Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Use Caution...

by Susan


Use Caution When Crossing Uploading...

Thieves.  Internet thieves.  Internet thieves that steal images of illustrations, photography, designs...and more. They wait, without you knowing, until it's too late.  One click...one save...and poof! It's in their computer. That's right...your image...in someone else's computer.  The image that you've just spent hours preparing, shooting, and processing, now in their hands...downloaded and ready to use for their profit. 

If you were looking for a 'feel-good' post today...this isn't it. Far from it. Today my goal is bringing awareness to you, the reader...the avid photographer...the artist, that this is going on more than you know. 


Derail {derailed}...the feeling of being caught off guard.  Going along on your merry way and then...there it is, your image...on another's site...for sale! This has happened to so many of my fellow fpoe members...that's 'female photographers of Etsy'...that after a conversation with them today, I felt compelled to bring more awareness of this subject to you. 

Maybe I should explain...


This morning, I found one well-known photographer's image on an Etsy site...just not her (the photographer's) Etsy site. This site sells jewelry and uses images...others images...copyrighted images and yes...even trademarked images...for her gain, her profit...and it's thievery. She claims she bought the images from another Etsy seller and she didn't know.  I say...'bull#@$^.  She had images from Hello Kitty, Disney, famous artists and Etsy photographers and designers.  She is just one of the many thieves out there that uses others images...for their gain. I've heard photographers finding their images on sites that sell cases for phones and electronics as well as mugs, t-shirts, prints and canvas, all without their approval.  No commercial licensing forms and completely unauthorized.  You know...when I was starting my business a couple years ago, and needed a couple of textures to enhance a few of my images...I paid for a commercial license to use them {special thanks to Kim Klassen for this...and for her fabulous Round Trip texture class}. That's how it's done. You just don't go take what's not yours.

So...you may be asking 'What can be done to prevent this?'  My answers are not foolproof...but are slight deterrents for a thief.  And in this day and age...every little bit helps.

1.  Watermark your image in several places all over the entire image.  I read about this from another fpoe member. Make a photoshop stamp with your name and copyright symbol in several small lines.  Once you save that as a brush, you then stamp your image with it and pull the brightness of the stamp anywhere between 15%-30%...so if saved, printed or sold...the image has your name all over it.  If you want your image to have your name and copyright in clear view, still do all of the above and then add your one watermark stamp so people know it's your image. If you look closely, very closely because it's faint...I've done both of these watermark techniques to the above images. 

2.  Resize your image to 72ppi and try not to make larger than 500pxls.  Some sites call for larger images than this...but overall...try to keep your file small. 

3.  Copyright your image. Remember to use the copyright symbol and 'all rights reserved' next to your name or somewhere on the image, on your website, flickr...wherever you feel necessary.

4.  Digimarc®  - It's a program you can add to photoshop where a digital watermark code is embedded into your image that will tell you where your image is online. 


It is my hope that this post may have brought some light to protecting your images…and...that none of you will be subject to seeing your work on another's unauthorized site…for sale. Remember to make some time and search the internet and be proactive in protecting your work.

*Here is an added update to today's story. The woman removed the piece of jewelry with the photographer's image in it from her Etsy site. Yes...it is one small step…but it's an important one.









14 comments:

AFishGirl said...

Hmmmm. Though I know how real and true this is, I try not to think about it. I've resisted water-marking my stuff because I always find it jarring to see work with the logos on it. I did make my own blog private this year, for a number of reasons but the main one being spam and too much traffic from strangers. Do you think Flickr is safe with the safety settings or am I fooling myself? I like to show my shots there and the back and forth comments. I'll go check my settings, on that note. If someone stole my work? I'd be really angry. Then sad. Then just kind of, I don't know, resigned to the risks of putting things out on the Internet. I've read a few blogs about this topic in past years and the effort and rage and time to get an image back or taken down once it's been stolen, well, it's not a route I could go. I lack the energy to fight that much, I plain old do. So I live with the risk and think that if someone wants to steal my stuff and make a hundred bucks on a shot of deer poop, well, that is life I guess. Life online. Good topic. Thanks for putting it up.

Dotti said...

This is something we'd all rather not think about. Since I would never, ever, under any circumstances consider stealing another person's photo/art, I tend to forget that there are people who do such things. We don't like to think that, do we? This is such an important topic, Susan, thank you for starting a conversation about it. I look forward to a lively discussion today. I do watermark my photos but without the copyright symbol and only one time. That's going to change. And I'm going to check out Digimark. {Although I find it hard to believe anybody would want to steal my photos, to be honest. Perhaps that's naive.}

Carol said...

I have mixed feelings too, because, like Pam, I also enjoy the internet. A friend's images were recently on coffee cups in China. Well - would I ever make coffee cups and market them in China? - highly unlikely. But the story you have told feels way too close to home and is happening all the time. The 72 resolution is really a deterrent. And I was also recently given this advice, for those of you who use Lightroom and similar programs. When you import your image, do it with a preset and make the image name include your name. When the photos go out, the sidebars are attached, and it allows you to prove that it was originally your work, if it comes to that. It's sad that respect for people's work and respect in general, ifIyou'll pardon me sounding like an old lady - is disappearing.

Linda said...

One of my images was stolen and used on a menu in a country in Africa. Sadly, there are no copywriter laws in many countries and the people in those countries are the worst offenders. Watermarks help as does only uploading a very small and low pixel image. When you put a photo on a blog, google assigns an address to it, you can turn that off when you place it on the blog by highlighting the photo and clicking on the word "link" on the tool bar. The photo will no longer be right clickable. There are still ways to steal it but at least this makes it a little harder. Thanks for starting an important discussion!

