Recently while browsing restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor I came face to face with one of my own photographs, used without my consent or knowledge, to promote a local restaurant – presumably without the restaurant’s consent or knowledge also; given that it was a photograph of lasagne and the restaurant was Indian. The caption read “management photograph” and attributed the source as “Photocrawler,” which seems, as far as I can tell, to be some sort of scraping program Trip Advisor is using to thieve photographs.
Among the reasons one may report a photograph on Trip Advisor, copyright infringement does not number; additionally, Trip Advisor “requires” that reports of copyright infringement come from copyright owners as opposed to other sources; in other words, Trip Advisor neither welcomes or facilitates reports of copyright infringement, and that in itself speaks volumes.
While Trip Advisor removed my photograph from its website on my demand, the company has not responded to my correspondence in which I requested an apology. Suffice it to say, I will not be using Trip Advisor again or placing any more reviews on that site.
If Wikipedia is to be believed, Trip Advisor’s 2014 revenue exceeded 1.2 billion. It can well afford to purchase stock images legitimately rather than thieve my or anyone else’s work.
Food styling and photography is not a simple or quick task. It is, rather, a very time consuming affair. Even professionals can take a full day to capture a single usable image, and I am not a professional. Every photograph on my website represents many hours and sometimes days of my work. Like most people, I do not work for nothing, particularly not to fill the coffers of a billion dollar company like Trip Advisor.
As a well-established website, Trip Advisor is at risk of becoming a target of web-scraping programs itself. It should not promote or use the practise. In the past, when I have encountered ads on virtual worker websites calling for developers to ‘scrape’ content from large websites, I have gone to the trouble of reporting the matter to the target website. In future, I’ll be thinking twice about whether that represents a valuable use of my time and effort.