We are all familiar with how to search for an image online using “the Google”.
However, you might not be familiar with how to find out if your images are being used online.
The “reverse search” method to find the original source of an image can be done in 3 clicks and is actually relevant to everyone who puts an image online (or posts their photos online).
If you are an artist, illustrator, photographer, chef, or a parent, you might want to make sure your images are being used online WITH your permission!
Similarly, if you use images you find online it is YOUR responsibility to find the original source of the image to make sure you have permission to use it on your website or other communication.
If you use an image online that is subject to copyright without permission or attribution (if permitted) it is considered theft regardless of your intention, and you could find yourself dealing with legal action. And yes, that does happen.
Watch the short video below that walks you through how to find out of it your images are being used online.
(I’ll also you show the difference between image theft (without attribution) and the right way to do it!)
When researching this post I actually found over 50 of my drawings used without attribution as outlined in my Creative Commons License.
I emailed SOME of the people who used my images without attribution but not all.
Finding out that someone has used your images online without your permission can feel really icky (putting it mildly) and be a HUGE time and energy suck.
I will admit that I’ve wasted far too much time and energy fighting with people over this in the past, contacting lawyers etc … and what did it bring my business? Not a huge amount.
The fact is that we have a choice; either we scream “THIEF” or we send an email and hope that the situation can be rectified amicably. Usually it’s rectified super fast, but occasionally you can get some pretty irate defensive replies – you have to be prepared for both outcomes.
Here are some of the responses I’ve received when pointing out copyright infringement:
“Oh, it was my new assistant, she’s new to social media and didn’t know.”
– If you have anyone sourcing images for you, it’s YOUR responsibility to ensure they know about copyright. At the end of the day it’s YOU who is liable, not your assistant.
“I found the image on Pinterest/Facebook and thought it was free to use!”
– Use the reverse image search outlined in the video above to FIND the original source (and umm, my images have my URL on them which is like a watermark!)
Here are some quick links for you to read more on the issue of copyright:
- Get a Creative Commons License for your site (so you have something to refer back to in case of image theft).
- Dig in more to Copyright and Fair Use to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules (this is for the USA but basics stand true in most countries) .
Remember, using someone’s work online without their permission is theft. It’s important that when you use someone else’s work that you attribute and link with love!
Don’t let this oversight invite unnecessary stress into your life and business!