Shopping Links Blog

A Blogger’s Silent Problem: When Your Photos Are “Borrowed”

October 11, 2017

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Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but as any blogger who has seen their imagery appear on marketing campaigns and social media can attest, it’s rarely gratifying to see your work used without payment or credit.

No studies have quantified the number of images scraped each year without permission, but with an average of 60 million photos uploaded to Instagram every single day, chances are good that every creator will find a stolen image at some point in their career. One professional photographer discovered hundreds of her photos used in brand advertisements and on products without her permission. Bloggers in our own community have shared with us similar experiences of brands using imagery for social media and marketing campaigns without their permission.  The problem has become even more prolific as brands struggle to keep up with the amount of content they need for their blogs and social channels without educating their marketing teams about copyright laws.

Read More: The Types of Licenses You Need to Know

Only a shift in thinking among marketers about where to legally source imagery, combined with better resources to legally pull and license new photography, will help to solve the problem fully; but you can protect yourself by making it more difficult to use your imagery. Here are a few quick tips: 

  1. - Watermark imagery whenever you are uploading imagery outside your own blog or social channels. You can use an inexpensive tool like uMark to watermark in batches.
  2. - If a watermark will ruin the aesthetic of your blog post, consider working with a web developer to disable the right-click function on your photos. This won’t prevent someone from taking a screenshot, but it does help to deter thieves looking for an “easy grab.”
  3. - Add your copyright information in your image description and image “Alt Text,” informing anyone who saves your image that the rights are reserved. If you must pursue legal action in the future, this action also helps to negate a user’s argument that they were simply unaware. 
  4. - Only upload web-resolution imagery (72 dpi) online to prevent the use of imagery in print ads or on products.
  5. - Learn your country’s copyright laws. If you live in the US, for example, registering your images with the US Copyright Office can better position you to pursue legal action.

- We also recommend “spot checking” for your imagery with Google’s reverse image search and connecting with brands to remove your photos. Often times, the theft is a result of carelessness or inexperience, and brands are happy to remove the imagery or pay.

We recognise that image theft is a serious problem, and we are working on a solution to make it easier for brands to find, source, and legally purchase the licensing rights to use your blogger photography, while helping you to secure revenue for your content. If you are interested to learn more or join our pilot team of testers, please get in touch at  

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