Dear Social Media: Your Take on Our Stolen Photo

Friend – you are a crap shoot.

You are a giver and a taker.

You have put me back in touch with friends from days gone by(thanks Facebook!), but you have also opened the doors to less savory (though flattering) events.

I never expected to see and hear from some of those High School folks again – but I am loving the reconnection. Wait….you’re a mom?  A dad?  And you have kids the age WE WERE when I last saw you?  Crazy.

And the college crew – how mind-blowing to watch them come out of the woodwork with husbands, wives and kids.

To say nothing of my new circle of social media gurus – men and women, mommy bloggers, women entrepreneurs, and work at home gals – all new friends.

TwitterNingStumbleUpon.  I Digg you all.

And then of course, there are our new friends in the Czech Republic. You see, since my family was unwittingly made the poster-children for a local grocery store – I’ve been getting visits from all over the world.

And, hey, new visitors – thanks for stopping by….I know you came to see this:


the  ‘wow-did-that-really-happen-story”, but I like making new friends – feel free to come by again.

You can also see a few other versions of the story by clicking here, or here and here if you speak other languages.

  • Joannes A.

    Hi there,

    I’m from Malaysia. Interesting story..

  • Mandy

    To Sinclair: coming from one of the most crime rich nations in the world where identity theft almost equal the number of cards given out, its hard to understand how you rely on ideas of international integrity? I don’t think this comes as much from honesty than plain foolishness. Would you have the same thought leaving your credit card in a public place in your town, even if the population contain – say – only a few thousand people instead of a world population?

    Do you really believe putting pictures up on the internet with access to view by 3 billion people around the world – who have no clue who is on the pictures and what laws in the country the pictures come from are – would care where it ends up?

    In Asia, for example, you often come across internet photos on ads. You can see that they are not professional photos, nor do they contain asian people. Its common for ad companies to use internet pictures especially in more backward nations.
    I also don’t understand how dull people are to imagine that the Czech store is to blame! The store is not a marketing company. The store obviously had ads and graphics work done by a local printer or advertiser.

  • Daniela

    Hi Danielle,
    Yes, I stopped by to see the photo. I was born in the Czech Republic, but I live in the USA for the last 10 years. I can’t believe this happened to you. Welcome to our culture! :-)

  • Mikael Sanasac

    It was just a matter of time.

    I’ve made hundreds of logos for companies and instead of paying the $10-$200 it takes to purchase rights to an image, I just grab one from myspace (if I need people) or deep within google images.

    Who knows how many US families are on billboards all over the world 😉

  • Rachelle @ “Mommy? I’m Hungry!”

    Hey SITS gal! I saw your story from a tweet! It is a beautiful photo of your family. =)

  • Dave

    That’s great, no wonder they used the picture it’s such a good one. Hey any offers for free groceries the next time your family is in Prague?

  • trisha

    Well, now i can say i knew and loved you when. LOL!!

  • Leisa Hammett

    Heard about you on NPR. Like the positive life, positive parenting vibe here, zippy writing. Sorry this happened to you. And, yeah, those nasties are out there. See them in the local papers’ online comments all the time. You labeled them well. Namaste.

  • Jenny

    I hope you’ve learned from your mistakes. FYI, your picture is still being found on Google under “happy family” and extra large sizes. It would be in your best interest to remove this photo or at least to reduce the size/resolution.

    I’ve read some of your comments on your other blogs, and you only have four people to make happy, you, your husband, and your children. It sounds like you have a wonderful marriage and a very happy family. I guess some people are so miserable in their lives that they have to put you down.

    You’re right about nasty people lacking a spine. I’ve had my share of them, and also had my share of well-meaning people give me the most ignorant comments or questions. I have the most extraordinary blue eyes, and have been told by my “friends” that I need to mate with a blue eyed man. Personally, I love my Japanese boyfriend, and if we decide to have children, they will be beautiful no matter what color eyes they have. I’ve also been told that Japanese must be difficult for me to learn. The people didn’t ask the question, they just assume it! These morons don’t know me, or what I do to learn Japanese!

