Filipino Company Borrows Pic Without Permission

Categories: Anything Goes;
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As of August 19, 2012, a response has been given here. Thank you!

The Internet sure has made it easy for people to steal or illegally borrow other photos and works of art, and then claim it as their original creation.

We see it a lot. People brandishing artwork or photography as their own. They would normally get some image, erase watermarks, and sometimes place theirs in exchange.

However, it’s sad to see businesses steal or borrow without permission others’ work, and not give due recognition. It may actually become discouraging for writers, bloggers, artists and photographers to further their cause given that their own creation is used in a way that is not prescribed by them, and at legitimate businesses at that.

If this post is starting to sound like a whining, wounded animal cornered in the woods, feel free to move on. But if you feel like there is merit because you yourself may be a victim, or would want to read on as this does serve as a message to be ever vigilant for your own or a friends’ or loved one’s property, or are just a fan of such scandalous stories ( :P ) keep reading.

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We have encountered a few cases where some images from this site were used without permission and labelled differently from how it was supposed to be.

Take this case for example:

Beer Below Zero Stolen Image Final Product

This was discovered a few days ago. Looks tasty, right? Nothing goes well with a nice beer than good ol’ lechon kawali. And nothing wrong with putting a company logo on the image.

Unless it was an image borrowed without permission.

Upon closer inspection, that lechon kawali looks strangely familair (Yes. We remember the images and sometimes give them pet names *sarcasm* ). It seems to have come from one of En Route’s earlier posts where a watermark on the image didn’t exist yet, particularly the post about Johanna’s Grille in Bauan, Batangas.

The original image from the post is the one below:

Now, it may look a little bit different, so with the limited Photoshop skills we had, we tried to methodically recreate the whole process.

First off, just Flip the Image Horizontally as shown:

Beer Below Zero Stolen Image 01

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Looking familiar already? Yeah. Then just darken and sharpen it a bit, photoshop in some frozen looking beer, paste your little brand in the lower right…

And there you have it:

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It’s quite shocking. Arguments over if it is just mere coincidence are welcome. But based on the image, just the placement of the lechon kawali, the little red dot that comprises the “atchara at the end”, the scorch marks on the fatty part of the lechon kawali, the plate of baby back ribs at the far corner, and the orange plate of rice at the other far end just renders any arguments as coincidence as farfetched.

And it’s not like this was done without trying to reconcile and maybe reach a mutually acceptable agreement:

Beer Below Zero 03

If anyone is interested in reading the whole letter, check it out here:

Letter of Peace :P

And efforts were given again:

Beer Below Zero 04

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And, even through open forum, in case they don’t know how to read their private Facebook messages:

Beer Below Zero 01

Here is the link to that image (if they have not removed it yet):

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150942813300028&set=a.88425530027.86071.19901145027&type=1&relevant_count=1

UPDATE: As of August 2, 2012, this link does not work anymore. Looks like it has been taken down already.

UPDATE as of July 26: no response from text messages by number provided by friends. Also, a few strangers have begun pointing it out:
Beer Below Zero Busted

And so with all this, it has come to the point where the very source of discovering such things is used as a remedy to gain public opinion on the matter: The Internet.

Never thought that such an amateurish photo using a point-and-shoot camera of ours would actually be deemed worthy for advertising campaigns of profit-oriented organizations. While it is flattering, all that lowly, private individuals are asking is that permission be asked before the pictures are used. If you read the letter, you will see that suggestions on compromise where the pic can be shared for their benefit was given, as it may promote goodwill for their own product.

Well, their pic ended up being shared here anyway :P

This wasn’t the first. The very first one actually involved a relatively new restaurant selling double fried Korean Chicken that is branching out all over Metro Manila and other adjacent provinces. That one is still being discussed. In the event that no response is received, check this page again for updates.

Lesson Learned: Watermark the hell out of all the pictures, and place them in areas that will affect the overall composition of the images.

We could have just let it go. After all it seems harmless. Pretty much as harmless as someone stealing something from your house and selling it.

So what is your take on this? Words of advice are actually very much welcome, especially to professionals on photography, intellectual property, or legal matters. There is a high chance that such people encounter this more often, so your feedback in the comments section below would be great.

