Being a photographer in the digital age presents a number of excellent advantages along with a collection of new concerns. Sharing your images with the world and gaining exposure has never been easier, but the risk that someone may decide to steal your work is also increasing. Protecting your images on the web should be at the forefront of your thought process when uploading a new potential masterpiece. To help you out, we have established a list of ten sites that can assist you in your creative endeavor.
Exif Copyright Information
Making sure that your photograph contains identifiable EXIF information makes it easier to find on the web via a search engine. In your EXIF data, simply make sure your name is filled in the artist, owner name, and copyright fields. Adding additional tags in the image description can also help to aid any future searches.
One of our top choices for fast web based EXIF editors is theXifer. Designer Andrea Piaggesi notes that the website is “always beta”, but we found it to perform extremely well for basic tasks. The site is flash based but allows you to upload multiple images at a time. Once you are ready to download your works, the photos will be available for eight minutes before being securely deleted.
Despite the name of the website, Exif Remover lets you add EXIF data to files in addition to deleting it. For those who dislike the flash plugin, you can rejoice because the site relies on PHP scripts for conversion. One unfortunate limitation is that the site limits file sizes to 1 MB. The PHP script used for conversion is based on an open source base and can be found at SourceForge.
Registering Your Photographs
A number of different services allow you to register your work to help prove that you own it. These websites will act as your photos’ guardians, ensuring that none of your hard work is used elsewhere on the web without you knowing.
Our top pick for helping to protect your online copyright is myows. Myows helps you to register your work, generate contracts and licenses, search for unauthorized usage, and build cases against those who infringe upon your product. If you are looking for a fantastic all-in-one solution, then myows is your cat of choice. Best of all, the service is completely free.
Another option for registering your photographs is Safe Creative. The site helps users to generate evidence that can be used in the future to prevent unauthorized cases of use. Safe Creative aims to create a registry that collects authors and right holders information and then contacts them when needed. Safe Creative works with many different formats including audio, video, text, and visual art. So, in addition to your photographs, your can protect all of your other creative outlets.
Manually Finding Your Photographs
If you aren’t a fan of automatic image checking, some services offer the ability to manually upload particular pictures and do a ‘reverse image search’. Just upload the picture you want to locate and the service will show you everywhere around the web where the content is currently being hosted.
The most popular service dedicated to reverse image searches is TinEye. The service can locate both duplicated and modified copies of your images on the web. The website’s multicolor engine helps to perform visual searches based on the colors used in your work, as well as utilizing image recognition. TinEye also features an automated mode, just in case you do want some help in your search. Companies that employ TinEye include Adobe, Associated Press, Groupon, Kayak, Shutterstock, Zoosk and many more.
Google upgraded its image search engine a while back to perform reverse searches. You can find your photograph by either linking to an existing URL of the image by uploading a copy. The downside is that Google Images can only search one item at a time. We did notice that Google’s engine seemed to be much better at producing photographic matches than TinEye.
Watermarking Your Work
The argument to watermark your work or not is one that will likely continue for generations. Watermarks can help to enforce that you own a photograph, but unless you lay the mark across the entire image, it can usually be removed quite easily with Photoshop.
For quick online watermarking of photographs there is nothing better than watermark (ws). The website can easily batch process hundreds of photographs while watermarking, resizing, and retouching them simultaneously. There are tons of options to choose from including fully customizable text and graphics. The Watermark (ws) editor allows you to choose between ‘pixel-perfect positioning’ or automatic tiling for ‘ultimate protection’.
Another option for online watermarking is WaterMarquee. While lacking the elegance of Watermark (ws), the web interface is very easy to use and works in practically every available web browser. Users can quickly add watermark graphic stamps or text to their existing photos. A Pro version of the service offers no limits on batch watermarking, instant social sharing, additional file support, and tiled watermarks.
Stop the Usage of Your Work
Sometimes there is only so much you can do before a web fiend decides to steal your photographs. These circumstances can feel quite stressful, but be reassured that there are resources at your disposal to help justice prosper and take back control of what is truly your work.
PlagiarismToday is an excellent website for copyright infringement information and resources that should be read by all photographers who are posting their work online. They include a collection of stock letters that allow you to send ‘cease and desist’ notices to individuals, hosts, and search engines. Learn how copyright protects you and what you can do to ensure your work remains your own at PlagiarismToday.
Photo Attorney is the official website for Carolyn E. Wright, who has a law firm dedicated to helping photographers with their legal needs. For $10, they provide a number of documents for photographs including model releases, copyright transfer notices, takedown requests, property releases, settlement agreement claim forms, and much more — that’s $10 well spent, in our opinion. If worse comes to worse, you can also inquire about their legal services if you need additional help.
Update: Here are some other resources suggested by the PetaPixel community:
- Lenstag helps you track where your images are being used online.
- US Copyright Office: Officially register the copyright of your images with the government.
- Image Raider: Another solid reverse image search service.
- Copyright Infringement Finder: A Firefox and Chrome plugin that helps you find unauthorized uses of photos via right click.