mudhouse_gw

eBay seller using GW member HFGH photos, without permission

mudhouse_gw
11 years ago

Yesterday, a reader of my HFGH blog was kind enough to alert me that an eBay seller, maxhootue, was using a photo of my completed 10x12 HFGH in his eBay auctions. Without permission, hed used it in three completed 10x12 auctions, and was using it in 3 current auctions. I donÂt know maxhootue.

IÂm a registered eBay member, so I contacted maxhootue through the "Ask Seller A Question" link, and identified myself as the legal owner of the photo. I provided him a link to eBayÂs Image Theft policy (which makes it easy to report the practice) and asked him to remove my image immediately. Within 30 minutes of my email, my picture was removed.

However, instead of reverting back to the photo from the HF website, heÂs now replaced my photo with one that belongs to another GardenWeb member, in all three auctions. I quickly found the new image in Google Images, and traced it to a 2006 GardenWeb thread. IÂve sent an email to that GardenWeb member (kasie), in case their photo is also being used without their permission.

HereÂs a link to a completed auction, still showing the stolen photo from my HFGH blog:

eBay auction number 220358566649

HereÂs a link to one of his current HFGH 10x12 auctions, with the photo IÂve traced to kasie:

eBay auction number 220359491564

Yesterday, this HFGH 6x8 auction was using a photo I recognized immediately as a photo from ConiferÂs (Dax) 6x8 thread. Today maxhootue has changed it to a photo belonging to GardenWeb member megdagooch, taken from a 2007 thread. (In this case, maxhootue cropped the photo and emblazoned his name across it.) IÂve also sent an email to megdagooch through GardenWeb.

eBay auction number 220359296685

HereÂs a link to another of MaxhootueÂs current 6x8 auctions. I donÂt know who this photo belongs to. (It may even belong to one of MaxhootueÂs customers, who has provided permission, but why am I pessimistic?)

eBay auction number 220359296486

For future reference, after the above auctions end, a quick way to check the photos in maxhootueÂs current HFGH auctions is to use this link to go to his eBay store, and do a search for greenhouse.

maxhootueÂs eBay store

Maxhootue has sold Harbor Freight greenhouses on eBay for years. I know nothing about his connection with Harbor Freight. In the past, IÂve only seen the photo from the HF website in his auctions, but in late January, it looks like he switched to using other peopleÂs photos (including mine.)

So, a heads-up to folks with photos of Harbor Freight greenhouses on the internet. This seller certainly used my image without permission, so IÂm concerned he is doing the same to others. I personally find the practice objectionable, and consider it theft of intellectual property. If maxhootue uses one of your photos without permission, you can either contact him directly, as I did, or (probably better) report him to eBay here:

eBayÂs Image Theft Policy

Maxhootue should consider the legal, responsible, and simple practice of contacting some of his own greenhouse customers, and asking them to send photos to use in his auctions.

Sheri

Comments (12)

  • rjinga
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Sheri,
    You'll get a kick out of this, I emailed this guy and told him that I didn't appreciate his business practices...and here is his response. I told him that I didn't think it was right for him to use other people photos without their permission for his own financial gain. What is really silly is that 95% of everyone on here would LET him use their photos if he simply had the decency to ask rather than just taking them:

    "For my "own financial gain?" Maybe you should do your research a little better on what i am about. I do not profit one single cent from my ebay auctions. Every single penny earned is given to local charities that range from helping animal shelters, food pantries, youth programs and more.

    I simply used the picture I did because customers were wanting a more realistic picture. they could have just as easily viewed these same exact pictures by doing a simple google search. So, it is not like I am hacking into someone's computer stealing pictures. Also, I have had requests from people in the past to not use their pictures. I have immediately obliged without even asking them to verify they are the rightful owner of the picture.

    I am not out to cause trouble. I am out to help others in need during my retirement. i never knew that using a picture that was posted in a blog/chat forum was going to be such a big deal to you at the others on GW.

    That's okay, I hope you sleep well knowing that you are trying to take money away from a worthwhile cause.

  • mudhouse_gw
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Hi Rhonda!
    Thanks...and sheesh! I didnt receive any reply to my email to maxhootue. Maybe I can shed a little light.

    Maxhootue wrote:
    "'For my 'own financial gain?' Maybe you should do your research a little better on what i am about. I do not profit one single cent from my ebay auctions. Every single penny earned is given to local charities that range from helping animal shelters, food pantries, youth programs and more."
    This is wonderful (although I cant find any mention of this in any of Maxhootues auctions, eBay stores, or About Me Page.) However, donating proceeds to charity does not exempt anyone from US copyright law, and few charitable organizations would be willing to take the financial risk imposed by infringing on the law. Theyd simply ask for permission first (as Rhonda points out, how hard is that?)

    "I simply used the picture I did because customers were wanting a more realistic picture. they could have just as easily viewed these same exact pictures by doing a simple google search. So, it is not like I am hacking into someone's computer stealing pictures."
    The second a photo is taken, it automatically becomes the property of the person who took it. Publishing a photo on the internet does not negate the ownership rights of the person who took the photo.

    "Also, I have had requests from people in the past to not use their pictures."
    Okey dokey, admission of an ongoing practice duly noted. ;-)

    "I have immediately obliged without even asking them to verify they are the rightful owner of the picture."
    A lot of folks don't know that, in matters of copyright infringement, its the reverse. If, for example, a vendor is accused of illegal use of a photo, the artist owning the copyrighted material can demand proof that the vendor acquired legal usage rights. If the vendor cant provide proof of usage rights, they can be subject to copyright laws with penalties of up to $150,000 per infringement. The person using the property has to prove they have legal usage rights, not the other way around.

