Disappointed in the behaviour of some Jamaican Instagram Pages (5 Updates)

December 10, 2015  •  47 Comments



I hate for this to be my second blog post however, it has to be done. In my time on Instagram, there have been many Instagram pages that have risen to fame for curating and collating Jamaican content. Over the years there have been many contributors to these pages, most of whom are happy once they are featured.


When it comes to using content from Jamaican photographers, the stories however start taking a turn for the worse due to our watermarks. Firstly, I need to give credit where is due, most of my interaction with these pages have been positive up until now and I owe at least 100 of my followers due to work shared by them


Now with that out of the way, let me get to the meat of the matter. Most if not all Jamaican photographers who are on Instagram or are on social media, have a few simple rules:

  1. Leave the watermark alone 
  2. Give us photo credit
  3. Treat us with respect


Personally I try place my watermarks in ares that make them hard to remove while still maintaining balance and the beauty of the image. There are some instances when I have to place them at corners or edges because it would destroy the flow of the image. Prior to this week, I've had a few issues with my watermarks being cropped out on these images however the issue is generally resolved once I message the page.


This brings me to Tuesday, December 8th, when what I believe to fair rules, were violated. @Checkoutjamaica on Instagram decided that they loved the BMW image from my Rally Jamaica Blog Post so much, that they made a meme. In doing so they gave me a photo credit but failed to leave my watermark on my image or a link the blog post. For reference see the the images below for the original and the "meme'd" editions.
That SEXY Original BMW image from Rally Jamaica That Sexy BMW image from Rally Jamaica


That Not So Sexy @CheckoutJamaica Meme


Seeing the post, I wasn't particularly happy with it, so I messaged the page as I normally do. I believe my approach was however it was met with silence all while being active. I found this disrespectful and later reported the image to Instagram for copyright violation. For reference see the below image.


I was pleasantly surprised when Instagram took action in less than 4 hours. Photographers, take note.


On receipt of this mail I attempted to confirm that the image was removed. I however found out that I was blocked by the page. I eventually confirmed that the images were removed. As is to be expected, CheckOutJamaica shared this with other pages, one of which was @OnlyInJamaica


@OnlyInJamaica is an Instagram page which I had a reasonable relationship with. Prior to this incident the page had messaged me saying that it "rated' my work, but was unable to share it frequently due to my watermarking style. The total interaction can be seen below:


Fast forward to today, December 10, 2015. I received multiple messages and calls from colleagues that two of my images were being featured on the @OnlyInJamaica without my watermark and credit. I attempted to view the page but found myself blocked as per the image below:


I logged out of my account to the view the page and surprise surprise, the images were there:



For those of you may not be familiar the original images:


To add further insult to injury, a colleague of mine confronted them about it under one of the images and his post was deleted shortly after.



Now at the end of all of this, I have some decisions to make about how I want to proceed on social media which may unfortunately affect my current and future followers. One idea being consider is to place a watermark in the center of the image which will ultimately take away the beauty of the image.


To my followers, friends, supporters, or anybody who appreciates this kind of imagery

The actions of these few ultimately destroy you viewing experience and reduce the chances of you seeing high quality and unique content. Here are some of the reasons:

  • In response to individuals like these, photographers watermark their images, sometime in the center of the image in an attempt to protect the image. This will distract you from seeing the image in all its glory
  • Some photographers refuse to post their content, which means less unique quality content
  • Some photographers refuse to post their best work online

Please let me know your thoughts on this in the comments so that I can be informed in how I move forward.


To all photographers who share their work on social media (Update 1):

  • Instagram has your back 
  • Know your rights. The moment you press that shutter and the image is taken, you are the Copyright owner unless there is a signed contract stating otherwise. That being said, do the necessary research to have a better understand of what your rights are so that you can know how to operate.
  • There is no such thing as "Registering for Copyright". What people confuse this with is the process of registering your images with a registry like Jamcopy. These registries make it easier to prove in a court of law that you are the creator of the image.
  • An alternative to registering with these registries, is what is called "Poor Man's Copyright". This process involves sending media with work to yourself via registered mail. For further details, I'd recommend having a talk with JIPO (Jamaica Intellectual Property Office) which can be found on the JAMPRO building in New Kingston.
  • These pages will be less likely to repeat these actions if there are consequences for their actions. The actions can include:
    • Sharing your experiences with them via blog or other mediums
    • Reporting the images for copyright infringement to the platforms in question
    • Reporting the pages for copyright infringement to the platforms in question
  • These pages do these things because we do nothing
  • No need to be heavy handed if it was a first time offense or mistake. Message them about it first, give them a chance to fix the problem and then move forward from there.

Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comment.


To the offending pages and pages which may operate in a similar manner:

Try putting yourselves in the shoes of the photographers who you take advantage of.

