What can you do about Piracy?

What’s the big deal about piracy? One simply downloads an image from Flickr that he/she likes and uses it on their blog without owner’s approval. The owner is a known photographer, earning big from his photography blog and in any way, won’t be affected from that one harmless download, so why the fuss?

Well, because everyone thinks the same. There are number of netizens who don’t care about the photographer’s hard work and are illegally downloading images everyday.Although as a photographer, it is never a good news. While you can’t stop uploading images and miss out on all the exposure internet gives you, there’s no denying that there are ‘pirates’ on the internet who can illegally download and replicate your work without your permission. Therefore, it’s very important to protect all your work that’s online.

Know Your Rights

Before we start with the preventing piracy talks, you must understand that as an image owner, you enjoy a few exclusive rights:

  1. to reproduce the photograph
  2. to prepare derivatives based on the photograph
  3. to distribute copies of the photograph to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
  4. to display the photograph publicly

To sum up, you’ve undisputed authority over every shot you take. When it comes to how the image/photo is to be used/printed/displayed/distributed/sold/transferred/leased etc., your words will be the last.

Preventing Piracy

Now, coming to the point – how can you avoid becoming a piracy victim. Here are a few things that you can do:


Add a visible watermark to all your images before you upload them. Well, the whole idea behind watermarking your images is establishing the copyright and protecting the images. If placed cleverly (in a hard to remove location), a watermark can save your image from unauthorised use. You can put anything like your name, your websites/blog’s name or logo as watermark. Check out the following example:

Krzysztof Zietarski
Krzysztof Zietarski
Alexandre Buisse

You can watermark your images while you are editing them or once the editing is done. There are a lot of watermarking softwares available in the market. For the photographers, who are always on the go – you can download watermarking apps like iWatermark or eZy Watermark lite.

Invisible Watermark

Once uploaded, add invisible watermark to all your images. Invisible watermarks are basically information added to the EXIF data of the image. It can be any image-related data or information about the owner. Doing this can help you protect your images against illegal use and moreover, a visible marker can be easily removed from the images but an invisible one can’t be. In fact, many people won’t even know that it’s there. For this, you can try Icemark.

Screenshot on Icemark

Note: Make sure to put the © notice with your name, next to your images, especially when you are sharing them on different social networking sites.

Safeguard your Website

Disable the right-click on the images on your website/blog to prevent illegal downloads. This won’t discourage piracy in totality but at least to some level it would.

Upload low-resolution images on your website/blog and inform the users that the high-quality version of the images are available for purchase.

Don’t forget to make your email public, this would help the people who want to use your images contact you for permission.

When pricing your images, try keeping yourself in the buyer’s shoes and ask yourself the question – “Will I be willing to buy the image at this price?” and when you find the right answer, then put the price tag. For more help, go through this pricing guide.

You can also use licensing tools like LicenseStream to license, transact and monitor your images.

Piracy and Pixpa

At Pixpa, we take the piracy issue very seriously. If you’ve your site hosted with us, the technicalities are taken care of. No one can just right-click and save your images. The photos/images you upload are automatically converted to low-res versions, which is the one you see on the website. The originals can be access by no one, not even us!

But, there are chances that even after following all the above pointers, your work still ends up floating somewhere on the internet without your knowledge. No solution is 100% perfect but you can definitely incapacitate the rookies.  When all means fail, you can always press charges and take the felon to court.

When in doubt, ponder on what Kevin Spacey said, “Give users control, what they want, when they want it, at a fair price, and stop worrying about piracy.”

What are you doing to prevent your work from piracy? Share your thoughts with us.

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