Having a child with disabilities really shows you how great people can be. Unfortunately though (but thankfully far less often), you get to deal with truly horrific individuals. There are people out there who simply have no conscience. They are out to get a laugh and don’t care who they hurt.
Case in point: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/tenn-family-sues-alter-images-son-syndrome/story?id=19050815#.UYpR_8pvA-w, To summarize, Adam, who has Down syndrome took a class at Vanderbilt University, where this photo was taken of some artwork that he did and was obviously proud of. A radio station somehow obtained that image, and photoshopped it to say “Retarded News” where the drawing once was.
Can you imagine the pain the family felt when they saw their son being used in such a derogatory manner? I would have sued the hell out of whoever owns the radio station- and they are. I hope they win.
With this as a backdrop, someone alerted me to the fact that again, Abby’s pictures are being stolen and used on websites that have no right. Here’s the tricky thing. I don’t mind people “sharing” her picture from my facebook page. The “share” button makes it so that when people see the image and comment on it, it comes back to the original imagine on my site. It gives me some feeling of control. I can see where it has been shared, and I can see if people start saying nasty things on it. What some pages do, and it’s really quite brilliant and terribly sneaky all at once is instead of “sharing” the pictures, they download them and re-upload them to their own pages. They do this so that when they are shared from their own pages, the shares and likes come back to them, and not to the owner of the page. Sometimes they’ll give the copyright holder a shoutout, but it’s not the same as “sharing” the work.
These pages know exactly what they are doing. They are not doing this by mistake. If they were, you think they’d apologize and just take the picture down. But they don’t! Instead, they delete all of your comments and the comments of anyone else who state that the image is stolen. Then they ban you or anyone who commented. They have to keep those pictures up as long as they can because the longer they’re up, the more traffic they drive back to their own page. This is why these shady pages have huge numbers of people who “like” their page. The easiest thing for any person or page to do is simply click “share” rather than going through the trouble of downloading then re-uploading the image. The following pages are among the worst offenders. They have not only stolen pictures of Abby, but of Casey and artwork that I made for this blog:
If these sites are really out to promote autism and Down syndrome awareness, why not “share” the pictures from the site they originated from? Why not work to share the stories of other members of the community? Instead, they take the pictures and the credit that goes along with them. It’s unethical at very least, and worst, it’s shifty and illegal.
And it puts pictures out of control of the owners. These pictures get stolen and used by trolls who are vicious in their need to tear down people with disabilities. The three sites above have shared a bunch of my stuff. Combined, the shares amount over 10,000 from their respective sites. I’ve lost control. And honestly, it makes me want to shut it all down right now.
I started writing this blog as catharsis dealing with a very unique family situation. It’s helped me work through so many things. A side effect of that is that I feel like I’ve helped people see disability a little different. I hope that I have helped other mothers to not feel so alone through this journey. I hope that I’ve done some good. This blog has helped me find my own voice. But I wonder if it’s worth the cost. I shudder at the thought of running across a picture of Abby used for something as terrible as the story above. Last night as I saw things getting out of hand, I was ready to just shut it all down. I took down all of the pictures of my kids off my facebook page, and I’m wondering if I should do it here, too. A number of you have mentioned to watermark the photos- which I need to get in the habit of doing again, but that doesn’t stop people from sharing the photos as their own, and people rarely search out the photo’s true owner by the watermark. It’s just a sad fact of Facebook.
It makes me so sad. I think my daughter is so beautiful. I want the readers here to see how beautiful she is. I want them to read about her life and how she’s changing me, and how she will change the world. I know, honestly, that if I keep putting pictures of her up, I need to just make peace with the fact that this is going to keep happening. The more this blog grows, the more visible we become. I hadn’t thought this through.
I don’t know what to do. I feel so defeated.
If you’d like to help me out and report the pages, that would be great. If nothing else, make sure you don’t “like” them or share the work they’ve stolen. If you are a blogger or if pictures of your children are in a public arena, you might want to check these sites and others to make sure your work hasn’t’ been stolen, too.