You've had a dream of exploring and capturing Jamaica to showcase it's beauty to the world like never before. You've spent countless hours researching and practicing your craft to capture the beauty in all its glory. You've invested hard earned money into the best equipment that you can afford in order to capture it in the highest possible quality. With the help of friends you've explored known and completely unknown places all while risking your equipment, health and in some cases life to capture the unseen. All the while not being paid the true worth for your creativity, the equipment you've invested in, your effort, the gas and/or the rentals that you use to get to these remote locations, the accommodations, the guides not to mention the wear and tear on your vehicle, body and equipment.

How would you feel if an individual or company decided to build their livelihood or reputation using your hard work all the while refusing to give the due credit and respect? 

With that being said, here are a few more things to think on:

  • Be careful of how you treat people or the bridges that you burn. If you burn enough people, it will come back to haunt you.
  • The concept of "curating" and collating Jamaican content to create pages with massive followings is not unique. The only thing separates you everybody else knowledge and consistency. Knowledge can be bought or acquired through research and that gap can be closed.


Think on these things.



UPDATE 2: 13/12/2015 (AM)

Even after Instagram took down the offending images @OnlyInJamaica decided to post another one of my images without my watermark, credit or permission.


The original:

This  image was reported and taken down by instagram.


Update 3: 13/12/2015 (9:29PM)
Firstly the support of this post on here, Facebook and Instagram has been overwhelming! This post resonated with A LOT of people who have been affected by this in some form or another. Thank you all for the feedback and for sharing! 
Tonight I got call from the PR manager\person of the @checkoutjamaica page who's team informed her of the blog post. To pre-empt any claims that I hung up the call, I am roaming and my credit ran out :(. Moving forward #TeamCheckOutJamaica, please communicate with me via the comments below. With that out of the way, the following were the main points that I took away from that call:
  • There are multiple persons managing the page 
  • The persons who manage the page are different from the ones who manage the direct messages?
  • She has stated that I have slandered the page or brand with this blog post
  • Four plus hours wasn't sufficient time to respond to a message about an image concern 

To the PR managers of @CheckoutJamaica, please confirm if the above is correct in the comments below.


Going based of these points, I have a couple questions:

  1. If this was a mistake and a lapse in communication, why was no effort made after to try and clear it up after the image was taken down by Instagram? 
  2. Further to #1 why was my page blocked instead of trying to reach out to me?
  3. Why would @OnlyInJamaica uncharacteristically break it's rule of leaving in watermarks and providing credits, not once, but 3 different times within 24 hours after I was blocked by @CheckoutJamaica?
  4. Does @OnlyInJamaica and @CheckoutJamaica share team members?
  5. Isn't an image take down by instagram a big enough issue for the team to have a discussion to find out what went wrong so that the corrective actions can be taken?
Just in case it is said that I'm not being blocked by CheckoutJamaica:

Update 4: 14/12/2015 8:02AM and Update 5: 14/12/2015 5:38PM

Morean from the @checkoutjamaica team has responded in the comments below, you can check it out for their side of the story.

In response to the 6:23 and 6:24PM, the 6:24PM response time was for "Thanks" and not for the message that follows. From my observation which can be tested, Instagram doesn't put a time stamp on the most recent message at the time of sending. 

Below are the approximate timings from the first message to the Instagram take down: 

  1. On 7th of December at 6:23PM and 6:24 the first two messages were sent
  2. At approximately 11:24AM on the 8th of December, the last message was sent. This was 17 hours after the first message
  3. The take down by Instagram happened at 3:13PM on the 8th of December. This was 3 hours and 49 minutes after the last message was sent to the page and infringement reported
  4. Based on 1-3 the total time between the first message and the infringement notification was approximately 21 hours. 

Below are screenshots which support the above timings:

With regards to the 24-48 hour response time, most if not all of the pages that I've messaged have respond within two hours. With this experience it is not unreasonable for my expectations of your page to be similar, especially when it is active. Even after the image was taken down, a response could still have been sent if it was a misunderstanding instead of blocking my page. 



Size down your images some more and add very unwanted faint watermark in the centre.

Sir, keep up your great work and don't let your voice be silenced. This is your work and as such you deserve to retain all the creative rights.

I totally agree that credit should be given for your amazing work...
Thanks for the heads up
It wouldn't hurt them in any way to put at least the photo credit in the caption. It's a borderline malicious act especially when you have tried to reach out to them and the response on blocking you. I went on the pages to see if I could identify the pictures in question to report it - but I'm not seeing it. I'm not sure if it has been revised or I'm unable to identify it. That being said, if you could do a post or an update on the pictures in question then I definitely would (report it).
This highlights the one of the downfalls of social media. You are so right in everything that you did. You have been so professional and patient even! It's one thing if after you notified the offenders and they corrected their behaviour... But this ducking and blocking tactic is sheer cowardice. Thievery doesn't even begin to describe it.

I would hate for you to not be able to display your best work online or have to put a giant watermark in the centre of each photo, but if it must be done, I think your followers will understand. Take heart in the fact that the social media platform admins are so efficient and do not take copyright infringement lightly. Hopefully, with your well documented post, social media pages will learn and think twice before (un?)intentionally stealing your work.

Lots of love and support <3
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