A Townie friend of mine, Lisa Weber of ProductionFinder.com, recently related this story that emphasizes 3 extremely important points:
- Be sure that your website photos are legitimate,
- Why you should use your OWN photos on your website, and
- Take the appropriate steps to protect your photos.
I’ll be posting more on how to get your own photos onto your website in an attractive format, as well as on how to protect your photos (within limits) in upcoming blog posts.
And now, in Lisa’s own words:
I thought I’d post a recent situation because my guess is it’s more common than you might think. This will be long so bear with me. This is what happened recently:
Client emailed me to inquire about my services and we agreed to talk by phone the following day. I checked out the name online to see where the practice was and take a tour of the website. A website can tell me quite a bit about a practice, so I usually pop into all of the pages. I looked at the Smile Gallery and saw some very familiar smiles.
The images (all of them) were images I’d actually participated in taking in a practice I used to work in, and now work for on a consulting basis. I knew the names associated with those smiles. What are the chances of my stumbling on those images? Pretty darn close to nil. Before assigning blame to the dentist, I decided to check out the web designer. I found 5 websites for dentists in that same area of Arizona using the exact same images. There were a few additional images on several of them but the galleries were virtually identical. That’s when I assumed the dentists were under the impression they were stock images and the web designer had been the one who had likely just copied and pasted them. They were all small images, saved as jpegs with the different practices names, numbered sequentially.
I saved an archived version of all the sites in question prior to doing anything and then called the web designer. I was unable to get a person, so left a message and also sent an email. I then began to contact their clients and tell them what the situation was, explaining that our assumption was that they had no idea those images weren’t available for use. Each of the offices were able to get the images removed from their sites. I searched again and found yet another dental website using them and contacted that practice last night. Speaking with an incredible OM, I explained the history and that my only purpose is to get the images removed and we do not hold the dentist responsible at this time. I explained that the web designer had placed her doctor in a very precarious position because ultimately it was his liability. I recommended they pull out the original contract to see if the web designer represented that he had all rights to the images he was going to use.
After receiving my message that if I didn’t receive a call by close of business, I would rely on our attorney to make any future communications, I received a call from the sales person from the Web designer. He stated that although he believed he got all the images from a Lumineer site, he would go ahead and remove them. He said his business was no longer in operation, regardless. I asked him if his clients knew this and he assured me that they did. I mentioned that I had spoken with several dentists in the past week who would be very surprised that they were no longer in business. I also mentioned that not only were the images not from a Lumineer site, but none of them displayed a Lumineer, since that is a product that neither doctor has ever used. He seemed to feel it might be possible they were not the images I felt they were until I indicated that by “participating” in the photography, I meant I was actually in the room when those images were taken, cropped them and have them saved on flash drives along with a few thousand other images that I have been recently viewing for inclusion in the new website once it goes live. Those Before and After images being shown in Arizona were born and raised in Middleburg Virginia.
Not only did this web designer copy and paste the images (from an outdated website) but they used the identical images in a competitive market for offices that were geographically close to each other! One image in particular really ticked me off because it was probably the most beautiful after pic I have ever seen of an implant crown on a central after months of tissue development and a dead-on perfect shade and characterization match by the ceramist. Those aren’t easy to do and was a testament to that particular dentist’s skill. That after pic should have been earned, not copied and pasted.
So…..very long story….but…..I would strongly recommend that you verify that images used in your website (all of them) have clear records of having been obtained for your use, either by you or by your webdesigner. This is likely going to be a bigger problem very quickly, and it’s only a matter of time till people run into a dentist who isn’t as reasonable as the one I worked for. I feel like a detective this week, but I’m glad I stumbled on those pics, that’s for certain. I think the doctor that first contacted me is glad I did as well.
I, for one, am grateful that there are people like Lisa out there, who will do the right thing by both the dentists who were ripped off by their web designer, as well as by the dentist to whom the patients and photos belong. Who knows how far those photos might have spread, were it not for Lisa’s vigilance.