Apple BMW of York Allegedly Accused of Stealing Image for Advertising Campaign

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Image taken from the Vossen Instagram. Used with expressed permission.

Editor’s Note/Update: Anthony got back to us and let us know that the ad was removed today.

One of the last things that you want to do as a big company is steal images for an advertising campaign. But apparently, that’s what Apple BMW of York is being accused of by Vossen Wheels. The image above was posted to the company’s Instagram account where they called out Apple BMW by stating,

Very upsetting to see this official BMW Dealership in York, PA have zero respect for our intellectual property. They just took this photo (shot by @tw0r) and removed the background and used it on their billboard. Apple BMW of York you will be hearing from our attorney very soon.”

After a reader tipped us off on our Instagram, we reached out to Vossen about what exactly happened. Creative Director Anthony Anderson replies stating that their owner is still in discussion about what actions will be taken, but in the meantime explained that the images were allegedly taken from the company’s Flickr. Alternatively, it could have allegedly been taken from their gallery on their website.

While Mr. Anderson is sure that the company won’t take legal action, he expressed that it is very upsetting as a photographer to see something like this happen–and he felt the need to bring awareness of the matter. “…to see someone take an image, alter it, and use it for promotion without asking is disrespectful.” stated Anthony. “I’m sure we wouldn’t mind if the company approached us and we could inform the photographer as well, but to see a photo printed on a billboard! We aren’t talking a Photo that was placed on a site or online ad, this was a billboard. It is just very upsetting to see and I wanted to bring awareness cause this is happening a lot now.”

Unfortunately for photographers, issues like this happen fairly often and the best ways to protect yourself from it is to either not put the photos online, disable right clicking on your website, or make sure that you have everything legally copyrighted and trademarked. While copyright occurs the moment that you take the image, it can be much tougher to win it over in a court of law.

We will update when we find out what happens with the issue later on.