Three Ways You Can Protect Your Instagram (and Other) Photos Online

There are many cases wherein photographers have been played to the side, their photos used illegally while others keep the profit.   That’s exactly the case with photographer Naomi Frost, who found her lone surfer photo emblazoned on t-shirts sold at Lowes.  That’s probably a photographer’s worst nightmare – having your work admired by millions without receiving proper compensation.

Things are worse for online photos, thanks in part to the proliferation of social media-sharing sites.  Many photographers on popular social networks are being robbed of recognition and compensation when others use their photos, or even claim them as their own.

Of course, there are ways to protect your photos online, such as watermarking or tiling.  But there’s other means of protecting your photos to prevent the likes of Facebook and Instagram from using your content for advertising without your consent.

Invisible Watermark

A lot of people aren’t fond of putting watermarks on their photos since it damages the beauty of the image.  The best workaround for this is placing an invisible watermark on your photos.  An invisible watermark carries a unique ID that connects to a photographer’s website and stays with the photograph no matter how many times the photograph gets used by others.  So when another user clicks on the photograph, they will be taken to the photographer’s site or page or anywhere the photo originally appeared.  Photographers can use a service such as Digimarc for an annual fee of $49 or $99 depending on the package a user chooses.

Reverse Image Search

If you want to know if someone has been using your photos without your permission, you can use reverse image search to check.  All you need is a service such as TinEye or Google Image Search, drag one of your photos which you suspect has been illegally used, and it will show you results of the same photos.  This makes tracking infringers a bit easier.

No Right Click

If you host your own site, and you’re using WordPress for example, you can prevent thieves from stealing your photos by using the “No Right Click Images” plugin for WordPress, or “No Right Click” JavaScript for traditional websites.  This is the reason why, on some websites, no matter how many times you try to copy an image, you aren’t allowed to.  Of course there’s always a workaround, such as screen shot, but that could compromise the quality of the photo.

Instagram’s ToS – back it up!

Though Instagram is rolling out their revised Terms of Service on January 19, 2013, some users are still wary of the service, and some have even opted out.  If you’re still using Instagram but is still worried about the privacy of your photographs, you can always opt out of the service but before you do that, better back those images up, you don’t want to lose them, right?  Then you’ll be able to upload those images to alternative services such as Flicker and now Twitter, that offers photo editing and sharing without you having to worry about people stealing them.

photo credit: andrewrennie via photopin cc