My kitchen photo stolen and used in Ad

November 21, 2008

How funny -

As I was looking at a home improvement booklet sent in the mail - I came upon an ad for custom kitchen cabinets and there was a picture of my kitchen. I called the company and asked how he got my photo since he did NOT do my cabinets - he was unsure and said those were his photos and his kitchens - I said "No, you did not do my kitchen." Then he said something about the internet. So, I think he stole the picture from the Finished Kitchen Blog site.

Of all the kitchens there - what a coincidence that this guy took my photo and I saw it here in Miami.

So, the moral to this story is - Don't trust what you see in the ads of those magazines -

Comments (60)

  • sedeno77

    I know, Allison, that's why I find it kinda funny - that I would stumble upon this ad here in Miami. What a coinkidinky!

  • bill_vincent

    Kind of odd he stole pictures off the internet and you happen to be near each other.

    Doesn't always happen like that. About a year ago, I was informed over at John Bridge's forum that either someone stole a couple of my pics, or I stole his, one of the two. I went to his website (I'm in Maine, and he's in central Florida), and sure enough, there were two kitchen pics of mine-- one of a custom backsplash and the other of an absolute black tile countertop I did. To his credit, when I called he apologised profusely, blaming it on the webmaster that put his site together. He immediately pulled the pics down, right then and there.

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  • glad

    Emilys - here is a link to her beuatiful kitchen, THe blog is at

    Here is a link that might be useful: FKB

  • iris16

    I hope everyone knows that when you post a picture of your kitchen or anything else on photobucket it becomes "public" and can be purchased by ANYONE, unless you make your albums PRIVATE. Anyone can search the site and view and buy any public pictures. Here is a link to the photobucket page that tells you how to change your ablum to private.

    Here is a link that might be useful: photobucket public vs. private albums

  • iris16

    Yvette, you appear to have many public albums on photobucket. Also there is a link to your photobucket album on the FKB. You might wish to change the albums to private albums and/or remove the link on the FKB site.

  • rhome410

    So would we be 'safe' if we set our albums to private, then gave the guest password whenever we posted the link, and on FKB? Or would that just the same?

  • iris16

    rhome410 My understanding from photobucket is that if you set your album to private that means they will not sell the pictures. When your album is private I think you can still link to them from your post on garden web and avoid the password thing. I'm pretty new to picture host sites so maybe someone with more knowledge will chime in.

  • erikanh

    iris16, thanks bringing this issue to attention. From Photobucket's terms of service:

    "By displaying or publishing ("posting") any Content on or through the Photobucket Services, you hereby grant to Photobucket and other users a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content marked "private" will not be distributed outside the Photobucket Services."

    Here is a link that might be useful: Photobucket Terms of Use Agreement

  • rhome410

    Ok then...New policy for me for posting and linking things here. Too bad, though. What a pain.

  • karmicrevival

    people do not have the right to sell your photos even if you make your album "public". Under federal Copyright law you're entitled to require that they cease using your image (if you are the person who took the photo) AND you may be entitled to monetary payment from the company that took your image(s).

  • Circus Peanut

    I think the key here is that the company is marketing someone else's custom work as their own, right? That's false advertising. The person who might be willing to take direct action would be whoever actually did design and install your cabinetry.

  • jenswrens

    That's really unfortunate - for all of us. It also really diminishes the usefulness of the FKB and all the work that starpooh has put into it. I routinely browse the FKB to look at the beautiful kitchens and novel ideas. And to get the most out of the FKB, you need to click the links to the albums - otherwise you just see one or two general photos. I can buy a kitchen magazine for that.

    rhome & iris, if you make your album private, then no, we GW members cannot still view it through a link here without a password. Where will we find all these passwords if everyone on the FKB makes their albums private? Will starpooh be asked to upkeep that too and distribute passwords upon request? Will someone be bombarded by emails for passwords every time people want to view a GW finished kitchen? Sometimes email links on the My Page donÂt work (I know mine doesnÂt). Then the forum pages will get filled with posts calling out to individuals (hey so&so please email me your password!). Many people with finished kitchens don't frequent the forum as often anymore, so the call-outs might be unproductive as well.

    This really makes me sad. If youÂre worried about the photobucket terms, wouldnÂt it just be easier for all to switch to a different photo-hosting site without those terms?

    The photo-sharing on this forum is one of my most favorite aspects of it. I tend to read posts with photos more often than those without.

    Yvette, I just tried to look at your pics, and alas, theyÂre no longer there. :-( I'm sure you have a beautiful kitchen, but I can't see it to tell.

  • gglks

    very unethical, but also flattering!!!!!

