When Camera Stores Steal Photos….

By October 18, 2014Blog

When Camera Stores Steal Photos

In an age where many of us share our images freely on Social Media and the internet at large its not that unusual to occasionally come across one of your photographs being used, either without permission or worse still being masqueraded as someone else’s work. It’s happened before, it most certainly will happen again.

So it was that last week while researching the dead pixel issue I was experiencing with the Leica M Monochrom I happened to stumble upon an article containing one of my own images – HERE.

I have to say, this latest misdemeanour feels worse than any I’ve experienced previously, it’s grating on me, annoying me more than the others. There’s one very good reason for that, this time my image was stolen by Camera Store!! Disephoto in Barcelona, distributors of Leica Cameras are blatantly using my image without permission or credit in an article about the Leica M Monochrom on their website/blog.

It’s actually feels like being cheated on, a total betrayal, surely photographers and the stores they buy their equipment from are partners?? They look after each others interests? They don’t steal from each other……imagine for one minute I walked in to the store in question picked up a camera I liked, let’s say the Leica M Monochrom in this instance and walked out the door without paying!! I’d rightfully be arrested, yet this is exactly the same thing!

Because I choose to share my photographs and because I decline to deface them with watermarks it doesn’t mean I am not bothered what happens to my images.

I did, as I alway do in these situations send a politely worded email, no response. Reverting to social media as my next port of call I tweeted Disephoto and managed to get a message back a couple of days later.

First message – “we buy all our photos… I am not sure what are you talking about…” well, clearly you don’t!!

Second message – “Oh, now I see, not the main photo but the photo of the Leica!” No not the main photo because I can see that on various stock photo sites and it wasn’t even taken with a Leica M Monochrom!! 

Third message – “That is strange because we have access to the official Leica archives. If you want we can change the photo or name you, as you prefer.” How about starting with a simple apology!!

Of course it’s easy to get embroiled in a more heated discussion, especially when the response is so nonchalant but what can you really do? The truth is not that much unless you want to expend time and money!  Being firmly entrenched in the relaxed kiwi lifestyle thats just not how I roll these days. So what do you do, you do what you would most certainly have done had they contacted you for permission at the outset, you give it……..

Obviously if I ever find myself in Barcelona again maybe I’ll call in and test out their reaction to camera theft vs. image theft…..

I feel better already for getting that off my chest.

Cheers, Jason.


  • elderin says:

    I totally agree with you. Some people don’t respect other people’s work and they don’t even have hard feelings about stealing images. when this is done in private it is wrong but being a company that behaviour has another dimension. I think this message will reach many photographers and it is good to know that what you experienced is more an exception to the rule and most camera stores are partners . At least this is what I know.

  • Dennis says:

    This is totally unacceptable, and yeah, the camera shop knew it! They should have apologized immediately and offered you something for their poor behavior and judgment, and for your disappointment and frustration. Too bad. As purveyors of the gear that allow photographers- and their customers- to take the photos we all care about and that they misappropriated, they should have stepped up to the plate and done what was right. Too bad. I hope they never want me to buy anything from them.

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Dennis,

      Thanks for the words of support. These people clearly don’t give a damn about photographers or their rights, not a good look it those same photographers are your customers.

  • Gabor says:

    Hi Jason,

    This is not an isolated case unfortunately.
    Ming Thein had a very similar problem lately. It is very interesting to see how he handled the situation.

    Bests, Gábor

    • janrzm says:

      Hey Gabor,

      I hope you are well!!

      Yes I recall reading that and the resulting fuss, Ming does this for a living and I think the reaction of anyone it that position should be to do exactly as he did.

      Take it easy.


  • You let them off to easy Jason! Gave them no reason not to do it again in future…

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Kaushal,

      I think you’re right, that said it is still currently displayed unchanged from my original communication with them, maybe I’ll take it further.

  • Martin says:

    I recently went through a similar debacle with the Huffington Post. In the end they’ve removed the photo… and that’s that.

    • janrzm says:

      Hey Martin,

      It does clearly go on a lot! You’d expect more of certain organisations but there does seem to be an inclination for people to use what they want in the knowledge that not too much will be done about it if they are caught out.


  • Disefoto says:

    Hello Jason,

    We are sorry for this situaton. It must have been a missunderstanding.

    There was an internal mistake and we assumed all responsability for it from the beginning. We had used your picture improperly and when you let us know through twitter, we contacted you to ask what did you want us to do to solve that situation. As you said a mention would be ok, we wrote the mention and thought we could leave the subject behind. Our apologies if we ofended you in thinking so.

    We, as part of the photographic industry understand the value of image rights for your profession. After all, we are nothing without photographers. We buy all the images for our site and when this situation came out, we tried to solve it as we thought it was the way.

    After reading your article we understand the communication was not good. We have decided to delete the picture to avoid more problems.

    Again, sorry for all inconvenience, and congratulations for your work.

    • janrzm says:


      I don’t think there was a misunderstanding, I did indeed grant you retrospective permission to use the image, there was little point in doing anything else as you had been using it without my knowledge for 7 months. What I did not do was give any assurance that I would not mention what has happened. Ultimately I decided that the situation would be of interest to anyone visiting this website and be in the interest of photographers in general, that is why my article appeared.

      As pleasing as it is to hear you say that you understand the value of image rights I hope much more care and attention will be taken over content selection in future.

      There was an error in judgement by the individual that wrote your article, although with a proper apology and action it could probably have ended at that point. There was a further error in judgement by the same individual when they sent me several emails afterwards blaming pressure, lack of experience and what I suspect was the actual truth “the marketing director in Germany wouldn’t send me the picture”. Not to mention citing me as “mean” and a “person of anger”. Let’s be very clear, I was the victim in all of this.

      Your apology is accepted and in spite of all that has happened in the last 24hrs I would like your assurances that the employee in question is not disciplined in any way, I would much prefer that they are educated in these matters…..

  • S.A. says:

    There was never a misunderstanding and these guys are basically “bandits”, been there and would never have wanted to buy anything, since you always had a strange feeling. Beats me, why Leica/Wetzlar let them sell 1A products in the first place…

    • janrzm says:

      You’re right.

      You should see the email I received from the staff member that stole my image, it was priceless, having a go at me because they got in to trouble over it.

  • Philipp says:

    hey, very unrelated question here:

    Have you ever had trouble with the 35mm summilux asph and focus shift?

    Im currently using a 35mm summicron IV on my m6 but am thinking about moving to the summilux and have heard a lot about this focus shift thing.

    Thanks and best regards,


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