Photo theft has been rampant for as long as the existence of the Internet. Image search engines (Yahoo! Images, Google Images, etc.), social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), and photo sharing sites (Flickr) have made the process of stealing images even easier.
While sometimes it can be flattering to see your visual creations appear in other projects, a blatant disregard for your source and rights can leave you frustrated. While you can’t completely put an end to image theft, you can take a number of measures to discourage adversaries from stealing your images blatantly and at least ensure that images carry attribution revealing you as the original owner.
1. Reverse Image Search Can Do Wonders
Photographers, artists, and entrepreneurs can find people using their image by using the option of reverse image search. SocialCatfish.com and other similar websites offer this option, and it’s nothing like the standard Google image search to which many of us are accustomed. Technologies such as facial recognition and image metadata enable these companies to scan millions of profiles from different places and do a comprehensive image roundup. This way, they present you with results that allow you to verify if someone is using your images without paying or attributing you. You can then seek remuneration or pursue the case legally.
2. Use Watermark on Your Images
While your image creations might not look as appealing with a watermark as they would without one, it’s a great way to discourage adversaries from stealing your work and showcasing it as their own. That said, adding a watermark in a tasteful manner will enable you to keep most of the aesthetic appeal of your photo(s). Watermark Chrome extensions, mobile apps, and plugins for different content management systems will allow you to create a watermark for your images before you publish them on different online platforms. And if there’s Photoshop or a program of same nature on your PC, watermarking the images is going to be a quick process. Overall, watermarks are quite effective because they’re next to impossible to remove. Of course, watermark images, when shared, will benefit you in the form of free exposure.
3. Shrink-Wrap Images
This technique won’t stop the adversary from copying and saving your image. However, the image they save won’t be the one they wanted access to. Shrink wrapping may even make them think they’ve downloaded some sort of a virus, so there’s a chance that they will delete your image instead of posting it online. A transparent image is usually shrink-wrapped over the top of the original image, like a clear glass panel protecting your image from the outside. There are several online tools and YouTube tutorials that explain how to shrink wrap images. The goal is to make the adversary realize that the image they’re using isn’t the one they intended to use, even though the original image is lying hidden within the transparent image outside.
4. Create Image Galleries & Request Registration
Consider creating a gallery consisting of your images and require people to register their profile to view your photos. You can integrate a self-service system and ask people to register with valid names and email addresses. The process is automated, and though you’d have ot sacrifice some control, there won’t be a need to send individual links for images. This doesn’t protect your photos much, considering adversaries can use fake names and email addresses for registration. It does, however, increase their workload, which may result in making the adversary skip the thought of using your photos.
With these tips, you can significantly discourage others from using your images in an unethical manner.