Dealing with Online Image Theft

Most photographers can deal with a person taking on their photos and posting it on their website. It is even more ideal if the person credits the photographer in the caption for the image. Generally, because most people are of a decent elk this is what happens and it is not considered theft since in most cases, the photographer has posted the photo online for free personal use. As we are all aware though, the Internet is not lacking in unscrupulous individuals who thrive on profiting off someone else’s work.

Writers experience this as widespread plagiarism and although there are checks and software readily available – it is still a problem. Photographers on the other hand, experience this as stolen photos that are resold on a website. The direct consequence is loss of revenue and sometimes this can be long-term when these unscrupulous websites and their owners continue to sell these photos at throwaway prices.

The Misuse of Photos Posted Online  

When most people see photos posted online, they automatically assume that it is OK to use the photo without permission. In fact, most people will be surprised and sometimes even angry when you tell them to stop using your image. If they purchased the image for commercial use, then they have every right to use – the problem is most don’t purchase the images: they find an image online and simply download it and use it for whatever their purposes without consent from the photographer.

You might think that the best way to combat online image theft is litigation. This solution however can very costly both in terms of money and time and it is not viable for most people. It may become necessary to seek legal aid if the loss of the image means a loss in significant business revenue. Even if litigation is not an option for you, there are several things you can do to get your photos back;

  • If you find that your photos are being sold or used on a website without your consent, the best first step to take it to contact the website owner. It is not uncommon to find that the website owner is unaware especially if they are not involved in the daily running of the website. Ask them to remove the images nicely.
  • The second viable solution to help you deal with online image theft is to use DMCA takedown requests. This is where you ask Google to remove the images. You may have to fill out quite a bit of information and wait a little while for Google to take action but the process is very effective. Do this for all other major search engines and your images will be yours again.

In protecting your images against theft, there are various options employed by the major royalty free image sites since they are protecting their own income as well as for the photographers who contribute to the site, they have a vested interest in ensuring the safety of the images. But these are not the sites you should worry about.