Over the weekend (18/19th June 2016) while browsing through AliExpress for my usual random electrical stuff which will inevitably get put in a draw for “future use” I came across two new listings for the frame of a Prusa i3 P3Steel, 2.5 DXL edition. Initially I saw the thumbnail and thought, “oh, what timing – I’ve just finished mine, that looks just like my frame”. But on clicking through to it and viewing all the images noticed it was MY kitchen… THAT’S MY FRAME!
Thingiverse Images Stolen
So these two listing had taken my images and used them to advertise their steel cutting service WITHOUT my consent or permission. Initially I was flattered, and a little taken back. But knew that these images were being used for commercial use and could not happen. The images were taken from my Thingiverse Make page – http://www.thingiverse.com/make:223490 and are publicly visible, but I as the photographer own copyright to the image and did not give any permission for them to be used outside of the gallery for Thingiverse (except my own blog here!). Whats more, if you read my Thingiverse and blog, you will find out the images are missing a piece of the frame (which was found a day after the images were taken!) so the images they took were incorrect too!
AliExpress and Image Copyright
AliExpress do have an ‘image copyright claim‘ process, but this involved filling out an awkward web form where I had to upload the image and other accompanying images, but no matter what I did – on submission of the form it immediately stated the image I uploaded wasn’t the correct image??! I then contacted AliExpress publicly on Facebook to raise interest, but they responded with a usual – “contact support”. But then I thought I would immediately speak directly with the sellers…
I thought they weren’t bothered about stealing my images in the first place, so taking them down won’t interest them, and reading up on line about successful claims from Etsy users seems this would be a dead end. But to my surprise, one of the sellers responded with some kind of pigeon English apology/acknowledgement and the next day the listing(s) were removed. There were two sellers, but both listing had the same info, price and images, and both were removed at the same time – so I suspect this is the same seller? You can see the original listings below:
Happy Endings (for now!)
It would seem that there are almost no good images of the actual 2.5 frame, and I suspect they saw an opportunity to use my images to offer their services. If they had spoken to me and we had come to an arrangement I probably wouldn’t have been fussed. I have since updated my Thingiverse make about the images and put a make shift “warning” in the text like a badly built scarecrow – we shall see.. but I wanted to nip it in the bud straight away before AliExpress is awash of my images selling the frame!
I have also since contacted the sellers and thanked them for removing the listings. Again – we shall see if they remain removed. One of the sellers is actually one I regularly view and is in quite good standing with the 3D Printer community. I have not bought form them yet, and I am glad they have taken this action, as it puts them in good standing with me for the future. I have since had a little chat back and forth with one of the sellers and am now looking to maybe purchase some items from them – I am a fan of people doing the right thing, and I guess that shows you catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar, or something like that?! Before you go bulldozing in there, just speak to them and be polite.
I love AliExpress and have regular parcels dropping in from China, almost on a daily basis when i’m building something! It would have been sad if this turned/turns out bad, as I would have to show my feelings by leaving the site and going elsewhere.
Have you had any of your own images stolen and used to sell services/items on other sites? Comment below!