  • Buehl

    And, if you think that's bad, how many of us read the "Terms of Service" for GardenWeb very carefully? Yes, we all know about profanity, etc., but what about this?
    "By submitting content, which shall include your member name, to any "public area" of the GardenWeb Network, including, but not limited to, the forums and your personal website, exchange page and journal, you grant iVillage a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right (including any moral rights) and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, sublicense, assign, derive revenue or other remuneration from, communicate to the public, perform and display the content (in whole or in part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, for the full term of any Rights that may exist in such content. If you are not the creator of such content, you also warrant that the holder of any Rights, including moral rights in such content, has completely and effectively waived all such rights and validly and irrevocably granted to you the right to grant the license stated above. You also permit any visitor or member to access, display, view, store and reproduce such content solely for personal, noncommercial use."

  • claybabe

    Does anyone know what the other online photo site contracts look like? I'd switch from photobucket, even if it didn't make much difference with the iVillage contract.

  • Buehl

    I notice that both iVillage & PhotoBucket have almost identical language, so I suspect they all have the same language. But you can easily find out by going to the various sites and checking.

  • rhome410

    Jenswrens, I meant to tell the password every time we did a link to the album..Just one more step to seeing the photos and maybe a loophole around this mess? I know that our photos come up on image searches, so thought this may, at least, prevent that, so it's not so easy to just Google away and copy our images?

  • ramses_2

    We had a range hood company use one of the pics I posted here of my kitchen on their marketing site...the weird thing was that it wasn't even one of their hoods, it was a major competitor's. Very clearly showed in the pic that it wasn't theirs. We emailed them and they took it down.

  • jenswrens

    Jenswrens, I meant to tell the password every time we did a link to the album.

    On the forum postings, yes, that would work. But what about the FKB? Just post the password along with the Kitchen Details? And how would that prevent random googlers from also seeing the password and using it, providing they got directed to the FKB or the forum post as a source of the photo?

  • Buehl

    Check out the thread I just started for the legal experts here...perhaps a guest password that we all use would protect us....but I'm not sure if that gives one access to all albums/pictures or just specific pictures.

  • smilingjudy

    Buehl - Thanks for pointing out GW's Terms of Service. It's pretty cut and dry. So I wonder if I put my pics on Flickr and post a link to them if that would be "safe". That means no more embedded images, which sucks, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

    For all the Photobucket fans, check out Flickr. They offer more flexibility in protecting your IP. ( And the site general is more user-friendly IMO.

  • rhome410

    Yes, Jenswrens, I'd mean to post the password right alongside the link, including in the FKB, as Buehl said, just as a way to possibly legally keep control of the photos. You're right that it wouldn't keep someone from discovering the password and using the photos, although it'd at least be more work. And if it'd keep our photos from coming up in simple image searches, it might be better than we have had it.

    Buehl, I've found that with Photobucket you can password protect whole albums...You can do one password for all of your albums, or password protect each album under your user name individually. So you should be able to allow people to see as few or as many photos as you decide, depending on how you arrange them into separate albums.

  • jenswrens


    When GW was taken over by iVillage a few years ago, there was a very similar huge uproar on several of the forums about that same phrase in the (then-new) iVillage terms. Some of you oldtimers may remember this, newbies wonÂt. Everyone (including moi) was very upset, threatened to never again post or embed photos, or write anything clever or share anything novel that iVillage might decide to legally "steal" and use for their own profits  like writing and publishing a book containing all of our threads, photos and ideas.

    Well, to my knowledge, that never happened. iVillage never used us like that. We may have lost a few members over it, posting was down for a while & tempers were up, but eventually the hoopla died down and people continued to post, continued to share photos, and nothing untoward happened.

    I am no lawyer, but I do think it is prudent for us to weigh the odds in a situation like this. Does photo-stealing happen? Yes, obviously. But how many times? How many members have found their photos from GW somewhere else? Two? A handful? Is it really worth it for all of us to stop sharing photos here  spoiling something that is an integral part of the GW community? I think not, but YMMV. At least, I hope it doesnÂt come to that. The odds are in our favor that it wonÂt happen. Could I get struck by lightning when I go outdoors? Of course, but that doesnÂt mean I become agoraphobic.

    Just something else to considerÂ

  • jenswrens

    Yes, rhome, that would make it at least a little more difficult. I just now tried to google for kitchen images using different search terms. Not once did one of our kitchens come up, nor did the FKB come up.

    Only when I entered one of our usernames (I used femmelady) did I get hits for GW, FKB and actual images of GW members kitchens.

    Then again, maybe I'm just not using the right search terms.

  • erikanh

    jenswrens, I agree. Having my photos copied and represented as someone else's would be annoying, but the fear of that happening won't stop me from sharing them.


  • rhome410

    In a google image search (I put in 'cherry cabinets' to see if Yvette123's would show up) I got images from this forum with a link provided to 'more from' When I click on that, a lot of them are photos posted on GW. I never did get FKB images. So it would seem that imbedding photos here puts them 'out there' more easily than just having them in the FKB.

