Sunday, 9 February 2014

Rudeness & Copyright Issues

Some people are just unbelievably rude!!! The post below was written by Janet Carr of This Bug's  Life in response to an issue that our beloved Philofaxy King Steve Morton encountered when someone used his photos to pass off as an item that they were selling on eBay (it wasn't even the same product that the person was selling, let alone the actual one). When he contacted them to mention that this is a problem he was faced with a barrage of (totally unnecessary) abuse:

Have a look, if you will, at the eBay auction below (the listing has been taken down so I have put several screen shots instead). Notice anything?
Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 5.29.44 PM
Well, the first thing one would notice is that the photograph is of a pocket Filofax, whereas he auction claims to be selling a mini. [Before the listing was removed, there was a live link above to the auction itself which showed two photographs - one pocket and one mini. I am not sure who owns the photograph of the mini but I have removed it from the screen shot above out of respect for the owner's copyright ]
The next thing one would notice is that the featured photograph (see below) comes from this post on Philofaxy, and belongs to Steve Morton.
The third thing one would notice is the description, and below that the note.
Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 5.32.53 PM
The note reads as follows:
NOTE TO BIDDERS/WATCHERS I am being forced to end this listing early and re-list it. This is because the first image (showing a filofax on a pine coloured table) was copied and pasted from google images. I was then contacted on ebay by a filofax blog owner (I’ve never seen the blog before – and yes someone clearly has too much time on their hands) demanding that I remove the image. Extremely unreasonable given the fact this is in no way an attempt to infringe their IP rights and was just used for illustrative purposes in order to save time when originally listing the item for sale. As the item currently has a bidder (many apologies to you!) ebay settings won’t let me delete the stock photograph. I am therefore re-listing the item but only using my image of the item as taken on my iphone on 04/02/14. Thank you for reading this message and apologies for any confusion caused. You can find the item again by looking at all the items I’m currently selling.
The irony of the fact that she was not actually selling her Filofax but Steve’s, seems to have completely escaped her. Or the fact that doing a Google image search, copying, pasting and uploading Steve’s photograph probably took longer than taking her own photo and uploading it would have. Or that if she was using it for illustrative purposes only and it was not the one she was selling, she should have made that clear to her buyers. Particularly as the one she was selling was another size entirely and much smaller than the one in Steve’s photograph.
Right, so if you think that is rude you should see the contents of the eBay message which she sent to Steve when he wrote to let her know that the photo belonged to him.
I have seldom seen such insolence and arrogance – not to mention a total lack of knowledge about intellectual property law and how Google images works. She was apoplectic at having her entire evening wasted by a person she felt was so stupid as to feel that her using his image was wrong.
She explained rather rudely that it was perfectly acceptable for her to use Steve’s image because she found it on Google images (the mind boggles at how she thought it got there in the first place). She was utterly astounded that someone actually found out she was using said image. And felt that Steve’s completely unreasonable behaviour caused her to lose a sale. Naturally she did not express it quite so politely. The only way to describe the tone of her letter was abusive. I have been rather gentle in my description above but I was flabbergasted at the content of the message and how she spoke to Steve. None of which really comes across here but out of respect to the seller I am not going into detail.
It just astounds me that nowadays people feel that Google is an enormous website full of free information and photographs which appear out of nowhere and don’t actually belong to anyone. Or that copyright does not apply to anything on the internet. Probably the same people who feel that being anonymous entitles you to be as rude and cruel as you want to be because no one knows who you are and if it is on the internet it doesn’t matter.
What makes me most cross is that Steve Morton is one of the kindest most generous people around. He has built an entire community to which he willingly gives his time and with whom he generously shares his expertise. He organises competitions, awards, meets and is admin for about 15 Facebook groups. He is always at the other end of a post, a comment or a personal message to advise, commiserate or encourage.
Even worse, there is no way you can report abusive messages like this to eBay. Apart from writing a letter of complaint to them and including a print out of the message. There seems to be no other recourse if you are harassed in any way.
So for me it was important to write this article to show my displeasure with how he was treated. If anyone agrees with me, please re-Tweet or reblog this to show Steve he has our support.

Thank you Janet for writing this piece, and hopefully this will also serve as a reminder to others to be careful when purchasing off eBay, as people are often misrepresenting what they are selling. This isn't to bash eBay sellers generally, as there are a lot of perfectly genuine, excellent sellers out there. Maybe it should also serve as a warning that the Philofaxy community are a tight-knit group, don't mess with us, and certainly don't be abusive to our Steve :o)



  1. The arrogance of some people is truly astounding!

  2. Gotta love such sellers - steal pictures and won't accept returns. On top of it rude when humble apology would be appropriate.

  3. Replies
    1. Yep - I sometimes wonder how they survive in the world... or am I a bit harsh...?

  4. I work for a legal department in a IT company. Everyone is shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU, when we tell them they can't just steal information. Shocked. Sigh.

    I'll second that Steve is a good guy. I am a fan.

    1. It is amazing that people don't even think of it as stealing these days. They've finally grasped the concept that downloading films is stealing, but can't seem to understand that the same is true of other types of data/pics etc... the mind boggles. P.S. love reading your posts :-)

  5. Steve is so kind and hard working on behalf of so many.... hate to think he has been treated so shabbily. Not acceptable. xx

    1. He is fabulous - and we all love him :-)

  6. Steve has my full sympathy! He is a generous and lovely guy that does not deserve to be a target of such ugly behaviour. Very sorry he encountered a person I personally would call a poisonous bitch, unfortunately every generous person encounters from time to time. Good to see you shining in opposite to the dark souls around.

    1. Thanks Sylke - he spends so much time doing things for everyone in the Philofaxy community, this woman is exactly as you have stated. LJx