Monday, 25 February 2013

Nail art theft - it's a big deal!

This is a post I've been meaning to write for a long time, and is in my opinion, the most important post on my entire blog.

Nail art theft. Pretty much every nail artist has experienced it at some point. It's when someone else takes your photo of your nails and posts it somewhere else without crediting you. And oh, how it makes us nail artists angry. I've had people tell me to just "deal with it," been ignored and others I know have been sworn at and blocked. But no. I will not, and we will not "just get over it". 

This post will hopefully help others understand where we're coming from. Many culprits are naive teenage girls, who are just after 'likes' and easy popularity, and don't know what they're doing is illegal in most countries. They're not doing it maliciously, but they need to know that what they're doing is wrong.

There are different levels of theft, and the way I see it, these are:

1. Taking the photo and posting it somewhere without crediting the owner. 

This can be anywhere - on Facebook, Pinterest, a blog, Tumblr, Instagram and many more.
Crediting provides a way for viewers to find the original artist; you can credit simply by leaving their blog link or tagging them. It's a minimal amount of effort on your part, but makes a big difference to nail artists. If everyone did this, there would be no need for watermarks.

Example: Posting this photo without also posting this page's URL.

2. Taking the photo, posting it and editing/cropping out the watermark. 

This is bad, really bad. This counts as malicious, straight away. If the victim or their blogging friends find this, they're not going to be nice. It means that no one can  find the original artist, which is just silly. If someone likes one of their nail art designs, they will definitely like more of them! It's also a really disrespectful thing to do to the nail artist; they spent a long time painting their nails, photographing them, watermarking and then posting them, only to have someone stop them from getting credit. One of the worst pages I've seen for doing this is below. I'll talk about this particular page in more detail soon, but here are my horse nails with the watermark blurred out.



3. Taking the photo, editing out the watermark and replacing it with their own. 

Replacing someone's watermark with your own is the lowest form of nail art theft. I feel it needs no more explanation than that. This is becoming disappointingly common with facebook pages. These girls google "nail art" or something similar, copy all of the pictures and then feel that because they made the effort to do a google search, they have the right to splash their watermark all over them. Wrong on so many levels!! One of the craziest messages I've ever gotten on my facebook page was a girl who wanted me to advertise her page. Her page was full of stolen and re-watermarked pictures! Here's one below, originally done by A Girl with some Clothes. I've removed the watermark this page added - I don't want her gaining any followers from this! She doesn't seem to replace watermarks anymore at least, but she still posts uncredited pictures.



Here's the conversation I had with her - I thought it was so entertaining and ridiculous I just had to save it!


She honestly seemed to think she deserved all the credit because she had done a google search or two. Crazy. In saying that, I'm sure she's a lovely person in real life, just not very educated on copyright laws. Or my country, haha. New Zealand is a very friendly place, thank you very much!

4. Taking a picture and posting it somewhere, claiming that you did the nail art. 

I don't think I've experienced this myself yet, but others have. Just today on instagram a nail girl called nailsbyhayleyb had another instagram user take her picture. The original didn't have a watermark, so the thief added one on and swore and declared it was her own work. It's ridiculous! Fingers and nail sizes are remarkably distinct, and you could easily tell that the nails were done by the first girl! Other people have had their nail art entered into competitions, and been harassed and bullied when they spoke up about it.

Here's a thought.

Some wonderful, selfless people may do nail art and purposely not watermark it, leaving it free for the world to use. That's great and all, and I'd love to show you their blogs or instagr- OH WAIT, no one knows who they are. See? Sure, their pictures may be famous, but they're unheard of. They're lost in the big wide world of cyberspace.

What affect does nail art theft have on bloggers?

Massive loss of exposure, of followers, of pageviews, profits, a massive loss of everything. At the time of writing this, I desperately need a (new) job. I work 8 hours a week, and that's all I have to survive off. Until I get a job, we're borrowing money while my husband works two part time jobs AND studies. It's a fairly reasonable assumption that I wouldn't have this problem if everyone had always credited me. I would be earning enough off my blog to not have to seek out more work. Instead, I've thus far earned a grand total of $30 from google adsense. "So what?" you may think, "not my problem!" 
This affects fans of nail art too. I wonder how many nail artists have given up on their blogs, sick of fighting a seemingly losing battle? Or have become too busy with their jobs to dedicate enough time to nail art?
 Working 40 hours a week doesn't leave much time to do intricate designs on your nails, and when your pageviews are dropping while thievery keeps going up - what's the point? Especially when it comes to time-consuming posts like tutorials.

