Timo Jarvinen, Surf Europe’s premier lensmen, and the best Finnish surf photographer in the world, was sick of having his work ripped off and posted online. Just photos on the internet you say? Imagine at the end of each working day, someone came in to your office/worksite/studio, stole your full day’s labour, then tried to sell it? So Timo started Don’t Steal Our Work, a Facebook page dedicated to ousting the thieves. The world’s premier surf photogs joined in and now they want your help. Here Timo explains how it all came about.

Timo: I’ve been watching for the last year or so how some of my peers have been fight against photothieves. There seems to be few photogs whose work has been abused beyond any understanding, mainly via Facebook but other sites as well. Stories are just popping up right now like shrooms after the rain.

Basically photos are being used without permission. It’s copyright infringement at its worst, where photographers’ watermarks have been either cropped or cloned off the photos. Some of these have 300k followers, with most of the material been stolen from their real owners. It’s an old saying that if it’s on internet it’s not safe, but this is a bad principle. It should be safe, or it should be paid for. When these sites hit enough likes and followers then they do also have some sort of monetary value in them. Most of that value has been created with unpaid images stolen from pro photographers’ websites or social media.

A mob called surfsexsea have been one of the major thieving sites.

When the photogs have requested their missing credits, these characters even have gone full on attack mode even progressing threats of physical violence among other things. Additionally, the site owners also block the copyright owners so the attacking them on their wall won’t work either. Facebook also stays silent when under their domain these rip offs go down every day. Social media has gone way beyond most of the humans thought about it say even three years ago and these days there are jobs given out to peeps, purely based on their number of followers, which seems to be crazy but its true.

Anyway I thought that all it probably needs is another page where these peeps are being outed in public, and so started Don’t Steal Our Work We have few guys with enough street cred running it right now as admins and the page is set as a community page. If you want to help us simply ‘like’ and share the page. Powers are in numbers and it won’t take long before mainstream media gets a sniff about this.

Another point a lot of this problem stems from Facebook’s ‘share’ function. Once the photo has been shared few times it won’t link back to the owner’s album anymore. We think that share function should go under requests, just like tagging the photos is. Or, it should be possible to disable completely if the user wishes so. Privacy settings don’t do anything for that. Of course we can also just pull back and delete our accounts, but the way things are going these days it seems that all this stuff is way more important than some of the traditional platforms, so we need to be a part of it. We only want to see justice happen here and we don’t think that it’s that far in future.

We don’t even know yet where all this is going to go, but we saw that we had to act because other option is to go on all fours and take it like a dog. That’s not gonna happen anymore. Guys spend hours treading neck deep amongst heavy waves, so someone can reap their score? That’s so wrong that it needs to be stopped. Some sites have been successfully reported already and shut down, some of them are erasing the stolen content to cover their tracks, but browser history is on our side and lads have been active screen recording the stolen content.

Timo travels to deepest Africa, stands in the baking desert sun for three days and has to watch these waves. As you can imagine someone stealing the resulting image doesn’t make him happy.

Our numbers are still small but they are growing and we also have been posting the thieving sites on the Wall Of Shame. So far it’s been running just over 24 hours and feedback has been great. We have also crew contacting us from other walks of life, designers and landscape photographers have their own horror stories as well and we welcome all of them because they have been getting same abuse as some of the surf photogs have.

Now usually our shooting some waves deal is greedy thing, where you don’t really wanna see another photog anywhere near you. However with this page, it’s been insane to see the names that have showed their support here. Looks like there’s a finally something we all as a photogs do agree. And, again huge thank yous for everyone who has been throwing their likes towards our direction, we couldn’t do this without you!



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