You know who you are and now I do as well.
My most popular post on this blog is Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge. Thanks in part to Jim Goldstein I know that at least 14 web sites use my shot of the Brooklyn Bridge from that blog entry. All without permission despite my copyright page. Jim is a professional photographer of the highest degree who maintains an excellent blog. Doing a search to see if my image and blog entry would come up in google, I stumbled on a user of my photo and while I was wondering how many others there might be I accidentally backed into Jim’s site and his entry Who is stealing your photos online. In that blog entry I discovered Tineye, a site that provides a beta version of a reverse image search designed to locate copies of your image online. I uploaded my Brooklyn Bridge photo and Tineye located 4 copies, one on Nerve.com a racy online magazine that I must admit to visiting from time to time. The image is also being used by a Pace University site (oddly I’m an alumnus) but when I contacted the web master he said that it was a test site that was never approved by Pace and that he would take it down (we will see).
Next I thought I’d see what Microsoft’s new search engine Bing was capable of. Searching with Bing I was able to find my image. I then clicked on “find more sizes” and 10 other uses of the image came up a couple of seconds — none where repeats of the 4 that Tineye found. Tineye plans to beef up its indexing and if it does will no doubt be able to find a higher percentage of the images on the web but right now Bing seems to have an edge — except that it told me that there were hundreds of copies of another image online and each one was not a copy of my image. Apparently lots of sky in an image throws Bing off the track.
So lots of people like my image enough to use it — that’s good. They are doing so without letting me know — that’s not so good. And until two days ago I had no way to charge anyone for the image
Since then I reopened my account at Shutterpoint.com, a stock photography web site that is easy to join. They don’t jury submissions but I intend to put only what I consider my most marketable stuff up there. Funny thing is a half hour after I posted the Brooklyn Bridge image a customer put it into her shopping cart. Don’t know if it will sell but at least someone can buy it there if they want.
I’m not sure what I should do about this. I must admit to occasionally ripping an image off for this blog (very rarely tho — my image of Philippe Petit in Men on Wires is the one I can think of) I really try not to do it. Now I think I will never do it again. Shutterpoint has two ways of pricing — one is a simple price for an unlimited use license — I used it pricing my Bridge at $65. The other is pricing that depends on use and image size. For that one the people who took my image would pay 99 cents. I wish I could ring up 99 cents for ever clipped image!
The first time I noticed one of my images being used illegally it was by a Priest in a nearby town on his blog! I guess people think — it’s on the web so it must be public domain. But that is not the case. Copyright laws protect original works in the USofA.
So for now my defense will be to make it easier for people to buy my images. Then I’ll work on making them harder to steal