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January 26, 2010
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I received a strange and shocking email a few days before Christmas.  This was the email:


Subject:  Important information about your son Ryan...please read...

Hello Bruce,

I am sorry to tell you this but there is a person on facebook [sic] that is using your photos of your son Ryan and claiming them to be her son who she has named Lachlan.

This person is fake including photos of herself. She created herself 3 years ago and attached herself to a band to entice a few of their fans as friends.  She has caused problems for one of the band members by telling these fans that she had a relationship with the musician.  A year after creating herself, she then announced that she was pregnant with his baby.  This man has never met her as she doesn’t exist and her claims of a relationship and having his baby have turned many of the band’s fans against him and the band.  She 'gave birth' to Lachlan and not long after started putting up pics of Ryan…


Is this for real?

The email further described the perpetrator’s possible motives.  There were many attachments of screen captures showing "Lachlan" growing up from an infant to his first year in her Facebook galleries.  Many of the photo comments were the ones straight out of my deviation comments!  The email did contain a link to her profile (assuming it really is a woman), however the galleries were kept in a "Friend's only" view.


Some Attachments contained in the email

Gallery theft Screenshot 1 by rebelx Gallery theft Screenshot 2 by rebelx Gallery theft Screenshot 2 by rebelx Gallery theft Screenshot 4 by rebelx Gallery theft Screenshot 5 by rebelx


Thumbs from my gallery of photos ripped

Lion Cub 9 by rebelx Cotton Wool by rebelx Hanging by rebelx Wide Eyed by rebelx I want my mommy by rebelx Hands 2 by rebelx


Some of the photos weren't even photos of Ryan.  They were photos of another baby stolen from elsewhere.

I did reply to the email.  After several replies, the sender and I began chatting over MSN Messenger.  The person went on to describe how they found me on deviantART by Googling possible tags and titles of the photos.  I was warned that it was Lachlan's "first birthday" in a few days and how I should may be hide the particular photo of Ryan's first Christmas photo if it hasn't already been ripped.

So for a whole year, this person in the other side of the world used photos of my son's first year as her imaginary son, Lachlan, to stalk a musician in a band.  And for a whole year, friends and fans of that band worked hard trying to identify who this baby was - the baby that was supposedly fathered by a band member.

At first I blamed myself, but I had to stay focused in stopping this thief.  I stored all of Ryan's photos in the private view in my gallery, and one by one I watermarked each one and sized them as small as possible.  As if I needed the extra stress before Christmas.

The next step was to report the incident.   After consulting with some dA members and staff, I decided to take action (the Rip Forum was pretty helpful).  Finding the band's MySpace site also led me to her profile there.  Both MySpace and Facebook took my complaints very seriously, and she was banned the next day, the same day "Lachlan" would have had his first birthday.

I recorded all of her Facebook friends prior to her being banned.  I had chosen a select few of her friends and emailed them informing them of the truth.  Surprisingly, most of them were already aware and had visited my gallery a few days before I was approached.

I've since kept most of Ryan's photos stored in my private gallery.  Unfortunately, the most of my favored deviations are portraits of my son, and it's very discouraging for a photographer who just wants to display his photography.

We as artists face these sort of challenges every time we display our art for the public.  We know the risks.  One of my friends actually scolded me by saying I should never post my "life" on the internet.

Wow, really? Don’t you think I know that?  It's not so simple – try telling a race-car driver he can avoid accidents on the track by just staying at home.  I wanted to display portraits of my son’s child birth and infant stage for the purpose of critiquing, discussing and improving my photography.   People ask me, "Why didn't you flip out?" or "How did you act so calmly as a parent?  If that were my child, I'd go after that person!"   Well I did.  

I was a photographer first, before a parent.  Those were my photographs displayed in my dA gallery.  They were used without my permission.  I took the approach that someone used my art without my permission for an agenda I would never have approved of, and I had to take action.

To conclude, I have learned a lot from this ordeal.  I have always considered myself pretty knowledgeable and cautious when it comes to personal info on the Internet.  I guess I wasn’t careful enough.  On the bright side, I will still be as passionate as I was when I first started to photograph six years ago.  I've also become a fan of the band.  

Keep displaying your talent, take caution, and don’t let idiots like this ruin it for you.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconpinkwildpoke:
PinkWildpoke Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2011
That is wow.... Seriously!
Reply
:iconalpha13lack:
Alpha13lack Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2011
It's a very worrying situation indeed, I totally disagree with people being able to upload babe/child images on facebook.

The internet isn't policed, Isn't safe, and clearly has no limits.

Glad your situation got sorted.
Reply
:iconlhosford:
lhosford Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2010
I am just.........in awe of this whole ordeal. :hug: I'm so sorry you had to go through this.
Reply
:iconunexpected-destiny:
unexpected-destiny Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2010
This really gave me the creeps. The band should have taken action a long time ago before that happened.
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2010
I think the band just found her to be an annoyance and had to stay focus in their work instead. Luckily, they had some friends and fans who looked out for them.
Reply
:icongoddess-of-dreams:
Goddess-of-Dreams Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2010
This is terrible and creepy. I'm glad you managed to sort it all out.
Reply
:iconversus-veritas:
versus-veritas Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2010
I've just stumbled upon this story and started sharing this news article immediately, even though so much time has passed, this is a story that needs to be heard. It's simply shocking how far some people are ready to go to project something they only wish to have. I admire your patience, remembering seeing photos of that adorable baby here on dA before, and gosh I've always hated watermarks, but it's people of this kind that make them obligatory...

