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Image Theft Goes A Little Something Like This:

You see some nice shiny images on a Google or Baidu search. You decide that these images suit your brand, or company, or even a blog you intend to write! You then take the next step and download or copy the images from the internet. You now put them online on your company’s website claiming it to be yours, or your company’s image. You then say to yourself ‘’the internet is too big, no one cares, and no one will catch me ‘’. Well, now somebody CARES, and somebody WILL catch you! Be afraid, be very afraid…..

Have a look here: What’s A Settlement Demand Letter ?

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Why Should You Be Afraid?

Most likely, a big stock agency like Getty Images or Alamy or Shutter Stock are coming looking for you! Or the image you’ve stolen!

Being a photographer, I can never condone the use of stolen images for many different reasons. Such reasons are: it hurts photographer’s livelihoods and cheapens our profession, it’s dishonest, and unsupportive of one the oldest professions in the world. The Arts!  It’s also hurting normal people who are just trying to eek out a decent living for themselves! Would you like it if somebody stole money from your wallet? Well, effectively by stealing images you’re doing exactly that!

Image Theft Not Only Enrages Photographers, It Now Enrages Huge Photo Stock Agencies.

What’s A Photo Stock Agency?

Basically, stock agencies are like big markets for photos. A photographer contributes an image to an agency like Getty or Alamy, who then try to sell it on to third parties. If the image is sold, the photographer gets a percentage of the sale. Stock agencies have huge warehouses full of images with upwards of millions of photos in their databases. Now, they have learned how to track where their images have been illegally used on the internet.

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How Can They Find The Images?

By using advanced technology, and co-operating with companies such as Picscout and Tineye, stock agencies run reverse image searches on their photos to track down where they are located across the internet. Without going into too much detail, Wikipedia says:

Reverse image search may be used to:      

  • Locate the source of an image
  • Find higher resolution versions
  • Discover webpages where the image appears
  • Track down the content creator
  • Get information about an image

They Wont Find Me!

Yes, they will! It’s only a matter of time!

I have around 800 images on my Alamy account. I’m not a regular contributor, but every now and again I’ll upload some travel shots that I define asstock photography. Last week alone, I received 2 emails from Alamy asking me if I would allow them toChasean image of mine they had tracked down that someone had stolen.  They also told me, that if I did not give the person or the website permission to use the images , they would pursue the issue on my behalf and I would get a percentage of any incurred fines for the illegal usage. How noble of them!

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What Will Happen If They Find Me?


No, you don’t have to run anywhere! The best thing you can do if you receive an email from an agency is to remove the image from your site, and try to enter into some dialogue with them to get the problem resolved. Do not ignore their correspondence! Remember, these are huge organisations and they will come looking for you should you try and hide! Being upfront and honest is always best!

I’m In A Country Where They Cannot Enforce These Rules!

In certain countries, there are lax laws about copyright theft and there is little that can be done. However, if you have a company that operates within their jurisdiction, then I would heed this warning and be careful about the imagery you choose for your site. It’s only a matter of time before they knock on the door!

How Can I Search To See Where My Images Came From?

You can use Tineye to see where an image is located on the internet. Sometimes, you can also use it to see what type of license is attached to that photo. Go on to Tineye and upload an image to see the results!

TinEye - HGR

I Searched My Image And It Says It’s Free!    

So, now you’ve used Tineye to search your image,  read below for more information about the photos license before making any assumptions.        

Royalty Free

Sorry, it’s not free! Royalty Free in simple terms, means you pay a photographer a onetime fee for an image. You can now use that image without restrictions. Basically, you can publish it wherever you want.

Rights Managed

Again, not free! Rights Managed in simple terms, means you pay the photographer a fee to use the image, but it has restrictions on its use. For example, you can use it in a magazine, but if you want to use it also on a billboard, you must pay again for another licence.

Creative Commons

Depending on what type of Creative Commons license is attached to the image it MAY be free to use. The photographer has given the right for the image to be used in the public domain.

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So, What Should I do Now To Get Photos For My Company?

Be nice! Hire a photographer and agree a package that suits your needs. You will be surprised on how reasonable some photographer’s daily rates are, and you will be supporting an industry that now needs more support than ever! If you do not wish to hire a photographer, than BUY your image from a stock site and save yourself a lot of trouble in the future.

Also are you aware of the new website called Imagebrief ? It’s worth checking out if you want to source quality licensed images.

I Need A Photographer!

We can be that photographer!

Check out our studio site by clicking here, and get in touch today to get a reasonable quote for your imagery.

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HGR Technology Can Offer Your Brand

1. Set up and establish your Chinese language website.

2. Hosting your website on our Chinese web servers.

3. Officially registering your website with the Chinese state-issued ICP license.

4. Integrate your website with Baidu SEO and web analytics.

5. Build and maintain a Dual language E-commerce platform for your brand.

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