World wide web or world wide theives — How to protect your images online

Screen shot 2013-07-19 at 7.18.34 AM If you have a computer you’ve seen photographs. If you’ve seen 100 photographs online, it’s a safe bet that 25% of them have been stolen.

Now that might make you feel bad for the photographer that made the images — someone is taking food out of their mouths.

What will make you feel worse though is when you see one of YOUR images floating around the net.

Maybe being Tweeted, showing up on Facebook or somewhere else.

What can you do?

There’s a couple options.

First, you can watermark the hell out of the image.  Cover it in watermarks that are about 15% opaque, just enough to let someone know who took the image, but too much for some clown to do a copy and paste and use your image, or worse claim it as his own.

You can also change the name of the file.  Replace the benign “IMG_2042.jpg” with something more like “Jerry Nelson (C) 2013 JourneyAmerica 2042.jpg”  .  That would not only let people know who took the image, but also increase the odds of the search engines finding you — a must if you’re in this thing as a living.

But even that has short comings, people can change file names before re-using them.

Google has a great alternative.  Image search.

Go to Google Chrome Extensions — be resourceful and look it up — and add the Image Search extension to your browser.

Once it’s installed, all you have to do is right click an image and Mr. Google will search the net looking for all instances of where your image has shown up.

The results won’t be perfect, but it will be better than nothing.

I had a photo stolen one time by some clowns at something called “Nuclear Resistor”.  They had used my photo for several months and so I sent them a notice to please take it down or give me credit.  They responded that their “attorney” said it was ok for them to use it under the legal term “fair use”.

Wrong.  I sent them a cease and desist letter along with a note that they need to find another attorney.  Oh yah, I also sent them an invoice for $150.00.  They never paid, but I didn’t really expect those wingnuts to come through with the dollars anyone.

So check out Google Image Search and if you ever think a photo of yours might have gotten boosted, Mr. Google usually does a good job.

The image at the top of this post is a search I did on one of my images that I call “Scooter Jockey’s”.  As you can see, Google didn’t find it anywhere else online, but did a cool job of finding similar images.

Another similar tool is “Tineye”.  Not as quick and efficient as Google, but it would make a good alternative just in case you have some moral reasoning not to Google that image.

 Jerry Nelson is a freelance photojournalist from America.  His latest book of photography, Suenitos tells the story of the only daycare inside the dangerous Hidden City.  Now based in Argentina, he continues to turn his lens on social justice issues around the globe.  Connect with Jerry on MosaicHub, Facebook or LinkedIn today.  Have a story that needs to reach national media?  Email him today.

In addition to being photo editor for the Internet’s largest collection of Travel Articles, Outbounding, he is also the lead photographer for BuenosTours, the specialists in private walking tours of Buenos Aires

Find Jerry on Google+


Are you a blogger? Journalist? Photographer?  Get your work featured on JourneyAmerica.  As a Guest, you can link up to three times back to your website, your portfolio or your business.  To see some of the other guests that have been featured, select “Guest Post” category on the right side of the screen in “the cloud”.  Questions?  Email me today.


Every week I get many requests from bloggers, publishers and editors to provide content..  While I’m always glad to help out, sometimes the amount of work requested can get a little overwhelming.  I’ve enlisted “MuckRack” to help me sort out the pitches. If you’ve emailed me an inquiry about providing content and I haven’t answered, I’m not ignoring you.  I just haven’t dug that far down in my emails yet.  To make doubly sure you get your pitch noticed, please click on the “MuckRack” button and enter your request there.  Thanks for understanding!


Ever want to learn how to take better digital photographs?  Be sure to order my “Mastering Digital Photography” eBook.  Only $9.95  $1.00 if you order within the next hour.

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