Thanks to everyone who contacted alibaba to protest this seller. The seller was taken down for stealing my photos and many others as well. It took them a long time, but finally they did take them down! Yay!
Photos can be stolen. Yes, it's so unfortunate, but it happened! It's a huge shame that I and
so many other Etsy sellers have to go through this. Working so hard to take good photos and finally getting to the point where you feel like your photos do your items justice, only to discover that they are being stolen is very daunting.
I'm reluctant to link to the site as I don't want to give them exposure, and I certainly don't want to give them a linkback that will help their google ranking, but if you'd like to see for yourself what this seller is doing, copy and paste the following link into your browser. http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/301645719/Crochet_flowers_Bookmark.html
See those photos? Yep, those are mine. Not only did they steal them from my Etsy shop, but they pasted their watermark all over them too. Who has the gaul to watermark something that they stole?! Apparently they do. The design is also mine, but here they are selling them as low as 5 cents a piece.
Those photos where taken in my bedroom with my Nikon D80. The book you see is called The Gift Of Music.
I know I don't need to tell you, but I will anyway. Folks, I make all of my own bookmarks with my own hands, and I create my own designs. I look at a picture of a real flower and my hands start to work the thread. It comes natural to me. There's hardly a day that goes by that I don't spend at least a couple hours crocheting because it is what I love doing.
The last thing I want is for people to think I've been buying all my bookmarks mass produced and reselling them on Etsy.
Unfortunately watermarking is not the answer. If their workers will make those for 5 cents, they'll certainly take the time to remove watermark from photos. Photoshop makes things like that pretty easy.
Another Etsy seller made a great suggestion to me! PaperSupply (great shop by the way) suggested that I make a carved wooden replica of my shop name and drape my bookmarks over it when I take pictures. This is a great suggestion! Now I'm going to be busy for awhile designing something like this that will go with my theme.
I should put a strong emphasis on the fact that I am not the only one they have stolen photos from. Looking at their shop, I recognized photos from several sellers I admire, especially all the baby photos! (notice all the baby photos are of white babies, certainly not chinese). See for yourself http://jsyunwen.en.alibaba.com/
So what can we do about it? Honestly I can't find much to do, except discredit them and bombard them with requests to take those photos down. But even then they make you jump through all kinds of hoops even just to contact them. You can also contact the alibaba website (remember this is a venue like etsy, not every seller there is guilty of fraud) and tell them about this shop.
Make sure you cite their own policy...oh yes, they have a policy that covers infringement! http://news.alibaba.com/article/detail/help/100104162-1-intellectual-property-protection-policy-infringement.html
If you do decide to contact them, good luck! This is actually my second go round with this site, and the first time didn't do me a whole lot of good. I suspect they don't care much, since they really don't have to do anything as they are in another country.
I think the best thing we can do is spread the word and come up with ways to protect our photos.
Have you found a way to protect your photos? I would love to hear about it!