More than 80% of the images uploaded and posted on the internet are stolen or used without permission from their photographers or owners. With the popularity and fast growing improvement of the Internet, it is very easy for users to download, copy, use, and redistribution.
We will have a look at different ways you can use to protect your assets from theft, but first we need to know how to find your stolen images.
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How to Find Stolen Images
The first thing you need to know is that not all people have intention to steal your images. Sometimes many bloggers or publishers don’t know what they have done wrong. They don’t know that they cannot use your images in the blog posts, presentations, documents, and other materials. They also don’t know that they have to ask for your permission or leave a credit to the original creators.
You can find your images used by someone else in various ways. Here are a few ways you can try.
1. Stumble Across It
Although it sounds unusual but sometimes you can stumble across your stolen images. The more content you post online and the more images you share, the more often you can find your images online, especially your best images. The image can be in Google Image search, an online article, a social media post. Sometimes you can find your image in banners or advertisements.
2. Reverse Image Search
There are several online tools that you can use to search for the stolen images. You can try TinEye, PicSearch, Google Image Search, Bing Search.
TinEye is the first image search engine that helps you websites that copy your images. You can upload or drag and drop your images to start your search. You can also use an URL to start the reverse image search. The tool will crawls the web and find your stolen images.
You can also use PicSearch, Google or Bing Image search to find your images. Some websites will not change your file name, so it is easier for you to use the name to search. PicSearch is not so pupolar now. Google and Bing are still the leading search engines.
3. Use a Backlink Monitoring Tool to Find Your Image
You can use a backlink monitoring tool to find your images. There are many tools out there like Ahrefs, Spyfu, Semrush. They are all leaders in the industry.
You can use the tools to check whether sites leave a link in the stolen image or not. This is called “hotlinking”. Hotlinking means that a website will display an image that is linked from another source/image hosting. The link will get all the data whenever the page is loaded or the image is requested for access.
How to Protect Images From Theft
Now we will explore some ways to help you prevent your image from theft.
1: Never Upload Your Photos in High-Resolution
There are several research and studies that have shown an interesting fact. The most stolen images are often high-resolution images (Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels). If you want to protect your images, try to avoid uploading high resolution images. The thieves will not want to steal your images.
Besides, you can try to resize or reduce the image quality before uploading. Some low-resolution images will not look good on high-resolution screens. And this will demotivate thieves.
2: Clearly State that Your Images Are Copyrighted
Another method you can combine with other strategies is to clearly state that your images are copyrighted on your website and social media accounts.You can also mention the licenses of your images and include some warnings if people violate the licenses. You can clearly mention that illegal use of your photos will lead to serious fines
Although this statement will not fully protect your pictures from theft, but it will make some people worry about using your images without your consent.
3: Include the Copyright Owner and Source in the Image Itself
You can mention on your website that they must credit to you or leave a link to your original source if you plan to make some photos free to use. Actually it can be a good marketing strategy for you.
However, you can also include information about your copyright owner and source in the images. Despite the fact that the information can be easily cropped out, but you should do that if you don’t worry about the quality of your images. If your clients and people want to use your original photos, they should contact you to purchase the premium or high-resolution photos.
This will lead to our next method: watermarking your images.
4: Protect Your Images with a Watermark
You can make a watermark and add it to the images before uploading to the web. You can find some tutorials on the web on how to do it. Here on Watermarkup, we also create some tutorials for you to add watermark to your pictures.
You can use our application to add watermark to many pictures at the same time. That will save you a lot of time and energy.
Many potential thieves will not want to use watermarked images for their personal and commercial purposes. So watermarking your images can be a good strategy for you. And please make sure that your watermark is not easily removed by choosing a proper position.
5: Overlay Your Image with a Transparent File
Another method is to put a transparent file over your image. The file has the same format with your image. This way will prevent image thieves from downloading your photos by right-clicking or to copy or open the images in new tabs to save to their computers. This method also works if you know HTML.
However, some image thieves still can download your images by using some software that can scrapes all the images from your websites. And they can also find the screenshots of the images via Google Image Search.
6: Block Right-Click Functionality
Blocking right-click option is a useful way to prevent your images from being stolen by users. When you don’t allow this feature on your website, users will find it extremely difficult to save your images.
If you are using a WordPress website, there are many plugins to help you do that quickly and effortlessly.
However, this method has its downsides. Other useful options will not be available when you disable this features. And some users still take screenshots to capture your images.
Although it is not a perfect way to protect your images from theft. But it is still worth-trying.
