January 26, 2017

Graham Ashton

How Photographers Can Protect Their Work in 2018


[Updated version from the original 2017 article]

This year, thousands of photographers will take their cameras and entrepreneurial spirit online. A photography business can succeed or fail on its own merit, but as an artist, you'll always be at a disadvantage if you don't protect your work.

Copyright infringement is still one of the biggest barriers to becoming a creative professional -- some even believe it's more cost-effective to ignore thieves than to deal with them.We can't even begin to calculate how much money was lost to image theft last year, even for a single photographer. The reverse, however, is easy to work out.For example, 15% of photographers earned $1000 in copyright damages last year.How did they do it?It comes down to one key factor: education.

Know how to track your photos onlineKnow what to do before publishing an imageKnow how to protect your work against image theft

Learn these golden rules, and stolen work will no longer jeopardize your business and livelihood in the same way.This document contains actionable measures to help photographers safeguard their images online. It lists the most common tools for dealing with copyright thieves, as well as how to prevent it in the first place. We've also listed the key mistakes photographers make when trying to resolve infringement.It's a vital resource for anyone who's ever asked themselves...

  • How do I track where (and how) my images are used online?
  • Why should I register with the U.S. copyright office?
  • How do I license my images correctly?
  • How do I send DMCA takedowns more efficiently?
  • Can watermarks protect my work?
  • What's in the T&C's of stock photography sites?
  • Should I license under Creative Commons?

Photography is a highly rewarding career, but it requires intense dedication and resources. It's no wonder why few have the time to chase up infringers, let alone the money to seek legal counsel.Preventing theft of your work is part of the solution. The other is dealing with it in a way that doesn't cost you.

Why is it important to protect your work?

A couple of years ago, Pixsy surveyed over 800 members of the photographic community about how their images were used — or misused — online. These findings were published as "The State of Image Theft 2016", released through Facebook and Twitter, as well as photography blogs.Our findings illustrate not just the scale of online copyright infringement, but the difficulty artists have to tackle it:


The most startling statistic: 64% of photographers experienced image theft (at least once) in 2016.

Of those, 19% had had images stolen over 50 times!


Who misused the most in 2016?

49% of reported image theft was by Bloggers and Social Media Users.

In fact, the idea that any image can be freely used on social media or non-commercially is one of the biggest excuses for copyright infringers.

Graham Ashton

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