How to Find Your Stolen Photos Online

If you work as a photographer long enough, your pictures are going to be used without your permission somewhere. Tracking down where that's happened can be tough, but this great video will help you in that endeavor.

I'm personally not excessively stringent in pursuing every instance I find of my images being used without my permission online. It would be far too time-consuming to do so, so I generally just roll my eyes and move on. Where I do draw the line, however, is when that usage is in a manner that should either be generating money for me or is misrepresenting someone else to generate money for them. However, even just tracking down commercial misuses can take a good chunk of time, so it helps to automate the process a bit, as Anthony Morganti demonstrates in this video. One great trick is setting up Google alerts for your images or even using a paid service that will allow you to apply imperceptible watermarks to your photos and then crawl the web for them. In the end, it comes down to balancing how big a problem it is for you vs. the amount of effort you want to put in to rectify it. 

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13 Comments

David Love's picture

I spend about 4 hours every week just sending takedown notices when someone sees my work being used. Reddit and Imgur exist to share stolen images and they know it, so they drag their bums removing anything and by then it's everywhere. I'd love to be part of a class action suit to bring them down if anyone ever starts one. (Just a nice dream I have.)

Josiah Moore's picture

I'm always torn, because I've had a few images/videos go viral through reddit. But a few times it wasn't from my upload. So I got NO huge benefit. A little instagram boost, but that's it. Would it be better to use massive branding or watermarks to circumvent this?

Have you had any luck one way or another with overcoming theft in this way?

David Love's picture

I watermark just so I can prove the image is mine to these sites and I also include the cosplayer or models name. Instagram crops so that ruins that but twitter and facebook don't so at least if they don't credit, the credit is still there. I'm not business to help others make money using my work to promote their companies so I don't mess around when I find something. Too many people letting it slide is probably why people figure they will take the chances.

I just logged in to say both you and Josiah Moore's work are super inspiring!

Josiah Moore's picture

Thank you Reza!

Josiah Moore's picture

That's super fair David. That's the part that is most frustrating, is seeing other companies or individuals making money off my work. And sometimes they even crop out the watermark etc. Happens more with my video work than photos actually. I'm flagging stuff on fbook every week it feels like.

Wish there was a strong repercussion available. It's frustrating that it's up to me to police my own work. Oh well...happy creating! :)

I use to check myself all the time too, but then I just handed it over to copytrack. It can take ages, and most of the cases are rejected but I still got a lot of money for some of my images, which was nice considering they handled it all. it's not 100 per cent success, but as it's completely free I can't complain aha.

Mark Niebauer's picture

I even used Pxsy with no luck. Like everyone, they just want your money and then they leave. Story of the millennials.

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