However, I'm not stopping, not at this stage. I love it too much! I'll just see how it goes once I get a job. I imagine I'll have to cut down my postings to once or twice a week.

My story

When my blog was only a couple of months old and pretty much unknown, a picture was stolen. They were my first converse chucks design, which you can find here. A Facebook page took an unwatermarked version of it from we heart it - I didn't know about watermarking when I first started, and you can't delete photos off that site. This picture got over 70,000 likes. Their followers doubled (if not tripled), as it swept across facebook. Meanwhile, my little blog was being ignored. As the photo was unwatermarked, I couldn't really blame them for not crediting me, as they wouldn't have known who I was. I tried to talk to them, asking for credit - I was ignored many times and when they finally replied, they were defensive, rude, and refused to acknowledge me as the source. Bad idea. I reported the photo to facebook and it was removed within a day - facebook is excellent at that! Six months later, this page, which had about 300,000 likes, no longer exists. Once a page gets enough reports, Facebook notices it and checks it out properly (this page was full of stolen pictures!) That's where nail art theft will lead you, it's just a matter of time.

Since then my pictures have been stolen more times than I can count, but only one other page has really infuriated me. There's a page on Facebook called Unas Decoradas - spanish for decorated nails (essentially, nail art). 

Yeah, I can't spell thieves, oops!

They have over a million 'fans' - and they have posted thousands of uncredited nail art pictures. Even worse? They know it's wrong, and they keep doing it. I've caught them out several times before, but they just keep on posting! Once they even tried to give me credit - only 'tried' because they actually credited me with someone else's picture *rolls eyes.* A month or two after the first time I called them out on it (and I thought they were doing things legally now), they did this to me. The original picture can be found here.


They actually edited EVERYTHING I had written on it out! This would have taken 20x longer than simply crediting me!

And again, to Wacky Laki. These are just two examples, too, there were many more.


The page that posts these stolen, altered pictures is called ~uñas decoradas~ and is still on facebook - here. Want to help stop the thievery? Report them. Tell the original nail artists. Report them some more. Make facebook notice! If I had money, I would actually take legal action against them.

How can you use a picture but not get in trouble?

Credit them! Easy. If there is no watermark it is definitely harder, but you can normally still find it by using google's search by image. That thing is amazing. Most pictures, however, have watermarks. Mine is Nailed it NZ, obviously, and that's my name on most social media sites. If you're posting a picture of mine on instagram, tag me @naileditnz. On facebook, type @Nailed it NZ to tag me (you may have to like my page first). Anywhere else, just post the link to my page (nailedit1.blogspot.co.nz) and say they were done by Nailed it NZ. Same goes for every other artist - see a name? Put it down. It's not hard, and a lot better than having a bunch of nail artists hating on you and getting your page eventually shut down.

How can nail artists avoid nail art theft?

The easiest way is to have a big, obnoxious watermark across your picture. Most people don't like that though, and for good reason. My current watermarks look like this - one or two small ones right next to the nails and a bigger one on the edge of the picture. Picasa's a good, free program you can use to watermark. 


Make sure they can't be cropped out. In this picture, if you tried to crop my big watermark you'd lose half my pinky. That just looks suspicious - whenever I see only part of a nail design I instantly look for the watermark, thinking that it's been stolen. 

Don't put up with nail art theft. Block them, report them, tell them off. Try to be nice though - as I mentioned earlier, most of them are just kids who don't know what they're doing. If they refuse to credit you, then you can be tough. If they realise what they were doing was wrong and promise not to anymore, great! Keep an eye on them for a while though. Most importantly, thank those that DO give you credit. I try to, but don't always get to do it for every one (either because I'm too busy or the account was private). Let them know that it's appreciated, and if you like their blog/account/whatever, follow them. 

If you'd like me to add anything to this, email me - you can find my email address in the contact me tab. Please share this page with other nail artists and their followers, so awareness can be raised.
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave your experiences with nail art theft in the comments!

34 comments:

  1. I'm sorry, Jessie! My gosh!!! This is totally unacceptable!! These people have nothing better to do than stealing pictures?!?!? This makes me mad!

