Is someone else using your copyrighted pictures?

How do you know if your copyrighted pictures are being used by other websites? I’ll show you how I find them.

If you have a Flickr account with hundreds of popular photos, chances are some of your images are being used by other websites without you knowing. This could be good or bad depending on how those sites are using them.

Photographers in general, me included, don’t like our pictures used without permission. When I see another website use a picture I took and give me proper credit with a url linking back to this site, for me that is ok. However, I like to know where and how my images are being used.

Today I’m going to share how I periodically check to see if my photos (from this site or flickr) are being used without my authorization. I now exclusively use Google’s image search feature. No other tool works as good as Google images.

First, take a look at the short video below. It goes through a sample search to find an identical image.

You’ll also find the steps I took outlined below the video, followed by what to do to get your image removed from an unauthorized website.

Find your stolen pictures using Google image search


Here are the steps I took in the video to check if someone is using my images on the internet:

  1. Copy url of image I’m searching. I take this from my site or my flickr image page.
  2. Go to Google > Image Search, then click on the camera icon in the search window.
  3. In the pop-up window paste the url of the image I’m checking or upload the image.
  4. Hit search and review the results.

As you can see it’s a very simple process and I’m sure many of you already do it. But since I’m had this question come up a few times, I thought I’d share how I do it.

Personally I do this once every couple of months or so, but only on the top images I believe are being used elsewhere. Now, what can one do if your photo/image is being used without your consent and you want it taken down? This is what I do.

How to get your image removed from an unauthorized site

There are two options and depending on how quickly you need it removed, will depend on which steps you take.

  1. You can email the webmaster and ask them nicely to remove it. (Sometimes works, but can take time)
  2. Or you can send them a formal copyright infringement email, such as what many do when a picture is stolen on flickr.

Since Flickr is the largest photo sharing site on the internet. That site tends to attract people looking for “free” images to use on their websites. When it comes to flickr, I don’t contact them, instead I contact the parent company yahoo.com directly and use a formal copyright infringement letter, option #2 above.

3 thoughts on “Is someone else using your copyrighted pictures?

  • avatar
    February 3, 2012 at 10:26 am
    Permalink

    I’ve tried your method with some of my more popular images, but the resulting google search always returns the following: “The URL doesn’t refer to an image, or the image is not publicly accessible.” I know this isn’t true. Any idea what I’m doing wrong?

    Reply
    • avatar
      February 3, 2012 at 10:38 am
      Permalink

      Not sure why without looking at the url you’re using, but just know that the url must end with “.jpg” or other known picture file format. Also, the url must be accessible publicly, which means its not behind a password enabled folder on the parent website.

      When searching for an image using the url, the url should look something like this:
      “http://www.outletphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/How-to-search-for-my-stolen-images.jpg” an image from my site.
      or this:
      “http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7165/6670576265_9a4fc7ba59_o.jpg” a flickr image

      Make sure to remove the quotes of course. If you still can’t figure out the problem, use the “About” tab and send me the url and I’ll try to help.

      Reply

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