In the Internet age, sharing photos with faraway friends and family is a
little easier than it used to be. Instead of stuffing them in an
envelope and hoping they don’t get bent or lost on the way to their
destination, you can upload them to Facebook, your blog or your
photo-sharing account in just a few seconds. Unfortunately, in most
cases it’s just as easy for someone to save your pictures and use them
elsewhere without your permission. Given the vastness of the Internet,
it’s impossible to find every site that has reposted your photos, but
you do have a few options for uncovering thieves.
Run a reverse image search on Tineye.com. Upload or paste a
link to the photo for which you want to search, and click "Search."
Click on a possible match (if any were found) and click "Switch" to
toggle between your image and the matching image. Tineye displays the
URL next to each thumbnail in the list of search results.
Perform a reverse image search using Google's "Search by
Image" option. Navigate to the Google Images website and click the
camera icon in the search bar. Upload or enter the URL for an image, and
then click "Search." Results are separated into identical matches and
visually similar matches, with thumbnails and links to each site.
Use a commercial recovery service. ImageRights is a firm
that tracks down unauthorized image use and pursues compensation from
the websites that violate your copyright. Fees vary depending on the
level of service you require.
Check your image or Web host's statistics page. Look for
images receiving multiple referrals from a single website; this is an
indicator that the site may be hotlinking, or displaying an image from
your server on their website. Many Web hosts and blogging platforms
offer visitor statistics, and some image-hosting sites, including
Flickr, Photobucket and Picasa also offer the ability to view
statistical information about people who view your photos.
Although it's impossible to completely prevent others from taking your
images, there are a few things you can do to make it more difficult.
Watermarking your photos -- using a photo-editing program to add text to
the image -- may deter others from repurposing your images. If photos
right-clicking may prove effective against less tech-savvy thieves; it's
easy for those with a little technical know-how to bypass, however.