Would you be Upset if you Found Out A Website is using Images of YOUR KIDS on Their Products?

2015 March 4

I received a funny email via Flickr the other day.

A well-meaning gentleman alerted me to the fact that my kids’ faces were being used on a really spammy website. The site is attempting to sell coffee mugs with cute kiddie images on them. Only… the images are ALL from the creative commons area via Flickr. Where I routinely upload images and allow CC use when people are willing to link back to the source.

Overall it’s a very surprising and provocative project… and at first I might look at the site and think… Hmm yeah… that IS interesting. It could be a problem… for someone else.

But hold on… wait… further

NOTICE about 1/3 of the way down the actual website… yeah.. THOSE ARE MY KIDS on the mug!! Look here—> http://koppie-koppie.biz/

Yup… those 3 teen/tweens standing around a tree? They belong to me.

online copy right issues for bloggers and photographers

Whoah! What should I do!?

Here’s where the story gets good.

Because the CREATORS of the so-called spammy site wrote about the project on Medium. Read the story over on Medium.

I won’t pretend to tell you I understand everything explained in the article. But the main gist, is this: ARE you aware of the licensing you are allowing knowingly or unknowingly when you upload images to places like Flickr (or Facebook, or Twitter)?

If not. You should find out.

In the article this is the suggestion from the folks at Koppie-Koppie (The mug site):

“So, if you find yourself or your child pictured on one of our mugs, send a message to delete@koppie-koppie.biz. We’ll promptly remove the mug from our website. However, we urge you to take matters into your own hands and customize your privacy settings according to your expectations. And, if this is not possible, ask Flickr or other Web companies to make that happen.” —Medium.com


Why I Like Flickr and Creative Commons

I kind of like seeing where my images end up. Most people let me know where they used my images either by commenting on the photo or sending me Flickr mail. I also use Flickr Images as a means to share links of my own in the description of the image I upload when I use it in my writing both on my own blog and as freelance. I allow people to use my images on their sites but I also assume they will not use my images specifically to make money off them.

I consider myself an amateur photographer at best.
And I Honestly don’t mind if people find fun ways to use my images.
Maybe I’m crazy that way?

Wait… look closer at that spammy website using my kids’ image…

Click on the upper right where it says: WTF

Even on the website itself, they are attempting to do a public service announcement in this really weird and fabulously provocative way.

I can ask them to remove my kids’ image and they say they will. Apparently they are genuine about what they are doing and raising awareness. See several images have already been removed from the homepage.

Here’s what they say on the WTF page:

koppie-koppie.biz website about copyright problems for bloggers photographers

“And yes, it’s a joke, but one that carries a serious message: freely sharing something on social media does not mean you have nothing to hide. After something has been shared, it is terribly difficult to determine the extent to which it’s still yours, and the extent to which others are allowed to use it.

Koppie Koppie exposes this complexity in a painful way.

If you see a picture of you or your children on our store and you want to have it deleted, please send us an email, we’ll remove your child from our webshop within two weeks. But don’t forget to modify the license settings on Flickr. If not, everyone will still be able to sell photos of your children.” – Koppie Koppie


BUT. I very INTENTIONALLY put my images on Flickr’s creative commons.

Heck I put my pictures EVERYWHERE. The whole point is for folks to use my images and agree to link back to my work. Which the Koppie-Koppie folks did. They are also supposed to agree not to make money directly off my images, which they are doing. So of course I will have them remove it. BUT… it’s still a TOTALLY provoking issue on both sides.

Anyone else think so??

It looks like I need to better understand what Creative Commons really means and then determine which of my photos to alter the attribution tag.

After some digging and Googling and asking a few people smarter than myself; here’s what I’ve learned about the various types of Creative Commons licenses:

  1. What type of CC license do I need? Go to this website and it can help you choose how to license your photos. http://creativecommons.org/choose/ I was using the wrong license. I need to mention something about noncommercial use.
  2. Flickr gives you several licensing options. The default option is basically locked down; people can’t share, or use in any way—commercially or not. So most people using Flickr are probably not altering the initial default. You can also make your photos NON-Public as well.
  3. It’s super easy to edit the license of your photos on Flickr. I have several thousand images and was able to alter the license for 500 images at a time.

creative commons licensing for noncommercial

  1. Look around at a few photographers you know on Flickr and see how they are licensing their images. I realized several I respect are using Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike as their license. That makes a lot of sense for the way I use Flickr. It means, you must link back to me with some sort of attribution when you use my image for example: on your website. You cannot use my image as a means to make money directly from the image. And if you share the image in whatever form it must be shared with a similar license.

For my needs on Flickr I have altered my images from fully open Creative Commons to Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike.

See my puppy here?
He’s still under Creative Commons but he is now licensed as NonCommercial.
You can totally use his image if you give me attribution and if you agree not to profit from his cute face. ThankYouVeryMuch.

superoscar puppy adoption cute copyright issues for bloggers

copyright issues for bloggers photographers

Now the question is.

Should I reach out to the good folks over at Koppie-Koppie and ask them to remove my children from their mug?

Because. It’s a great conversation to be having. And it made me think twice about how (and why) I’m licensing my photos especially on Flickr. But really what does it mean for many, many images on my website? Those are ALL copyrighted and cannot be used in any way, right?

But really I have no idea how you stop that from happening?

I’m tempted to leave the image on the mug and keep the conversation going.
What would you do?


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One Response
  1. March 6, 2015

    Agh I’d be in such a panic if I found my little ones posted on some website. I’m always very careful to only share personal photos with FB friends and my privacy settings are pretty much on lock-down. That being said, there’s more and more information that’s readily available online especially with having the blog. I guess the site is doing a service for unsuspecting users even if there’s other ways to go about it. Glad you learned something from your experience and you’re willing to share it with others. There’s so much that changes on a daily basis, it’s hard to know it all. At least you’ve changed some of your licenses via flickr and it was a positive experience for you.

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