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Mall Santa Pictures being copied at retail stores question

Chris Donovan , Nov 28, 2010; 04:41 p.m.

Over and over again I here about people taking my santa pictures and going to the local pharmacy(name left out) and having greeting cards made and copies made from my originals. How if any way can I stop this? The $7 an hour teenage employee could care less about copyright laws and most of the kiosk nowadays are self fulfilling where there is no interaction with emplyees at all. I'm almost tempted to set up my own sting operation and see how this happens so freely in the retail giants stores.

Responses

JDM von Weinberg , Nov 28, 2010; 05:47 p.m.

Around here in my personal experience, nobody would do a reproduction without a release from the photographer, even if there's no mark or such. The kiosk thing is more difficult. I can't imagine how you can get around that.

John H. , Nov 28, 2010; 06:13 p.m.

I'm almost tempted to set up my own sting operation and see how this happens so freely in the retail giants stores.

You just told us how this happens in the sentence before this one. You can have an intervention with the local pharmacy but, even if that results in enforcement of your copyright there, the customers will go elsewhere. Unless the other places that this can be done are far away, it will be difficult to stop the practice in general. While these services are designed to get traffic in to the stores, if you are actually losing money, maybe you can offer digital files as well. Is it feasible? If you are not losing money, its probably not worth the fretting.

Dan Ferrel , Nov 28, 2010; 06:18 p.m.

Talk to a lawyer. To be clear on that though I should say consult a lawyer, a nicely worded letter can sometimes work wonders. Start throwing legal jargon in there and some may listen a little more than just an angry letter.

Jerry Litynski , Nov 28, 2010; 08:05 p.m.

...the local Wal-mart has a *give-away* Santa photo, thanks to the 1-hour Photo Lab operation. I'm unsure if one may make more copies of it, but I'd guess if the folks don't mind the garden shop background...one could make greeting cards off the free photo.

Have you thought of putting a light (c) Copyright 2010 line on one edge of your work?

Josh Root , Nov 28, 2010; 08:18 p.m.

I would think that stamping the back with a copyright mark would help in that regard. At least as much as anything is going to help. It's a losing battle in many ways. Just price yourself so that you don't have to worry about such things. Sell the file and let them print whatever they want.

David Haas , Nov 29, 2010; 01:27 p.m.

The $7 an hour teenage employee could care less about copyright laws and most of the kiosk nowadays are self fulfilling where there is no interaction with emplyees at all

That's exactly how it happens - plus if you allow parents to take their own shots of their children with santa - it's impossible to say which are yours and which are from the parent's cameras. (See Disney Charactor photos). The teenager or minimum wage person at the counter isn't going to ask but a couple of parents where the photo came from before they get tired of getting yelled at by parents who insist they took the photo. The shop (Walmart, CVS, whomever) is covered - because they have the copyright notice up (which is the result of a PPA action against CVS) and it then becomes the person scanning the image's responsibility. They (CVS) will do random checks of images that appear to be "professionally" posed / taken - but I can tell you from experience - they rarely, if ever ask. (I print some proof work at a local pharmacy and I've only been asked 1 time to prove that I was the photographer - to which I responded - here's my business card.)

The only way I know of to prevent parents from copying images is to not give them any images at all. Period. Every lock / protection / safeguard can be broke - it's just a question of how much effort the person trying to break it wants to go through. (As my late father used to say - "A locks only purpose is to keep honest folk honest. ")

Any image that is handed out on paper, cd, or on-line can be copied. Now - the question is - what will the quality be? - Often - surprisingly - it can be quite good. Home scanners, printers, etc... have let the horse out of the barn; not to mention the Kiosks -

Josh has the right advice - price your product so that they (parents) buy the digital image as opposed to prints. Another thought might be to find out what the parents are buying and offer it to them at a better quality / lower price. Ex: I know brides / grooms want Holiday Cards from their wedding photos - I have a source that I can get them for a lot less than the local Walgrens or CVS. Or include the image file on print sales. Stamping the back will help only if checked by the person doing the printing. Or if you're making money on the sales - just ignore it and keep doing what you're doing.

Dave

Ted Suss , Dec 02, 2010; 05:26 p.m.

Chris,
What are you offering besides individual prints for sale? Frames, snow globes, key chains, holiday cards? If not, perhaps you can create some packages and even one with "free" holiday cards that are part of it. Better to spend your time, money and energy on positive things than negative ones.

Mark Davidson , Dec 12, 2010; 11:10 a.m.

This thread is a bit old but I feel that the responses fall short of what one can do.

First, call in at the local stores in question and ask to meet with the manager.
Inform them of your concerns about illegal copying. The PPA has resources you can get to help him/her understand what the laws are. Emphasize that you are concerned that their employees can create huge financial risks for them by unwittingly accepting this work. Let them know that a sign on the copier does not protect them.
In my experience most managers are cooperative. In the odd instance that you get a smart aleck who wants to debate, you let them know that your concerns will continue to go up the corporate ladder till someone does take action.
Even the dimmest of managers do not relish the prospect of a district manager yelling to them about existing policy.

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