Episode 7 of Filter is part 2 of the copyright infringement topic, and steps through a practical process for trying to receive appropriate value in return for your photos use in situations where it was not approved by you.

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Episode 7 – Finding and protecting your work from copyright infringement (Part 2)

Welcome to part two of our first, two part podcast episode

is that confusing? probably. but last episode we talked about why its important to protect your intellectual property – as in your photos. I talked about why its important for photographers to know where they work is being used. why its important for their name to be used

and how publications and photographers can work together for mutual benefit. This episode I’m going to tell you how I police my work. Policing sounds serious. and i do take it seriously because its my work. and I hold the copyright to the photos. thats really important, I hold the copyright. and you hold the copyright of your own photos. you took the photo, so the copyright is with you. unless you signed a contract or agreed to terms and conditions stating that the photos you take are the exclusive property of the publishing entity. they’re yours, pure and simple. if the publishing entity gives you some level of access you otherwise won’t have. then its courteous and pretty fair to give them non-exclusive use of the images. every situation is different, so we’ll talk about the importance of legal processes later but you should be speak to a solicitor if you’re unsure of your specific situation. I only know about my specific situation and how general copyright works

regarding the way I find my content, I let tools do the policing and i just decide how to progress with that.

theres three parts to finding and correcting unauthorised use of your photos, and i should stress that this is the process that works for me. if you have no process currently, this will be helpful. if you already have a process, then there might be something in my process that helps you be more efficient with your own and of course, it would be great if people could share their processes so we can all learn. someone might have a great technique out there but we can only all benefit if its shared

Step 1 – Know your library

Take a look through your image library. see what bands you shoot most often. the more often you shoot for a band. the more chances there are of your photo being picked up and used. which is sweet! so looking at my library, its obviously Violent Soho, Smith Street Band, WAAX, Dune Rats, Skegss, Clowns etc. Whatever I have a huge amount of photos of. i cant follow every single photo I ever take, so I just focus on the groups or categories that are obvious to me when looking at my library

Step 2 – Set up a Dropbox folder for infringements

In my Dropbox I have a folder called Photo uses. Inside that I have two folders, one that is for authorised uses and one labelled outstanding. Authorised folder is pretty straightforward but the outstanding folder has individual folders for photo uses that either aren’t credited properly, did not pay to use it as part of a marketing campaign or something similar to that. basically anything that I’m not cool with for whatever reason. I name the folders the source name, dash, then the photo name. The goal is to have nothing in your outstanding folder, and everything in your authorised folder. As you go on, you might want to add a third folder called ‘abandoned’. Anything that you give up on should be put in that folder. when you find some content that breaches your copyright, you can then use that folder to identify who is a repeat offended. You might want to take legal action, or some other option you find appropriate, but knowing who has not made an effort to amend your situation is one of the most important factors in any long term set of decisions.

Step 3 – Set up alerts in a monitoring tool

There are three tools I recommend:

Mention (mention.com)

Awario (awario.com)

Social Mention (socialmention.com)

Mention and Awario are around $20USD a month. That’s pretty low for peace of mind knowing you’re seeing so much content you otherwise would have missed. Alternatively, you could use Social Mention, which is free. The benefit of Mention and Awario over Social Mention is that they can save filtered searches. Social Mention has to have your search terms entered each time. It might not be a big deal at first, but over time, you will probably get over it as your search terms become more elaborate and detailed. I recommend social monitoring tools over RSS readers because RSS readers only pull in articles, whereas Awario and Mention bring in social media posts and articles in the same tool. Some publishers will use a different photo on social media than they will in the article. so its important you capture both if you really want to monitor the use of your work. To search, you could either use your name to find who is using your photos and thank them for crediting you or you could perform searches on gigs you recently covered in case anything was lifted from content recently published

Step 4 – Contact the infringing publisher

Once you locate an infringement, take a screenshot immediately. You might need a screenshot to prove it happened. Contact the owner of the website and:

Introduce yourself

State what the infringing work is

Attach the screenshot

and ask for a resolution

Thank them in advance for their reply

In my experience, most publishers or individuals will either:

a) apologise and offer to amend it

b) amend it and not reply – this is why your screenshot is important

In the rare case no action is taken, or the publisher denies it, you have your screenshot as evidence if you’d like to take legal action.

I’ve seen a lawyer and had them prepare cease and desist and takedown notices for the use of my work because it was getting out of control at one point. It sucked to have to do that, but when other clients are paying money, and I was not policing the use of my work elsewhere

it wasn’t fair on the clients that were doing the right thing. So I use my solicitor prepared takedown notice and cease and desist notice in the case of the publisher or individual user not rectifying the situation.

There has yet to be a situation where I have needed to take it to court

because like I said, 9/10 times the publisher does the right thing either because it was an accident or just wasn’t paying much attention

or, that other one time out of ten, your solicitor’s takedown notice is the first step in preparing for further legal action. Like me, I’m sure you don’t want to do that, but that’s the final step, or the nuclear option if you want to call it that and have no luck reasoning like a peer that we are as photographers

Conclusion

Let’s recap:

Know your library

Set up a file management system for infringements

Set up alerts and monitor for infringements

Contact the infringing publisher and request a resolution

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