My post on google’s new search by image feature (Google Announces New Image Search) had a few photographers wondering what to do after discovering images of theirs had been used thousands of times online. You can refer back to the primer called Photography, Copyright, and the Law written by Carolyn E. Wright that I referenced here: What To Do When Your Image Is Stolen Online. I also found a post on this topic over on Jeremy Nicholl’s Russian Photo’s Blog called: The 10 Rules Of US Copyright Infringement. In that post he tells how in January of this year he found one of his photos on the website of a major US media company and he hired Barbara Hoffman of the Hoffman Law Firm to handle the matter. The outcome was a five figure settlement for a 468 pixel wide image used illegally on a site he’d never heard of. Here are his 10 tips:
1. Register your images at the US Copyright Office. “…the USA has a dual copyright system: major protection and zero protection.”
2. Make your copyright information visible.
3. Google Alerts is your friend.
4. Grab all the evidence.
5. Don’t contact the infringer directly. “Did they contact you before heisting your property? So why would you call to warn them you’re on their trail?”
6. Hire a lawyer. (Note: his recommended list here)
7. There’s no such thing as a small infringement. “The substantial penalties for infringement under US copyright law are meant as a deterrent.”
8. Your small-time infringer may be a bigger player than you think. “a few seconds research revealed that both sites are owned by one of the world’s largest media companies”
9. Be forensic. “Identifying repeated infringements demolishes any “isolated case” defence and shows the site infringes as a matter of custom and practic”
10. If you have an agent don’t expect them to protect your copyright.