Friday, October 20, 2017

Image Online – What to Do Against Photo Theft

Author: Sophia Höttinger,

The photo’s online and now at the danger of being used by anyone for free. Nowadays you have to expect that whenever you upload images online you are making yourself victim of photo theft. At Copytrack we work to change this.

It’s about time that we stop this crazy belief that anything online is free to use and finally hammer the law firmly into the heads of online users. Listen up: Photo theft occurs when anyone downloads images found online and uses them for other purposes, without permission of the rightsholder. Frustratingly, this is still unknown to majority of online users, however Copytrack is keen to educate. Thanks to the growing opportunities created by modern technology, which make stealing images just a click away, together with the lack of knowledge surrounding image rights online photo theft is possible.

Copytrack demand creators to know their rights. Before anything you have to understand your rights. You, as the rightsholder, have to know your rights and what you are able to claim. Copyright law, allows authors of work to have the right to claim damages when their rights have been abused.

Take-Down Request

You can start by personally informing the image abuser about their wrong doings, and request them to delete the image. This method is only recommended when your image has been used for private purposes only. Many – especially private users – are completely unaware of their crime when sharing images, and are dumbfounded when they learn that they have broken the law.

If your politely written email, the claim for deletion of the image are ignored, or the image user uses that image commercially you have to be prepared to legally enforce your rights! The job of a photographer is to take photos- not to enforce the law, ensuring that photos are always used legally. Operators of commercial should have no excuse when sharing images. As established online companies they should be completely clued up on online image laws. They ought to know the common requirements such as, making sure that the author is always named and that licenses are always legally purchased.

Cease & Desist

The legal equivalent to a nicely written email is a cease-and-desist letter that informs the user that legal action can be taken if the image continues to be used. This is a quick and easy tactic to state your rights. A cease-and-desist letter does not have to be sent by a lawyer. However, a lawyer might be recommended to ensure that your letter is affective as certain preconditions have to be met and it can quickly become complicated. It could also cost you at the beginning, but if the reminder is affective, the thief must take over any of the costs.


There’s also an option for those who don’t have an issue with others using their images, and just want to make sure that they’re paid for each usage of their work. You can sell a license for the use of your image, after they have started using it, allowing a once image rights abusers to become future customers. This is a great opportunity for you to profit from your work and generate new customers- a win-win situation.

Claim of Damages

You can always claim damages when your offer for a post-license is ignored or you have no intention to post license your work in the first place. There are three different grounds that justify claiming damages:
  1. Compensation based on the profit generated the image user gained by the illegal use of the image.
  2. Compensation determined by the profits lost by the rightsowner.
  3. Compensation based on the original cost of purchasing a license or using official price lists that help determine the price of a license based on the image usage.
Copytrack believe that image users should always be informed of photo theft, regardless whether it’s an email, a cease-and-desist letter or even giving them the opportunity to obtain a post-license. In no situation should image theft be ignored. It does not matter if photography is just your hobby. Only when photographers start to stand up for their right, or point out copyright abuse, can future photo theft be prevented. In a situation where your images are used commercially Copytrack strongly suggest that you take legal action and if necessary claim for damages.

About Copytrack:

Copytrack ( was founded in 2015 by Marcus Schmitt and currently employs around 25 people from legal, IT, customer service and finance. The service supports photographers, publishers, image agencies and e-commerce providers. It includes a risk-free search of the global Internet for image and graphics data uploaded by users at Copytrack are found with a hit accuracy of 98 per cent. The customers define if images are used without a license and even determine the amount of subsequent fees supported by an automatic license calculator on the portal. Copytrack is fully responsible for an out-of-court solution in over 140 countries as well as a legal solution in the areas relevant to copyright law. If the image has been successfully licensed, the rights holder receives up to 70 percent of the agreed sum. The pure search function is free of charge.