Welcome back to "This Week In Image Theft"! Once again the soulless parasites are out and about stealing my shots, and once again I have to waste my time trying to do something about it. But there are a few things that I can put in place to ease this pain.
Firstly there's the site Pixsy - they're a reverse image search company where you give them your images. You tell them where you keep your shots, then they look everywhere else online to see if they appear somewhere without your permission. It's an impressively powerful software and they manage to extract all kinds of results that I never thought possible. For a full review of the service you can check out my article here "Finding People Who've Stolen Your Photographs".
Pixsy is great at finding shots, but it can be a bit overwhelming when you receive your update email from them like this...
I think it's pretty safe to say that I won't be going through all of those 14,624 matches.
Granted a lot of those will be innocuous reposts of my blog and articles plus a bunch of sharing of my pictures etc., which is fine, but I'm also sure there will be a ton of illegal uses of my work in there too. The problem is that I'd have to spend a week or two - time that I don't have - to find them. If I was fortunate enough that somebody like Nike or Gucci had used a couple of my snaps then it would certainly be worth those two weeks but I highly doubt I'm that lucky. The most common offenders by far are nightclubs and the chances of getting any money out of them is frankly laughable.
So apart from the dragnet approach of stumbling around the internet looking for copyright infringes I can also get Mr Google to do some of the hard work for me.
Google has a feature called Google Alerts, which is basically a simple line of code that looks at the specific terms you've given it, let's say, "cute kittens & baby pictures". Google then collates a list of all webpages with that term and delivers them to you with a regularity that you dictate. So if you were to choose a more sensible "Alert" like your company name, for example, "Jake Hicks Photography" and you wanted to see every new page that used those words in combination, you could receive that data once every day. This is exactly what I do and the beauty of this is that you can literally set this up in under 2 minutes.
Go to https://www.google.co.uk/alerts for the page I'm referring to below.
Type your chosen alert in here...
Click "Show Options" to…. you guessed it.
- Your desired alert phrase.
- How often you want to receive emails from Google about it. Once a day/week etc.
- News, video, blog etc. Choosing Automatic gives you everything in my experience.
- Your preferred language of trigger. For example if English is selected it won't show you results from France. With company names like your brand though always choose your language.
- The region specified to search in. For copyright infringement just choose "Any Region".
- You can choose between "Only the Best Results" and "All Results". I have no idea what modifier they use to determine "best" so simply stick to "All Results".
And you're done! It literally takes 2 minutes and it's super simple and surprisingly effective.
Google Alerts obviously doesn't look at your images, it works purely on text so it's going to give you different results to a reverse image search site like Pixsy will.
If all you wanted to know was the stuff about Google Alerts and setting it up then you're done. The rest of this article looks at a current copyright infringement case that I'm working on that was brought to my attention via Google Alerts, hence this article. If you're interested in the details then please continue.
So what is Google Alerts actually good for?
In my experience Google alerts generally just picks up re-blogs and a lot of Pinterest activity but every once in a while it does spot idiot companies who are stupid enough to actually include my name in their sales pitch alongside my pictures.
Pixsy hasn't caught this infringement yet, but Google Alerts did.
Pixsy has the facility to "submit a case" which involves you finding a copyright infringement yourself but passing it over to them to handle. Last week Google Alerts told me of this site that was selling cheap phone cases with my images on them so I took the information and submitted it to Pixsy.
Here's what they said...
So after submitting the online details an immediate and automated response says, "Pixsy Resolution is not available for this website, and more information is available in our FAQ. You are welcome to send a takedown notice instead.". Unfortunately I found nothing at all pertaining to this in the FAQ and as to why it's resolution centre won't touch it, but it's my assumption that Pixsy won't bother with this case because it's operating out of one of the copyright "dead-zones" like China. Upon looking under the contact details for the phone case company it does indeed appear to be doing exactly that.
As it stands at the moment the only legal recourse I have is to issue a takedown notice as per Pixsy's automated advice. I cannot find any reference to this action on their site and although I'm sure it's just me being daft I can't see how I can begin to implement such a thing. I sent them a message requesting help over a week ago and have heard nothing back as of yet. To be fair to them, there is no money to be made out of this on their end so the importance of my message to them isn't high. I get it - we're all businesses trying to make a buck, but I'd certainly appreciate any advice from either them or yourselves out there on exactly how I begin to implement a takedown notice.
Also, is it really worth it? Countries like China and other copyright lax countries steal stuff all the time to little or zero penalty. Should I bother wasting my time that I could be spending to make money in other ways just to satisfy my pride? Have any of you bothered to issue a takedown notice in a copyright haven and have you had any success or results?
I'd love to hear your feedback and experiences on this, guys, so please feel free to fire off in the comments section below, and I hope this article helps you find some image stealing scumbags of your own to stop.
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