    If nothing else, maybe people should be aware that a lot of times you can get to people's whole albums, including personal photos if they're not in a separate album, or not in a separate album that's password protected. Kitchen photos are one thing, but I wouldn't even want to take a lightning strike's chance of having my kids' photos used by someone.

  • jenswrens

    True rhome! That's why in my albums (I have both Flickr and Photobucket), I always keep the "family" albums private. In Flickr this is easily done. With photobucket, it's not, which is why I don't put personal pics on that. I have the pro account, and there's still not an option to select which albums or photos to make private, as far as I can tell.

    Flickr is just as easy to use and link/embed photos as photobucket, BTW, and they have an ad-free pro option too.

  • Fori

    I agree with Circuspeanut--stealing photos is bad, but the KD (maybe you?) and GC who did the actual work are the ones really being wronged. I'd see how they feel about it. A mention on Angie's List of the dishonesty and misrepresentation of their work might help. Or the BBB? I dunno.

  • erikanh

    Actually, it's very easy to set your albums in Photobucket to private. Just make sure you select your main (not sub) album. On the left you'll see it says "Albums" and a list of all your sub-albums, if you have any. Click on "Edit" next to "Albums" and you can easily set your entire album to private or separately select any sub-albums to public or private. If you choose private, it prompts you asking if you want to add a password.


  • jenswrens

    Oh wow E. Thanks for that tip. I don't use photobucket as much anymore so I didn't realize that was even there. Now I know I can set certain albums to private and leave others public, just like on flickr - that's great. I was always just looking under "account options" and that only let me choose the whole account for private or public. Cool.

  • starpooh

    rhome410 ~ Yes, definitely! Folks need to be sure photos of their children are password protected. I usually contact members when posting FKB kitchens that have children's photos in the public albums. Some seem to care; others don't.

    jenswrens ~ Sure, I remember. That "hoopla" is what began the era of watermarked FKB photos (that's why the older photos have no watermarks...).

    In the beginning, when I first started watermarking in the FKB, I added the wording splashed across the photo.
    See example
    But it was difficult to see the kitchen, so I moved the member name in the bottom right corner. This may help prevent some thieves from stealing the photos, but certainly not those who are smart enough to crop the name from the images. This process also requires special photo-editing software.

    So what else can we do?
    I did a google search to find any photosharing sites that can watermark images and... guess what? The new version of google's Picasa (Picasa3) has a feature that will add a watermark to the corner of all images that you upload. I was never a big fan of Picasa but this is such an easy way to add copyright text. (Heck you can even upload them to a private picasa web album then copy them into photobucket, Flickr, etc.)
    See example
    This is not the best solution since the watermark is in the corner, but members may feel safer by having copyrights on all their photos.

    The ideal solution for the FKB would be to create a better overall-image watermark. There is software out there that will do it, but so far I don't see any that are free. I'll keep looking... :-)

  • iris16

    Now I know why all my 20 something kids use Picasa and thought I should too. Guess thats the best for now.

  • starpooh

    ... oh no..... hold on... before you switch to Picasa... I found a better solution that all members can use before uploading photos onto any photo-sharing site.

    There's a free, light-weight photo editing program called IrfanView (pronounced "EarfanView") that will easily add a copyright image to your photos... even dozens at a time. It took me about 5 minutes to setup.
    I will post instructions in a separate thread.

    ...maybe someday the photo-sharing sites will allow folks to add watermarks to all uploaded photos. :-)

    Here is a link that might be useful: IrfanView - the best lightweight image editor / viewer

  • mildredpots

    It seems it has become fairly common for photos to be lifted and put in brochures and ads. There are two different basement waterproofing companies in my area that use the exact same "before" photo in their print ads. Typically, the ads arrive together in the same "coupon mailer". Now you'd think that they would have realized by now that it makes them both look bad, but the ads have not changed in the past year or two.

  • starpooh

    Sorry Yvette.. I kinda got off-topic.
    But I did some googling and found the ad.

    Does anybody else recognize their kitchen in Lazaro Jimenez' ad?

    Here is a link that might be useful: L & T Woodwork Designers, Inc.

  • rhome410

    Good job, Starpooh! Thanks for your efforts, once again...and again.

  • iris16

    Thank you so much Starpooh!

  • allison0704

    That would make me mad enough to go write reviews for his business on Yellow, etc. I would also ask that he remove the ad from the internet and ask for compensation. WTH is wrong with people today? He had to have proofed the ad before it was put up/printed. He approved it knowing he hadn't done that kitchen.

  • bluekitobsessed

    Yvette, it's such a pretty kitchen. My sympathies.

