Image theft is a significant problem for individuals and businesses with an online presence, especially those who use images to promote their products or services. The motives for image theft can range from personal use to fraudulent activities, leading to financial losses and reputational damage.
Photographers and businesses have had their images stolen and used without permission, and some have even had their entire websites cloned to sell counterfeit products. Protecting ideas online can be done in various ways like:
- Always Add Your Watermark
Wondering what watermarking is and how to watermark photos online? A subtle and neat way to deter casual image theft is to add a small section of text or a logo to the corner of a photo, also known as a watermark. This helps to stamp ownership onto your photos and prevent opportunistic copyright infringement.
It’s essential to ensure that the watermark is not too intrusive or distracting, and reducing the opacity can help negate any adverse effects on the appearance of the photo. Adding watermarks can be done in Photoshop or a batch using any photoshopping tools online.
- Do Not Use Original/High-Resolution Photo
Sharing high-resolution files online can be risky, making it easier for others to misuse them and harder for the original photographer to prove ownership. Instead, ensure to compress image files; exceptions to this rule include services that use high-resolution files but display lower resolutions to viewers. A good rule of thumb is to limit online image sharing to solutions that provide a good viewing experience but need to be more suitable for printing reproductions, such as 1600px.
- Register For Copyright For All Your Content
When you post original content on your website, you automatically have the rights to it. However, registering your work with Copyright offices enhances security and provides legal image protection against theft. Registering your work also allows you to claim damages in case of infringement and increases the chances of covering legal expenses. While the registration process varies from country to country, it ultimately strengthens ownership rights and makes legal proceedings faster and easier.
- Include a Copyright Notice
Including a copyright notice with your images is crucial for protecting them online. It alerts users that the image is private property and they cannot use it without permission. The notice should include the copyright symbol or word, recent year, “All Rights Reserved” statement, your name or company, and the date range and contact information optionally. Failure to include a notice could result in legal action against infringers.
- Add Exif Data
To protect your images, consider adding Exif data to them. Exif data stores important information about your ideas, such as camera settings and lens information. You can also add additional information, such as copyright details or website links, to help protect your images. This feature is accessible and editable through image editing tools but is not widely known or used by non-professionals.
- Opt For a DMCA Badge
The DMCA protection badge is a graphic used to indicate that content is DMCA protected and indexed on their protected website lists. This badge is a paid service that provides various protection tools to deter theft and illegal use of content. These tools include automatically watermarking images with your brand and copyright license information. The DMCA protection service is widely recognized and used to protect photos and other content online.
- Use Digital Signature
Protecting images online with digital signatures is a modern and effective method that uses electronic signatures created with mathematical algorithms to validate content authenticity. Unlike watermarks, digital signatures can be used as an image attribute without disrupting image quality. In addition, they can be easily created using image editing tools or software.
What Should You Do When You Find Your Image Being Used Without Permission?
Take Action Against the Infringer
While various methods exist to protect images online, they may only sometimes guarantee complete protection. If you discover that your pictures have been stolen, acting against the infringer is essential.
Check for Hotlinking
If you discover another website is using your images, you should first check if the images are hosted on their server. If the images are hosted on their server, check if they have provided any backlinks. If they have not, politely ask for one.
Write An Email
If they still refuse to provide a backlink or remove your images, write a polite email requesting them to do so. Please wait for a few days and see their actions. This is a professional way to deal with such situations initially.
Protecting images online is crucial for individuals and businesses who use visual content to promote their products or services. However, suppose your images are being used without permission.
In that case, taking action against the infringer is essential by checking for hotlinking, writing a polite email, and seeking legal assistance. Individuals and businesses can avoid financial losses and reputational damage by taking proactive measures to protect images online.