April 10, 2013

Stolen Baby Photos

Yesterday evening I noticed a large bump in traffic forum on topix.com. Someone had posted a link to my blog on a public forum there which was generating a ton of traffic. This happens from time to time (normally it’s a link to my labor predictor) but this time it was to Newborn Photography page. I was so excited to see what strangers thought of my photography. External validation, how I love you.

Alas, it was not what I first thought.

The forum thread was dedicating to ‘outing’ one of their members. Apparently she had lifted some photos of babies online, one (some?) of which was mine. One of the forum members posted a link to my newborn photography page, as well as four other websites, as proof.

From what I could tell this individual, “crazy mom”, had collected a number of photos and posted them to her facebook page. My guess is she did a google image search and downloaded a few photos she liked (so I guess I got that external validation, after all?). Crazy mom probably never visited my blog. I don’t even think all the baby pictures were the same gender. The only thing they had in common was each baby appeared to have been born with a full head of hair. I think she was claiming she had a boy. About thirty minutes into my investigation, the forum post was deleted. I never did see which photos of mine she was pretending was hers.

Now, I’ve been online a long time – back before the days of Google, back when being a webmaster meant singling static HTML code onto geocities. Back then I built a fantasy website under the pen name ‘Aella Lei’. At the time I was into Greek mythology, and picked the name after one of Amazons Hercules fought during his 12 labors. It turns out that ‘Aella’ is also a french name and one day someone of that name happened upon my website. This Aella took a liking to my website, and wanted credit for it. Her theory was that since I was using the name as a pen name, and it was her given name, I owed her at least partial credit. I disagreed and ignored her.

Back then I was using a internet messaging client called ICQ. ICQ is similar to Yahoo Messenger and AOL Instant messenger except everyone had a unique number id that identifies them, rather than a unique screen name. That way there could be many ‘Aella’s. Aella set her screen name to ‘Aella Lei’, her profile website to my website, and for her bio she lifted sentences straight from the “about me” page on my website. I know this because one day she forgot she wasn’t me, and messaged me thinking I was the impostor.

Compared to Aella, this crazy mom’s brand of crazy is pretty tame. I found no evidence to suggest crazy mom was obsessed with Nicki. Still, this experience does serve to remind me that there are people out there who will fixate on individuals. Nicki is too young to have an opinion to have an opinion on how much information about her is online. It’s my job to make sure she’s protected. Perhaps it’s time to rethink how much I share online.

If by chance you happened to stumble onto my blog from topix.com, and you know who this person is who stole my photos, I’d really appreciate it if you could fill me in.

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  1. […] I feel a bit like a grumpy ole curmudgeon for doing this, but I put up an official copyright notice. I really hate to do that, but after finding a second person using my baby photos of Nicki in as many days, I felt I had to do something. At least this time I believe it was an honest mistake, and not another person pretending photos of Nicki are photos of her child. […]

  2. […] while back I discovering that someone was trying to pass off my photos of Nicki as photos of her own child. I immediatly turned to Google reverse image search to see if anyone else was using my photos […]

  3. […] Quasi on topic spam comments seems to be a trend these days like this one on my post “Stollen Baby Photos“: […]

  4. […] big bump at time A is for the Stolen Baby Photos post. That day got three times more traffic than usual. Seeing that spike makes me cringe a little. I […]


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