If you look through my gallery you'll find an image called "Smoking Gun". It's an edit of a photo I took a long time ago... it was one of the first pictures that I was actually happy with the way it turned out. I got a lot of positive feedback on it and decided to try and sell it. At that time there weren't a lot of places on the net where you could get a reasonable percentage back from the images you were selling and after a lot of looking I created an account at a place called Zazzle.com. I posted the finished image as a couple of different products (poster, postcard, mug, etc.) and then sat back and waited to get rich. Nothing happened of course so I uploaded a few more pictures and over the next 2 years I made a total of $60.
Time went by and I completely forgot about the site.
On Monday I got 3 emails from Zazzle (all the same thing) and the subject line read that one of my products was being removed from their site. The first thing I thought of was that someone had complained about how sexy it was and how it was offensive to someone... 'cause that's the normal complaint I get. As I read the body of the message I discovered that the reason it had been removed was because of a copyright violation. The message didn't say what the copyright violation was though and after looking at the picture again I figured that someone else may have been trying to claim the image as their own and they were trying to get me to stop selling it. That's another thing that has happened to me.
I decided to reply and ask what the details of the violation were.
I got a reply on Wednesday saying that a lawyer from Smith and Wesson Corp. had sent them a letter asking them to remove the image.
I thought about it for a while and then decided to delete my whole account on Zazzle. Not because I was mad but because I wasn't making any money there. I find it kind of funny in a way because the gun isn't a Smith and Wesson gun. It's a CG model of a gun that resembles a Smith and Wesson gun. It's a bit like if I had a red drink can in the picture and Coke sent them a message and told them to remove the picture because of the Coke can. Even if the gun looked exactly like a Smith and Wesson gun, which it doesn't, it's not like she's pointing it at a kitten.
Anyways... it's made me wonder if I should pull the image from every other place I've got it on display. And should I worry about other images I have that have other things in them. I've got a picture of a sexy woman with SKYY vodka and a Westinghouse fridge. I've got some pictures of women wearing Victoria Secret lingerie. I've got several pictures of cars made by Volkswagen.
Guns don't kill people... lawyers kill people.