Online Piracy

Find Your Stolen Online Photos?


Have you ever wondered if your copyright protected images are being copied for use on other websites? As a photographer, I post many of my photos to the web. Some are on sites that have legally paid for their use, some are posted to my own website, while others are posted to photo networks such as Flickr or Picasa. It would be very easy to copy any of those images for unauthorized use and given the vast amount of pages on the web, it would be unlikely that the artist or photographer would ever discover the theft.

One tool that helps solve this problem is ?¿ src-img. It is a free, open-source tool that uses Google’s image search, which allows it to find any image that is being indexed by Google Images, one of the best image search engines on the web.  It’s easy to use and very effective. One important note, Google Images does not index Facebook photos, only profile pictures, so this tool will not work with Facebook. While other tools, like TinEye claim that they do work with Facebook, I have found they do not work very well.  And img-src seems more effective at finding non-Facebook images, but this measure is subjective on my part so you may want to test TinEye. For ?¿ src-img, there is a workaround.  If you suspect that one of your Facebook photos is being used outside of Facebook, simply post it to another site like Flickr, and then use img-src.

Setting up ?¿ src-img is simple. . Go to the ?¿ src-img website here.  On the page you will see

“Drag the following link to the bookmarks bar in your browser. ?¿ src-img.

So just put your cursor on the link and drag it into your bookmark bar. Now go to any site that has your images. For this test, I will use my Flickr site. Open a single image or use this tool for all images on a page. Just click on the ?¿ src-img link in the toolbar and the ?¿ src-img symbol will appear on top of any image on the page. Then, click on the image you’re interested in. A new page will appear with the results.

img-src search
img-src results
img-src results

Should you find your images being used without your permission, you may want to ask that the image be taken down. Depending upon the severity of the violation, you may have grounds for legal action and damages, so consult an attorney. Also, although any image has automatic copyright for the author, there are several advantages to having your images registered for Copyright with the Library of Congress Copyright Office. To understand the advantages of copyright registration, see this article or view some of the information in our guides area.

About the author

Steve Schlackman

As a photographer and Patent Attorney with a background in marketing, Steve has a unique perspective on art and law. Should you have any questions on Intellectual Property contact him at [email protected] His photography can be seen online at or on display at the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery in New York City.


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