    I wonder what this world would be like if people could actually learn to “keep their hands to themselves.” Take care, and please continue to post things on your blog!

  • Julio

    Hello Danielle… Your story made its way to Brazil…
    All I can say is: UNFORTUNATELY, any material you post on the internet becomes automatically a property of everyone.
    I hope the Social Media can give you more than it has taken. You sure deserve it, for having such a beautiful family.

    Will be checking on your new posts very often.

  • Journalist

    Sue the bastards!

  • ceejay

    i got to know your story on yahoo’s featured news.. then, i started reading your blogs..

    the kids are soooo adorable..

    i actually read every blog you posted..

  • Jamie

    I saw your interview on CNN and I wanted to let you know that you do have a valid cause of action against these people. I know you said you have not yet considered any lawsuit but you should be aware that beyond copyright infringement they have also committed the tort of appropriation (the use of a picture without permission for a commercial purpose such as advertising). In most states, committing such a privacy tort would justify punitive damages. I am not sure of the law of your state but it is safe to say that you would be able to sue them in your home state because your state’s long arm statutes would allow for proper jurisdiction. Given the current economy everyone could use some extra money and if they want to use you as models you are owed at least the going rate. I think you will find that many lawyers would take this case and if you don’t want to invest in a lawyer you could probably find one willing to do it on a contingency basis. I hope you choose to defend your privacy rights.
    Good luck

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  • Terri

    I agree with Jamie.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve been a photographer for 30 years…. My heavens, if a photo was used … of a family…. including minors…. in promotional material…. without a valid model release…. There would be huge repercussions for the ad agency if that ad had appeared in this county! What they did with your family photo was inappropriate, and I can’t believe that there are so many people out there who think otherwise.

    I say, go get ’em, girl!

  • Paula

    Presently, there would be huge repercussions in this country if your photo is used without your permission, but all that could change this year if the Orphan Works bill is passed in the Senate. This bill seeks to change current copyright laws. Currently, you have certain rights that come with an image that you own without even having to officially copyright it. The bill, which has already passed in the House, would place the burden of proving ownership of an image on the original owner. As the law stands now if you want to copyright an image or other medium you apply to the US copyright office and for a fee of less than 400.00 the image is protected. If this bill passes in the Senate an image holder (whether it be a photographer, artist, grandma, etc.) would have to copyright their work with privately owned companies. I think there will be three separate companies that you will have to register your work with. Each company charging a fee of several hundred dollars. This adds up and if you don’t have a lot of money you may not be able to register with all three of them. If someone stumbles upon your photograph online and decides to use it they only have to make a “reasonable” search of one of these companies. If you are not registered with the company that they conduct their search through then they can consider your photograph an “Orphaned Work” and use it without any fear of legal repercussions. This bill started off with good intentions but has morphed into something different. The original intention of the bill was to protect entities such as educational institutions from falling prey to lawsuits if they used images that were very old and couldn’t be connected to a living owner or relative of the owner.

    I’m not an attorney (I have a t-shirt business and had to look up copyright laws) and I’m not sure if I explained all of the points of the bill.

    For more information on this bill and to sign up for e-mails from a group of artists opposing the bill in its current form you can go to the link below:

  • Frugal Girls!

    Oh my goodness – that is absolute craziness!!

    PS – I’m so glad to hear you liked my 4th of July Fruit Kabobs – they are so simple & tasty! Have fun making them with the kids! :)

  • Photography Thinker

    This is a wonderful instance of international cooperation and communication. And now you are using THEIR ad in YOUR (carefully copyrighted) blog. Seems like a fair exchange to me of images.

    Also: do you know if you have any Czech roots? Because obviously they chose this photo to represent a stereotypical Czech family.

    I would totally write them and make friends with the shopkeepers! What a great opportunity for international friendship (not a lawsuit).

    Finally, do your children consent to their images being posted on the internet?

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