image theft: how to find your stolen images

Today we'd like to share a helpful post from Mimika Cooney. "This makes me mad. Real mad. It's something that really grates my cheese! I discovered that there is another photographer who has blatantly stolen my images from my website and posing like it's his own! Seriously people? It's called copyright theft and he should be wearing an orange jump suit. It's wrong for the families who commission him to capture their baby because he will never be able to give them what they think he can provide. In Latin it's called “caveat emptor” - buyer beware. Just because the internet has given us easy access to beautiful images due to Facebook and Pinterest, it's never acceptable to steal. It's illegal no matter how you look at it. I don't vent very often because once you get me started I can give a huge piece of my mind, but this just needs a soap box."

Here is how to see if you're work has been ripped off:

1) Go to http://images.google.com/ 

2) Click on the camera icon on the right of the search box (next to the blue search button).

3) You can type in the direct URL or you can upload the image itself. The down side is you can only do one image at a time, so I picked my most used ones that I know are on my website. Google Images uses a sophisticated algorithm that trawls the internet for the best match. To quote their website: “How Google Images works”¦ Google's robots analyze dozens of factors on and about webpages (like captions, descriptions, and other contextual information) to understand and index the images on the Web. Google also applies sophisticated algorithms to the Images index to remove duplicates and to ensure that the highest-quality results show up first.”

4) So the results will list the websites with links to where the image can be found. I scrolled down and found the offending website that has no correlation to my work. Be careful when you click on the extra images... you may find some “distasteful” images in the results.

So what do we do next? The first thing you can do is send a firm email (and certified hard copy letter) to the offender notifying him/her that you are aware of their copyright infringement and ask for it to be removed within 48 hours. Usually this gets a quick response but if not, you can get a lawyer involved. Some photographers have actually taken a “name it and shame it” approach. While we do not condone mob mentality, we have seen posts on blogs and social media outlets calling out the worst image theft offenders. Some have found a barrage of emails or posts seems to be a quick and effective solution to handling those who steal images. Another effective approach (which we do condone!) is to collect screen shots and email the offender's web host to present your well organized case. Here is a link to a bold site that calls out a photo theft..tell us what you think: http://stopstealingphotos.tumblr.com/

So the moral of the story is: 1) Always watermark your images when ever and where ever you post them online (website, blog, Facebook, Pinterest). Even though in theory Pinterest is supposed to keep the link to the originating website, it doesn't always stay in place so watermarking is only way to keep your name associated with your work. 2) Always resize your images to a web size at 100ppi (I've tried 72ppi but the images look grainy), NEVER upload full resolution 300ppi images...that's just asking for trouble. Anyone can download it full resolution and print it at this size. 3) Run an action to add the copyright info on your images. Lightroom offers the metadata facility when importing your images from your camera card, but I redo it anyway through Photoshop before uploading. You can check this by opening your image, clicking on 'File Info' and adding your name in the author section and your web address.

Good luck! Tell us your experiences with Image Theft and protecting your own work. We would love to hear your stories~




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