Leave a Comment:
I agree. The attitude you approach it with can set the tone for the whole interaction. I’ve definitely learned that the hard way before. I think it’s especially hard to approach it with kindness when you’ve had people repeatedly use your photos without permission…but I’m glad it worked out for you in the end. (and aren’t we thankful for those alert readers who tip us off to what’s going on?)Reply
It’s really nice to know that Blogger takes care of things so quickly. I know photo/content stealing are things that have been going on for years, but it’s easier to track those people down now – especially with Pinterest and so much other social sharing going on. Glad it worked out for you in the end!Reply
Excellent, well explained advice! So often there’s misleading or flat-out incorrect information published on this topic, but this post is perfect. I’ve had to deal with infringers a number of times for my two companies over the years (pretty much the only time I’ve used my J.D.). This is an excellent summary for those who don’t have the benefit of three years of law school! I’ll be sure to bookmark and share it.Reply
Thanks for your comment, Nikki. Unfortunately, I think everyone is going to run into this situation sooner or later. Better to prevent it from happening in the first place, but there are always people who’ll go out of their way to steal other people’s intellectual property. I think it’s useful to have a plan *before* it happens so you don’t do something rash because you’re angry.Reply
This is becoming quite a problem I think for bloggers and pictures and fresh visuals are becoming more important for grabbing and keeping people’s attention. One helpful website for stock images a colleague of mine recently sent me to was http://www.photopin.com. On their website they detail how to use legally use a free stock photo and how to properly site and give credit to the one who took the image. A really great resource for a word curator/editor like myself!
Thanks again Jeni for this great info!Reply
Thanks for writing this article. I like your advice.
I saw someone started following me on pinterest, so went to follow them back. Their main pinterest picture was a flower photo from my blog. Seeing their name, they were a regular reader of my blog. In that particular case, I decided not to do anything about it, but each circumstance is different.
Thanks to this article, I feel I’ll have the tools if I am ever in a situation where I feel I need to act.
I love how you help empower people. Thanks!
Hi Taryn, thanks for your comment. I agree that every case is different. Unfortunately, there are people out there who are just too lazy to take the photos themselves, so they take the shortcut and use someone else’s. Your blog falls into the unique category of “inspirational,” so I can see where (especially on Pinterest) readers might think it’s okay to use your photos for their own (and other people’s) inspiration. I think the best thing to do is come up with a policy for how other people can use your photos. It will help make some gray areas less gray. 🙂 I appreciate you taking a moment to leave your note. Happy Fall!Reply
I don’t have a blog, but do appreciate the time that goes into producing the content. I actually had an experience with a local community newspaper. They asked for a photo I took to use with an article and I clearly stated that I would provide the photos as long as they gave me credit. They published the paper and didn’t credit me. At that point, all they could do to rectify the situation was print a follow-up note in another issue way back in the paper where nobody would really see it. It’s sad that there are people out there that just don’t care about copyright.Reply
Wow, what a crummy thing to happen! And you’re right – those retractions written by newspapers aren’t even noticed. I’m sure you’ll think twice about letting a newspaper use your photos again. I just hate that there’s an exploitation side of this: whether it’s a newspaper or a blog, people are using other people’s property to get more traffic, or to make themselves look better…or because they’re just lazy. Ugh.Reply
As informative as is this article, I should point out that using the “thief blogger” who actually cited the link where she “stole” the said photo is a little unprofessional. You should have used an example created from your imagination rather than picking on someone because she “stole” one of your clients or friends. The professional thing to do would have been an anonymous example and end the disagreement when the photo was removed and sorrys where said. As other people saying “is the internet, get over it”, we need to understand not all people is literate as others are in the copyright and plagiarism areas, and about some other sarcastic or insulting comment, well you and Cathy decided to get in the internet, and with that comes people being not nice to others. You should move past that and take a more professional and ethical approach next time.
