I started writing this post earlier this year when I discovered Google's 'Search By Image' app for Chrome (if you didn't know about it already, I may have just killed your afternoon) and was irritated to find out some companies were using my travel photos to help flog their tours and other wares. But I abandoned the task for two main reasons:
- Because searching for every individual image out of the thousands on this blog to see where they're being used elsewhere on the internet is an even more fruitlessly time-consuming task than even I was prepared to undertake.
- Because it's a bit hypocritical to condemn people for using my images without permission or giving credit when I've done that a lot myself, especially for the first few months of travelling when I didn't have a camera. Though I was just a kid with a non-AdSense earning blog who wanted to illustrate a post about haggling in Egypt, which I think is a bit different to a company purloining my less terrible snaps to sell their overpriced tours of South Korea.
I tried and failed to leave cynicism and litigation at the door when exposing these DIRTY, THIEVING BASTARDS, and tried to take it as a compliment that they thought my amateur photos were worth nicking. This doesn't include images that show up in galleries or wallpaper sites under the irrelevant name of a pop singer, there are too many of those to bother with. Just the sites that know what they're doing.
This covers my first six months of blog posts, because I do actually have things to be getting on with. It still took bloody ages to do, but since when have I let that get in my way?
End of the line (Wednesday, December 29, 2010)
According to Google, someone used my image of a man walking his pet pig for their site advertising Taipei escort services. I had a duty to investigate, but was spared the full horror of finding out this image's relevance when the link redirected me twice and I ended up on a page inviting me to find Bangkok fuck buddies. I don't have time for that nonsense, there are purloined images to find!
Formosa (Tuesday, January 18, 2011)
Based on the heirarchy of those search results, you'd be forgiven for thinking I stole the image from the DBD Research Institute to illustrate my post about learning Chinese. If it wasn't for the fact that the same picture originally appeared in my earlier blog from Taroko Gorge, along with the further proof that that's actually me in the photo.
This image has also been used by someone called Rekkia to symbolise her frustration with learning Japanese, who seems nice, and by Gustav the Modern Nomad, who I know is nice because he asked me very politely if he could use the image in the first place. He seems to have Photoshopped it to look a bit nicer too (this is the image DBD are using), though I don't think it's entirely successful as universal clipart for frustration with Chinese-(ish) languages due to my distractingly skinny arms. Sorry guys!
A typical day (except with monkeys) (Tuesday, January 25, 2011)
It doesn't annoy me so much that this company's using my image to sell their proboscis monkey spotting tour of Brunei, it's more the ineptitude of this not being the right type of monkey or even the right country. I've got two blogs about proboscis monkeys in Borneo, at least have the sense to steal from those!
Don't have a Kaohsiung, man (Thursday, January 27, 2011)
Here's a regular and quite funny bit of image-quoting from a dedicated skyscraper forum, where user Hardball included the Tuntex 85 Sky Tower in an exhaustive list of ugly skyscrapers from around the world. He's probably right, but I liked it. In the wacky context of Taiwan it fits perfectly.
What the Kaohsiung? I would have done this image searching thing a long time ago, if I thought my face was being used to front a fake Facebook account. I assume that's what those are anyway - both identify themselves as male and don't have any other photos, so that blows the chances of the account belonging to the girl in the photo, who incidentally I don't know but still felt okay about putting in two (now three) blogs. God knows what she's done with her picture of me.
So who is the real weirdo? A: It's the freak making a Facebook account with my face on it. Kaohsiung Montague has 27 friends (mostly with the surname Montague) and likes Texas Hold Em Poker. Do you know him?
Taiwhat? (Saturday, February 19, 2011)
When you carelessly post accurately labelled images of swastikas on your website, there's always the chance they'll be picked up by the wrong type of people who don't recognise its Buddhist context. That seems to have been the case with this military memorabilia forum, but despite it being in Norwegian and not letting me in without an account, I'm fairly confident I haven't unintentionally embroiled myself in neo-Nazi politics. That's all to come.
A childish day out again again (Sunday, February 27, 2011)
My wildlife photos have gradually got better over time, and were still towards the incompetent end of the amateur scale when I visited Bangkok's Dusit Zoo. That didn't stop a Russian travel agent using my gibbon picture, which is conspicuously blurrier than the others they presumably stole from better travel blogs.
There's my goddamn monkey! (Tuesday, March 15, 2011)
This is where I go from amused to genuinely irritated. Two Russian websites used my photos from Wat Phra Yai in Koh Samui (unless someone else just took a photo from the same angle with the exact same clouds), and the second one went on to use another four photos from that same post. That website is operated by the Federal Press. Judging by all the missing images on their poorly maintained site, the rest were presumably taken from other blogs too. Do they not have laws in Russia?
