Q&A: Help! Someone is using my image without permission!

 

image-usage-montage

Small collection of images used without permission

Question:

I saw website/band/person/magazine using my image without my permission, what do I do?

Answer:

In this digital age, it happens way too often. ¬†I’m not going to get into people giving away their images for free being a symptom of the devaluation of photography (crap, just did haha ūüėČ ). ¬†The main thing to remember is to be professional and keep calm. ¬†We have a tendency of acting emotionally and wanting to lash out at the offender. ¬†Don’t. ¬†Know that the usage of the image has and is going on, so you have the bigger end of the stick.

1- Document the offense.

Capture

Take screenshots of the webpage. ¬†Make sure you get dates in the shot if you can. ¬†This way, in case they remove it, you’ll have proof. ¬†If you saw it in print, get a copy. ¬†If it’s a billboard, take a picture.

2- Do some research

This can seem weird, but research where you have sent the photo in the past. ¬†Some contests have rules that state that any photo submitted can be used in any way by the contest organizers. ¬†Some rules state for contest promotion, some don’t state anything which means they can actually sell the image commercially if they want (it has happened!). ¬†So make sure you haven’t entered a contest or allowed any other usage can could of led to this. ¬†Maybe you sent in the photo to a media and they sent it off to the artist? ¬†Think before you type. ūüôā

Research can also be how much you would charge for the image usage (+ damages). A great site for image usage pricing for Canadians is the CAPIC.

3- Decide if you should be paid or have it removed

Let’s be honest… a random blogger using your image without permission is not going to pay you $500 for the usage. Should they? ¬†Sure. ¬†If you have the funds to pursue legally, then by all means do so. ¬† For something like this, I don’t. ¬†A company using it commercially on their website? ¬†Whole different ballgame.

Many people will offer to put your name (if it’s not already there), thinking that is payment. ¬†For me it’s not. ¬†But it’s for you to decide if you are fine with that. ¬†Many images I take of events or shows are usually only “buzz” worthy for a few days. ¬†So if a band puts up one of my images on their Facebook, and 3 days later offers to put my name on it… screw you, take that image down. ¬†The damage has already been done.

3a- Prep an invoice

If you are going to ask to be paid, get that invoice ready to be sent in.

4- Contact the offender

Be professional. ¬†“Yo, you are using my image, take it down or pay me now” should be avoid. ¬†Keep it business-like. ¬†“I noticed you are using my image on your website without my permission. ¬†I’m really happy to see you like my work, I’m attaching an invoice for the usage you have made. ¬†If you have questions, let me know”. ¬†Short and sweet. ¬†“Hello, I am the owner of the image you have taken, cropped the watermark, and posted on your site. ¬†Please take it down within 24 hours as this is not your work. ¬†Thank you”.

5- Follow up

If they don’t answer, don’t let it go. ¬†If you want it taken down, contact the site. ¬†Facebook has taken down an image of fine someone posted on their fan page within 8 hours of my writing in. ¬†So has tumblr. ¬†You’ll usually need your original image to prove that it’s yours. ¬†Details and steps are listed with each service provider.

If you are to be paid and they haven’t even acknowledged your email, look into sending a registered letter. ¬†Makes it more official as they have to sign when they receive it. ¬†State payment delay in the letter.

If you are still getting no where, look at contacting a lawyer or seeking professional advice.

 

It’s been my experience that acting professionally, straight forward, and honestly usually gets you the best results. ¬†And no, I am not lawyer, I do not play one on TV, these are just my ramblings. ¬†ūüôā

Good luck!

If you have a question, hit me up on Facebook ūüôā

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