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We run a business selling consignment items on ebay. We've only had minor success so far, but we're building it up. One of our marketing ideas was to get a vanity license plate for our van, which also has signs on it with our website, phone number, etc.

It turns out there is another ebay seller doing the same thing, and they're also trying to promote their business. Nothing wrong there.

Except, they took the picture of our license plate and put it on their web page. And not only took the picture, but actually hotlinked from our site. What that means is that they are directly using the picture hosted on our server, using our bandwith every time somebody pulls up their page in order to see our license plate.

Well, the unintended consequences of this can be quite painful, as you can see here. So for as long as they fail to notice that we've noticed the theft, all of their potential customers will get a marketing message quite different from the one they intended.

They will learn to be careful with those petards.

UPDATE: They pulled their entire page. Since it was the only marketing site they had on the web (we could not find a web page for them), they're left with nothing until they figure out how to get pictures hosted themselves.


Love it! What a great lesson I hope those content thieves have learned.

Posted by Judy at Monday, November 28, 2005 10:45 PM

Great! Lets hope they take a long time to sort it out

Posted by Anji at Monday, November 28, 2005 11:26 PM


They took the page down by the next morning. It was down for a while, but now they have an all-text page up in its place. We went to their store to talk to them about it, but they had two customers there and we didn't want to escalate it to trying to drive the customers off, so we went out to the car and called them. They made up excuses about their web guy doing it without their knowledge, yadda yadda yadda...

Posted by kylben at Tuesday, November 29, 2005 06:32 AM

Good for you! I work for <a href="">Liguori Publications</a> and know from experience that you can't be too careful defending your brand or your content.

Posted by P. del Ricci at Tuesday, November 29, 2005 10:49 AM

This is great. Somewhere on my HD, I have saved an eBay listing where someone did the same kind of thing... taking someone else's pic from their server.

The person replaced the image with a photo of dog poop and wrote "FRAUD" under it. It was genius.

Posted by Deb at Monday, December 05, 2005 01:01 PM

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