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    1. I know right? Makes me mad too! Thanks for your support :)

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  2. I'm so sorry your incredible designs have fallen victim to so many thieves! I submitted your blog post to reddit laqueristas so that the girls there who often don't watermark their images can see what can happen. I hope that's ok!

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    1. Awesome, thank you! Watermarking is so important!

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  3. I personally look for watermarks on photos if it's something I am interested in. I will go looking for that name on an internet search. A word of HUGE warning of something that is going on with Pintest and other places, the hyperlinks often are embedded with viruses. Most Internet Security geeks will tell you NOT to click on links given on Pinterest and sites (like Tumbler) like it. It's just asking for problems. Not only can you get a virus but the links can put some software into your computer so ever time you open a window that is 'about' a topic up will open yet another window with info or a lame search engine on that topic. It happens a whole lot. Just like we are not supposed to click on links sent to us in email when we don't know the person who sent it - don't click on links in Pinterest. Also a lot of folks find copies of photos long removed from their original artist from all the mondo mega share boards on Pinterest and other art sites. The info of the correct artist is often not with it. Repinning off Pinterest is not advised either. It's better if you make your own copy and then put that on your web site and/or Pinterest that way your own anti-virus can do a scan first of it to be sure what you are going to share is safe. There is a lot of really devious stuff being done out there with embedded viruses and hijacking URLs that show up that are almost impossible to get rid of once you get hit by one.

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    1. Oh wow, I hadn't heard about that! That sucks too, as I've gotten quite a few hits from pinterest and it'd be a pity if some people aren't clicking through because they're worried about viruses! Hopefully pinterest will get on top of it soon. I suppose if the URLs match up to the picture/watermark you're pretty safe.

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  4. 'The link you followed may be broken or the page may have been removed' Well that's something at least! (I was going to report them but looks like I might not have to!)
    It's a shame when people have to do this, claiming them as their own is bad enough but to not credit anyone for the designs and tutorials but post them all over Facebook anyway is awful behaviour.
    In the interests of full disclosure I linked to one of your tutorials in my latest blog post, but fully credited so I hope you don't mind!
    I don't think my photos are good enough to steal, but I might whack a big watermark across the bottom, just in case!

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    1. My bad - the page wasn't showing up because I got the URL wrong, it's fixed now though! That's fine, I love when people share my photos with credit! Thanks heaps :). And I'm sure your photos are great, I'll go check out your blog now. I watermark everything lol, as sometimes other people love what I think is boring!

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  5. I was going to report that facebook page, but it looks like it has already been taken down!

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    1. Oops nope, I just had the URL slightly wrong. They're still there, but the link is fixed now!

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  6. I can't believe her response. Has she no morals? She clearly just wants all the glory for herself. I haven't seen a single thing on her page that was actually done by her!

    Makes me very cross.

    On the job-related note, what sort of work are you looking for?

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    1. I know right? Grrr. I'm looking for ANY job at the moment, lol. I did a BA in media studies and may study journalism, graphic and/or web design in a couple of years but I can't afford to at the moment. I've got administration, customer service, food prep etc experience. Why, do you know of a job that's available?

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  7. Reported them! It's ridiculous that even after warnings that they will post photos without giving credit!!

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    1. Thanks, you're awesome! I totally agree!

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  8. Thanks for posting this! I'm new to nail art blogging and have already had my posts stolen or propagated without credit. I'll be sure to watermark from now on, thank you.

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    1. Glad I could help you out! Watermarking is so important!

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  9. Changing the watermark is really bad. Can't believe people do this. If they like the design they can recreate it themselves no need to steal the photos.

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    1. Exactly! If they don't have the patience to do it themselves the least they could do is leave it unedited and give the person who DID have the patience credit!

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  10. This is horrible. I have reported them on facebook. It makes me so angry when people think they can get away with things like this! I mean, lying and stealing to get a few "likes"? That is just wrong.

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    1. Thanks for reporting them! And I know eh, it's so ridiculous. They don't know how much it affects us - or if they do, they don't care. Thanks for your support!

