Theft of Internet Property Reaching Epidemic Proportions

By Paul Pannone

Complaints about thievery, scams and dishonest behavior are on the increase since eWedNewz talked about a Hall of Shame that would feature the most blatant, despicable acts in the wedding business. Among the biggest concerns is the copying of dress designs and other intellectual property like artwork, writings and creative ideas.

According to Interparty.org

The internet has created a serious issue in regards to intellectual property rights and the protection of those rights. Prior to the broad usage of the internet and availability of free software, it was much more difficult to steal another’s works. Indeed, people copied albums onto cassette tapes, and others plagiarized books in order to garner better grades at school, but the incidences were not as widespread, and not necessarily for profit. Today, however, “stealing” has become mainstream.

 

So what makes one material ripoff different from the ones on the internet?

 

According to experts the Internet is still the wild west and though theft, plagiarism, etc, are  illegal the countless acts committed each day are immeasurable and unenforceable. If that’s the case, does it make it mainstream?

eWedNewz is reviewing some of the complaints from anonymous tipsters providing what they feel is proper documentation, citing facts substantiated with link-backs to information.

Discussions with wedding experts in the Wedding Water Cooler say some of the highest concentration of thievery is among photographers that blatantly steal the works of competitors and claim them for their own. According to WWC members photographers are the first ones to lay claims to music and other creative property but scream the loudest when their rights are violated.

In one particular case not only are images taken; but an entire website idea. According to one anonymous source SnapKnot is accused of ripping off Sortfolio.

“Having recently done a side-by-side comparison of http://snapknot.com with the better known http://sortfolio.com from 37signals, I decided the similarities were too many to ignore. I contacted 37signals (the creators of the most popular online collaboration software in the world) and they thanked me and confirmed that SnapKnot had directly copied the design and functionality of their web property.” said our source.

The source informs us that another highly publicized ripoff  resulted in the admission of guilt, an apology and advice against online ripoff of intellectual property.

“I thought you may want to cover this story since it directly affects the wedding industry. Many wedding photographers are fighting copyright infringement on a daily basis. SnapKnot.com, who is marketed exclusively to wedding photographers, has copied and ripped off most of their website’s design and features. And it looks like they are trying to cover their tracks. If you look at the Wayback Machine, less than a year ago their site looked nearly identical to Sortfolio.com,” according to the same source.

We showed the information to web experts that said the following:

“The look and layout are indeed similar. It will come back to whether they were inspired by or directly copied the code. Those are heavy sites with a ton of coding behind the scenes. If it’s true, photographers should flee in droves. What a stupid effing mistake! The photography community is the obsessed with copying. Not just stealing copyrighted images but stealing poses and backgrounds they used.”

The web expert opinion was echoed by other members of the fashion industry:

“It would be interesting and important to hear what Sortfolio/37signals has to say about its settlement with SnapKnot a year ago when the sites looked virtually identical.   Whatever the settlement may have been between, it didn’t bother SnapKnot enough to convince them that they shouldn’t continue to steal from 37signals.

Several people are caught in a very similar situation within the bridal industry.  I’m not sure how all of this dovetails with recent efforts to legislate intellectual property on the internet.  In fact, I’m not even sure of the status of the legislation since so many people campaigned against it.   Apparently, it’s still in limbo.”

According to sources in publishing, it’s an all or nothing deal.

“In print, copyright infringement is a huge issue.  No company can selectively enforce a copyright.  You MUST enforce EVERY challenge to your copyright.  If the copyright holder intentionally allows anyone to violate the copyright, subsequent legal arguments to enforce the copyright will be rejected.”

eWedNewz reached out to SnapKnot and Sortfolio for a statement. No response from either side was heard at the time this story became public.

What do you think?

eWedNewz

All Rights Reserved

2012

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Duhe/1244551190 Jim Duhe

    The theft of intellectual property isn’t acceptable but probably will intensify going forward until a reasonable legal resolution is in place.  American Bridal gown distributors are constantly battling Chinese agents who steal images to sell gown “replicas” on the internet.  In spite of the fact that the “replicas” usually are of extremely poor quality and sometimes have little resemblance to the original design, price-driven consumers are willing to take the risk.  Unfortunately (as documented by CBS and NBC news stories), 100% satisfaction guarantees are impossible to pursue.  Consumers are being burned every day.   The problem remains unaddressed in sweeping terms.

