How to track down instances of copyright infringement. A photographer’s guide.


The issue of copyright infringement is a big deal to me as a photographer so I’m sharing my method of tracking down if and where my images are being used across the internet. I’ve been using this method to check to see if my copyright is being infringed upon and I’ve found many instances of my work being used elsewhere on the web.

Quite frankly I’m sick of it.
They say that imitation is a most sincere form of flattery, but ripping someones work and using it in an advertisement is just plain stealing. So I’m fighting back and I’m helping my fellow photographers across the world to take back their rights. Together we can chase down instances of copyright infringement and bring the spotlight back to the issue of copyright protection.

So here’s how to track down where your images are on the web.

    Step 1.


Go to www.images.google.com

[single_lightbox url=”http://danhowardphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/1.jpg” image_url=”http://danhowardphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/1.jpg” image_width=”670px” image_height=”418px” title=”Step 1.”]

Site Crawling Method
If your images are online (on your website or a photo sharing site like flickr or 500px) and you want to check as many of them as you can quickly, then enter “site:yoursite.com” into the search box. You don’t need to include the “www.”

[single_lightbox url=”http://danhowardphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2.jpg” image_url=”http://danhowardphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2.jpg” image_width=”670px” image_height=”418px” title=”Step 1. Site Crawling.”]

Hit search and you will be presented with a page filled with images from the site. If you enter a profile site like 500px, you may get all the images on that profile including photos you have favourited and profile pictures of friends and followers so bear that in mind.

[single_lightbox url=”http://danhowardphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2.jpg” image_url=”http://danhowardphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/4.jpg” image_width=”670px” image_height=”418px” title=”Step 1. Crawling Results.”]

Upload/URL Method
If you want to search a specific image you can click the camera icon and enter the url of the image (if it’s online) or upload the image from your computer. (I suggest creating a compressed version of the image from photoshop using the “save for web” function to keep upload times low. When the image is uploaded skip to step 3.

[single_lightbox url=”http://danhowardphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/3.jpg” image_url=”http://danhowardphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/3.jpg” image_width=”670px” image_height=”418px” title=”Step 1. Upload/URL Method.”]

    Step 2.


(Site Crawling Method) To check if your image is being used elsewhere on the web simply hover over the image until it “grows” and then drag it to the google search bar where it will change to “Drop Image Here”. Drop it there.

[single_lightbox url=”http://danhowardphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/5.jpg” image_url=”http://danhowardphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/5.jpg” image_width=”670px” image_height=”418px” title=”Step 2. Drag image to search similar images.”]

    Step 3.


Google will search the web to see if that image is being used elsewhere and if it is it will provide links. It also appears to be able to find B&W or colour derivatives of the image too as well as instances where writing has been placed over your image.

[single_lightbox url=”http://danhowardphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/6.jpg” image_url=”http://danhowardphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/6.jpg” image_width=”670px” image_height=”418px” title=”Step 2. Drag image to search similar images.”]

These search results show where that image appears on the web, some of them might be what you expect. (You may have uploaded the image to a couple of places like your own website as well as a photo sharing site such as flickr.) Other results may look suspect, so click through to them and check them out.

    Step 4.


What you do from this point is entirely up to you. I’m not an expert on copyright law but I know where my work is online and I know where it shouldn’t be. Most people issue the infringer with a stern warning and a takedown notice. Others just straight-up send them an invoice for the use of their image. Seeking advice from a lawyer is always a good idea in this instance and I would definitely take screen shots of everything just incase evidence is needed.

I don’t claim this method to be the best, but it’s helped me and I’ve found around 10 cases of my work being used elsewhere without my consent.

Don’t let copyright infringement ruin your hobby or your passion. Fight back, claim what is yours and value your work.

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