I woke up this morning to find out that yet again another photographer has had their online images stolen by a fellow photographer. This news always upsets me and today I was inspired to blog about it—to educate my clients and blog followers about this sad trend in the photography community.
What Is Image Stealing?
The Internet and Social Media are the perfect avenues for photographers to market themselves. We photographers love to blog, tweet, Instagram, Pin and Facebook our images. It is a way to market ourselves to new and existing customers and to also get our businesses known within the photography community. To protect ourselves as best we can, photographers watermark their images, meaning we place our business name somewhere on the image to identify it as ours. Sometimes however, our images are taken from our websites, blogs or Facebook pages, have the watermark removed from them and then used illegally by other photographers as their own—this is image stealing.
Why Is Image Stealing Wrong?
When a photograph is created by a photographer it is automatically copyrighted. Therefore, taking a photographer’s image from their website and using it without permission (even if you are the subject in the image) is copyright infringement and is not only ethically wrong but it is against the law. Just because an image is on the internet does not mean it is free to use. But this is not the only reason why it is wrong.
Image Stealing affects other photographers local to the thief. Business is essentially taken away from honest hardworking photographers because of their misrepresentation.
Image Stealing also affects you, the customer. Deciding on a photographer based on work that isn’t even theirs is cheating you out of the photography experience you invested in and your right to photographs you were expecting.
How To Protect Yourself?
As a customer there are some things you can do to safeguard yourself from hiring a dishonest photographer.
- When researching a photographer make sure to carefully review their portfolio, blog and Facebook page, not just one.
- Make sure their post-processing skills (the way they edit their images) is consistent from one portfolio gallery to the next.
- Make sure the images that are blogged match up in style and talent to the images in their portfolio.
- If you have a bad feeling about the lack of consistency of a photographer’s images you may want to consider trusting your instinct and finding another photographer.
What To Do If You Discover Image Stealing?
Let’s say while researching a photographer’s blog you spot an image that is familiar to you and you realize that image is someone else’s. What do you do? Do not contact the photographer in question. They will quickly remove any stolen images and there will be no evidence of their offence. Soon those images will be replaced by others and they will have gotten away will their crime.
I would suggest contacting the photographer who has been violated and direct them to the website where their images are being used. Ask to remain anonymous and let the photographer deal with it as they see fit.
Image Stealing is not something to be taken lightly. Photographers spend hundreds of hours studying, researching and practicing their craft. To have your work stolen is very disheartening and not a complement to your work. If you ever feel compelled to steal or “borrow” someone else’s images please remember that it is wrong, illegal and you will most likely be caught. The photography community is a close-knit one and we value our work and the work of other photographers. Most often these offences are discovered by fellow photographers so don’t say I didn’t warn you!
P.S. If you are a photographer and want to share this blog post, feel free to do so. I would just ask that you would link back to me 🙂 Thanks!