Hello B, I appreciate the respectful tone of your comment. I’ve gone through this post and tried to make sure there are no “specifics” mentioned that would point to where this took place. In fact, the only people who will make a connection at all are the people who come over from the comments of that other blog…and I’ve let the blogger know she’s free to just delete those comments if she wants to. The tone of this post is exactly the same as in all the other posts I’ve written; people who are regulars of my blog are used to my matter-of-fact style of writing. As I mentioned in my comments on that other blog, I’ve definitely learned some things about how “best” to approach this situation – and I’ve tried to carry over some of those lessons in putting together this post. The #1 thing I’ve learned, though, is to let other bloggers handle their own issues. Cathy is like a grandmother to me, so I approached the matter differently than I would have otherwise. I hope that the result of this post is that (1) ALL bloggers will be more wary of surfing Google Images for their post photos, and (2) when people discover their photos on other people’s blogs, they’ll be able to consider all their options (and the tone in which they approach things) before deciding on how to proceed. Thanks for your input – I appreciate you.Reply
Jeni- This is a great post. There is never a justifiable reason to take a photo off another blog and re-post it on your own without permission. Bloggers spend hours photographing and editing their images. As more and more folks seek to make an income (even a small one) from their blogs, copyright issues are becoming even more critical. Taking a blogger’s photos could truly be taking hard-earned money out of their pockets! Not OK. Thanks for shining a light on this issue.Reply
Great Article! I haven’t had this happen (that I know of) but it’s good info just in case. I am trying to get better about remembering to add a watermark. Hopefully your workshop will give me some tips on making the process faster/easier. I have a hard time making it look consistent throughout my pics, when I’ve cropped them different sizes.
Interesting point about the image quality too. I just always assumed I needed to choose the highest quality possible to make them look good, but I’m probably overdoing it!Reply
Hi, I totally understand how frustrating this is when you have taken the time to create and edit the photo. Stealing images off the Internet is not new and not just bloggers do it. In my day time job we have an online store. About 10 years ago I had a company not only use my images but instead of just saving/stealing the images they actually linked directly to my image so was stealing bandwidth too. I noticed this through my stats that I had lots of new visitors from another country. I had just finished selling these items so I could not help myself. After deleting it from my store I Photoshopped a new bright red images with the text saying you are trying to view an image that does not belong to the site you are viewing and saved them with the same file names and put them in the same file location. It took them a number of weeks for them to realise the image had changed. They then hosted their own, probably stolen but not mine. Great article. FranReply
That is about the cleverest way of dealing with this issue I have ever heard! Good for you.
For whatever reason, people don’t seem to think stealing images is “as bad” as stealing other people’s words. It’s still hard for me to believe some individuals think this is okay (even in public school, I was taught it was wrong – and illegal – every single year)…but when a company does it, it’s a whole other level of disgusting. Thanks so much for your comment!Reply
While there are no “specifics” in your article regarding the case in point, your name is attached to the blogger’s comment section. I easily followed the link here so obviously I can put 2 and 2 together and ended up here, reading the positive comments you chose to publish while knowing firsthand that you haven’t published those from readers who happen to disagree with your passive-aggressive approach to this whole mess. Apparently you have taken it upon yourself to play the surrogate role of internet police instead of letting WordPress.com take care of their own TOS violations. While your intentions may certainly be noble in your own mind, it’s my impression that you have used this situation to promote your blog and expound on your misplaced sense of self-importance. And no, I would not like to get updates from you.Reply
Hi “Sally Sunshine” (your email address, since you didn’t leave your real name) – I don’t make a habit of policing other people’s blogs. I was protecting my client’s intellectual property and giving the blogger who “borrowed” the photo the opportunity to remove it from her blog so it wouldn’t be reported to WordPress.com. In my mind, this issue was over the moment the blogger took down the stolen photo; it has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved – and you’re not involved. I would hope you have better things to do with your time than restarting old battles that are clearly over.Reply
I certainly appreciated this article and, forgive me but, I am more than a little upset with the two negative comments. I don’t understand when low morals and ethics are at work. I think XY is really exceptionally convicted of her/his position since s/he decided to post anonymously. “Sally Sunshine” doesn’t sound so sunny to me. I can’t believe that s/he and “B” up there in these comments think that it’s okay to steal. Exodus 20 specifically says something about stealing — what was it? — oh, yeah, Thou Shalt Not. The thing about the Internet is that people who have ugly opinions can hide behind their anonymity. Leave a name next time. My blog is not live yet but you can be certain that I wouldn’t hide my opinion behind XYB.Reply
