How Image Theft is winning the Right to Copy Battle


When you have captured a good image, an image worth selling through a stock image library, I think the first thing you look forward to is a paycheck. The above is an image I own that is listed with Gerry Images. I think it's a great picture but I haven't had a single sale for it. Sure I have sold other images but this one in particular was a fav of mine.

This is the perfect validation you want to have as a photographer that is to have someone buy our picture because they think it is good, but unfortunately the world at large doesn't think you deserve this. 

I have come across a legal site, here, which teaches you how to respond to copyright image theft demands from legal entities. It tells you how to cheat and steal images. And how you respond is perfectly legal.

In America, Getty Images is probably one of the last few image agencies that send out legal letter to demand payment for use of an image, be it online or offline. 

The final fee is always between 1,000 to 800 USD. Apparently, lawyers in the US can handle the case for you, without you coming out to pay the penalty demanded by Getty Images for just US$500 in legal fees. That's it. This is of course assuming that you used an image online on your commercial website. 

To me, photographers in general are having their work screwed over if they do not carry out their own due diligence to sue whoever steals their images. It gets a bit more tricky when you have to deal with a lawyer as every case you wish to file needs to have them pursue the case for you. 

Getty to Sue Google for Image Theft

In the EU, where photo and image works enjoy a bit more protection, Getty Images is suing Google for image search results.

Apparently Getty's business in the EU has been badly affected since Google started to return image results based on Meta Data searches that match the size (resolution) you are looking for. The lawsuit is going to be filed in Brussels and photographers are keeping their fingers crossed.

People have started to steal images based on searches they make online. Google will return the desired result of an image resolution you are looking for. So if say you are looking for a mother and baby photo, a high resolution image exist somewhere and this could be in a Photographer's Online Portfolio. Even 500px will list photos with 1500 x 1000 pixels that turn up on a Google search. This means you can scale up the photo with an image program like BlowUp from Alien Skin Software. 

Image theft has been made so much more easier. And in real world use, there isn't any reason why anyone would even bother to capture an image to sell online if you knew such technology existed. 

The worst part of it, digital camera companies are sitting idly, twiddling their thumbs in the hope you ante up to a more expensive digital camera. They are not even in the forefront of the battle since they sell the very equipment that takes the photos. Image theft isn't their business and because of this shallow world view, their business of making cameras is in jeopardy. Declining sales have been attributed to smart phone cameras but they are not facing up with the issue of the photography business going into decline. They have never cared to set up a coalition against image theft to protect the very customers they rely on to buy their wares.

I haven't had the chance to upgrade my 12 megapixel camera in many years and you know why? No one is going to pay for the photos I take so I why I might add, buy newer and more expensive cameras? Makes no sense to me. 

Photographers who are going to irk out a living on photography would be better off getting a used camera instead of new one. Do you need that low light ISO capability? Nope. So why would it matter to buy a brand new 40 megapixel full frame camera when a 24 megapixel full frame camera from two years ago would do the job?

Digital Photography is in decline thanks to the Internet of Things. There is no two ways about it. 

I do not think for one moment it will get any better before it gets worst and you as a photographer should realize that the pains of having your work stolen is very real and you should in some ways have a back up plan. Who knows, you could take a second job working as a barrista, or maybe even do stand up comedy to complete the 12 hour work day you signed up for. 

So take it from me, you have been warned.