Only-Dreemin, Fine Art Thieves


stealing IS a crime, right?, originally uploaded by _rebekka.

Well mark this down as another fine art gallery that thought that they could rip someone’s photos off just because they put their photos on Flickr.

Rebekka Guðleifsdóttira (or more simply _rebekka as she is more popularly known on flickr) is one of flickr’s most popular photographers and a friend of mine. In addition to doing interesting and provocative self portraiture work she also does some amazing Icelandic landscapes. But that’s not why she’s getting some attention this morning. She’s getting attention this morning because she’s posted the above composite to her flickrstream and written a post about how she’s been ripped off by Only-Dreemin, a London based print-selling company. They also have an eBay store here.

Rebekka says that this store basically ripped her photos, sold them for thousands of dollars and now won’t compensate her for what they stole from her.

In my case, a friend of mine came across their store on ebay and recognized one of my prints. (this was way back in january i think) I looked into the matter and discovered 7 more of my photos being sold there. In the case of pictures 1, 2, 6 and 7, the image had been divided up into 3 vertical panels. ( Something i would never DREAM of doing myself. ) Furthermore, the images had been given new and exciting titles, like “Seraque II” and “Attica”, “Dawn expander II” and ” Joga” (barf). I spent a good many days researching, going back thru their customer feedback, and was able to track back the sales of at LEAST 60 prints made from my images. These prints sold for a total sum of 2450 british pounds (around 4840 US$ )

What makes this worse is that Rebekka is an art student and single mom living in Iceland and hardly has the money to pursue this company through the legal channels. She has tried and hired an attorney but is now left stuck with an attorney bill after this company still won’t pay her for her work that they stole. At least a letter from the attorney was able to get her images (which are all right’s reserved) off of Only-Dreemin’s website.

This isn’t right. Stealing is not right. To take someone’s photographs and then print them up and steal them sucks. It’s a violation.

A while back someone tipped me off that a guy out of Israel was selling prints of my work as the “exclusive” provider of Thomas Hauk (he misspelled my last name) prints on the internet. I emailed the guy and he took the photos down.

You wonder for all the people that are getting caught ripping photos off of Flickr, how many are not getting caught.

Only-Dreemin deserves to learn the lesson that stealing is not right. I’m sorry this happened to you Rebekka and hope that this company in the end makes things right with you financially and publicly apologizes for the way that they operate their business.

You can digg this here.

Thanks for the heads up Gary.

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41 comments on “Only-Dreemin, Fine Art Thieves
  1. Andy Frazer says:

    How did these bums get her photos in the first place? Was she uploading full-size images to Flickr and allowing people to download them?

  2. ping says:

    Appalling. Dugg.

  3. Rebekka says:

    @andy frazer: in answer to that, no, i was uploading them as 72dpi jpg files, 1200×800 in most cases.
    how they managed to make large quality prints from them is beyond me. Also, they claimed that “someone” sold them high-res files of the photos, and that they had “no idea” they were dealing in stolen property.
    (They were unable to produce any proof, or even name for this mystery person)

  4. Andy Frazer says:

    I’ve sent these guys an email telling them what I think of them. i encourage everyone else to do the same.

    When I get home tonight, I’ll post this on my blog, too (http://gorillasites.blogspot.com).

    Andy Frazer

  5. Alan says:

    The company is based in Leicester and not London. Perhaps ebay can delete their account if they have been trading illegally… Might be worth looking into it.

  6. Sean says:

    These Art Theives deserve every bit of hate-mail they are about to receive. Bloggers unite: Let’s Google-bomb them. Art Theives!

  7. drm says:

    Thomas, you’re awesome. Thanks for taking up this cause. You’re now on the first page of Google results for Only-dreemin.

    @sm: If you want to Google-bomb, you should probably spell “thieves” correctly. :D

  8. Mr. Hawk… isn’t there some kind of new “phone home” watermarking technology coming down the pike. I think Digimarc was going to patent some kind of extension to the JPEG or PNG format that would allow a graphic to actively “ping” back to a central clearing house.

    Of course, it would be hacked the results publicized… still, I’d think there’s a LOT of value in something like this for a variety of document formats (PDF, Word, PPT, etc).