    You can try writing a Sternly Worded Letter that tells the contractor to knock it off, like this:
    "Dear Pond Scum Contractor:
    "The image appearing in your ad [enclose copy] is not a kitchen you installed or built. It's my kitchen. By using a photo of a kitchen that you didn't build, you are perpetuating a fraud on the public in addition to using my kitchen picture without my knowledge and consent. Please cease and desist immediately before I have to hire a lawyer to sue you." [add details as needed, use your own words, and cc a state agency such as consumer protection or contractor's license board]

    A semi-reputable trade might respond. A true sleaze might not.

    Disclaimer: I'm not offering legal advice, especially in a state where I'm not licensed to practice. Good luck.

  • Jodi_SoCal

    I'm a graphic designer so I spend a good deal of time browsing stock photo sites and CDs. A few years back I needed a photo of a woman in a field for a brochure I was designing. I popped a CD I had purchased into my computer and started browsing hundreds of images, until one oddly caught my eye even though it was in the wrong setting. It was my sister and her husband!

    I sent it off to her to see where it was taken and if the company (who should have known better) had permission. It was taken in the 1980s, she told me, at a county fair in WA state and it was the first time she had ever seen it. She contacted the stock photo company both by mail and phone and never got a response. I'm sure she could have had a case made of the whole issue but dropped it.


  • sedeno77

    wow - starpooh - you are a genius! How did you find that?
    yep - that's the ad -
    I was thinking maybe I should make an appointment with him and tell him "I want a kitchen just like this one" - I would love to see his face turn all red!!
    and then I would say "Gotcha red-handed you fool"

  • starpooh

    It's amazing what you can find by googling.
    And yvette... I think you should bring the ad to them and request your $300 coupon "rebate".

  • rhome410

    I was thinking maybe I should make an appointment with him and tell him "I want a kitchen just like this one"

    And maybe ask to meet with the owner of that particular kitchen for a review of their work!

  • pharaoh

    I will the odd man out in this discussion.

    I feel the that once you post something on the web, it is up for grabs. Sure there are copyrights and all its incarnations but those are mostly moot in the global context of the web (crossing national boundaries and laws).

    So if I post anything online, I dont expect any control over it unless it is protected under a private space.

    It is, of course, cheating to post a picture of a kitchen that they did not build themselves, but in of itself, 'borrowing' images from the web is hardly fussing over...

  • sedeno77

    It's the mere fact that he is using my kitchen as HIS work - what bugs me. Why can't he just use photos of his "real" cabinetry work? He is lying about his work and that should not be allowed.

  • sedeno77

    Another magazine - similar ad (same cabinet guy) with my kitchen photo. This time the little magazine is: Home Improvement Miami.

  • loves2cook4six

    I think we should ALL start calling him, asking to see the work he's done ESPECIALLY the gorgeous kitchen in the ad.

  • adunate

    I'm a graphic designer by profession so my work, both designs and photography, are considered creative intellect, as defined and protected by U.S. Copyright laws. Just as my professional work is protected, so is Yvett's. L & T Woodwork Designers did a really LOW thing in stealing her imagery and using it for their own. Of all people, designers themselves, L&T should know better.

    When I design a brochure or ad for someone, I have to either do the photo shoots myself or buy an image from stock photography. Good photography is very expensive, whether in time or money. The value of what L & T Woodwork Designers stole from yvette is enormous.

    Equally disgusting, if not more, is the fact that when confronted, L & T Woodwork Designers had the audacity to say it was their photo and their work.

    While it's not always feasible to legally pursue crap like this, there are things we can do on our own, namely use email, forums and blogs.

    Here's L&T's email:

    Take a few minutes and email them what you think of their low business ethics. If you do a blog, write an article on it.

    The power of the internet is amazing.

  • growlery

    Now you know how Metallica feel.

    It's a sad fact of the Internet age: people feel like everything they find is theirs. They download music. They scrape articles and put their names on them, take photos and use them in ads.

    They don't feel like they're doing anything wrong.

    The people who used your photo in the ad may honestly not understand they did anything wrong.

    If it honestly bothers you that they did this, contact them, tell them calmly that you're really uncomfortable with them using the photo to promote their business, and could they make another ad? That might be all it takes.

    And if they're jerks, all the threats in the world won't make them do anything.

    I'm not a lawyer, but I think from my work experience, and what's posted here, that your legal position would be murky.

    One thing you CAN do, as starpooh pointed out, that makes photos less appealing to scrapers, and makes them MUCH easier to identify, is watermarking. Watermark those suckers all over the place. They'll choose softer targets.

    Photographers and other artists who make their living selling images, but need people to see their work to buy it, have various ways of getting around the bad guys. Some won't let images on the 'net at all. Sad.

    In the end, I think we all have to accept that everything we put out there is being stolen in some way.

  • mrpandy

    I think the fact that the business uses a free Hotmail account says a lot about them.

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