We are living in a digital age with advance media access all around us. There is a huge possibility of stealing images without any permission from the owner. This is very easy. All you need to do is place your cursor on the image and right click while selecting the option “Save Image as”. In this whole activity, no permission is required and it is merely a work of 2 seconds!
We have numerous cases where a famous blogger post photographs and people use those photographs in their own blogs without crediting to the owner of the photograph. No backlinks towards his blogs are given while using his/her asset. This is completely a case of Stealing!
Yes! This really matters if someone used your image without your permission. Now let us know what to do then if someone intentionally or unintentionally does this kind of act. After discussing the steps to claim your image we will focus on protecting your image from this act, as we know prevention is always better than the cure.
Is Your Image Stolen?
Before going into further procedures, you need to know that is your image is actually stolen or not? For this, you can use the following software, which is easily available online.
- Tiny Eye
- Google Image Search Feature
- Digimarc Searching Services
These will give you complete report about your image. They efficiently track the origin of images.
Now let us know about the steps that necessary while claiming your image is being stolen or taken.
Steps to Claim Your Image
Following are the steps to claim your image.
Step 1: Evidence Collection
The very first step is collect evidence that your image is being used without permission. For this, you can do reverse image search to find out where your image has been used. Other than that, you can use the image search feature of Google, which provides similar photo search. Following are the ways you can apply while collecting evidences.
- Copy the URL of the website page where your image is being used.
- Copy the full website page in HTML format. Everything will be included in it even the source code of the page.
- Now copy the image, which is being used by other party on their website.
- To know that the copyright information is present or removed from the stolen image you need to right click on the image and go to its properties to check details regarding it. Now, this is an important part, in case if the copyright is present then you cannot claim the image is being stolen.
- Gather information of website address, email address and IP address of the website. You need to be quick while doing this because the person who had copied may hide this information in near future.
- Next thing for collecting evidence is that you need to find out who is hosting the particular website where your image is being used.
- If the image is in newspaper or any advertisement then find a person who can witness that this image is present over there.
- If the image is used on the internet then take a screenshot of it.
Step 2: Do not take any Action
Yes, it sounds weird but it will work! This whole process requires a lot of effort and in the end, if it is not beneficial to you then you should not waste your time. Suppose if your image is present on a lot of sites then it will require a lot of effort to pull it down and later it will do come on other different sites. Website owners who copy the images are usually not representing their original identity or doing something fishy. You should realize others could use your image so it is very beneficial to watermark your image as it prevents other to copy it.
Step 3: Attribution
If your image is being copied without your permission then you should go for attribution. Friendly contact the owner of the website where your image is being used and ask him to add copyright in it. Ask him to enter a backlink to your website. This will be a good strategy for Search Engine Optimization as well. You can also say them next time they should ask before using the image.
Contact details of the website owner are normally given at the bottom of the landing page. In case if there are no details then that can be malicious website. In this case, you need to use a little strict language.
Step 4: Charges for Using the Image
This is a good approach. You can ask the website owner for the charges of using the image. A valid website will not go for the infringement. They will surely settle for paying and you will end up in good terms with them.
Step 5: Cease and Desist Letter
It is a special form of letter. It is used to give notice to the other about the authorization charges of the image. Following things must be stated in the letter
- Clear statement of using the image without the permission.
- Charges to use the image without permission.
- Ask them that the discussion to solve the issue is open.
- Demand of stop using the image within a limited time period.
- Contact details of yours to contact you regarding this matter.
Step 6: Digital Millennium Copyright Act Notice
This legal action allows you to shut down the website by contacting the internet service provider, the website which is responsible for using the image without notifying. Before jumping to this step, follow the above steps first. In case of no response of your Cease and Desist letter, then you should definitely go for this option. Notice of takedown of image must have the following things in it.
- Signature of copyright owner
- Identification of image which you are claiming
- Identification of website with complete address where image is being copied.
- Clearly, mention that you do not give authority to copy the image to any user in any way.
- Your accurate contact details so that internet service provider could contact you.
- Time period for taking down the image, which is being copied from you.
Step 7: Court Case
If after the legal notice the accused, party does not pay any attention then it is time for filing a small case against them to take down the image. Before filing the case the step 1 (collecting evidence) should be completed.
Step 8: Federal Court Case
If time period of 3 years has not been passed yet since stealing of image then you can also file a case in Federal court. This process involves many complications and it is a very long procedure. You will win the case if you have collected all the evidences accurately. For collecting evidences repeatedly check similar images on Google.
Prevention is better than Cure!
Avoiding these above long procedures is good. You need to protect your images by doing following things.
- Registration of your images on website in copyright. Copyright online system is also available.
- High-resolution photographs should not be posted, as their quality will be high will printing so it will be easy and eye-catchy while copying. Meanwhile, the images with low resolution look good on the website but they are not good in printing.
- No Right Click Option should be on the images so that no one can save them directly.
- While placing your image disable the hotlink Word Press provides protection against it.
- Most importantly always watermark your images. These images will almost be useless for the other parties. There are many watermark software available on the internet. You can use any of them as per your convenience.