Cathy H. said...

Lots of good suggestions here. I've always used fairly low resolution when I put anything on the computer. I'm like Pam, I don't watermark my images. I figured that unless they were right across the subject they could be cropped out. It's sad that we even have to consider these things!

Katie said...

i belong to a community on Facebook of arkansas nature photographers, and one of them is a phenomenal photographer of bald eagles. i mean, the guy is The Guru of Eagles, and his pix are outstanding. and on top of all that, he is a super nice guy and very well respected, whenever he "likes" one of my nature photos, i always feel like i've just won the lottery. anyway, last year the community was in an uproar when several of mr.m's photos (along with several other peoples) were found on one particular blog and one particular flickr photo stream, with the owner claiming the images as his own and selling them on his portfolio as his own. outrage and shock (and a few colorful comments!) took over, the long and short of it being that mr. m. basically had to go to the ends of the earth to get his images back. terrible shame to have that happen to such a nice guy.

i do watermark my images, but even those can be photoshopped out, and i'm always a little leery when posting to flickr for that very reason. if someone can find a way to take your hard work, then they will. it's sad that people, other people, have to go to such lengths and are too lazy themselves to steal from others. guess they just weren't raised right. i'll keep that 72 ppi in mind, and will also look up digimarc.

terriporter said...

I agree with everything that's been said. Like Pam, I try not to think about it. Like Dotti, I tend to forget that there are people out there that would want to steal MY images. I watermarked mine for awhile but then realized that it wasn't worth the effort because people could easily Photoshop them out. As far as resizing, that's an extra step as well and I usually don't bother. Hmmm, I think I have been very naive on this subject. Thanks so much for this post, Susan. I think it's something we all need to know. I am definitely going to start resizing my images to 72ppi and will look into Digimarc. I've heard of it but never checked it out. You can be sure I will be doing both from now on!

Katie said...

just wanted to add this link that a Facebook friend and flickr contact told me about. it's a link to see where your images may've been used: http://jarred.github.io/src-img/.

Linda/patchwork said...

I found this post ( http://www.kevinandamanda.com/whatsnew/tutorials/how-to-see-if-your-photos-are-being-used-on-another-site.html ) a while back. It tells you how to do a reverse search for an image.
I found one of mine being used as a header on some eastern European blogsite. I didn't have a watermark on that image...a really bad photo of a cheeseburger Christmas ornament. Not much I could do. This person didn't seem to be making money from it. I would be a whole different deal, if you have images stolen that are being sold. I would have been more upset, but still...what could I do?
Watermarks and copyrights don't seem to mean anything, to some people.

kelly said...

love this discussion susan. like everyone else, it's something i try not to think about too much or otherwise i just get creeped out and want to just ditch the internet altogether. but there is that sharing and community that i love so much and so i take the risk. it's fine for me because i'm not a 'professional' photographer. but for those out there that make a living with it, i can see how it would be a huge headache.

thanks for sharing this info and highlighting a very important topic.

Kim Stevens said...

Yes, this is always a good thing to discuss, just wish there was always as good of a solution. Sadly, no matter what we do there are people who are going to live without morals and take what is not theirs, and we are going to have to be even more diligent to help prevent it as much as possible. I know there are many who think a watermark distracts from a photo, but it doesn't have to be visible all across the entire photo either. People sign books and paintings and why shouldn't we be able to 'sign' our photos. The thing is it seems so daunting of a task to go back and check every photo to see if it's out there and then check again and again, because someone could steal it a day later. As far as being okay if someone steals one of my images even though at the moment I'm not selling them, it's so not okay. It's like walking into someones house and saying I'll take that, and that and....just walking out with it. I also make jewelry that I do hope to be selling at some point and that is another big problem. I know several artists who have found their designs stolen by a large company that can make them faster and cheaper and it's not just foreign companies but American too. And with today's social media and artists sticking up for one another, it's getting harder for them to not be found out. In fact a photographer sued Getty Images last year and won a very hefty sum of money for their commercial use of a photo that he put on twitter. I know it happens, I read about it all the time, yes I sometimes try to ignore it or I would just want to throw the towel in and not share anywhere.

Susan said...

I totally sympathize for anyone who has worked so hard at their talent, only to have some "underachiever" who doesn't have any morals walk right in and claim it! Its a shame that the beautiful artwork has to have watermarks all over it to keep it from being stolen! Im by no means a professional photographer at all…I hope to get better, but I would still be very upset if someone took something from me and claimed it as their own. Its not so much a monetary value as it is a personal one for me. When you work so hard with your God given talents and someone takes it for themselves, its as if they also took a piece of your heart and soul :(

Sarah Huizenga said...

I very recently watched a video training session on Kelby Training/Kelby One by Colby Brown about this subject as he talked about the different social media avenues in general. He doesn't worry about it too much, he states it is going to happen and for the most part he feels flattered that somebody liked his work enough to try to claim it. The one time that he pursued it was when a big corporation used one of his photos as a banner on their web side without his permission. Needless to say a lot of work. He would rather be out shooting and doing what he loves than worry about and wasting time trying to track every one of his images to see if somebody is ripping him off.
I guess I feel the same way. I would be flattered if somebody thought my stuff was that good they needed to steal it. To me the photo is only part of the story, the story behind the photo is even more important to me and nobody can steal that from me.

Roxi -Coppercurls Designs said...

This has been on my list lately so after reading this yesterday I DID IT! Made watermarks and actions and now I'm in business. Thanks for huge nudge.

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