So sorry you had to face such a drama, stay strong :heart:
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2010
Thank you so much :heart:

With a new baby coming and my photography improved a lot, I will still be submitting baby photos, but cautiously and sparingly.
Reply
:iconversus-veritas:
versus-veritas Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2010
New baby? :aww: Congrats, that's great news, sweety! Always be cautious, I've once faced poetry plagiarism online and I was out of my mind with all the war I had to go through to prove it's all mine. But what is left is the talent, and once you realize nobody can steal you that, you become safe even on the internet :heart:

Be proud of your skills :heart:
Reply
:iconig0706:
ig0706 Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
Did you watermark the photos? The ones that the lady stole I mean. It's stuff like this I hear about that makes me rather nervous about posting photos. I always have a watermark on them but people tell me it ruins the picture but I don't want to put it where it can be easily cloned out either.
Thank goodness everything was fixed!
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2010
Some were watermarked, and those ones were cropped smartly.

Back then, the watermark feature didn't exist. Any time now if there is a portrait which would be a huge issue for me if stolen, I watermark those.
Reply
:iconig0706:
ig0706 Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
Have you had any issue with people stealing photos in which the deviantART watermark was used?
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2010
Before when the small view the watermark wasn't there, so people would just steal that one.
Reply
:iconig0706:
ig0706 Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
ick, glad they allowed it so it goes on the small preview one too. I always wondered why it said show watermark when fullsize when it shows it also when the image is smaller.
But it is comforting to know that the dA watermark deters thieves.
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2010
unfortunately it makes pics look ugly too, esp portraits.
Reply
:iconpakotie:
pakotie Featured By Owner May 10, 2010
I know that's extremely creepy, but wasn't that kind of...inevitable? I mean, I'm not here to argue about how one creep stole the pictures, but then again, using DA as kind of...photo album in OPEN community in the internet...sorry, I can't compute something like that. Ever since internet has developed to the point, where...massive amount of people are browsing one site including most of the loved ones and friends (referring FB), of course it changes the attitude we give to our own privacy, but then again something like FB isn't so open community as DA. We still do have the power to be in charge, how we deliver and how we share our content in the first place, and it's kind of sad, that these kind of things do happens more and more, when people lower their boundaries and share EVERYTHING to EVERYONE.
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner May 10, 2010
Yeah sometimes these things happen, it's part of the game.

This article is to remind/show people an example of it happening and what you can do if it does happen to you, and not to be discouraged from showing your art even if these things happen.
Reply
:iconstrawberree:
Strawberree Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2010
I am over joyed that the issue was resolved! What a sick freak! Your son is beautiful!
Reply
:iconaspiekid0101:
aspiekid0101 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh dear god, I'm so sorry to hear you had go through such an awful thing. :hug: It just makes me sick to the teeth to know that there are people who don't believe in copyright and think that just because a pic's on the net, it's free to use (when it really isn't, hence why I've begun watermarking my stuff).
Reply
:iconharry-schoemaker:
Harry-Schoemaker Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
If this happened on facebook I advise you to report it at facebook
I heard facebook does not allow fake identities etc.
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2010
Hello -

It was reported and they took action immediately. So did MySpace.
Reply
:iconharry-schoemaker:
Harry-Schoemaker Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
Good to hear that!
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2010
I have heard they both are usually unresponsive at times, but in this case, they were surprisingly fast. I think the element of baby being involved really helped.
Reply
:iconharry-schoemaker:
Harry-Schoemaker Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
Maybe that helped.
Anyway I'm glad they were fast this time
It must feel like somebody is stealing your baby by saying it was her child.
Some people really have twisted minds.
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2010
Yes, using my photos without my permission is one thing, and doing that is another. I can understand it wasn't personal, but that still doesn't justify what that person did.
Reply
:iconharry-schoemaker:
Harry-Schoemaker Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
For sure not!
Reply
:icontheblendedpath:
theBlendedPath Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
Ummm... *happened to ME before...
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2010
So sorry to hear it happened to you too. If you're willing to elaborate on your incident, feel free to do so. If you are more comfortable discussing it in private, feel free to PM.

The worst course of action is to be discouraged, IMO. That's how art thieves win.
Reply
:icontheblendedpath:
theBlendedPath Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh I just had what I thought was a pretty mediocre photograph stolen and posted at Flickr by another person, and I ended up having to write letters and gobs of e-mails and blah blah to prove it was my photograph,etc., etc., It was just a nightmare to have to fool with over something that I didn't think was that great a photo to start with.

But, reading about your experience, and imagining a situation like this regarding my child - well, it's just almost unthinkable to me. It is very scary and...also very anger-provoking - just to think of it!
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2010
I have had a nature shot, a couple of photos of my cat, and one other picture of my son used elsewhere without my permission. I've also granted permission for people to use my photos too. Just frigging ask, for god sake.

