Does image theft worry you?
November 27, 2005 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Photographers and graphic designers: How much do you worry about people stealing and/or taking credit for your work?

As most of us know, there is no way to keep people from ganking anything you put up on Ye Olde Internette. Every so-called "security measure" you can think up, from no-right click scripts to posting everything in flash, can be gotten around easily by anyone with two brain cells to rub together. This is a fact of Internet life, and there's no getting around it.

My question is for those of you who have, say, Flickr accounts or Menalto Galleries on your sites, and the like: Do you worry about people taking credit for your work? Has it happened to you, and how do you deal with it? I take a lot of hi-res photos, just as a hobby, and a friend of mine has been encouraging me to put up a gallery to show them off, but I've recently had a bad experience (with an ex-boss, no less) where someone decided to just go ahead and take credit for some online work that I did, and I'm not in a financial position to pursue the matter in court at all.

Just to be perfectly clear, my question is not "How can I keep people from stealing my images," since I'm not naive enough to think that's remotely possible.
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
I don't worry about it at all. You can sue for use pretty effectively (in the US) and me, well, I just don't care.
posted by jedrek at 10:01 AM on November 27, 2005

The people who are worth suing for copright infringement - companies and corporations - are generally the ones least likely to infringe your copyright, so no, it's not a worry.

The ones who aren't worth suing - random bloggers and personal homepages - are giving you free publicity, at best, or you write it off as a cost of having your stuff on the web. The benefits outweigh the costs many times over.

Don't put high resolution images online. There's no need to.
posted by normy at 10:09 AM on November 27, 2005

I don't worry about it at all. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen.

Also, I don't really care.
posted by Jairus at 10:18 AM on November 27, 2005

This happened to a friend of mine. I'm not sure if he managed to do anything about it in the meantime, but people's comments and advice are in the photo's comments.
posted by easternblot at 10:32 AM on November 27, 2005

You can atleast make it difficult for them. Put you name on the picture somewhere, and don't post full-resolution originals. Post the phots at 800x600 or something.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:39 AM on November 27, 2005

Depends on how much money they look to make from it. If it's some joker with a website and they're using the image as a background wallpaper, no. If it's in Time Magazine, yes.

I don't know exactly what my "potential money lost" threshold would be, but I imagine it would depend a lot on the attitude of the infringer after I asked nicely to cease and desist.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:31 AM on November 27, 2005

I worry if it's my work-related photos, otherwise, not really. Those opposed to what I do seem to have no scruples about nicking images for their website.
posted by scruss at 11:53 AM on November 27, 2005

I kind of worry about it, but not much. I don't make any money with my photos, so it's not as big a deal to me.

One of the images I put up on my home server became the number one hit in a Google image search. I have found many people using it from my referral logs -- most are just one-time deals (in random forum posts and such), and completely no big deal. A couple folks put it up on a personal home page. A couple more were hot-linking the image.

The last was the only one that really bothered me. If anybody claimed the image as their own, that would also bother me. Nobody gave a credit, that I saw, which made me think less of the people that used the image. But not annoyed enough to stop posting pictures online.
posted by teece at 12:27 PM on November 27, 2005

If you're not a professional photographer, I can't imagine why you'd care. I've made some money from photography in the past, and I still don't care. Whatever images I put up on the web are free for the world to use at it sees fit. If somebody wants to take credit for an image I made, that's their problem.
posted by sfenders at 12:57 PM on November 27, 2005

I have had this happen a few times, with both words and photos. Usually I link to them on my website, and send a nice email to them reminding them that I didn't give them permission. Usually they remove the items in question. I have a minor quibble with people who actually link to my website along with (in my case) photos with the text "contributed by [website]" when I did no such thing, but I just sit back for a few years and they eventually disappear off the internet. There.
posted by user92371 at 1:50 PM on November 27, 2005

Check out the first few paragraphs of the third item on How To Be Creative.

I don't worry about it, since it's impossible to prevent. I've got plenty of other good ideas, so if someone steals one or 20, I got more.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:23 PM on November 27, 2005

that's a nice argument, but only works for "inexpensive" products. it assumes that what you do takes a few minutes (doodling a card) rather than several years. which applies to this question, i guess (photos + graphic designs), but not so well to, say architects.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:00 PM on November 27, 2005

You could put on every image a small semi-transparent watermark with a text that says where the image is from, but I don't think it's worth worrying about.
posted by Sharcho at 4:54 PM on November 27, 2005

The rule of thumb is that people who worry about it too much almost never* create anything worth seriously stealing to begin with.

* Heavy emphasis on the caveat "almost never."
posted by DaShiv at 5:15 PM on November 27, 2005

Watermark the images - there appear to be a lot of ways to do this.

Try SmugMug which allows for restrictions of access and so on.

(Use this mutual refferal code for a small discount for us both if you sign up - 8c0Qix49qfcGw )
posted by DrtyBlvd at 3:43 AM on November 28, 2005

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