If you’re putting images on your blog, one thing you’ll find is that people will steal them. It’s unfortunate that you can’t just post content for people to enjoy without that happening. If your content and your bandwidth are being stolen, that can also cause you hosting problems. That’s something you’ll want to avoid, but you might not know how to do it. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to find and stop the people who are taking your images.
The DMCA and Web Hosting
It’s upsetting to find your image on another site, stolen from you and used without your permission. If you’ve contacted the person operating the site and he or she won’t remove the stolen image, you can file a DMCA notice. The DMCA, or Digital Milennium Copyright Act, is designed to protect people from content thieves on the Internet. It’s a very specific document, which must provide certain information. This includes:
- A clear, sufficiently detailed description of the work that belongs to you.
- Clear information on the site, page, etc., that is infringing on your copyright.
- A method to contact you, such as a phone number or email address.
- A statement indicating that you are making the claim in good faith and the use of your images is not authorized on the site where it was found.
- A statement swearing that the information you have provided is accurate.
- Your signature.
Since some specific language is required, most people choose to use a “boilerplate” DMCA notice, and fill in the blanks regarding their information. That can help to ensure that they provide the correct legal statement to the host site when they send the DMCA notice.
Before taking any legal action it would be best to just ask the website owner to take down the stolen image as that can work in most situations, if that fails you can use Who Is Hosting This.com to find out who is hosting the website and send a DMCA takedown request directly to the host – in most situations this is enough to get the image removed as hosting companies are obliged to act upon DMCA takedown requests.
When you find your stolen images on another site, remember:
- Make sure the image is yours, and that it’s not attributed (or paid for) properly. You want to be sure the usage is not authorized.
- Contact the person who owns or runs the site, explain the issue, and ask that the image be removed. If it is removed, follow up to make sure it’s not put back up later.
- If the person ignores your correspondence or refuses to remove the image, file a DMCA notice.
- Work with the site host to have the image removed or the site shut down, whichever becomes necessary to protect your copyright.
Tools and Techniques for Protecting Your Images
Disabling the right-click option is a common way for people to think they’re protecting their images. It’ll work on a very novice image thief, but it’s not going to work on people who are used to stealing images. It can also really annoy people who use right click for other reasons, and aren’t trying to steal anything from you. You’ll have to decide whether the small measure of protection is worth the potential for aggravation.
Putting watermarks on your images is a great way to help protect them. While it’s possible to remove the watermarks, it takes work and most people don’t know how to do it. Because of that, it works pretty well as a way to discourage thieves from taking your blog images. Adding watermarks isn’t difficult and doesn’t take that long, so it’s well worth doing.
Shrink wrapping your images can also work. Thieves will download your image, but when they open it they’ll find that it’s a different image from the one they thought they were getting. It’s frustrating for them, and when they see that they’re not going to get the images they wanted from you, they’ll generally move on. It’s possible for them to get around this, but it takes work. Most image thieves are fairly lazy, and they’re going to go find a different blog that has images that are easier to steal.
Slice and dice
Slice and dice is a method of breaking up an image. It looks fine on your blog, but when someone clicks on the image to try to download it, they’ll only get a small piece of it. In most cases, they won’t think it’s worth the effort to download all the pieces and reassemble them. They’ll move on and target another blog, instead of yours.
TinEye is a great tool you can use in conjunction with image protection techniques. It allows you to do a reverse image search and find sites using your images. That can help you quickly locate problems you’ll need to address, and contact those individuals or companies that have stolen your images. If you check frequently, you’ll be able to catch image thieves before they use your image for too long or take too many of them.
The sooner you discourage thievery from your blog, the better off you’ll be. Word gets around, and if you actively protect your images and fight to have them removed, you’ll become less of a target over time. It’s important to remember that the copyright belongs to you, but you have to defend it. Other people aren’t going to police it for you. By not doing anything when people steal your images, you’re allowing Internet thievery to continue.
A combination of techniques works best to stop people from stealing images from your blog. Disable your right-click, slice and dice your images, watermark them, shrink wrap them, and use TinEye to find them when they somehow get stolen anyway. Then make sure you get them removed from the site that used them without your permission.
Be careful of anything that could cause a usability issue for your users, at that point you have to weigh up the pro’s and con’s in terms of how much this could affect your websites users.
It’s an ongoing issue, but don’t you think your images are worth protecting?