Photographer Image Theft - Balancing Promotion and Protection | Veritent

Photographer Image Theft – Balancing Promotion and Protection

Posted by Ryan Mottershead on 15th October 2018

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The balance between promoting work and keeping that work safe is a tricky one to achieve. How can you sell a product which needs to be seen without showing it in the first place?

Publishing an image on the internet puts it at risk – anyone can take the image and use it for whatever they want, leaving the photographer or graphic designer with no credit or payment for their work.

So far, the common answers to this problem have been “watermark your images” or “register for copyright”, however, this may no longer be a realistic approach for a world on the web. To put it lightly, the internet is big and you might have all the legal protection in the world, but your images could still be being used without you knowing about it.

Another trope that appears often is “don’t put your images online.” Of course, that would be an ideal way to avoid theft, but then you cannot show a client a sample of your work. You cannot make a sale. You cannot earn royalties. This is a real rock and a hard place.

Man between a wall looking up taking a photo

Photographers are in a tricky situation – Photo by Ian Keefe on Unsplash.

To an outsider, this may not seem like much of an issue. Isn’t having your images distributed for you is essentially free marketing? Technically yes, only if the photo is being used in an appropriate way. A viral photo isn’t much good if no one knows you took it and you don’t receive any money for its success.

A great example of this is the “distracted boyfriend” meme which was originally posted on iStock by photographer Antonio Guillem with a fee of $7. The original image will have been purchased and used for a genuine purpose, but once the internet got hold of it, a viral meme was created. New versions are being created every day targeting whatever is the flavour of the month in current affairs and pop culture.

Antonio isn’t making any money from the memes as they are being used illegally, but he has stated that he doesn’t worry about this too much as the memes are being created in good faith. However, if the use of the image began to have a negative impact on himself or others, then it would become a problem.

We’re here to help

At Veritent we want to help photographers and creators freely promote their work, without having to worry about having their images stolen and misused without their knowledge.

We’re still developing our platform, putting extra effort into making something which photographers want, rather than something we think will work.

If you like the sound of this, click here to learn more about Veritent.

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Ryan is the ambitious and passionate Founder of Veritent, driving change in the way images are managed in the online environment.

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