watch what I’m doing out there and the next thing I know they are two other photographers ‘copying’ my shot that they would not have even noticed if they didn’t see me doing it first.
    But in general some copying is almost always going on I suspect. Or perhaps it could be termed ‘inspiration’. But I’m also used to that from doing news work. It happens.

    • It must be frustrating having the “groupies” hanging around watching you closely. I think what would bother me even more, is that they are there in the first place. I like to have the animals all to myself! I only ran into one photographer this winter, and it was nice talking with him. Then I went off to shoot ducks and he stayed with the birds in the woods.

  21. dear donna…no your american coins are not plain or ordinary looking at all!….when they put those coins out for every one of your beautiful states, i had my brother who moved to iowa collect them for me and every time my sister betty goes to buffalo, she keeps her eye out for them…one time when bernie and i and betty were going to tonawanda for a southern gospel concert, we stopped at a money changing machine and put five dollar bills into it so we would get quarters…we did it several times and got quite a few state quarters…well, there was an elderly lady with her i imagine her son standing behind us and waiting and so we thought we should not hold her up any more…..when she got to the machine, she said, “aw shoot!..thought it was a slot machine and you guys were winning all kinds of money!”…she left in disappointment and we waited until they were out of earshot and we laughed!!..ha!..little did she know that in my opinion we HAD won and we WERE winners!..we got a whole bunch of your special coins and how rich we felt!

    i am so thrilled that you let us keep your seagull frozen to our desk top! beautiful it is.!
    i don’t know why people would object to sea gulls…..bernie said that they are always cleaning up the mess that littering people make and keeping our shores clean.!….my heart almost broke one time when betty told me when they went to a park where there was water to swim in, there were lots of pretty white seagulls flying around…she told me that some seagull haters would toss them bread powdered with baking soda and when the birds ate it they would eventually explode in the arr….what monsters and how cruel can some people be, eh?..i think if i had been there at bissells park that day i would surely have caused one angry, not pretty scene…betty is such a gentle person, she couldn’t but i SURE WOULD have!

    one more thing i love about your money….it is written on them..”in god we trust”

    thank you again dear donna for your seagull……love terry

    • OMG. I never heard of that cruel act of blowing up the birds. It makes one lose faith in people. I too like that our money has “In God We Trust.” I am so tired of all the folks fighting to take anything and everything related to or about God out of our lives. I am not exactly religious, but it is comforting having a belief in that which is greater than us.

  22. It is nice to be imitated but at least give the person credit for the idea and inspiration. I take photos of what I see through the lens and never considered copying someone…love how you set these pics up…very clever Donna!

    • We all kinda take what we see through the lens, but this particular image was set up making it intentionally copied. It is always a risk doing something one tries to create – it could have been done before or done by so many it can’t be credited. Thank you. The coins were hard to think of a macro shot that was almost impossible to have not been done before. I have seen coins thrown in the air then photographed, but one needs an assistant for that shot. My way was not as dramatic, but at least I could do it alone.

  23. A.M.B. says:

    This is a very interesting topic. I believe that imitation is a part of the creative process, but ripping of a person’s composition is, well, stealing. You may only imitate up to a point before it becomes copyright infringement.

  24. Your work is always so beautiful and inspiring Donna and your creativity with the coins is amazing, It is sad to hear that someone copied your work and took credit. Repetition is a form of flattery but not when your work is outright copied without any credit to you…the artist. A few years back someone was copying my blog posts onto their business site with the author named as “administration’ with no links or credit back to me. I was furious and ended up informing them that I that I knew what they were doing and the content was removed from their site. It was all about principle and all they had to do originally was add a link to the original post and I would have been flattered! Keep showing your beautiful work Donna…it is so much enjoyed and appreciated!

    • Thank you, Lee. I had my blog copied too. It was in Croatia and there was nothing I could do about it. I believe they stopped after a year. It was good you could deal with it and have the content removed. Right now I have another one doing the same thing but when I click on it, it comes up as a dangerous site and I am warned not to visit. I just saw this yesterday.

  25. Awesome topic and one I think about a lot. I manage several pollinator activism pages on facebook and see people doing this all of the time. I see it in the recreation of an original idea for a meme, taking photos off of the web and other people’s pages without attribution, and attempting to emulate a successful content style. It bothers me and I struggle with myself because part of me thinks, “Well, if it helps the pollinators maybe I shouldn’t get upset.” I guess “shouldn’t” is a key word here, because it does upset me and I’m having to make an effort to deal with my frustration and anger.

    I actually mentored someone recently after I witnessed them have a very original meme idea for the promotion of native flowers instead of grass, then saw it immediately uploaded, rather than shared, to other people’s pages without attribution. I suggested that she photoshop the name of her page right on to her meme. Her page is brand new and is for a worthy project. She had no idea that part of what she needed to do to get her project out there was to sign her work with her page name. This doesn’t mean that her idea won’t be taken (her actual photo and meme already has) and her subject recreated by others (since the photo would be fairly easy to reproduce). I have to say that it irritated me to watch some of the pages do this (and it wasn’t even my original idea/photo).

    I like what you said about waiting to post about this topic until you had allowed your feelings to move on enough to avoid coming across in a bitter tone. I think that this is awesome because it has allowed you to bring up this issue in a way that sparks a good exchange of ideas from your readers, including myself. I appreciate that. I know that there are people who are opportunistic and don’t share my ethics and ultimately people are not going to agree on what the boundaries around this are. For those times like the one I shared and ones that have effected me more personally, I try and breathe 😉 Thank you for bringing this conversation up in such a graceful way.

