Unauthorized Image Use......

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by OnTheFly7, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. OnTheFly7

    OnTheFly7 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Curious what you folks do to prevent unauthorized use of your images.

    There seems to be one segment of events that I regularly shoot, who feel it is just fine to snag images from social media sites. They then use the images on their own social media sites with out giving credit.

    I place my logo on each image. They simply crop it out. I have gone so far as to lighten the opacity of the logo and span it the width of the image. They take that image and use it as is. It is not one person either. It is this specific group (and by group, I mean segment. Many people, within the same sport) that continually does it. As you can imagine, it is getting old.

    B(*ching aside, I'd appreciate some input on what you folks do.

    Thank You.


     
  2. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    First, send them a DMCA Takedown notice. If ignored, find out who hosts the site they're posted on and send them the same notice. After that, any legal action is up to you.
     
  3. snowbear

    snowbear Big Furball Supporting Member

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    Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any real way to prevent it, other than not posting. Not a real solution, but the way things seem to be at the moment.

    Since this is only a hobby for me, I actually give some of my photos away on a royalty-free site.
     
  4. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If they have been notified and continue to steal images ... it quickly become quite irritating. Are you a pro? Do you sell your images? If they are infringing upon your livelihood, you have s real claim against with real damages. The fact that they removed the copyright takes from accidental to malicious. If you are really really pissed, hire an attorney and sue them. If you cannot prove any "monetary damages", then you won't see anything much in return for your troubles. If you can find an attorney to take the case, it'll cost you several hundred bucks just getting started. Most attorneys will give you the first hour for free.

    Sparky's advice is a good start. Hit the host with an attorney letter, that will most likely give you the best ROI.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
  5. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Just keep in mind: Legal action requires two big hurdles. One, your images be registered with the USCO. Lacking this, you simply cannot pursue any legal action.

    Second, all actions are in federal court (as the Copyright Act is a federal law). There is no 'Small Claims' federal court.
     
  6. Gary A.

    Gary A. Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The USCO filing, IIRC, is a given for a monetary award ... but not necessary for filing a case. Yes, this is a Federal case.
     
  7. lundrog

    lundrog TPF Noob!

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    I host all my images (but the ones I put on Facebook, the low quality doesn't concern me then) in a SmugMug account and then do a watermark overlay.
     
  8. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    You might be able to initiate a case prior to registration, but I think you're gonna need to have it in hand before the court will even agree to hear it.

     
  9. AceCo55

    AceCo55 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I am in exactly the same situation.
    I shoot local sports, so your situation may be different. If I were shooting "art" or landscapes I would have to change my thinking.

    I only post lowish resolution images on my website and I do put my watermark dead centre on every one of them.
    I use an embossed effect with a drop shadow, reduce the opacity to zero, then change the blend mode to something (I haven't made a new one up for years). The beauty of this is that it is semi-transparent and shows up on both dark and light backgrounds.

    It makes absolutely no difference. They are still happy to screenshot them with the watermark.
    People will even whip out their phones to show me my photos they have saved!

    I have changed my attitude about people taking screenshots when they are just using it for social media
    (I simply can not do anything about it &/or it isn't worth my while to try and chase up infringements).

    If they take a screenshot, it comes with a free advertisement for my website - they can't crop it out and most would not have the skill (or inclination) to remove it with content-aware fill.
    So I'm OK with it's digital use ... but I WILL chase them down if they try to print.

    I had a photography store email me to say someone came in and wanted to print one of my photos - complete with my watermark! Fortunately the store had some ethics and, because I had my watermark on it, they were able to contact me.

    If is has my watermark - it has NOT been purchased ... BUT it still advertises my website.
    Bit of a win-win I'd say.
     
  10. OnTheFly7

    OnTheFly7 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    First.......

    Thank you to everyone who replied so far. I figured this was a major problem and that I was not the only one experiencing this. It is too bad really.

    AceCo55.......

    I shoot many things, but my focus is on sports as well. The sport that I am referencing is not a main stream sport to some, however, it amazes me that they do this because it takes a decent amount of money to participate in it. The thing that really irritates me about the entire thing, is just ask. The most recent example is a school is honoring their graduating seniors and showing images of them on their Facebook page. If you liked the image, contact me. For something like this, I more than likely would say yes.

    Would you mind sharing an image of how you watermark your images? I am not sure I want to do this, as I feel it takes away from the image, but it may be the only way!

    On a lighter note, off to shoot something new this weekend and really looking forward to it!

    Thank you again to those who replied.
     
  11. astroNikon

    astroNikon 'ya all Bananas I tell 'ya Supporting Member

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    I've noticed some photographers also putting a watermark really miniscule on the photo somewhat hidden. So if someone stated they didn't steal it and crop off the main logo all it takes is a quick zoom to see their watermark.

    Doesn't stop the stealing. But it certainly helps identify where the image actually came from one someone denies it and didn't scan really up close over the entire image.
     
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  12. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    http://www.photoattorney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Excuses-excuses.pdf

    As long as you have started the application process to register your copyrights with the US Copyright Office you can file an infringement action in Federal court.

    A DCMA takedown notice carries way more weight when it includes your copyright registration number(s).
    Copyright registration is not needed to use the DMCA takedown notice and you can be awarded from $2,500 to $25,000 - plus attorney fees and costs - for each infringed image.
    Two Easy Steps for Using the DMCA Takedown Notice to Battle Copyright Infringement

    You have a limited time (90 days) from discovery of an infringement and registering your copyright if you want to seek actual or statutory damages in Federal court.
    With a registered copyright, willful infringement, like when someone crops away your watermark or uses it with your watermark still in place, allows the court to award the maximum statutory award which is $150,000 per infringed image PLUS all of your court costs and your attorney fees. Note too that your attorney does have to prove willful infringement to qualify for the maximum statutory award.

    Even if they take the images down as long as you have proof of the infringement, like screen shots, you can still file an infringement action and still have the opportunity to prevail in court and be awarded damages.

    If you register your copyright after the statutory damages time limit you can still file an action for actual damages.
    However, actual damages are hard to quantify and are often substantially less than the provided for statutory damages awards.
    Also the court may not include your court costs as part of an actual damages award.
    Help! I’ve Been Infringed! |
    Registering Your Copyrights Using the eCO System
    Five Things You Can Do to Protect Your Online Images |
     

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