This is a sad story about image thievery (again), and why I think it is so common on the internet. It is coming from a personal perspective, but I think there is much to be learned from it about how easy stealing images is nowadays and how (despite the law is on our side) it is sometimes very hard to fight. Being a photo stealing story, it obviously starts with one of my images being “borrowed”. I was considering my options. Each and every article on the web says talk to a lawyer, so I did. He basically said: You can’t do anything and you will never see any money.
Here is the Story: About one year ago I was on a lake with my daughter and my girlfriend. It was a nice day and I took some pictures, later I’ve edited these and wrote an article about “How to create magical family photos“.
Here is the most copied image from that article:
1. How to find stolen images
Every month I go through some of my images. using chrome I do a right-click on the image and hit “search for this image in google”, you will get a list of about 60 potential copyright infringements. A few of them are totally out of context, others are filtered and with text on it. Here is a screen capture of the search for the image above:
obviously DIYP is one of the finds, but there are others too. Some link to the original post as a resource which is kinda nice, but some reclaim the photo as their own.
So … what are the options?
2. Send an invoice
Yes, I’ve tried that before. You will likely never get an answer. For me (based in Germany) it’s quite hard to get any money from the international photostealers society (if they really took the trouble to make a guild).
The best response I ever got was: “The image is not watermarked, so what do you want?”.
3. File a DMCA takedown
Yes, I’ve tried that before. Find out who is the provider of the website is quite easy with the domain tools or whois.com. You can find a short FAQ about the DMCA-takedown as well as the required form here. If you have removed the content you can start with number one of this list again and wait for the next one.
4. File A Lawsuit
I’ve talked to a lawyer about it and basically here is what they had to say: You can try, it will cost you a huge amount of time and money and you will probably never see a dime.
If we break it down I would have to find a local lawyer, use them to files the claim and pay for litigation until the case is settled. While there is a good chance it will settle my way it won’t fe fast and it won’t be cheap and I’ll have to spend the time and money until the claim is settled.
This is not to say that I can not go through the lawyer/court thing, it is just to say that as someone living off shore from where I was infringed the time and money it will cost me to get this settled may cost more that the actual compensation I would receive.
5. Live with it
Yes, I’ve tried that before. For a long time every copy was balm for my soul, saying “Your images are not that bad”. It worked for a while very well. But as soon as you see you image for the first time filtered, badly cropped with some bullshit text in comic sans on it you might change your mind and go back to number 2 of that list.
6. write about it
Yes, I and trying this right now. It’s enough. I am really kind of angry right now. And yes – I will start with number one next month again.
Here are my personal TOP 3 Photostealers of this particular image
1) Greta Booklovers (used as a stock image for an “inspirational quote)
2) EscapadaRural (ad for some realastate + their watermark)
3) C. R. ESTRELLA RURAL (more hotel advertising. Maybe I should invest more in stock photography for realestate….)
So. Now I feel much better. Thank you for your time and feel free to share your story and/or advise in the comments.