/ Protecting photo copyright
I just wondered what steps people take to protect/avoid their photos from being used without permission? I've had issues with sellers on leading book and auction sites using my photos to sell phone covers, pillow cases, even framed photos. It seems very hard to do anything about as it is around nine sellers in total, and likely sourcing their stuff from wholesalers in China or similar. I contacted the websites but it seems I need to deal with the individual sellers in question, despite most of them selling the same products. I imagine it is also hard to prove that I took the original photos and not really worth my time/expense, given I don't sell my photos and therefore am losing no income.
I wondered what steps people took in the first place to avoid such situations? Reducing photo resolution, or adding footnotes or watermarks to photos for example? And with what software? I use PS Elements, otherwise any open source program recommendations would be welcome. Or is this just something that goes with putting your photos on the Internet? Sorry if this is quite a simple subject for this forum but it's something I've never really bothered to look into until recently.
You are concerned that people are infringing copyright on some photos you took of some pillow cases?
No, making pillowcase with my photo images.
This sounds interesting, can we see an example?
Not putting them on the internet is the best start you can make! Otherwise, a pig ugly watermark across the middle of the image, or use a service such as ImageRights.
Yeah just enter 'Shimshal Whitehorn' in a well known bookseller's website for example. You'll get more results for the .com and .ca versions. And that's just one photo image. It seems a losing battle to try and get this stuff off the net and figure it's better just to ignore it. Going forward it makes sense to me to be a bit more savvy about the matter though. The website that the images came from I no longer upload to due to it allowing the full size image to be downloaded by anyone.
Yes using an ugly watermark seems to defeat the point of uploading a photo in the first place, unless the image is for sale.
Sadly it’s nigh on impossible to stop someone stealing your picture if they really want to. Even a low res picture, say 640px on the long edge will print well enough on fabric for most domestic uses (cushions, canvas etc) at the price they’re selling at. There is a website developer who’s created something which tries its best though, Pixelrights if I remember correctly. Made by photographers, for photographers.. the sample site will deter all but the hardiest of copyright thiefs. But it’s not free.
> Yes using an ugly watermark seems to defeat the point of uploading a photo in the first place, unless the image is for sale.
I once heard someone refer to this as being akin to "shitting on the driver's seat to stop someone nicking your car"
I use Smugmug to host my website and they have a 'rightclick prevention' option to stop the simple 'save image' option. I also stick a watermark on ( it's geoffshoults.com if you want to have a look). They also allow you to set a max resolution for display purposes.
Using low res images will at least stop anyone using your image for anything that requires good quality.
In terms of proving that it's your image, I believe that possession of the original RAW file is accepted as proof.
I also use Elements and it's fairly easy to make a watermark brush ( I googled it ).
> I use Smugmug to host my website and they have a 'rightclick prevention' option to stop the simple 'save image' option. I also stick a watermark on ( it's geoffshoults.com if you want to have a look). They also allow you to set a max resolution for display purposes.
Unfortunately, it's a doddle to override that by taking a screenshot of the image. On the Mac (and no doubt a PC as well?) you can copy a particular image by taking a selective screenshot with shift-cmd-4. This will give you a png with identical quality to the original.
Ah, being a bit of a Luddite I wasn't aware of that. Oh well, it might deter the few people that are as hopeless as me then !
The long and short of it is you can't. My images are everywhere on the web and it takes too much time to track them all down. I personally hate watermarks so I just ensure where possible there's nothing bigger than 1500 pixels on the web. Once a year I do a reverse image search and then invoice anyone that's used my images without permission in a nice polite email. For those that pay up it's bonus money, for those that don't I really don't have time to chase them up. There's not a great deal someone can do with an image of that size though and it's rare for a large corporate company to it.
Lots of search engines and apps offering a reverse image search but google is a good place to start: https://images.google.com
> I use Smugmug to host my website and they have a 'rightclick prevention' option to stop the simple 'save image' option.
It's not very good then - just allowed me to right click and save any of the photos (using firefox). Does a better job with chrome, but even then you simply need to find where your browser caches the files (the image has to be downloaded locally before the browser can display them) - something, I would imagine, the average image pirate is more than adept at doing.
Taking a screendump won't (necessarily) give you an image of the same quality as the file as someone suggested above - this depends on the display quality, tool used to do the screendump, etc. Irrelevant though, as you can always get the file one way or another. Your UK mountain photo of the year downloaded to my device as DSCF1193_edited-3-X3.jpg (for example).
> Irrelevant though, as you can always get the file one way or another.
Indeed. The fact that it's appeared on your screen on a website means that the image has been downloaded - and if it can be downloaded in order to render when you view a website, there's no reason it can't be downloaded for posterity. Tricks like disabling right click might make it harder, but it's always possible if you're determined enough.
As copyright is a moral right you don't necessarily have to prove a loss of income in order to go after them for damages though. One of the good things about copyright breaches is that you could go after them for an account of profits on all the infringing items so if you think those selling items are making a tidy profit on your image then you can target the ones you go after selectively if you wanted to.
It won't stop them ripping off your photos but there's definitely potential for bringing in some windfalls from chasing them down!
Thanks everyone for the advice.
I like your suggestion James. It seems to avoid the aggressive confrontation and probably has the same outcome for someone like me who is not really motivated to take things further. I only know the going rate for photos being used for editorial purposes so need to do a little more research. If someone is selling my images then that should presumably carry a higher price tag. Think I'd rather go in a little low and point out the good value I am offering rather than be try to be greedy.
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