Photographers Upset Over eBay Account Selling Copyrighted Photographs


While browsing the internet recently, SportsShooter user Greg Bartram stumbled on an eBay store that was selling prints of several of his images. Upon taking a closer look, he realized that it wasn’t just him, ukgobigblueuk is selling 8x10s of just about any sports, celebrity or political photo he can get his hands on — and according to his description, he can “more than likely” get his hands on any photo you want.

If you take the time to browse through the massive archive of photos that ukgobigblueuk is selling, it seems that a lot of them are part of Getty’s and AP’s catalogues. He’s selling 8×10’s of everything from Neil Leifer’s famous Ali/Liston photo to Brian Masck’s Desmond Howard ‘Trophy Pose’ photo that is, ironically enough, currently at the center of an entirely different copyright suit.


It’s important to note that ukgobigblueuk isn’t selling authorized, signed prints by famous photographers that he has collected over the years. He’s simply printing out (allegedly at very high quality) unofficial, unsigned 8×10’s of well-known and/or requested photographs and selling them through his online store.

Once Bartram discovered that his photos were being sold without his permission, he was able to speak to eBay and get those listings taken down, but for some reason eBay hasn’t (and it seems won’t) shut down the entire store. And even if they did, there’s no stopping him from setting up another store under a different user name.

We’re not sure if and when something will be done about this, but if you have some time and you’ve ever taken a well-known sports or celebrity photo, we suggest you search through his eBay store and make sure you’re not one of his victims. The sooner you can get a message out to eBay that he’s selling your photo illegally, the sooner they can get the listing taken down.

(via SportsShooter)

  • SpaceMan

    If I buy a print from this guy, am I breaking the law? Not that I would as even $2.99 would blow my budget and I dont want to encourage theft but would be good to know

  • Burnin Biomass

    This guy has the Desmond Howard image back up for sale. That Jerk doesn’t give 2 f^@&$.

  • Banan Tarr

    He also sells them in packs of 100, presumably so whoever buys them can resell…

  • Tzctplus -

    the worst is that ebay doesn’t seem to care much neit

  • Renato Murakami

    I thought this was kind of an widespread problem among shady web stores… not only several sellers and stores in eBay are violating copyright of photographers, but also copyrights of all sorts of things – like counterfeit brands, etc.

  • Jason

    Since eBay gets a percentage of each sale that he makes, doesn’t that make them complicit in the crime?

  • Steve

    If he was selling music illegally, he would be banned from ebay. Why isn’t a photographers copyright taken as seriously as a musicians? We need an organization working on behalf of all photographers that will take action against sites like ebay allowing this.

  • Leon Neal

    I had the same thing a few years ago. Someone contacted me to ask for more pictures after buying a cd of watermarked pictures that had been stolen from my site and sold on ebay. When I contacted the seller, he told me that pictures on the internet were free. His account was closed down but it’s a bit of a King Canute situation, I’m afraid. If you spend 5 minutes looking around on ebay, you’ll find hundreds of traders selling copyright-protected photos.

  • SgtBoognish

    Boycott eBay!

  • PhotographerWriter

    Totally agree with your comment about bad publicity, and if you scratch the surface the problem goes wider than copyright infringement than purely just in photography. A while back I spotted that several of my published fiction books were among sometimes hundreds of titles being sold on DVDs as pirated ebooks, and eBay had this wonderful system that their policy wasn’t to inform you of their decisions regarding your requests for takedowns (assume it’s still the same today). There was no dialogue after I made the complaints, and I think I had one positive result out of six or seven of my requests. In all cases it was blatant piracy and I was quite simply being ripped off. I have to say I don’t think eBay cares very much about copyright unless you are a corporate/big luxury goods firm with some clout. Probably costs too much to police the odd seller trying it on and stealing from “little people”.

  • chubbs

    And they probably never will, seeing as how they make coin off it.

  • SgtBoognish

    I’m sorry to hear that. In that case, photographers, authors, musicians, artists – everyone who cares about having their copyrights respected should boycott eBay. And make a big stink about it while doing so.

  • bob cooley

    Actually, their is – someone should contact someone form the ASMP legal team.

  • A_Lwin

    Well if you know you are buying illegally obtained goods, I think it would make you an accomplice. But even if you were not breaking the law, by buying from these sort of people, you are encouraging their activity.

  • Simba Thinkus

    short ans no, long asn yes. would you be prosecuted- definatly not

  • Simba Thinkus


  • Simba Thinkus

    but sharing is caring,

  • LarryAt27N

    Having complained to Ebay over the years about serious seller violations — and not seeing any action taken — I’ve concluded that that don’t give a rat’s ass about what goes on…unless the Law is involved.

  • apmarina

    This is a big problem on ebay also with celebrity photos – they don’t check, they don’t care. If you find one of your shots being sold, they have a program called VeRO which I have used to take down certain auctions, but have not tried to shut down a store or have them ban a seller. The SHOULD have a way to do that, but as someone said, its not in their interest. On the other hand, since they do take percentage (in addidtion to the listing fee), maybe they can be considered complicit (and not just a conduit like the ISPs used in their defense of music piracy). Someone with a bigger bank account than me would have to find the right lawyer to work on this. Meanwhile, you can read about VeRO here on their site (or search in the Support section):

    BTW, many of the celeb photos I’ve seen and taken down are autographed – with fake autographs and fake Certificates of Authenticity. I have samples of the same image with multiple – and different – “genuine” autographs. So not only is the photographer being ripped off, the buyer isn’t even getting what he paid for.

  • Mitch Labuda

    eBay is a venue for people to sell and buy on. The sellers violate the copyright, not eBay. There’s all sorts of counterfeit items as well on eBay and any auction site. The copyright owner has to contact the site and get the works off, eBay or any site is not required to check for copyright.

  • Poster Maker

    As of today, he has no other listings. I’m a printer myself and spend a lot of time getting and verifying rights. There are A LOT of sellers on ebay, with really high feedback ratings and sales histories, selling 11×17 inch reprints of anything they can get. Ebay won’t get involved until someone VEROS them, but that doesn’t seem to happen often.

  • JDub

    The seller baseballrelics on Ebay does the same thing and Ebay just looks the other way, even though the seller has acknowledged having no rights to any of the images he bootlegs. Its ridiculous!