Once a month (or so) I sit down at the computer and go through my portfolio with Tineye and Google image search to back track my images on the net. It doesn’t always come up with something, but sometimes it actually does.
Yesterday and today I did my routine and at this point the counter is on 20+ non-commercial blogs and 3 commercial pages. Typically I don’t mind if people use my images on their blogs, as long as it is -indeed- non-commercial. I do require a credit line and/or a link back to my page, and if a blog doesn’t have it, I write the blog owner a mail to kindly add the credit line / link or remove the image. Usually they add the credit line. Sometimes they don’t. If they get wise on me I’ll write the host / provider a mail and then the image will be taken down in most cases by the host, but usually I don’t let it go that far, nor does the blog owner. Usually it is -still, can you believe it??- the blog owner thinking that “whatever’s on the internet I can use for free, since it’s public property”. A little bit of kindness and education goes a long way.
With the commercial ones I’m less forgiving.
Before I do anything I make screenshots of the websites / pages I find my images on, and, depending on the kind of commercial website, I check the Internet Archive to see if I can find out how long the image has been on the website. If you fail to do the first, which I did in my first few times, there’s always still the option to go through the Internet Archives, but it’s better to have a fresh screenshot of the website BEFORE they take down the pictures and start denying things.
Then I write them a mail, very friendly, very informal, to start with, asking them to kindly send me copy of the license they have on file for the image used, since I can’t find it in my archives. There’s always the possibility that they actually purchased the image through one of the agencies I’m with and that -for whatever reason- the sale never came through to me. In that case it’s not the fault of the company, but of my agent and I know I have to pull someone else’s hair.
Usually there’s a bit of tugging back and forth; denial (we didn’t do it, our web designer did, etc. etc.), ignorance (we didn’t know, we thought that [insert one of 10,000 excuses I've heard]), or just plain brutality (it’s in Google image search, so I can use it for free). In the end I mostly manage to settle. Until now (knock on wood!) I’ve only once had to step up with a lawyer, and of course, me having the raw file and all, it was a no-brainer. Can’t go into details, since they made me sign a gag-contract, but I got better off it. A lot better. And it would’ve been settled for a lot less had they not gone so idiotically Homer Simpson on me.
Anyway… After having done this for a couple of years now I thought I saw pretty much all the surprises.
But then again… Facebook hasn’t been around for THAT long.
So today I was at it again, and you can picture my surprise when one of my images, watermarked and all by one of my agencies, came up as a profile picture on a Facebook profile:
Screenshot from the Facebook profile that has my picture
So this is an image that was ripped straight from Photographer’s Direct. The image here:
This is a self-portrait I did a couple of years ago, so you can imagine that -even if I’m not recognizable in the picture- I don’t like it at all that someone’s using this particular image as a profile picture on Facebook. Sure, the image is for sale, but this wasn’t a sale, and the guy in question didn’t ask for permission to use this image.
So that’s the story of today…
Now I’m pondering whether I should contact the guy myself or should I ask Facebook to do the work for me…?
What say you, crowd?