7: Use Plug-Ins to Stop Screenshots
As we mentioned earlier, some users still can find ways to steal your photos. And there is an easy way to do it. That is to take screenshots of your pictures. However, you can try some plugins to disable it or prevent a page from being taken screenshots.
If you are using WordPress websites, you can find some plugins for it. One example of this is the No Right Click image plugin from WordPress. The plugin will disable taking a screenshot of your image.
But if you upload your photos other websites and platforms, this way can’t help you protect your photos.
8: Upload Your Images Part-By-Part
There is another intelligent way to protect your images. That is to upload your images part-by-part. Some call it “section-by-section”. It means that thieves cannot download immediately. They have to download each part of your image and join the parts into an original image.
Some thieves will find it difficult and don’t want to pursue stealing your photos. But the downside of this way is that Google may not index or show your images in its Seach Results. And this downside can lead to a decline in your traffic, and maybe the sales.
9: Register a Copyright for Your Images
If you are concerned about someone stealing your work, copyright protection can help. Not only does it protect from theft by registering the image with a district court or notary, but also will equip you with evidence in case of any copyright infringement claims that could be taken to court. Once protected and registered under the correct circumstances, this certificate is an indisputable confirmation that ownership for these images belong solely to one individual-you!
Although this method doesn’t guarantee protection from act of image theft itself; signing up for copyrights registration proves helpful when needing attention getting backing on claim made against stolen works. Once signup’ed and covered legally through proper channels (i..e., District Court’s registers), person holding rights gets clear documentation proving they’re the owners.
Copyright registration companies like Concensum offer a sophisticated option for those who want to protect their images. Their international intellectual property registry is designed specifically for photographers who want to register copyrights of their photos with the company’s blockchain technology that saves uploaded files securely and in relation with information about licensed rights or owner, so you can be sure your work will not go unnoticed by others without permission.
10. Add A DMCA Badge To Your Site
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a law offering free protection for your website including the use of takedown services if you find someone using your images or content without permission. The DMCA will threaten legal action on behalf with usually scares infringers into taking down any copyright violations right away.
If you are looking to protect yourself from serial image stealers, one way to do so would be by placing an official DMCA badge onto all pages of your site which also includes a watermarking service at no cost and has been made available as plugin in WordPress.
11. Enable Hotlink protection
It’s important to protect your images for hotlinking. It sounds very easy and simple, but it really is theft by stealing someone else’s bandwidth or resources on their server when you are using an image from somewhere that a link has been provided instead of going directly there to get the data yourself.
12.Add Copyright Notice
In the last step, we recommend adding a copyright notice to your WordPress site. This is something that’s not required but highly recommended in order to protect your work and ensure you’re correctly attributing any content used on other sites or platforms. Placing this information can be as easy as inserting the following into either plugins (if they exist) for post-types like pages, posts etc., or alternatively at the end of footer text: Copyright © Website Owner – All rights reserved.
13. MAKE PHOTO COPYING MORE DIFFICULT
There are many effective ways you can protect your images on the internet, and each of them will make it more difficult for novice visitors to copy what they see. With these methods, all that is required is a little HTML code knowledge — if this isn’t something you’re familiar with (such as using Flickr or Pixabay), then skip down to “How do I stop people from copying my photos?” Otherwise just read through one example below and use CTRL+F in order find other examples quickly:
What To Do About Stolen Images
When we know that someone is using our photos, the next step is to explore options to prevent the situation from happening again. We will provide you several ways that work well with image theft.
1. Analyze The Stolen Image
The first thing is to make sure that they are not using up your server’s bandwidth when they use your images. If they give you a backlink or give you a credit, sometimes it is fine. If they don’t credit you, you can send an email to notify them that they should give you a credit. This will provide you a backlink that is helpful for SEO and improve your ranking in SERP.
2. Send Polite Takedown Email
If you simply want them to remove your image from their websites, you can write an email to express your concern. In our experience, most website owners will be willing to do that.
3. Send More Aggressive Takedown Email
If there are no replies from the people who stole your images, the next step is to follow up and send another email to remind them to take down your image.
4. File a DMCA Takedown Notice
If nothing happens and they don’t remove your images from their website, you can file a DMCA takedown notice . This will help you a lot when it comes to image theft.
It is obvious that you should protect your images on your website. If you have already invested a large amount of work, energy, and money in your images, you should find ways to protect them too. We expect that now you have understand several ways to protect your images.
What has been your experience with your photos being stolen? Feel free to discuss with us or let us know.
If you liked this article, we really appreciate if you can share it with anyone who needs it. We will fight against image theft together.