We like to think that everyone is working just as hard as we are to produce fresh, unique, eye-catching content and images. However, that’s simply not true. Copyright infringement takes place daily online, often slipping under the radar unless it’s reported. Image and content theft is so rampant that web hosting companies now have special pages on their websites with which you can report others who have stolen your work. Protect yourself against copyright issues by learning how and where to report problems.
What is copyright infringement?
The Copyright Law in the United States defines copyright infringement as any act that violates the rights of the creator or copyright holder. Specifically, it says that all the following are not allowed:
Use of whole or part of an image without permission.
Use beyond the scope of a license or permission.
Adapting an image without permission.
Asking another photographer or illustrator to identically recreate the image.
In other words, anytime you borrow an image from a website without permission, you’re breaking the law. Likewise, whenever someone takes an image from your website without asking, they are, in essence, stealing from you.
Breaking copyright law might not get you thrown in the slammer, but it could seriously cripple your bank account and ruin your thriving online business. While infringers certain can go to jail, they're more likely to be hit a fine that ranges from $200 to $150,000, and also be forced to pay for all attorney fees and court costs.
Has someone recycled one of your original images? Here how and where you can report copyright infringement.
File a claim with authorities
If you or your hosting server is located in the United States and you’ve registered your works, you can file a claim with the U.S. Copyright Office, the Cyber Division of the FBI, or the Internet Crime Complain Center. Once you’ve finished the paperwork and notified authorities, an investigation will begin.
Let search engines know
If your original work is being republished or reposted without your permission, search engines will help you to get that content removed from offending websites. Contact major search engines using the links below:
Contacting the offender’s web hosting company
Because web hosting companies can also be held liable for copyrighted material published without permission, they are quick to investigate and remove illegal content. You can easily track down which hosting company is hosting a domain by using WhoIsHostingThis.com.
Copyright infringement is serious business and as of last year, it can affect your ranking on Google, so it’s important to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. When filing a report, be sure to gather the original image you created as you will be asked to provide proof of ownership.