By in Pictures

Adventures in Detective Work

All of us are aware of the fact that some cheaters are posting on . I'm sure that no honest people want to support that by sharing those stolen posts, but sometimes it's hard to be sure if work really belongs to someone.

Yesterday I saw a gorgeous photo I really wanted to share. The setting is commonly known in English as the Iron Gates of the Danube River. My husband remembers reading about it in his geography books in Serbia when he was growing up. This was a photo of it at sunset. My husband and I both loved it. But it just looked too good to be posted by someone that didn't say anything personal about herself, her profession, or her hobbies. Most professional photographers have that mentioned in their profiles and they watermark their photos. None of this person's photos were watermarked with her name, though someone else's watermark was on one of them. I decided to do a bit of research.

The photo was distinctive enough that there weren't too many to sort through. I finally found it, watermarked, in the “see more” section of Google images. So I clicked and traced it to Pinterest and clicking there took me to the photographer's website. The photographer's website had an email address, so I emailed her telling her I had found her photo on tsu and had reported it as violating . I also asked if she had ever posted her work there under another name and she said she'd never heard of tsu and she never posts anything without a . Both women had a Facebook page and they didn't match. She asked where she could see the post.

I answered her reply by inviting her to join tsu, since she needed to be a member to see the posts in question. The idea was that she could then report the photo herself, and any others I might not have recognized. I told her there was no need to make a profile or be active unless she wanted to and I gave her some reasons she might want to.

She joined tonight and liked a couple of my posts, but she doesn't have profile photos up yet. I told her I hope she will post that photo so I can finally share it and some of her other photos without any guilt. I don't know whether she will decide to be acitve or not. Meanwhile, she can look to see if anyone else on the site are posting her work so she can report them.

I discovered through more detective work that the woman who stole the photo of the Danube had stolen another photo from an organization's website. My email to the address on their website bounced, so I had no good way to report the misuse of the photo. If it's not yours, you have to supply the email address of the one who has the rights to it in order to it to tsu. I guess that is to avoid false accusations. To report a violation, click the “more” button under the post for the drop down menu.

I haven't had time to find out if any more of her photos are stolen. Tonight I was checking someone else who did watermark, but I still wasn't sure if the photos were his. I looked at hundreds of spider photos, more than I'd ever want to see, and his was not among them. So until I have a solid reason to believe what he posts isn't his, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and watch him. I may even share some of his photos.

I am making a request here. If you see a photo on tsu you know is stolen, please message me there and let me know so that I can beware of sharing anything that person posts. I'm hoping the thief I found will be deleted soon. But I can't guarantee it. The best way to put these people out of business is to report them when we catch them and refuse to follow them or interact with their posts.

Meanwhile, I'm not afraid to share my own photos on tsu. If people plan to steal, they will probably steal the photos from some other sites and just post the stolen ones on tsu. They are more likely to steal them from Pinterest or Google images than from tsu to post them on tsu. They can even steal them from this site. I don't think there is any really safe place to post photos with no risk of theft.

Pictures and content are original and may not be used without permission, B. Radisavljevic, Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved

Image Credit » Public domain courtesy of

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motrojam wrote on December 20, 2014, 3:56 AM

No one would copy my photos since most are photos of me. He he. Not until I become a celebrity which is not going to happen.

HappyLady wrote on December 20, 2014, 5:41 AM

Well done for all of your detective work. I guess we will see some good photos from the real owner now.

MegL wrote on December 20, 2014, 6:47 AM

This is a lot of thought and work you have put into this. I am now wary of sharing photos on Tsu because, as you say, unless the person actually says it is theirs and provides details, I cannot know whether they have the right to post that photo.

bestwriter wrote on December 20, 2014, 6:56 AM

i never protect my photos and I have scores of them being a passionate photographer, having enough subjects under my very nose. Your efforts to catch the culprit is appreciated but how many can go about doing the kind of work you are doing.

SLGarcia wrote on December 20, 2014, 10:08 AM

The few photos I post are not worth stealing. I think the bottom line is that anything we post on the internet is subject to being plagiarized. Whenever I have searched regarding an article I am suspicious of, I have often found that the original article (if it was the original article) has been plagiarized by many different people.

nbaquero wrote on December 20, 2014, 11:38 AM

BarbRad that was a very comprehensive investigative workd you did there.
From your post, it looks like Tsu is a place where many of those plagiarizers and thiefs from Bubblews migrated to (again frustrating the experience for honest people). Hopefully Tsu takes effective measures to reduce the problem.

Ellis wrote on December 20, 2014, 2:15 PM

Pictures can be traced by file names worth considering renaming your pics before uploading...

Kasman wrote on December 20, 2014, 4:23 PM

Good for you. Many people seem to regard the theft of copyrighted photographs to be a less serious offence than plagiarism but they are equal in my eyes. Most honest people will report plagiarism wherever it is found and we should all do the same with copyright theft. From what I have heard of Tsu it isn't a place I want to go.

maxeen wrote on December 20, 2014, 6:33 PM

You certainly did a lot of work doing that.

BarbRad wrote on December 20, 2014, 10:31 PM

She has already posted her first photo, but I ran out of shares before I knew it. I have to wait until the clock is reset tonight. I'll be introducing her soon. She has started reporting the thief, who has stolen many of her photos.