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  11. Thank you for taking the time to write this down. It is SO important!!! I will report them on Fb

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    1. Thank you! It definitely is very important :)

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  12. this is really despicable :P
    one of my fellow bloggers warned me that she found one of my posts copy-pasted on another blog... on that blog i found (you better sit down) 91 my post... i was speechless... i reported this blog to google but it's still there :(

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    1. Holy crap! That's insane! Poor you! Maybe there's somewhere else you can report it too? Have you emailed the blogger?

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  13. Gotta write you since i saw today that "uñas decoradas" posted your tribal nails again, and this time they kept your name BUT NOT YOUR LINK!!! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=438175119593156&set=a.279266868817316.66113.279265195484150&type=1&relevant_count=1
    I've suffered the same with this 15 years old girls, they are really rude! and I denounced them to the FB staff. They (FB, not the girls) acted really fast and deleted all my pics in less than 12 hours. The same for Toxic Vanity, who was stolen too. There's another picture in their wall of a tutorial i did this week, and i'm waiting for Facebook staff to delete it again, but this is kinda like a joke, we can't be always, everyday, every minute looking at their wall to see if they're posting our fotos and editing them T_T!!!
    I'm full of rage with this girls, we even had an argument by Twitter and one of them ended insulting me while i was telling them they are commiting a theft...

    What would we should do now? >_<

    Hugs from Spain!

    PS: I'll try to tag you on that picture so you can find it faster.
    PS2: Sorry for my English, i'm not as good as i would like hehe!

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    1. Omg I can't beleive they did it AGAIN! Edited it, too!! Can't believe how low some people are. Can't wait until facebook deletes them, I have no doubt it'll happen eventually. Just keep reporting them I guess! So frustrating! Tag all the original artists and tell them to report them. Oh, they're on twitter? I might have to have a rage at them myself...
      I'm reporting them at the moment :)

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  14. I found my pictures on that page the other day, about 10 of them. I asked the owner to take them down with no response, so I just reported all of my photos to Facebook and had to prove they were my own. I hope they get taken down because I think it's just ridiculous to not credit someone for their work. Just because there is a watermark on the photo does not mean that credit is given. Hopefully after this report Facebook will remove them all together, it seems they've been reported a number of times - so why the heck are they still on there!

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    1. I hope they've been taken down now! Exactly, watermarks are really there to help people find the original artist so they give credit - they're not there as the ONLY source of credit! And I agree, Facebook's being really useless with them.

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  15. Thanks for the warnings Jessie. Now have about 30 pictures to watermarks lol :D

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    1. You're welcome - but eek, have fun!

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  16. This is one of my biggest bugbears. I think instagram is the absolute worst for it, to the extent that just browsing on it can make me so ragin' that I have to stop haha.

    I think it is worth noting that even crediting an image doesn't necessarily mean that intellectual property rights have not been breached - although most nail artists are happy for others to share their work provided proper credit is given, the same can't be assumed for everyone. The copyright holder retains the exclusive right to distribute 'copies', so re-posting etc. without permission ('a licence', I suppose) still impinges that right and is therefore unlawful, even if the photo is sourced.

    (I would think this won't apply where 'official' sharing systems are used - reblogging on Tumblr, sharing on Facebook - I assume something is built into the T&Cs to make it all work.)

    Sorry for the lengthy comment - what I'm basically saying is that I completely agree with you!

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    1. Same, lol, I don't bother hunting for nail art theft on instagram, it's so hard to properly report the thousands of thieving accounts. I follow ignailartpolice (i think that's their name) and they list thieves - I block and report those at least!

      Yeah, you're right, but as you say most people are fine with that and in fact encourage it as it's spreading their work :).

      Thanks for your comment!

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  17. Hi Jessie. Thanks for your informative post. I am a Beauty Therapist and enjoy doing nails now and then. I love looking for nail art ideas on the Web. What do you recommend though when I come across an idea I like and want to do, but there is no watermark or link for me to credit the original artist? I would hate to be accused of stealing an idea. I have said in the past that the idea was inspired from the Web (when there is no information), but it would be so much better to know who the original artist was. I would love to give credit when credit is due. I came across the Converse Shoe design a while ago, and it was a random picture on the net. Nice to now know it was your creation. :-) Vee - Bliss Skin and Body, Hamilton, NZ. X

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    1. Thanks for your email, I've replied! For anyone else that's wondering about this, when there's no watermark and you can't find it through Google search there's not really a lot you can do. Just be open to crediting it if someone else knows the owner, and never claim it as your own!

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