Hi. This is exceptionally great information. Thank you. I am curious about those bloggers who use a collection of different bloggers pictures for their own themed blog. Example I was looking for a certain subject and found very scattered ideas and blogs about it. I had to dig deap, and spend a lot of time searching. I was wondering if I could actually start a blog connecting others of the same content as well? Crediting them of course. Even if it is “allowed” and even ifor you received permission, is that frowned apon. I’d be worried that the original bloggers were saying yes to be kind, and maybe it’s in reality looked down upon? Thank you again.Reply
My sister and I were one of the first few engravers on Etsy. Not a blog obviously but similar situation happened to us. After we realized a little bit of success, a few shops later came in and not only stole and watermarked our photos as their own, but copy/pasted the content of our listings. I was angry and wanted to go on a rampage, but didn’t want to reveal my hand. Instead, I just really amped up the shop–offered new products, new designs, emphasized all the benefits of shopping with us and our sales continued to climb. I periodically checked in on the others that stole from us and we left them standing still. Our sales exploded. Some part of me wants to thank them for motivating me after I had become complacent. It really is infuriating though. I try to remember to watermark everything I can now.Reply
I think plagiarism is a mortal sin. Content stealing is like taking a bit of a persons very soul. I am however delighted to see my work (fully referenced) pop up regularly and all over the world. Recently someone took free crochet patterns from Squirrel Picnic and others and tried to sell them as their own on wordpress. The customers recognised whose work it was and alerted the appropriate people. We must be vigilant. Plagiarism shocks me.Reply
YES, the good folks at WordPress are stellar at customer help when someone is in trouble. 🙂Reply
Thank you so much! You ROCK! I used your process on watermarking my photos after I had a friend tell me she uses my photos to post all the places she wants to go but hasn’t yet on her page. I didn’t mind a little bit, but I’m also a photographer so that’s a bummer, just wanted some credit 🙁
Also, my latest issue along the same lines is I had someone copy my post verbadim, literally, word-for-word FB post with an upcoming event I was sponsoring (including a personal comment about my experience) and post it on her page/link to her site. HUH??
After I nicely wrote her a private message she credited me and has since sent a bunch of people my way. I think a lot of people think if they see it on the internet they can just copy and paste away. Love this site! Thanks for everything!
I love stories like yours, Wendy – they prove that when given the right nudge, most people can be very gracious. Good for you!Reply
This may not be the right solution for everybody, but I now only have the watermarked featured image saved in WordPress on my wife’s blog. All the other images load dynamically from SmugMug. The advantages are three fold – the pictures load much faster, they save memory space on your domain server AND there is a mechanism for blocking “right-click copying” – instead the viewer ends up on my SmugMug account with the option of purchasing the picture either as a hard copy or in digital format.
On the odd occasion where I have had to use someone else’s picture I will admit that I have given credit but not asked permission.Reply
Simon this is awesome! Thank you, I have a Smug Mug account!Reply
Stumbled across this post, as I just found out about the right click-option the photos on my blog. You can let Google search for your pic on the web, and within 5 minutes, doing this search for 3 of my posts, each with about 5-10 pics, I had six matching results on other people’s website. Unbelievable! I mean… yeah, some people say it’s a compliment; but I know my pics are not too bad, as photography is also my job. I’m a professional photographer and earn my living with my pics – at least with the ones I get paid for.
I have no idea where I should even start to clean this mess up. Is there an easier way than doing this right-click thing for each of my pics on my blog?
I know what I’ll be doing this weekend: sending out invoices and requests to remove my images… Soooo frustrating.
So frustrating, Michaela. I don’t know of a shortcut, but I *do* know that as the money-maker in your business, that’s not a good priority for you. IF there’s any way you can hire a VA (or just a local teenager!) to do that for you, then YOU can focus on doing things that will make money. If you’re a leader, you’re going to have a target on your back…so find a way to not focus on the pennies rolling out the back door, but on the dollars coming in the front door. Cheering you on, brave business owner!Reply
Thanks for this clear and informative post!
I’m writing in response to the comment about the “right click” on images, and coming at this question to share the experience of an image grabber.
As an interior designer, I search for images all over the web, to illustrate design concepts, colours, layouts and products.
I file these images away for my own reference, and I usually make note where I got hem so I can go back to that source. From time to time I may use them to illustrate a design concept or presenting product options to a client. I do NOT post them publicly!
While the right-click (or Ctrl-click on the Mac) is fast and easy way to grab photos, I also use screen captures for images in videos etc. The point being: it seems impossible to protect an image that is posted online from being grabbed by others.
The only fail-proof option, it seems to me, is to watermark…and even then it may be possible to crop the image to remove the watermark.
As I do more work and post images of my work online, I’m sure I will use the tips from the various comments to protect and identify my work!
