Boot Retailer’s Reputation: Unethical

I regret to learn that a boot retailer from which I have purchased many pairs of boots has behaved unethically, and after giving them a chance to explain themselves and not receiving any response or acknowledgment, I breathe a deep sigh and now have to pursue a copyright infringement claim against them. This situation is quite regrettable.

Back in 2008, I wrote my Guide to Motorcycle Boots and published it on my website. I included a copyright statement on that page, as well as have a strong copyright statement that covers all content and images on my website.

Unfortunately, JGear1, which does business as “onlinebootstore”, posted the full content of my Guide to Motorcycle Boots on their store’s blog without my permission.

I should be flattered that they thought that my Guide was useful and wanted to share it. But sharing it without asking me, and literally stealing its entire content — all words (except the copyright statement) and images — is unethical.

I wrote to them when I discovered what they did, but they have not responded. So now I have to pursue more formal legal action, which is regretful. For now, I changed the statement on my links page to say that I no longer recommend that company due to evidence of unethical behavior.

Not everything on the internet may be downloaded, copied, and reposted elsewhere. Most everything on the ‘net is copyrighted merely by being published on a website. Some of us have posted even stronger copyright statements, as I have.

I started writing copyright statements and pursuing action to protect my intellectual property (mostly images, but also text in my tutorials) back in 2007 when a guy who ran a Yahoo Group about boots kept posted my photos on his group site without my permission. When I communicated with him, he always claimed that he got the image from someone who sent it to him. He also did as I requested: took the image down and didn’t repost it.

There have been occasional occurrences of this happening on other sites as well. The most egregious “theft” was a minister in Pennsylvania who downloaded pictures of me and posted them on a gay dating site as himself. He was about to lure a guy from the West Coast to come to stay with him when the West Coast guy figured it out and communicated with me. I put a stop to that quickly by threatening to out the minister to his congregation.

Wetcop11I also have seen occasional postings of my photos in random other places. Sometimes, you can’t prevent it. That’s why I overwrite a copyright statement on images of cops and boots on my cop galleries. It’s regretful that I have to do that, but in the first year that gallery was posted, I saw my images on many other blogs and postings all over the ‘net, including the hotboots “boots on line” board (which is exceptionally responsive to concerns about image theft.)

I am really sorry that “onlinebootstore” will not own up to what they did and work with me on resolving this matter. I probably would have given them permission to post my work if they had asked, perhaps in return for a minor form of compensation. But not now. Since this company behaved that way, their reputation for trustworthiness is in question. I can’t recommend buying anything from them.

Life is short: protect your intellectual property.