  9. This truly sucks.

    I have not, to my knowledge, had my work stolen, printed and sold, but I have had it stolen and placed on websites without credit or permission, and it took a considerable amount of time to get them to take it down. On a similar note, I’ve grown really tired of people wanting to use my shots without even offering some form of compensation. Just because it’s digital photography, it doesn’t make it free, folks.

  10. Spud Murphy says:

    While this sucks and sucks big time It is only going to happen more in the user content driven world of web 2.0. Once something is uploaded it can’t be un-uploaded (well once people have downloaded the original that is). One of the few ways to make it unattractive for people to “steal” your work like in this case is to upload low quality images.

    Perhaps Flickr could set up a scheme where only low quality images, or visibly water marked images are only available the the regular punter. The user can allow the full quality images or water mark free images to contacts, friends or family (configurable at each level). At the very least it might provide a viable audit trail and revocation technique should image violation occur.

    Unfortunately this probably becomes unworkable for the number of contacts that Thomas Hawk (6239) or Rebekka (1127) have. Also as Rebekka says above here images were fairly low quality.

    Not that my images come any where close to the work of you two guys I’ll be keeping an eye on this case because I think is says much more about the new internet 2.0 as a whole. It would be a shame if the quality users get scared off.

    I have seen this happen already in the work of 3D meshes for 3D applications like Lightwave and 3D MAX. This has been going on for years, people have been releasing fan created meshes for 10 years, user content driven internet long before web 2.0. There are quality amateurs (and professionals) who have produced truly excellent work but they stopped releasing their work to the public and there were to many people taking the work they made freely available and trying to sell it. The current status is it is only the beginner to intermediate level people that release meshes to the public now with the advanced people keeping their work to them selves, shame really.

    http://www.lwg3d.org/forums/showthread.php?t=28790
    http://www.lwg3d.org/forums/showthread.php?t=31193&highlight;=mesh+theft

    To be fair the two guys above even after their work has be stolen have still released further work.

  11. Steelsun says:

    Looks like alot of their site is down. I can now only go to the home & link page, all others are gone.

  12. Sean says:

    @daniel:

    “i before e except after c”….DOH!

    Art Thieves

  13. Glad to see their site is down, probably looking for a new domain name but happy to see that you have had an effect on them TH

  14. alan says:

    Why has she deleted her article. Did she resolved the problem??

  15. Rob Collier says:

    http://www.only-dreemin.com/contact.htm

    shows me a page not found.

    Either they took it done cos they where getting so much abuse or the google bomb worked :)

    Dirty robbin bastards.

  16. Andrei says:

    i’m all in support of Rebekka, oh and SM, i’m in for google-bombing those thEIves ;)
    seriously though, hate mail probably won’t be read past the first 2 words, so it’s useless, uniting and making more organized legal appeal might be worth looking into however.

  17. It is still possible to protest to Only-dreemin. to theire e-mail address. info@only-dreemin.com.It is still working even though it looks like they have closed theire contact page on theire web-site.

    And the call them self a Creative Team??!

    Rebekka has all my regards. She was on the Icelandic radio few minutes ago telling her story.

  18. castanet says:

    Tom,
    Many thanks for your unstinting support of Rebekka’s cause. Incidentally she talks about attorney fees she has to pay and considering that she’s a single mum and student, perhaps you can set up something here to seek donations to help her defray her legal costs? What do you reckon?

  19. NapalmGod says:

    This should be resolvable.

    Rebekka owns copyright on these pictures. She can take down all eBay auctions of her materials by complaining to eBay.

    For United States use, she can file DCMA complaints for any site infringing, demanding that her material be taken down.

    Since these idiots are UK-based, we get to use their laws.. http://www.copyrightaid.co.uk/ is a website for copyright information and contacts. There’s a nice example letter for handling copyright infringement here: http://www.copyrightwitness.com/copyright/p05_copyright_infringement

    Meanwhile, complain to their ISP anyway. They appear to be using http://www.fasthosts.co.uk/hosting/ . Just explain that they’re copyright infringers and should be taken down. Give them several links to various websites and/or Digg stories. If they refuse, then email again, and mention that they will be named in the next Digg article as supporting these art thieves.

