Subject: Important information about your son Ryan...please read...
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 doesnt exist and her claims of a relationship and having his baby have turned many of the bands 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 perpetrators 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
Thumbs from my gallery of photos ripped
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? Dont 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 sons 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 wasnt 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 dont let idiots like this ruin it for you.