Mark your property very discretely with copyright management information ... the copyright emblem with information or a symbol or anything you can prove is your trademark or ID mark.
I recently posted this photo in a conversation about orbs. You can see the dark orb on the left hand side center of the photo. You can also see the copyright mgt info on the bottom right of the photo.
It was trimmed, copied and forwarded to others as their own photo. I informed the person that it was copyrighted and to refrain from posting it any place else. I was told to "stick it" and they had removed my $**&%^@# copyright "stuff".
I politely reminded the person of the DCMA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) section 1202b that states
No person shall, without the authority of the copyright owner or the law—(1) intentionally remove or alter any copyright management information . . . . knowing, or, with respect to civil remedies . . . having reasonable grounds to know, that it will induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal an infringement of any right under this title.
The statutory award for each violation of Section 1202 ranges from $2,500 to $25,000.
The photo was used with permission by me and the alternative symbol is also the copyright holders initials which the thieves did not remove.
If your photo is stolen ... send them a bill. Do not tell them about the backup info on the photo. Send them a collection notice ... Add the value of the photo use, your time and costs, and file a claim in court. You don't have to have an attorney. Notify the thieves that you are going to do this. They don't want the expense of a defense attorney, reputation damage, on top of the court fees and costs, plus they know they stole it and will lose the case. The proof in court is simple. Get a copy of the thieves' photo. Ask them if it is theirs. Show your photo with your copyright info on it. Ask them if they removed the copyright info. Show both photos and ask them what the emblem is in both photos. When you explain to the judge that it is your initials and show other photos with the same emblem in them .... Not beyond a shadow but a preponderance. You win. They pay.
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I guess I am an urban legend. I've had my photos stolen. A company was using them for their profit. I called and spoke to the owner. His response was "Prove it! Take me to court."
The lawyer told me it would cost me more in court and legal fees than the photos were worth to both prove it and to force them to stop using my photos.
Yes, your photo is copyrighted the instant you press the shutter release but the expense of legal recourse often makes it not worth it to try.
Visibly watermarking your photos is only a deterrent. Someone experienced with photo editing software could remove it but go ahead and add it anyway. An honest admirer will know who took the photo and instances have happened where the admirer seek out the owner to buy a copy. Adding copyright and ownership information to your photo's metadata is also a deterrent but that too can be effectively removed by those that know how.
No right click scripts are a deterrent of a different sort and are even less effective than watermarking your photo.
There are lots of other things one can try to prevent theft but they are all fairly easily overcome.
The bottom line is if your photo is valuable do not put it online. Period. If you must put it online then reduce the physical file and photo size as much as possible, to no more than 72dpi and never larger than 600x800 (the smaller the better) then compress the file as far as you can without unacceptable degradation. This will make your photo undesireable to print and not as usable online.