    • It is always risky when starting something new with what would interest readers. I appreciate your long comment and experiences. I too started a meme and another with the same name started a week later. I was not too happy because I am sure it was done on purpose because it was a reader of my blog. I ignored this and his W4W went away. Then a year or so later, another reader did the same thing, but on a different day. Mine was Word 4 Wednesday and his was on a Sunday. I stopped mine right after that because this was just too much. Now I don’t even participate in memes because there is too much stealing of ideas. I am grateful for your support and agreement. It was a hard topic to bring up because I never thought this would happen in this way.

  26. Denise says:

    Theft of ideas is awful. Also frustrating because it is so hard to prove. Maybe knowing that you will have a lot more brilliant ideas, because you are so creative, and the thieve will never have an original idea of his or her own, helps a bit.

  27. Jennifer says:

    It is always interesting to read the post and the comments it prompts when your bring up such issues Donna. Recently I was shocked to find another blogger had not only copied the theme of one of my posts, she had taken whole sections of text. I had permission to use a few photos from the author’s book in this particular review post, but I doubt she did. I was angry to be copied, but felt somewhat helpless to do anything. I suppose I should have left a comment, but in the end I am not sure it would have made me feel any better.

    • If someone writes a post that is a lot like your post, that’s irksome but perfectly legal. However you’re saying she used whole paragraphs of your post without your permission and without acknowledging you or linking back to your blog, and that is not legal. That is plagiarism.

      In situations like this, you have to decide what would make the situation right. What do you want the offending blogger to do to make it up to you? Do you want the blogger to take down the post that plagiarized yours? Do you want that blogger to acknowledge your authorship in some way, such as by crediting the text to you and linking back to your post? Do you want the blogger to pay you, and if she doesn’t pay you, demand that she take down the stolen text? Do you want the blogger to apologize? Do you want the blogger to understand that what she did was illegal and promise to not do it again? You can try any or all of these remedies. Most people are nice and will try to make it up to you. If you’re dealing with someone who isn’t very honest, it may be difficult to get the situation resolved.

      Also, you may want to let the book author know how his or her photos were being used. That author may be thrilled with the extra publicity or livid that the photos were used without permission. The author can decide for himself or herself how to proceed.

      • Thanks Connie for letting Jen know the options. You said it much better than I ever could. Please put in your link to the talk you gave to the WordPress user group. It was very entertaining and useful for readers. Many have the problem of coming up with new material that has not been touched on previously. I am like you and have endless ideas but you are a much better communicator than I.

  28. Brian Comeau says:

    Not sure if i quite comprehend the idea of copying a photo. Who would try to paint another Mona Lisa. I can certainly appreciate and study da Vinci but why would I steal his idea…

    I grew up a huge fan of Galen Rowel and still look to his work for inspiration and learning new skills but wouldn’t think of trying to shoot one of his iconic images. Similar location and technique perhaps, but I’d want to put my own spin on it. I’ll take those ideas with me when I go out but I wouldn’t intentionally think about “what would Galen do here”? It’s more about what should I do here.

    • Thanks for your experiences. It does seem people would prefer to get original photos just for the happy accomplishment one gets. I find it difficult to reproduce nature shots because of all the variables weighing in on the day shooting. But judging by the number of tripods at iconic places, many are trying for the same spot. There have even been fist fights at some of these places that require one to have a particular view, like the sun setting or rising through stone arches, like in Moab, Utah – Arches National Park.

  29. A very interesting, as well as a painful and infuriating, topic. I must admit, I can’t even begin to fathom how someone could parade others’ writings or photos as his/her own. It just twists at my insides. When it comes to photos, I wonder if some people just don’t see the original, personal nature of photography? Maybe they say to themselves that because your subject is in the world, available to anyone else who can be in the same place, then it’s fair game. Then they just extend that to the composition. And even the post-processing. After all, it’s not really “art” is it? GRRRRR! As others have said, inspiration is fine and copying (well, attempting to copy) an especially inspiring shot is fine as a technical exercise. But isn’t the goal to have your own experience? I could ramble on, but just wanted to mention that your coin pictures are fabulous! They’re beautiful as well as whimsical.

    • Thanks for your views Emily. I think with the advent of so many cameras in so many forms, being carried at all times (cell phones especially) that photography has become accessible to everyone (not that this is wrong in any way). With that comes no responsibility that once was part of professional photography. Photos can be posted quickly and of anyone or anything and of any quality. All the social media breeds photos and with that comes being able to see images from all over the world, not just the professional ones we used to see exclusively in books, newspapers, magazines and on TV. Now people can self-publish in print or on the web. They can take hundreds, even thousands of photos a day. Photography has been become an over saturated medium. It gets to a point that we just see too much where we no longer care as much as we did at one time. I think this all leads to why people think nothing of taking a photo that belongs to someone else or copying a unique one. I have a post coming up on Sunday photographing a subject that many have been doing lately and I did put my own spin on it. My photos are not as nice as I have seen, but I made them my own. I think less and less of that occurs anymore. People are satisfied to use others’ ideas and not even make them their own.

  30. Good post on the issue, as usual. I find myself musing on the topic almost everyday (not now so often since I am still dealing with the moving), but things get more difficult as digital revolution becomes more sophisticated. I guess one should only concentrate on one’s work, but that sometimes is not enough!

  31. An “exact copy of a very unique photo setup” is the same a plagiarizing in writing. The composition in both arenas should not be claimed as one’s own if it is “lifted.” I shudder to think how many of the photos ( or copies of the compositions) in my daily posts have appeared under someone else’s name.

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