    Now, the bozo’s contact information is still up:
    Unit D, 88 Vernon Road
    Aylestone
    Leicester
    LE2 8GB
    United Kingdom
    +44 (0)1162 440 349

    Find someone to go by there. Is it an office, or an apartment block (run out of someone’s flat)? If it’s a flat, what’s the name of the person who lives there? If it’s an office building, picketing typically resolves problems very very rapidly. Get 10 people out front with signs saying “Down with Copyright infringement!” and “Art thieves suck!” and you’ll be amazed at how quickly things get resolved.

    The sad part is that she probably won’t get any money out of them, but, she could strike a deal giving her, say, 10-20% of future sales.. That’d be nice, they do the work, she gets the money (or at least a part).

    Luck!
    -ng

  20. Bob and Gail says:

    Robert Hooker has produced a strategy for protecting your social networks from Flickr’s censors. This was tested when Gail Orenstein site was deleted by surprise.

    The FlickrAdmins have recieved complaints that they have been out of hands for months, and they just got more arrogant.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I have had dealings with this company, they are based in leicester and the prints they produce are very poor indeed.

    The guy that runs the company has a very bad attitude towards his customers let alone photographers.

    I think that she should contact ebay as this is their sole outlet for sales, ebay has strict policies with regard to copyright infringement.

    She may get no compensation, but at least she would have the pleasure of having them booted of ebay.

    Goodluck.

    Timmo.

  22. Nothing says:

    Only Dreemin. Should be Only Schemin.

  23. Anonymous says:

    In building your case Rebekka, you should be made aware that only dreemin seems to have been selling on eBay under another ID: vivoart

    I cannot guarantee this information BUT they use the same name on their current listings and vivoart was banned abt 2 years ago.

    Might be interesting to find out why…

    Good Luck

    Vincent

  24. Anonymous says:

    Yes Timmo….How about letting them know then?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Here’s another eBay store that is a blatant infringement of artist’s copyright: http://stores.ebay.com/Artistic-Trends

    Feel free to get that site shut down. I can’t figure out how to get eBay to open their eyes to this. They’ve already been sued by Tiffany’s for providing a stage with which to sell knockoff Tiffany’s jewelry.

  26. Anonymous says:

    This story is now featured on the BBC News website (technology).

    “yahoo cencors Flickr comments”

  27. Anonymous says:

    Rebba, sorry to hear about your woe. Just curious, what was the size of their “large quality” prints? Hope you get your compensation

    All businesses must have banking & online payment services (those with online stores). They can’t function without these services! Just a hint :)

  28. Anonymous says:

    I notice that the original pic you used for this is *still* not available- considering how Flickr has claimed responsibility, mea-culpa’d a lot and allegedly is working with the artist, I find it ironic that the PIC issue is still unresolved.

  29. siftee says:

    i would love to know if either you, rebekka or any other posters has ever downloaded a song through p2p?

  30. siftee said…
    …”i would love to know if either you, rebekka or any other posters has ever downloaded a song through p2p?”…

    Siftee, i’m sorry, but this is totally different. Let’s say they did illegally download an mp3 track with p2p, then it was for personal use and not to sell it for USD 5,000 to someone else! BIG difference!

  31. Anonymous says:

    The seller is stil active on eBay trading as canvasrepublic.

    Good to see they are remorseful.

  32. Anonymous says:

    To answer Rebekka’s question about how they can get high quality prints…or highER quality, all they need to do is print the 72 dpi jpg on a very very good printer, and make a high quality scan. The results can be surprisingly good. Add programs like “Blowup” or “Genuine Fractal” to the mix and it is possible to take a low res image and blow it up with minimum lossey. I am sorry about Rebekka’s terrible dilemma. Just when you get disgusted with the human race and the consciousless thievery, you see communities banding together to help–and they do get results. I think the good guys will win. The ‘net is as powerful a weapon in support of the artist as it is against.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I have had dealings with this company, they are based in leicester and the prints they produce are very poor indeed.

  34. I know this story is an old opne but i thought it would be best to include a minor update, just in case people search for the company on the internet.
    Only Dreemin are still trading as canvasrepublic.co.uk as was previously mentioned, and as well as that they also trade with the website stretcherbarsdirect.co.uk and finally they are back on ebay ‘AGAIN’ using the ebay username stretcherbarsdirect.

  35. Karl Bray says:

    Further to the above, Stretcher Bars Direct is now solely owned by Paper & Canvas Ltd and is in no way affiliated with any of the other Companies or trading names mentioned above.