I Hate Image Theft

Today was a long day, its always a long day when I have to go to school. Im in the final stretch of my senior year of high school with only a few months left. Im one foot out the door already if i'm being honest, I have a bigger focus on outside projects than actual schoolwork at this point. I take my photography and my brand very seriously. I care about the art that I make and I believe that in return people care and respect it as well. But every so often I find myself in a unfortunate place just like I did today that makes me second guess myself. 

 Cristian Colmán of FC Dallas celebrates scoring against Colorado (Also the image that was stolen by the blog) | Shot with Nikon D500 w/ Nikkor 80-200 f2.8

Cristian Colmán of FC Dallas celebrates scoring against Colorado (Also the image that was stolen by the blog) | Shot with Nikon D500 w/ Nikkor 80-200 f2.8

I received a text from one of my friends, and current photo intern for the Texas Rangers, Dylan asking me if this blog had gotten my permission to use my image. I clicked the link to find my photo plastered all over their social and website. Not cool.

Things like this frustrate the hell out of me. It seems like something so small, but to me as a creator you are taking advantage of me. I have spent time and money to the place where I am able to even to get that shot. I don't work for free, no one does, so why should you think its okay to steal my content. 

People like to say that it is partly on us as the photographers. I like to post my work and some of it I post without watermarks. But in no way does that make me any bit of an accomplice in that crime. I do protect my work with watermarks, but even then I still get people stealing or altering my work to get the watermark out. I have metadata on all my photos, I have a service that helps me detect theft, and constantly me and other photographers keep our eyes out for potential theft. I understand anytime I post a photo on social media it could go anywhere, but when it ends up as a leader photo on one of the largest papers in Argentina thats outrageous.

Publications should know better, people should know better. You wouldn't walk out of a museum with a Picasso, so why are you doing that online?

 FC Dallas Matt Hedges scores a goal against CS Cartagines (Also the image that was stolen by newspaper  La Nación  | Shot with Nikon D500 w/ Nikkor 80-200 f2.8

FC Dallas Matt Hedges scores a goal against CS Cartagines (Also the image that was stolen by newspaper La Nación | Shot with Nikon D500 w/ Nikkor 80-200 f2.8

Taking care of issues like this is usually pretty easy. If i'm being honest Most of the time if its a amateur website/blog or some Twitter user. There are very easy ways to help protect your work as a freelancer. 

  • Watermark your photos: If your image gets stolen and you don't know about it the watermark can help the photo find its way back to you. Also, you at least feel somewhat confident in posting that image to social media.
  • Copyright Photos in Your Metadata: Protect your images, add your info to your image. Here is a video that shows you how to do it in Lightroom. 
  • Keep an Eye Out: I use a website call Pixsy to essentially watch over my photos for me. It reverse image searches with the images you feed to and gives you matches around the web. You can file claims and takedowns of those images allowing you to make money on stolen photos as well.
  • Twitter: This is where I get the most issues, filing a DMCA takedown request is easy with Twitter. Just fill out this form.
  • Instagram: filing a DMCA takedown request is also easy with Instagram. Just fill out this form.

As a photographer you have to protect your work. It can seem like you're being an ass by demanding payment or filing a takedown but you are protecting your value as a creative. Stay frustrated but don't be defeated.