It's not only the Russians who liked the look of my elephant trekking photo, the French are at it as well:
That'll teach me for including nice images in my blogs. Or would it?
You wouldn't like me when I'm Ang Thong (Thursday, March 17, 2011)
Another unscrupulous travel agent uses my photo to hawk their crap. I climbed a relatively steep mountain trail for that shot, and I only get second placing! Again, I could be making a false accusation, and their dedicated photographer could have innocently taken a photo from the same spot with the same branch configurations and exact same clouds.
A childish day out again again (Sunday, March 20, 2011)
Oh, for f... Why am I doing this to myself? More to the point, why would a Russian travel company want to advertise their package tours of Dream World with pictures of me wearing my face? I can't be there all the time.
Oliver's Bangkok diary (by Dave) (Monday, March 21, 2011)
This genuine and disturbingly named 'massage' parlour I saw in Bangkok pops up regularly in this site's pervy search hits, so I shouldn't have been surprised to find it being admired elsewhere. Unfortunately, I couldn't access the bigtitredheads blog, so the rest of the story will have to be left to your depraved imagination.
Wat the heck (Saturday, March 26, 2011)
It took some overly determined sifting through photos of Wat Chedi Luang to find my picture being used by a tour company (who knew they had no scruples?) They've changed the colours slightly, but unless Chiang Mai is subject to freak winds that can make ten flags blow in precisely the same motions on two separate occasions, I don't buy it.
The Chester of Thailand (Sunday, March 27, 2011)
Ancient-Chiangmai are back to their old tricks, using my photo of Wat Phra Singh. Elsewhere on the thieving web, another company's using my image of a reclining Buddha (it took some scrutiny, but it's mine) and another Hong Kong company slipped up by including a publishing date. 27 March vs. 16 May - take that, Hong Kong! You're not even properly Chinese!
Elephants, Brachiosaurus women and other Chiang Mai-zing tales (Monday, March 28, 2011)
If you thought that last one was tedious, you'd better get out now. Eight photos from my Chiang Mai trekking post have been appropriated by companies offering Chiang Mai trekking and other services, but let's get the fun one out of the way first:
That's some kind of Indonesian corporate website, but at least they put in the effort of malforming the elephant through photoplasty, rather than just pasting their watermark over the photo and pretending it's theirs. You can have that one.
These ones don't get off so lightly:
More tribes, more temples and all the disgusting bugs you can eat (Tuesday, March 29, 2011)
My final Chiang Mai blog, and there are more rip-offs. But I was delighted to find this Bulgarian website where my exaggerated but accurate disgust at eating bugs is used to illustrate someone not liking eating bugs:
And in another non-corporate shocker, my morally ambiguous, posed photo of a poor Meo family (I donated) is used to highlight the issues of... actually, I'm not sure what this website is:
Here's the other crap:
The Globe Hunters try to hide things by cropping slightly and adding a watermark (how dare they!), but once again it's in the clouds.
Ayutthaya? No, there's just something in my eye (Thursday, March 31, 2011)
How am I still on March 2011? This is going to take longer than the e-books at this rate, but still I persevere.
Someone called güttsfükk (possibly not their real name) used a bunch of my photos to illustrate an informative, non-corporate and overlong blog post on a website that asks me if I can handle reality. He has my full support.
Similarly, the Italian Visit Thailand and Enjoy Your Holidays sites don't seem to be about making money, and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I like to think I'm not the only person who writes blogs for their own sake.
Someone called dudu (possibly their real name) used my photo from the top of Wat Phukhao Thong, despite having loads of pictures of their own. Maybe they just forgot to take that pic at the time. Tell: identical cow positioning.
And then there's stuff like this:
They love performing for your amusement (Friday, April 1, 2011)
I made the mistake of taking some half-decent pictures of elephants forced to battle and perform stunts, partly to raise awareness that this stuff is still going on and to apologise for supporting it. So you can imagine how dismayed I am to find travel agents using my images to sell tours (usually not even to the place pictured).
At least there's one website using my photos for good, fighting the losing fight.
Krabi? (Monday, April 4, 2011)
My final day out in Thailand (first time round) produced my most professional looking photos yet. I can't take all the credit for that, it was partly down to the weather, and it's no surprise these have been seized by travel companies that couldn't be bothered to take their own.
Includes assorted blogs, and it seems someone might actually be using one of my photos as their desktop background. That makes me feel a little better. It almost negates all the anger this task has wrought, but I can't stop now.