Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 20, 2012.

Update #52

Theft – an Unwanted Form of Flattery

7 comments

Photojojo is a popular website for camera accessories. We have, unfortunately,  discovered an ugly side of that company. 

The product packaging for Photojojo Inc.’s “Smartphone Spy Lens” used images from the HiLO Lens Kickstarter campaign on their product packaging. The photos even show the HiLO Lens iPhone lens being used!

More details on the blog 

There is not a lot we can do against this type of behavior with a limited budget. There is room for everyone on a level playing field but retailers that behave like Photojojo Inc. do not deserve our trust. Please don’t support this type of two faced behavior.

Now I feel a lot better having at least shared my frustration. We've closed the door on one retail channel... Time to get back to making the HiLO Lens a successful product. 

Comments

    1. Missing_small

      Creator Alex Block on September 27, 2013

      @Mark Unfortunately you're missing the point. You aren't owed anything. Forget about the law for a second. You're drumming up negative press about HiLo. Honestly, I like your product, but it is a one-trick pony. I reached out to Photojojo for their side of the story and it seems like you're misleading your fans.

      I really want you to understand that you're making a mistake in this situation. You're creating negative press. I really can't stand behind you in this situation. I want you and your product to be successful and popular, but this isn't the way to go about it.

    2. Headshot.small

      Creator Mark Hampton on September 26, 2013

      @Leon it is illegal but it would be very time consuming for both parties to take the matter to court. Ideally both parties would discuss in good faith but Photojojo did not show good faith.

      @Alex we are not only focused on this issue but we do think it is important to raise awareness of unethical business practices. When a business consciously takes something that belongs to someone else and chooses to sell it as if it is their own, then I think theft is a fair description. But you are right that there is a clear legal distinction between theft and infringement. The context of the article you linked to seems more in relation to consumers who arguably infringe copyright e.g. sharing music/movies. Our situation is at the other end of the scale with wilful infringement to make profits. The law has a provision for damages in cases like this because there is a very real cost. Just the time wasted trying to stop Photojojo infringing has a cost. On a personal level, the photos are of a friend and she did not agree to be on the packaging of Photojojo's product. That Photojojo refused any compensation is a two faced attitude in regards to their own customer base, photographers, people they profess to love. As you mentioned there are many ways Photojojo could have created a win-win but they chose to abuse the situation. Thanks for your interest and understanding.

    3. Missing_small

      Creator Alex Block on September 26, 2013

      @Mark I definitely understand where you're coming from. If they choose not to partner with you, then make a campaign about buying a genuine HiLo lens and the benefits of it, not focusing on the negative impact of the knock-off. Many people in your situation end up making the situation worse by focusing on the negative side.

      Theft implies dispossessing something from someone. They haven't dispossessed anything from you (The concept of a lost sale is ridiculous). Understand that when someone uses something you have created (with or without your permission), they are giving you kudos. Use those kudos to your advantage.

      http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100913/22513210998.shtml

    4. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Leon Bryan on September 26, 2013

      @Mark so they used copyrighted photos to make a profit, I thought that was illegal... how can't you do anything about that? They've gotta owe you some $$! That ain't right if they don't

    5. Headshot.small

      Creator Mark Hampton on September 25, 2013

      @Leon their product does not infringe on our IP - it is the product packaging that caused the problem. We agree their solution it is not as elegant but we are happy to see competition. What annoys me is how Photojojo present themselves as friendly to photographers but then make money from selling photographs that are not theirs to sell. It is a two faced attitude. They are abusing their position in the market and we can't do much about it. By raising awareness of the issue I hope they will at least treat other entrepreneurs with more respect in the future.

      @Alex we did try discussing the issue with Photojojo and they refused to offer any compensation. Our preference was to reach a win-win where Photojojo benefit from selling stolen property and we also benefit in some way. The situation is now a lose-lose but I would rather that, than suffer their abusive attitude in silence. Theft is a strong word but I believe many photographers would agree with us that when Photojojo consciously chooses to use images without permission to make money then it is effectively theft. We can expect to see knockoff copies from China but to see that behavior actively supported by a US retailer like Photojojo is disheartening.

    6. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Leon Bryan on September 25, 2013

      Yeah, they might've borrowed your idea but they executed it poorly. Didn't you try the mirror method and find it to be unreliable?? If anything, I think they would be more than willing to put out a higher quality product than that dinky mirror

    7. Missing_small

      Creator Alex Block on September 25, 2013

      Before you break out the pitchforks and torches, let's take a moment to look at the big picture. Seriously.

      Copyright infringement is *not* theft. Repeat that three times before continuing.

      Instead of thinking of ways to combat this or take revenge on Photojojo (which will never end positively for the little guy), why not think of a way to use this to your advantage?

      Photojojo is a rather popular and well-known website. They are more popular than you. Why not ask the CEO to put a link to your site from within the description?

      "We are both purveyors of fine iOS accessories, why not work together?"

      If that doesn't work, make a campaign to spread the word that HiLo lens is soooooo awesome that a Chinese Knockoff manufacturer thought it was a great idea to copy and that if you want the genuine experience, get the HiLo. The counterfeit market makes your product more valuable by having competitors with clearly inferior products. Now when customers look at their options, who wouldn't pick the genuine product?

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