    "I am not out to cause trouble."
    And, neither is anyone objecting to the unauthorized use of their property.

    "I am out to help others in need during my retirement. i never knew that using a picture that was posted in a blog/chat forum was going to be such a big deal to you at the others on GW."
    I agree some folks dont know about copyright infringement, but ignorance of the law doesnt exempt you from prosecution. It's a bit surprising that a seven-year eBay Power Seller can reach a feedback level of 15,788 without grasping these legal issues, but hopefully maxhootue now understands the issues involved (and we all have a happy ending.)

    "That's okay, I hope you sleep well knowing that you are trying to take money away from a worthwhile cause."
    Good grief, what utter baloney.

  • mudhouse_gw
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Well, you gotta hand it to the guy...he's persistent.

    Now maxhootue has removed the 10x12 photo that he pulled from kasies GardenWeb thread, and hes using a photo from troykds blog, in the same three auctions. But this time he cut out the background, flopped the image to reverse it, and added the maxhootue logo on top. (Yep, that makes it all legal.) ;-)

    Heres one of the auctions:
    eBay auction number 220359491564

    And heres a link to Troykds nice blog (a great help to me during our build) showing the photo before it was altered:
    Building our Greenhouse, an Adventure in Pain
    I tried to contact troykd, in case he has any concerns about his photo being used, but I cant get the GardenWeb system to bring up anyones contact info right now. Maybe hell find this.

    Wonder who will get the next knock on the door?

  • rjinga
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    a follow up from him: note the very funny comment at the end (that he googled my ebay ID which is rjsandiego and something about right and wrong...I had to google myself to see what he was talking about, LOL...what he saw was a link to a gay.com site...of course it's a 38 year old gay man with some hot looking abs, I had to inform him that I'm not a 38 year old gay man, but a 43 year old married woman, who would give anything for abs that looked like that ; )

    here's his response: (oh and btw..I was never HOSTILE, not sure where that came from)

    this will be my last email to you as you are not choosing to discuss this without becoming hostile. Why don't I post that I am a charitable giver? because unless I use ebay's charity works program, then it is against ebay policy to state that I raising money for a charity. Why don't I used ebay's charity works? Because it makes you do a flat % with 10% being the minimum. I make $15 when I sell a greenhouse (NOTE HIS COMMENT EARLIER ABOUT NOT MAKING ONE SINGLE CENT). If I used their charity works program, I would be required to give $80. Not sure how that would work when my profit is only $15.

    Why don't I make reference to the GW site or provide a link? Once again, this is against ebay policy to provide links or direct ebay users to a 3rd party site.

    Again, as I stated before, if anyone had an issue with me using their publicly posted picture, then I immediately removed it without even asking them to verify ownership.

    this is just my opinion. *****Just like by doing a simple google search of your ebay ID helps me understand that we have differing opinions on what is right and wrong***** i am not out to judge and either should you.

  • stressbaby
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    This guy needs to be hammered with emails.

  • amigatec
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    From the looks of the stuff he sells almost everything is from HF.

    And there is NO WAY he is doing this for charity.

  • mudhouse_gw
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I dont know how it works, but its apparently possible to have some sort of discount or volume relationship with Harbor Freight. There are a number of eBay sellers who list Harbor Freight merchandise (including greenhouses.) Harbor Freight is an eBay seller too, but many HF items are sold on eBay by resellers.

    Its entirely possible that Harbor Freight discourages resellers from using photos from the Harbor Freight website. If so, this would cause some eBay sellers of Harbor Freight merchandise to need to provide their own photos.

    Because this sellers feedback indicates hes capable of handling an impressive volume of business, Im still hoping hell adopt a professional approach, and try contacting his greenhouse buyers from past years, and asking them for a photo to use for his auctions.

    Heres a super article about the unauthorized use of images, in case anyones interested: Image Piracy

    Just to cheer up this unhappy subject, Pleiospilos nelii, blooming this week:

    {{gwi:289657}}

  • funnylady
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Beautiful flower there Mudhouse.

  • pushindirt
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I would email ebay and let them know.
    Of course the original author of the photo would have to complain.

  • numbersix
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I have had lots of photos stolen on Kijiji. Other sellers would take my photos (from my ads) and use them in their own ads. My camera sucks, so my photos arent even very good.
    The most reliable way to prevent your photos from being used is to watermark them. The photos on my website are copy protected, but anyone can download freeware to get around that.

  • mudhouse_gw
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Yep, I added a copyright notice to the photo that seems to be the one several HF resellers are lifting from my blog. Hopefully the new watermarked version will be picked up by Google Images (I think that's the first place folks look to find an image.)

    I hear mixed comments about reporting image theft to eBay; some folks seem to get better results than others. It's probably fastest to contact the auction seller directly, but the downside is the seller doesn't receive a strike on their eBay record for copyright infringement (if you care about that.)

    eBay ProStores (free standing web stores, offered by eBay) seems to have a more serious approach, and I have used their reporting process successfully.

    Numbersix, sorry you've had the same trouble. The copyright infringement reporting process described in Kijiji's help section looks exactly like the one used by eBay ProStores. (Kijiji is owned by eBay.) If you haven't already, you might try faxing the form they offer.

    Thanks for the info about freeware being available to get around copy protected HTML code...I had wondered about that. I guess watermarks are a better deterrent!

  • buyorsell888
    11 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    It is against eBay rules for sellers to steal images. Report them.

    They are often stealing your bandwidth as well, linking to your pictures rather than downloading them and them uploading them to their own site.

    Many eBayers have put language like "this seller is stealing my photos should you trust him with your money?" on their photos as watermarks.

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