Illustration einer Sonnenfinsternis als Realbild

Paid Out More Than 40 Times ► Japanese Artist Pursues Worldwide Image Theft

A black sun floats above the Milky Way, a planet below is covered by clouds. This picture probably looks familiar to you, as it is often shared on social networking sites during a solar eclipse. In fact, it is not a picture taken from the International Space Station (ISS), but a much used and (too) often stolen illustration by Ryuunosuke Takeshige, an illustrator specializing in space imagery. His image of the solar eclipse is used again and again without a valid license worldwide – reason enough for Ryuunosuke Takeshige to be resentful. Here he tells us his exciting story.

Illustration Wolken im Weltall

As a child, I was impressed by the Hubble Space Telescope images. But since the camera and telescope were out of my reach, I spent my time drawing images from space. At some point I learned that there are people who actually work as scientific illustrators and create images for picture books and articles on websites. I thought “that’s my job”!

As I was developing my skills more and more, the interest in my work grew. Over the years I was able to turn my passion into my profession. Today I create official artwork for satellites and  for colleges such as Tokyo University and Yale University.

With Success Comes Image Theft - Takeshige Is No Exception

Where there is light, there is also darkness. There is a direct correlation between how unique and special a work is and the increasing number of unlicensed uses – without a valid license or even permission from the author. Takeshige describes his  experiences as follows:

Again and again I heard of illegal uses of the solar eclipse picture on the internet. At some point I added a note on my web page asking for assistance with the search for illegal uses of the picture. I received emails from all over the world alerting me to illegal uses.

As I checked the content of each email, it turned out that, in addition to many private uses of the image, there were also commercial uses, such as for packaging or multiple ads on commercial websites.This was a step too far.

So I started sending cease and desist notices. To begin with it was only a few, but as time went by it became more and more – in the end I sent up to 60 emails a day and could hardly concentrate on my work anymore.

Copytrack Helps Takeshige And Takes On Prosecution

I became aware of the Copytrack service via Twitter. The service promised to claim damages for the illegal use of pictures without any costs to the author. That sounded promising and so I registered immediately.

After my registration at Copytrack I was surprised how many potentially illegal uses they found and how many possible royalties I had lost. By using Copytrack I was able to represent my rights outside Japan for the first time, something I had given up on before. I also find it very pleasant that they have Japanese speaking staff – so I don’t have to communicate in English all the time.

By registering with Copytrack, I was able to drastically reduce the time I had previously spent tracking illegal image use and could concentrate fully on my work.

With the support of Copytrack, more than 40 infringers have already acquired a subsequent license for Ryuunosuke Takeshige’s solar eclipse image.

► Ryuunosuke Takeshige

Takeshige lives and works in Kanagawa, Japan. He has made the universe his specialty. As a freelance scientific illustrator, he creates images of astronomy and space. He is responsible for the official artworks of the X-ray astronomy satellite “Hitomi”, the space satellite “Haseji” and the Japanese Mars mission “MMX”, which is scheduled for launch in 2024. He is also responsible for illustrating work from the University of Tokyo and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (published in the English Science Journal “Nature”).

You can find more images by Ryuunosuke Takeshige here.

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