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fmueller

HFF Fraud

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HFF have a nasty habit of stealing photos from my web site, and use them on Trade Me to sell their fish.  More than the copyright infringement, I despise the fact that they use photos of super quality fish I had in the US, and make it look like that's the fish they sell in NZ.  When I look at the fish they actually have for sale, they are nowhere near that quality.  It's basically fraud, in my opinion.

They've done it before, and I told them to cease and desist. They take down the photo once told, but next time they need one, here we go again.  Right now they are trying the same old trick with the Tropheus they have for sale on TradeMe. They are asking $20 for one fry. Don't they have a cell phone so they can take pictures of the actual fish?
 
I think I am going to send them an invoice for using my photo and see how that goes. I don't mind people using pictures for their private use, but for commercial purposes, it's unreasonable to expect to get them for free!
Edited by fmueller

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Just got a copyright infringement settled this morning when another accommodation business was using one of the photo's from my website for her own.  First a nice polite email stating that what they are doing is wrong (their website was made by another company) and asking her to correct it, then after a month sent her a more professionally written email stating that she was infringing on my copyrighted material, it has to be taken down by the end of the month and legal avenues will be implemented if it isn't removed.  It was changed this morning.  

In your case I would:  Put a copyright notice on the bottom of the web pages like in my case "Copyright 2017 © Kawhia Camping Ground"  Then send HFF an email asking them to stop using your photos else further action will be taken.  

Have a look at this pdf for info: http://www.copyright.org.nz/html/blob.php/Infringement+of+copyright+-+What+should+I+do.pdf?attach=true&document=511&filetypecode=1&fileId=131

HFF's problem is most likely that it is not them updating the website but a web designer & the designer is just taking the easy way out by copying other peoples work.  The designer may not even be NZ based.  If they think you are serious then they will most likely stop doing it - I doubt it would ever have to go to court but the threat of that helps.

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Thanks for the advice, Shilo.  HFF has done this with at least one other of my photos that I am aware of.  I went through the polite email explaining what they are doing is wrong and why that is then.  I also went through the still polite but more serious email then, and they did take the photo down. However, no apologies, let alone compensation.

It's not like I monitor HFF's TradeMe listings all the time, but I am just looking to buy some Tropheus, when I came across their listing. The fish are fry, but show amazing color for fish that size. I liked them as soon as i saw the photo, and was wondering if I should pony up and buy them.  It took me a day to realize why I liked them so much - they are my fish from many years ago! So HFF has done the same thing again.

I don't make a living from photography, but I have sold photos, and licensed some out for people to use.  More often I have given people permission to use my images for personal and academic use, and I am happy to do that for free, as long as they credit my site. Anyhow, I have written an invoice for HFF today with a fee that grants them a non-exclusive, limited right to use the image for advertising purposes on TradeMe only. The fee is reasonable, but I was not in the mood of cutting them much of a deal!

But the copyright infringement is my beef with HFF, and I am going to sort that out one way or another.  I would not have posted here for that. HFF has good reputation, and FNZAS members might reasonably assume that when they buy fish from HFF via TradeMe, they will get the fish that are shown in the photo that's with the auction.  I think FNZAS members have the right to know that this is absolutely not the case with HFF. HFF takes an image of a prime specimen of the species they are trying to sell, and passes that off as the fish they are selling.  Again, if HFF was using the photos  for their website, just to show what the species looks like, that would be an entirely different story.  But if I see photos of Tropheus fry (not adults) with an auction on TradeMe, and that auction is for fry of about that age, I would assume that what's shown in the photo is what I'll get.  Not so with. FNZAS members should be aware of this, and I would be surprised if there are not at least a few for whom this is news. 

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Suppose you could always put a complaint via Trademe.  A lot of adverts there are not original photo's of the items - big tell tale is a new item with a plain white background with the same image used on Ebay etc listings.  Most people & even businesses don't realise that all images on the web are copyrighted to the original owner unless the creative commons licence has been applied to them.   

Even if they do come to an agreement with you to use your pics, for their own sake and those of purchasers HFF should state on trademe listings that the image represent the species but not the exact fish for sale.  Otherwise for an expensive fish like an Arowana (different grade of fish etc then advertised) they could be taken to the disputes tribunal.

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On the topic of professional Trade me sellers using misleading photos (that they may or may not have permission to use). Aqua world and The fish room are two more that FNZAS members should be aware of. The fish room especially has a bad habitat of using amazing photos. Writing/cutting n pasting very long descriptions of the species in general. But leaving out basic information like approximate age/size of the fish you are bidding on is. Both The fish room and Aquaworld are reluctant to add photos of the actual fish to there auctions even when asked. In the past when I have asked to see what I'm bidding on, I have been asked for my email or referred to a Facebook page to see a real photo.

I hope this wasn't to far of topic. Reading about what HFF is doing reminded me of past dealings on Trade me and I felt the need to rant.

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All a complaint with TradeMe will do is HFF removing this one photo.  It will not solve my demand for compensation, nor cause HFF to change their dishonest business practices. HFF had a reasonable claim to plead ignorance, until last time I explained the copyright situation to them in great detail. Besides, ignorance is no excuse.  Have you ever been pulled over by a cop and explained you were completely unaware of a speed limit on the Auckland Harbor Bridge?  That will do you no good!

As for other TradeMe sellers using generic photos, as long as they state that, or use a photo where it is blatantly obvious, I have no great problem with that.  But HFF does it in a very sneaky way. If you wanted to show a generic photo of Tropheus Pemba, you would use one of fully colored up adults that show the stunning contrast of black and bright orange.  But they used my photo of fry of about the same size they are selling. Only my photo shows fry that already show an amazing amount of color for fish that size, while HFF presumably has geyish-brown runts.  

Another good example is the photo of Labidochromis caeruleus they use.  Those fish are amazing. Bright lemon yellow with a solid black stripe along the top of the dorsal fin.  If anybody in NZ had Labidochromis caeruleus of that quality, I'd buy them at any prize!  I've seen the fish HFF sells. They have whitish patches in the yellow, and the stripe in the dorsal is disrupted and at best dark grey, not black. Frankly, despite still swimming around, they look like the have been dead for three days and a pleco has sucked on them.  Just bad genetic material. Not fish I would want to breed.  I asked HFF if the photo they use is of the actual fish they sell.  Not surprisingly, there was no response.  They know what they are doing!  

Interesting to hear from SirGM that there are other bad apples in the barrel.  This thread should be moved to the Commercial Trade and Exchange forum, and become a sticky!

Edited by fmueller

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