If you have friends who are in the same line, or just do not like the idea of people stealing things that are not theirs, please do share this experience of ours. It may help a friend and hopefully stop these kinds of things from happening.

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19 comments

  1. This is so mean. They could have just asked for your permission to use your photo rather than modify it (!!!!) and put their own logo on the photo.

    Hope this won’t happen again. :\

    • lynne says:

      It’s actually very unprofessional. It’s a classic case of “they should have known better”. We’ve brought it to their attention but they haven’t had the decency to acknowledge. I don’t like cheaters and I don’t like stealers. So lesson is, watermark to death! We are not safe even from supposedly respectable companies.

  2. It just boils down to simple manners. When we were young, our parents taught us that when you want to use something that is not yours, you ask the owners’ permission.

    The same principle should apply now more than ever, especially since they’re using it for an advertising campaign. A simple caption “photo courtesy of http://www.lynne-enroute.com” would have sufficed.

    As always, the quality of your photo is exceptional and I don’t blaming them for wanting to use it… but it begs the question, “How difficult is it to ask?” AND.. “How difficult is it to take a picture of a plate of lechon kawali with a Beer Below Zero bottle in the BG?”

    I’m assuming they have a lot of resto partners that could help em’ out.. Or is that sheer laziness?

    You’re within your rights to feel slighted, and the letter you wrote was spot on. The mere fact that they chose to ignore your msg (which considering the circumstances, was extremely civil with no trace of any animosity), is a show of character of the kind of people that run the business.

    Hope you sort it out! Lemme know how I can help :)

    • lynne says:

      I know! I agree, it’s simple manners. Just because it’s off the net doesn’t mean it’s free. I mean, we use photos from other sites but we know that we should call it out if it’s not ours.

      I expect a reply within the day. If we don’t hear from them, I’ll see just how far the reach of the blog and Facebook can go.

  3. Richard Co says:

    There are really lots of people who appropriate photos on the net. I’ve been a victim of this before when Ensogo stole photos to use in a deal they were offering. When I told them about it, they even had temerity to accuse the partner restaurant of giving them the photos. These photos had watermarks but they just put a festive border to totally obscure it.

    I was not able to document anything so could not do what you did.

    Watermarking is a way to protect our works but I feel if its too big or too conspicuous, it will end up being a distraction.

    • rftreyes says:

      Yeah. I was thinking you might have encountered the same situation since you have great photos. It really sucks that watermarking has to be made for protection, and it ruins the overall composition of the image.
      Hope it doesn’t happen to your pics again. Wow. Ensogo at that, huh?

  4. gerbil says:

    maybe you should try using copyscape or some similar app to track if your posts & photos are used elsewhere in the web.

    photos of some items I sell online have also been copied/used in the same site/forum where I sell it, so it gets kind of irritating as well.

  5. Kate Alvarez says:

    Wow, I always hear of people stealing other people’s photos and online artworks.

    Everyone has at least one photographer friend and DSLRs are so easy to borrow these days, so I don’t get why people are too lazy to take their own photos.

  6. benj says:

    I agree with your cause whole heartedly.

    More importantly, Johanna’s Grill ROCKS!

    • rftreyes says:

      Oh so you’ve tried this place too? Yeah this place got some great Baby Back Ribs that other more established places might take notice and better have their A-game :D

  7. […] like our cheap Cosomopolitan recipe, or if you find someone stealing this and taking all credit (like this little controversial lechon kawali picture), hope you can help us track them down and bill them for royalty […]

  8. Raymund says:

    That is not so cool.

  9. […] one was something that came out when that little problem about the unethical use of some lechon kawali pictures came about, and the comforting thing to do was to make a mojito based on the classic recipe. The […]

  10. […] some thought, instead of just updating the existing page regarding this concern, it is but proper to just have it as a separate post to properly highlight the response given for […]

  11. […] please let us know. If not, please do not copy it and call it your own. No one wants another stolen lechon kawali pictures episode. We are here to make […]

  12. […] A garage turned restaurant from a guy who loved to cook more than answering to the corporate monsters of society. Those baby back ribs. Oh man, those baby back ribs! And some lechon kawali that even became a source of controversy. […]

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