Thanks to allReply
I have been totally scared of plagiarism since I was in elementary school HA! I tend to be the ‘follow the rules’ type and the idea that I could forget to reference a quote in my essays and get thrown in jail, completely terrified me. Perhaps my fear was a bit overkill, but it has certainly given me a healthy adult fear in the blogging world! I literally triple check that I have linked to another blogger more than once when using their photo, and of course credit them as well. Even with properly citing, it still makes me nervous…so I make it a habit of producing my own content about 95% of the time 🙂 Thanks for sharing this experience, Jeni, as it can be a bit overwhelming doing this whole ‘blog thing’ plus finding the time to research our rights as bloggers. Thanks for keeping it simple and clear and giving us some awesome resources!Reply
Hey Jeni! Great article! I personally have gone to great efforts to find sources of FREE images! My site is an information site, there are some recipes, but for the most part the images are there just as a visual to go with the subject I’m writing on. However, because I’m still relatively new, trying to keep up with all of the aspects of running a website alone, developing content, etc., I chose to go the route of using free images. (I think picture quality is so important on a site, and I recognize that this isn’t my skill set right now. One day I will focus on improving my photography skills and do my own high quality images!) There are some great ways to get really high quality images for free, so there really is no reason to steal them. I use Pixabay.com a lot. Unsplash.com is another great resource. Also, publicdomain.net. Last but not least, you CAN use google images, but you have to filter it to show usage rights, and select those labeled for reuse. Just thought I’d share these resources with your readers! 🙂Reply
Your post was sent to me by a colleague who blogs, she had a photo stolen, so passed this on.
Thank you for THE most helpful, and reasonable post. Keeping calm is definitely the right way!Reply
Thank you for this. I am so amazed by the number of people who think it is ok to use someone else’s intellectual property without credit. My first approach is to try to assume they don’t know what they are doing is wrong. If it is on a website, I send the owner an email or comment on the post explaining that I don’t allow question asking them to comply with my syndication requirements and the link. Most comply, some apologize and comply, others just ignore. However, if the image is on Pinterest, I report the pin, fill out the form, and Pinterest removes it.Reply
As a food blogger taking the photograph is the most expensive and time consuming part or writing a post. It amazes me that people think it is ok to steal picture from the net. It’s not exactly difficult to link back and credit, and/or ask for permission in the first place for that matter.
Now I really must start water marking my images:)
Thank you for a really useful and informative post
Coupon Clipnista now Freebie Mom is the worst. All her photos she steals from other blogs and websites she doesn’t give credit. When you mention anything to her, she bans you from messaging her and from her FB page. Do a Google image search on her photos, you will see pictures from the blogs she got them from. She is a thiefReply
I’ve never had someone steal my work (from what I know!) but I have had emails saying can i feature your header image in my blog post as I would like to talk about it, or can i use your favicon in this award I’m nomination you for? I’m glad that people are nice enough to do that, and I’ve always said yes, as long as you credit it back to me.Reply
I’m trying to think of a good way to deal with one of my competitors who keeps copying the images I create. I’m in the humor industry. Typically I overlay jokes and things on free public domain images. My edits, however, are not public domain.
When I search for my keyword in Google, guess what I see in the images search? My own images but linked to the thief’s website first. They also outrank me in Google because their website consists of amassing a ton of content and putting it there. If they take mine, I’m willing to be all of their content is stolen.
What do you think I should do?Reply
I could spend hours tracking down people who have stolen my money saving chart. And then there are the people who make near exact copies of my chart, only they change a few numbers and add their own website in place of mine. It’s infuriating. Especially when people have the nerve to say “What’s the big deal? It’s just a page with numbers on it.” It probably doesn’t seem hard to come up with ideas like this when you’ve never tried it.Reply
This is RIGHT ON TIME! I was just sharing with my sustainability niche group that someone stole my photos and showed them how to check if it has happened to them, too. I’m gonna share your post with them + take your advice for myself! Thank you!!!Reply
This email came at the perfect time. Last night I was browsing Pinterest when I saw a pin with my photos. I followed it to a recipe site that stole my photos and recipe word for word with no mention of my blog or any kind of link back. I have emailed them asking for removal of the post as well as all Pins. Pending response. In the mean time I have reported them to Pinterest, asking them to remove all pins related and that they get a “Strike”, that way if other bloggers find them using their photos and recipes and report it Pinterest will see a pattern and possibly remove them all together.Reply
I actually just had a reader email me last night saying that one of my Alphabet Glue photos was on a popular clothing website in their header for a particular post. I quickly sent a super polite email just saying that the site is lovely but that I really needed credit for my photo or for it to be removed. They emailed back right away, apologized, and then updated the site to reflect that the photo was taken by me. *And* they are sending me a little free gift. I think it was a definite honey vs. vinegar situation and I am so glad that I decided to be really nice in tone of my email because it set the whole thing up to be a pleasant interaction instead of a contentious one.Reply