Robert R. Fenichel


Theft of Intellectual Property


Remote Highways Limited was a trekking and mountaineering tour operator located in Auckland, New Zealand.  I became aware of them when I idly ran one of my photographs through the TinEye tool, and I found that Remote Highways was using it on their site, without permission or credit.  They could not possibly have claimed that the picture was actually theirs; I have the original slide.  They were using the photograph to promote their expeditions to Ramdang Go, and indeed the photograph was taken (on 20 November 1979) during an ascent of Ramdang Go.

I explored the Remote Highways site further, and I found that they were also using another of my images, one taken, as it happens, during the same ascent of Ramdang Go.  Strangely, Remote Highways was using it (again without permission or credit) to promote their expeditions to Pachermo, an unrelated peak.

Using TinEye, I checked several other images on Remote Highways' site.  Of the 8 images on their home page, 6 (including their page-header image) were copies of images found elsewhere on the Web.  Of course, it's possible that Remote Highways actually owned one or more of these images, and that the copying had been done by the other sites' owners.

Through a college classmate, I located Paul Sumpter, an intellectual-property lawyer in Auckland, and he tried to pursue Remote Highways, but (perhaps in fear of him) they have disappeared, and their Web site is now defunct.

Remote Highways' mischief outlived them for a while.  Further use of TinEye revealed that TinTin Trekking, a Nepal-based agency, was using three of my pictures, including the same two purloined by Remote Highways, and including (presumably copied from Remote Highways) the same false identification of a Ramdung Go scene with Pachermo.  Unlike the fly-by-night RHL crew, however, TinTin Trekking immediately responded to my inquiry, apologized, and had removed the misappropriated images from their Web site within a week.  That was in 2013.  Now (2017) at least one of them is back; I've written to them again.

Another of my pictures appeared, also without authorization or credit, on the Web site of Glorious Himalaya Trekking.  When I wrote to them, they removed it.  I haven't bothered to see how many other pictures on their site (none is credited to any outside source) are to be found elsewhere.

Beyond the intellectual-property aspects of this, one must be concerned about issues of safety.  When people use stolen images of a place, one must wonder whether they have ever been there to take their own pictures.  Would you travel above 5000 meters with these people? 




Page revised: 02/14/2017 10:15