BarbRad wrote on December 20, 2014, 10:32 PM

I don't think many people would copy mine, either, but I watermark so that people know they are original.

BarbRad wrote on December 20, 2014, 10:33 PM

Message me there and ask for my list of photographers who only post legal work.

BarbRad wrote on December 20, 2014, 10:34 PM

Not many. I guess I just got mad enough at the gall this person had that I wanted to do the work.

BarbRad wrote on December 20, 2014, 10:45 PM

That's right. There is no site secure from anyone determined to steal the work of others. So photographers should watermark their photos in some way that will make it easy to associate the photo with them and preferably with their own site or Facebook page.

BarbRad wrote on December 20, 2014, 10:47 PM

We'll see how long the thief I found will stay on the site after being reported by me and the owner of the photos. There is a way to report these thieves easily if you have the email address for the owner of the content.

BarbRad wrote on December 20, 2014, 10:48 PM

I'm not sure I understood you. Could you rephrase that, please?

BarbRad wrote on December 20, 2014, 10:51 PM

But there are some very good and upright internet citizens on tsu. There are plenty recruited with a Facebook mentality who are there, but you don't have to follow them. I follow some great photographers I would not have found otherwise, and it's a great place for writers to share their work.

BarbRad wrote on December 20, 2014, 10:51 PM

Yes, but it was time better spent than in reading a detective novel.

RegieEstioco wrote on December 20, 2014, 11:51 PM

I salute you for doing detective work. Cheaters are everywhere. They must learn a lesson the hard way.

BarbRad wrote on December 21, 2014, 3:06 AM

I hope this one will. I can't find all of them.

MegL wrote on December 21, 2014, 4:19 AM


Bethany1202 wrote on December 21, 2014, 12:05 PM

I've heard this recently of Tsu users. I have not joined that site. Thanks for the info, very helpful for many!

Feisty56 wrote on December 22, 2014, 7:13 PM

I was hoping that the use of was going to be the simple solution to finding a photo's original owner or at least the license under which the photo can be used. Ruby3881 explained that some Java script that Tsu is currently using renders useless there. Ugh!

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on December 23, 2014, 12:29 PM

I think one thing that is sad is that, while there are those who steal with intent, the majority of people who swipe these pictures don't think of what they are doing as "stealing." They make no claim that the photo belongs to them, and think they are simply "sharing." What they don't realize is that they are profiting off content they have no rights to. If you are going to share a photo, video, article, etc., from offsite that you did not personally create, share the link to the original, not a copy.

It is a hard problem to resolve, but at least Tsu has a policy against submitting content that "infringes, misappropriates or violates a third party’s copyright" (from Tsu Terms of Use). Enforcing that will be difficult, but at least you don't have the rampant flood of infringement that you see on Facebook.

I'm very wary of sharing photos and memes on both sites. On FB, I have a blanket personal policy against sharing any obviously commercial artwork unless there is some specific justification (there rarely is). On Tsu, since there is such a large concentration of photographers, I am very picky. If they aren't watermarked or I can't immediately tell that the poster has the right to post them, then I won't share. As for those very professional, slickly enhanced unmarked photos that aren't coming from a stated photographer? Huge red flag.

BarbRad wrote on December 26, 2014, 7:18 PM

I still enjoy the site very much. There are bad apples and spammers on every site. We just have to avoid them. At least we can delete spam comments in our feed. I'm surprised more people don't.

BarbRad wrote on December 26, 2014, 7:20 PM

I don't think there is any easy way to find those originals on line. I have some people I'd like to follow who do post unidentified photos I'm pretty sure they took but they also post some I'm not sure of that are unattributed. I wish more people would watermark.

BarbRad wrote on December 26, 2014, 7:25 PM

On Facebook, many memes shared are shared right from the site where they were created with a share button, since Facebook isn't considered commercial. Most terms say they can't be used for commercial purposes, but since Facebook doesn't pay and the photos are watermarked with the site URL sharing them there is encouraged. Many people don't read the TOS or have been told by their upline they can get paid for doing just what they do on Facebook.

Ruby3881 wrote on December 28, 2014, 3:55 PM

I've pretty much stopped sharing photos of anyone I don't know and trust on Tsu. I don't have the time for the BS. It feels too deliberate. They make it so only members can see posts, and then they make it so users who want to verify the origin of an image can't do that. It feels very much like they not only condone the infringement, but are happy to benefit from it and even cover it up.

Ruby3881 wrote on December 28, 2014, 3:57 PM

Most people are greedy for the pennies, Barb. Deleting spam means the loss of revenue for a comment. Sad, isn't it?

Ruby3881 wrote on December 28, 2014, 4:00 PM

A lot of watermarks are getting cropped by intentional thieves. But yes, I wish more would watermark as well. I like Tsu. I don't intend to leave the site. But it's a pain when I have to think before every follow/friend/share. I just wish people would take responsibility for themselves, and that site admin would send clear messages about infringement.

BarbRad wrote on December 28, 2014, 10:18 PM

So you mean not being able to right click to save image anymore? I thought that was to stop thieves from downloading the photos to their computers.