    Several gown manufacturers are independently involved in pursuing legal solutions to the problem.  However, it’s an uphill battle.

    Jim Duhe

  • Miss SEAMS

    This recently happened to us by a young Designer right out of Fashion School in our area code.  She virtually copy pasted all our website wording on to hers and added her pictures (good move).  She did the same on her advertising copying our media language verbatim.  When she was contacted she simply said she’d take her site down, no apologies or excuses which shows that she knew she was caught red handed.   
    How did I find her?  She was advertising on The Knot (like me) and in my same phone area code which I check out regularly.  TK pulled her listing.I since wrote a whole blog post about it without naming her specifically (but enough other clues), mostly to warn Brides to look deeper!  Interview us!  Ask to see the work, the workroom, etc. a warning that anyone can fake a website but MEET us Vendors and be the judge who’s an expert and who may be a fake.

  • SassiSammi

    I think this is a GREAT topic for
    conversation. Sadly, I have personally been in the position of having someone
    use my work (photos etc) and claim for themselves. Inspiration boards are made
    to show a concept/theme…Is that considered stealing? No, unless they state
    this was their own design. You could also say that if they don’t list anything
    or give the proper credit this is stealing…I would say misleading…A better
    choice of words.

    Inside info to know how good one is based on
    their site… I have learned most are just ignorant as to what works

    These “predators” usually have the same type
    of site

    1. They have TONS of couple shots

    2.  They
    use photos of food presentation

     3. Close-up
    of a flower, bow or flickering candle. I see why they need to steal, they
    simply have no design sense at all or they just assisted on most events and
    cannot use photos. They list their resume in the about section…yet, where are
    all of these fabulous clients and events? The 3 million dollar budgets and
    higher… Where are they?

    I have said this on numerous occasions; you
    cannot steal an idea…or a concept which has been done. It’s much like a
    bouquet of roses one color being “almost” identical. Each one may
    look the same but if you look closely, maybe the tip of one petal is a different
    subtle shade lighter. The difference is so minute that only one with a
    microscope would know this flaw. For those who choose to claim another’s idea
    for their own, it comes down to actual execution of the idea. It’s flattering
    someone would want to use my designs, but shows your weaknesses and ones
    inability to be that creative. Hence the reason you are still exactly where you
    are with your climb to “success”.  You will
    only allow for your journey to end the moment you partake in taking credit for
    something you did not have enough confidence to do on your own.

    If you think one photo or several that are
    not yours being on your site will allow for the same types of clients, you
    obviously do not get this business. The design aspect is maybe 10% of the full
    picture. Once they meet you, you best hope the “real” designer is not
    the next one they will meet after you.

    What does one do when faced with wanting more
    for their career? They take classes and educate themselves with another
    skillset. They don’t succeed by trying to be something they are not.

    It’s simple. Do you want to succeed or do you
    want to fail? Those who don’t invest in their skillset will fail. Yes, they may
    get lucky and maybe secure a client or 2 based on price etc…But, you’re only
    as good as your last client…The truth presents itself in the end every time!

    Here is a recent example  http://www.koyalwholesale.com/pages-productinfo-product-15317/30_large_vase_lite_lampshade_centerpiece_with_crystals_48_colors_best_seller.html

    Not only is this my design, but the company
    who makes these items are http://www.fancyfaces.com
    .

    Koyal Wholesale, take my design down…Or give me credit. My
    clients invested quite a bit for this particular look…They invested in me. Not
    you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507675690 facebook-507675690

    This isn’t a new story but it is an escalating one. Back in 1992, we had someone copy our material and print it. New laws were coming in and the internet was not as prevalent.

    Canada has some of the toughest copyright laws in the world and we were the first to challenge them,  under those new rules. We won and the accused  was charged and was left with a criminal record.

    You have to diligently protect that which is yours. Always.

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