I've had people take watermarked photos off of my website and put them on their sites. Which seems pretty stupid, but people never cease to amaze me at this point.
Why Does It Matter?
You might not think this is a big deal. After all, don't brides look at lots of cake photos for inspiration? So if you think that you can do the same cake design, why shouldn't you be able to put the picture of someone else's work on your site?
Because it's not your work, it's not your photo that you have the rights to use, and it's deceptive advertising.
This is how many a cakewreck is born.
An unsuspecting customer orders a cake based on beautiful pictures without knowing that the person they're hiring can't really do the work that's pictured. When the final product is delivered, it's a less-than-excellent representation of the original.
Buyer beware doesn't cover this, since the seller is misrepresenting what they can do in the first place.
This is such a big issue, a group has sprung up on facebook called "Stop the cake thief." You might want to join it to keep track of possible thievery.
How To Spot The Phonies
If you're hiring a baker, always check a few things.
1. Is the skill level in the photos that you're being shown similar? If some cakes are super-neat and others are really sloppy, they might not all be by the same person.
2. Are the photos similar in style or all over the place? If some of the cakes are photographed professionally and others are plopped on a kitchen counter with the family dogs in the background, they might not have been taken by the same person. When you start looking for this it will be pretty obvious.
3. Look at the cake boards. Most people do their cake boards in a similar way every time. If some of the boards in the person's photos are covered with fondant and ribbons, and others are covered with wrinkled tinfoil from a roll, it's likely that the cakes weren't made by the same person.
Any other tips for spotting the thieves? Add your tips if you have suggestions!