With my previous blog post, I discussed about how to find out if your images have been stolen. Here’s the link, if you didn’t get a chance to read it: http://goo.gl/GjrCeg
After identifying web pages that have used your images without prior permission, what is the next step? What can you do about it?  I have had very bad experiences with this regard. Once, a website admin of a Sri Lankan website replied to my complain saying, they downloaded my images from the internet because my images are not copyrighted.  I explained to them that, according to the copyright law, photographer owns exclusive rights to his/her photographs starting from the time that shutter is clicked.  If someone else want to use those images, an image license agreement or a written permission from the photographer is required.
After going through some bad experiences, I thought, there has to be some other way to solve this problem. So, I decided to do some research.  In my research, I found out some important facts related to this topic.
Most important thing that I found was the DCMA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). This is the legislation that protects rights of artists to all digital content. This is a U.S. legislation that was signed by the President Clinton in 1998. If you like to learn more about DCMA please go to the following link: http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf. Now, someone from outside the U.S. might think, if this is a U.S. legislation, why do I need to know about it? Well, that is a very important question. Let me explain why this is important to artists all around the world.
According to DCMA legislation, all U.S.-based web hosting companies are required to accept DCMA complains from copyright owners regarding their customers (websites that are hosted at the particular web hosting company). So, even if the website that is infringing your copyright based in a different country, if the website is hosted by a U.S.-based web hosting company, you can make a DCMA complain. Isn’t that sound great?
Next question is how to find where a particular website is hosted? Well, that is very easy.  If you do a Google search with a query “where is this hosted” you will get enough options to find where a particular website is hosted. Once you find the web hosting company, you can do a WHOIS record search for web hosting company’s domain name (website address) to find out in which country are they based in. If the web hosting company that you searched for is located in the U.S., contact them and say that you want to make DCMA complain, they will provide you instructions on how to send them your complain.  Once you make the complain, they will conduct an investigation and will take actions to remove contents from relevant websites.
What happens if the website is hosted by a company based in a country other than U.S.?  In that case, you might have to do some additional research to figure out what kind of legislation that particular country has established to protect digital content.
Even though you can take all these actions, before everything, I recommend that you contact web admins of websites that have published your content and let them know that they are infringing your copyrights.  Ask them if they would like to purchase an image license agreement to use your image.  If not, ask them to remove it.  Most of the times, they will accept one of your options.  One important thing that I found out was that most of the companies are unaware that they are using copyrighted material on their websites because they hire web development companies to build their website and those are the people who really need to be blamed for these issues.
Every artwork is precious to its artist.  Everyone should learn to respect artists’ rights.  Also, every artwork has a price for it. You should pay that price if you want to own it or use it. Same theory applies to photography. I hope this article gives you an idea about how to protect your photography from online images thieves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *