Sunday, January 18, 2015

If you don't want your artwork stolen.....

Artists can learn a lot about how to handle copyright issues from photographers. That's because the frequency of copyright infringements in relation to photography is far higher than it is for artwork

This article If you don’t want your photos stolen don’t post them on the internet was written by a very talented photographer based in New Hampshire called Sarah Ann Loreth. The link for her website is in her name and you can also find her work on Flickr.

Sarah Ann Loreth Facebook Album of "borrowed" photos
She has a Facebook album of My photos "borrowed" (only visible if logged into Facebook). If you ever wonder why photographers make a thing out of copyright, just take a look at this Facebook album for a sample of how many times this professional photographer has had her images "borrowed" and used online without credit and without payment.

Until she spots them and sends an invoice.....

Imagine if this was your artwork!

How to deal with copyright infringement

Her article explains what has happened to her photography and how, over time, she has evolved an approach which works for her over time.
When I come across an image being used without payment or permission, I ask myself these questions:
  • Is the person making money off of your image? Have they slapped it on a t-shirt, book cover, or are selling prints?
  • Are they using your image to promote hate or slander?
  • Are they slandering your business?
  • Do they have a big social media following?
  • Are they using your image to market or promote their business?
  • Could going after this person bring a negative outcome to your livelihood?
  • Is the infringement located in a country with similar copyright laws?
  • Is the monetary value worth the energy of the inevitable battle?

How to prevent copyright infringement (and associated 'battles') 

In terms of her tips I'm going to highlight the basic principles below but you need to read the article to understand the reasons why and how to apply them
  • Learn how to Google Reverse Search your images.  This is a link to my website about How to do a reverse image search which you might well find useful
  • Know your rights
  • Watermark your images - this one includes a cunning tip!)
  • Register your images with the Library of Congress or any similar resource in your country - includes a tip for the most cost effective way of doing this
  • Only upload low resolution images to the internet - something I say to people again and again - and also because it makes your website or blog load faster!
  • Add your copyright information into the metadata of your photos - One point worth mentioning here is that many sites strip out the meta data. So in principle a good idea - but you need to know Flickr is one such site.

Thanks to Alison Staite - a friend and another photographer - for highlighting this article to me.

More Information:

These are links to:


  1. What are your thoughts on physical theft? Sadly I suffered this a couple of years ago.

  2. Use Mirror Plates and don't exhibit in a place where art is left unattended.

  3. Wow Katherine, thanks for this. I just did a Google image search and have found one of my paintings being used for sale as prints without credit and of course without my knowledge on some website in Canada. It would have been great to see your Copyright for artists site. What's your proposed solution, write a cease and desist? Send an invoice?

  4. Anne - I've updated the post at the end to include the post in which I show you what I do when somebody plagiarises my blog

  5. I find it interesting that Google's help site (I did a search on how to reverse search your images) says that they will KEEP images that you deem worthy enough to be concerned about :

    "How Google uses the image you search with

    When you search by image, any images or URLs that you upload will be stored by Google. Google uses those images and URLs solely to provide and improve our products and services."

    Idealistically, they mean that they will use your image and the results to improve their categorizing service. However, it seems vague enough [to me] to mean anything. It seems to me that they should at least put a time limit on their storage of your beloved image. Otherwise, who knows what later intentions will come into play?

  6. Here is the link where I found that quote:

  7. If you use a Blogger blog all your images are uploaded to Google anyway since Google owns Blogger

    Same applies to all uploads t Google+


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