Actually, not all photos were photos of my son in this incident (most were). Some were friends and cousins who look like him. Babies look alike I guess.
Reply
:icontheblendedpath:
theBlendedPath Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
I was inspired to look around last night and found another of my photos at the glorious Photobucket... I've emailed them.

My problem is not other people showing my photos - it's exactly what you said: JUST FRIGGIN' ASK! And if you don't, I'm even OK as long as there's credit given.

I truly dislike blatant thievery...

I'm just really glad you got it all sorted out about the pics of your son. :whew:
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2010
The problem is that it takes many forms. It basically comes down to your art being used without your permission.

My incident seems a lot worse than others because it a) involves a child, b) it involves MY child c) it was being used for a fictitious person.

I was on music forum and there was a thread to show off your photography. One member said "I just right-clicked, saved-as" your flower photo. Ummm, what for if you don't mind me asking.

Later that person said it was used for their facebook profile picture. I did let that person know I wouldn't have minded, but you should seriously ask first.

My point is, is education, prevention and a lot of etiquette. You can't prevent everything, but you can minimize it.
Reply
:icontheblendedpath:
theBlendedPath Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
I agree - I am seriously considering removing my work from sites I no longer use, ie. Artician, RedBubble, etc. If I visited those sites regularly, fine. But I don't, and I don't update them, so why should I leave things there? Just like you said, preventative measure.
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2010
Yup, that was my problem. I had to identify whether it was Flickr, Facebook, DA or Red Bubble the images were taken from. At first, I thought it was Flickr.

Now, any photos of humans are Family Only.
Reply
:icontheblendedpath:
theBlendedPath Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
I just joined the canon users group and this is how I came to see this article. It is very frightening/discouraging to me, because I just had my son in October and, of course, am putting his picture on the web. A lot of them are mobile uploads to twitpic, most of them are private on my facebook page, only for friends to see, but more recently I have been uploading them here at dA to share with friends here... I can't believe someone would do this, but at the same time I can. I can definitely believe people rip art, as that has happened to be before...but to steal photos of your child and use them to live your own little fake life - and for what purpose? That is very scary, and while I agree that this person is a very sick person from a psychological point of view, that doesn't excuse the calculated damage she has done. :( I'm just glad you got it sorted...
Reply
:iconyoh-boo:
Yoh-Boo Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2010  Hobbyist Photographer
wow there are some really weird people out there :-O good thing you found out and could take action against it
Reply
:iconscubaozgirl:
Scubaozgirl Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2010
Btw, can I link this to another of my accounts outside DA as a warning to others ??? :hug:
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2010
Absolutely, thanks for reading.
Reply
:iconscubaozgirl:
Scubaozgirl Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2010
Nothing usually surprises me but this did, can just imagine what you must have gone through, such a sad situation that someone was that deluded and sick enough to do that. I suppose one consulation is that at least it was just an image. You certainly have the cutest child around !! Though there is no excuse for ripping images off, no matter what the situation. We place our images and indeed some place their lives on the internet with a sense of trust that is not always returned. Glad you got it sorted out !
Reply
:icondead-star:
dead-star Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2010
Unbelievable! This woman must be sick.
I can imagine how bad this made you feel.
I think you did right letting DA and Facebook know about it, so she got banned.

On the most important photos of mine, those I really don't want to be stolen, I always put a watermark or writing my name in the middle of the photo.
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2010
If she is, I hope she gets help. Aside from stealing my photos, she has been stalking this band for 3 years.

Most of my photos were watermarked. I had some that weren't and she selectively took those.
Reply
:iconvox-hitomi:
Vox-Hitomi Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
That woman is nuts. Just nuts.

P.S: Ryan is very cute :aww:
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2010
Thx - Not necessarily nuts, just very lonely and wants attention.

Oh well, she got negative attention.
Reply
:iconvox-hitomi:
Vox-Hitomi Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I soppose so
Reply
:iconcasperium:
Casperium Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
dang! my daughter used to be a PR person for a famous band, and was on the road with them a lot, and the horror stories I used to hear about "fans" was enough to make me glad I wasn't famous. It is hard to believe the delusions that people can create and how far they will go to live it. sorry for all of your troubles and how it has affected your artwork.. :hug:
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010
I can imagine. One of the big drawbacks of being rich and famous I guess.

In a way I was glad to get this lowlife off their backs.
Reply
:iconstap1:
StaP1 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010
Great, and very educational entry. Thank you for sharing!
Reply
:icontokyobutterfly:
TokyoButterfly Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010
WOW!

You poor thing. What a crazy to be stealing your photo's.

I don't understand why she made up a baby to stalk a band (presumably a band member "fathered" "lachlan"). I'm really glad it's not discouraged you from uploading your work.
Reply
:iconrebelx:
rebelx Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010
It made herself feel important by causing the band grief.

It's not uncommon:

[link]
Reply
:iconacerl310:
acerl310 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2010  Student Photographer
Life is short. Don't let people get you down!
More power to you and photography!
Reply
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