Before you proceed any further it is important to make sure that the other person or website cannot claim something called "Fair Use". In certain instances, a website may use your photo under the "Fair Use" clause. To understand more about "Fair Use", see here. For a simple checklist to follow to see if fair use applies to your photo, see here. Please note that in all instances of fair use, they may not alter your original work (including adding their own watermark) and they must provide credit to the original artist. 99 percent of issues where you found your photo on someone else's website do NOT fall under "Fair Use".
- Capture a screen shot showing the image on the infringing person's or business's website page.
- Capture the main URL to the page you found the infringing photo on.
- Click on the image to open it full screen, if possible, and make a copy of the direct URL found in the address bar.
- Follow back to the person's profile or about section and capture the direct URL to that page if they included any information about themselves that you could use to track down their identity.
- Document their name, phone number, etc from their contact page if it exists.
- Click on the "About" section on their profile and take a screen capture of the next page if possible. Some have filled out location, phone numbers, etc. Capture this data if present.
This is the only instance where I say that you should probably actually reach out the website owner and request that they remove your photo, or compensate you in some way if they wish to keep it posted. Do this only after capturing all of the screen shots, etc. showing that the data once was posted there. In most cases, just simply asking the person will render quick results. It should be important for you to give them a clear time frame for take down or compensation. Here is a short sample letter that you can email them.
My name is (Insert your full name here). I have found that one of my copyrighted images is being shown on your website without my permission or consent. The posting of this image does not represent any "Fair Use" condition that might be applied. The location of my original work can be found here to show you that I am the rightful and legal owner of this copyrighted work: (Insert the URL back to your website showing that it belongs to you.) The location that my copyrighted work appears on your site is located at the following location: (Insert the URL to where the photo can be found on the infringing website.). Please remove completely from your servers all instances of my copyrighted work. You may, alternatively pay me fair compensation for allowing my copyrighted work to be used on your website. For this to happen you must contact me via phone to discuss options. If fair compensation has not been received, or my copyrighted work has not been removed from your website within 48 hours of this email, I will begin legal action.
(insert your name here)
(insert your email address)
(insert your phone number)
If after 48 hours the infringer has not compensated you or removed the photo as you instructed, it is time to look up who they are getting their server space through, and send an official DMCA Take Down Notice. The first thing we need to do, is figure out who owns the server. Use the below utility to determine that.
1. Simply click on this link. And type in the web address.
2. You will need to fill out the Captcha' to prove you are a real person.
3. At the bottom of the screen, look for the Registrar. This data may also list the contact information for the person owning the website as well. In this example we can see that the registrar is Enom, Inc.
Now we have to track down the appropriate contact information for the "Designated Agent" at the Registrar. We do that by using the online database located at the Copyright office.
1. Click this link.
2. Search for your Registrar or Service Provider.
3. Click that link when you find it and you will be taken to their registration form containing the contact information that we need. It includes physical mailing address, email address to the correct department set up for handeling these issue as according to law, a phone number, and often a fax number as well.
Take that information and fill out a DMCA Notification from the link located at the top of the page. Mail a copy of that to the address listed on the form. Copy that data into an email - do not include as an attachement - and email it to the email address on the form. Send it to the fax number if listed as well. Finally, turn that into a PDF and save it for your own records.
You have now done everything you can, but the things you have done carry considerable teeth. If you have done what we told you above, you have gathered all the proof you need, and have filed an official DMCA with the service provider using all three methods that are available.
We suggest waiting 2 weeks to see if anything happens. We are betting that something will. After all, you have notified them using every means possible, and have followed the directives outlined in the DMCA. If they fail to comply after 14 days, you can now take this to the next step.
Now it is time to notify the FBI. The FBI has a copyright/piracy task force set up for pursuing these matters. It used to be only for things like movies and music, but that has now been extended to include things like photographs and works of art.
The following link will take you to the specific page at the FBI where you can file a complaint. It is called the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). You will need all of the information that you gathered so far, as well as a complete outline of what you have done to notify the infringer up to this point.
This is not quite ready, but it is something I am actively trying to get put in place. I am seeking attorneys who are also photographers, to assist with sending a certified cease and desist letter on behalf of the photographer.
You will never be given the voluntary attorney's phone number and contact information. You will fill out an online form and include all of the details you have done up to this point. They will charge you a nominal fee to cover the costs of certification - I am thinking about $20 or less - and send a form letter with the pertinent information included.
It should never make it to this step, but if it does, then an actual lawsuit is going to have to be filed, and for that you need an attorney. At the top of this page, click "Legal" for a list of attorneys that we are currently recommending.