Identity Crisis: Protecting Yourself From Image Theft


For a photographer who makes his or her living from licensing copies of our work, it is frustrating to see simply how without problems pics may be downloaded from websites, shared on social media, or in any other case used without consent or repayment. Even worse, to have one’s personal likeness and photos fraudulently used to create a fake identification. I myself have been the sufferer of photograph-theft several instances; most these days I located one of my commercially-to be had pics appearing on over a dozen websites, and even posted on a book cover… Despite by no means having sold an unmarried license of that photograph.

Image robbery has usually been a situation, however, the proliferation of era has made it virtually clean to scouse borrow photographs – as easy as replica and paste. To prove my point: I simply stole right off the Getty Images website whilst writing this article. (No want to name the police officers… I pilfered my very own work.) Getty has replica safety measures in the area, and whilst you hover your mouse pointer over the photograph, it pops up a larger version with a big watermark over it. I liked the un-watermarked version of the picture higher, so I just hit the “Print Screen” button on my computer and pasted a display screenshot into my pix application (heck… A phrase processor might paintings just as well). I cropped to the region I desired and in maybe 60 seconds overall… Voila! Free content. Probably would have taken even much less time if I used my iPhone.

For a technology raised on Facebook and Twitter, photo-theft is not against the law in their minds or done with a malicious cause… It’s just a regular part of each day existence to proportion and re-proportion content. The best way to sincerely prevent our paintings from being shared to death is to in no way post it online at all. But that’s now not a sensible choice in latest internet-enabled, telephone-crazy society. So permit’s count on a worst-case situation: you have published your valuable pix on the Internet, and some nameless man or woman obtainable has maliciously grabbed a replica and used them without your consent. What can you do about it?


In the USA, you are the copyright owner of a photographic photograph from the moment you press the shutter button. This is right news, due to the fact Federal copyright legal guidelines shield our works from picture robbery as soon as we create them. There are some exceptions to this rule, consisting of when a “work for rent” association is in impact and a customer is paying the photographer for the copyright to pictures. There has to be no criminal grey location in that respect because the photographer and customer could have a formal agreement saying as a great deal.

The horrific news is that the copyright robotically granted by using Federal Law does not come with all the bells and whistles, only the rights to defend our works and manage usage. It does not also permit for remuneration – the proper to sue for monetary repayment. In order to take a copyright violator to court and ask for money inside the agreement, the picture wishes to have additionally been registered with the Library of Congress. There is a modest charge, and paperwork to be filed in conjunction with copies of the image(s) to be copyrighted… Well really worth the funding.

It is important to word that copyright law additionally imposes some limits on copyright holders. Fair Use legal guidelines exist that allow for our pics for use and reproduced, without consent, when it’s miles for the advantage of the hundreds. Typically, Fair Use falls under the kinds of information reportage, schooling, and different non-business makes use of. For instance, a college professor may additionally legally snatch an image off an internet site, to use in a school room presentation. But that equal photo, copied off the internet site and posted in a textbook that’s available for sale at the campus book save is now a count of copyright violation.

A commonplace misconception I come upon often, specifically the various models I work with, is that being the challenge of a picture someway presents that character copyright possession as well. In fact, being the man or woman in a photo offers no copyrights in any way, until you have a proper settlement declaring in any other case. However, you still have prison rights on the subject of issues like slander, if the snapshots are used to intentionally misrepresent you or damage your popularity.


Don’t assume Facebook or Twitter to behave on your behalf if a person is stealing your photos and posting them there. Their Terms of Service agreements (those long-winded texts we all conform to whilst creating our consumer debts) have verbiage in them designed to shield their businesses from legal responsibility due to copyright or Intellectual assets infringements. I would move a step in addition and suggest that huge social media clearly encourages photograph robbery and copyright violations, inside the guise of content material-sharing and re-sharing. Anything that brings users back for more posting, viewing, liking and commenting method hundreds of thousands more hits on their pages, and thousands and thousands of greenbacks in sales from all the blatant marketing they host there.

Where social media websites will paintings for your behalf is in cases of Identity robbery. It’s envisioned there are something like 80 million faux user profiles on Facebook on my own – many of those used by advertising organizations or “bot” software to spam us with advertising or to enhance numbers in a fan base. But some are fraudulently trying to play themselves off as someone they are now not. In the modeling enterprise, it is unfortunately as an alternative common that a model’s photographs are stolen to create a faux online profile. The reasons vary: perhaps it is a fan who is fishing for private snapshots of the version. Or a disgruntled character trying to slander another. I’ve also visible my model images stolen and used on erotic Escort websites; I have to believe a few clients are amazed whilst the lady who indicates up at their door isn’t the lovely version they picked out online. More ominously, faux profiles had been used to gather actual-lifestyles contact facts from fashions like telephone numbers, addresses, passwords and extra.

As with all legal matters: if you have unique concerns, it’s fine to are searching for the advice of professional legal counsel. There are lawyers specializing in copyright troubles or identify theft. If you do discover a faux online profile together with your call and identification, please contact the website hosting web page or carrier immediately. Most websites like Facebook have a page of their Help system wherein users can record a fake profile or perceive robbery.


It is surely not possible to absolutely defend your snapshots when they were posted online. Using handiest small, low-decision variations of pix can be a deterrent, but most effective for folks that care about stealing first rate imagery. Years ago, internet site coders developed “scripts” to disable viewers from using a right mouse button to replicate and paste a photograph from a website. But it truly is easily circumvented via such low-tech techniques because the Print Screen method I stated in advance. Digital Rights Management and photo-tracking programs were created in an try to permit copyright holders to observe how and in which their pictures are getting used online. But once more, those strategies are pretty effortlessly defeated.

To date, the most inexpensive and fine choice for preventing theft nevertheless seems to be the inclusion of huge watermarks on snapshots. Yes, a semi-transparent brand across an image does make our paintings a little unpleasant. But it also seems to be a turn off to many ability photograph copiers. And it acts as a big red flag, letting website viewers recognize that someone out there’s using a photograph without permission. It’s not an idiot-proof method; In my line of labor, many aspiring models simply don’t appear to care if they are posting an image of themselves with the phrases “Proof Copy” throughout it. And watermarks can every now and then be without problems eliminated in Photoshop. I myself have had one among my photos stolen, watermark eliminated, and the modified photo then used on print flyers selling certainly one of Chicago’s largest annual parades. The count number becomes resolved privately, and I might not expose any names.