As most online artists may realize, uploading images of artworks carries a real risk.
They can be easily copied or stolen if artists do not do some anti-theft measures.
I recently found out I had some images of my painting Entwined stolen, without any credit whatsoever to me.
I will show you how I did it, and give some simple tips on how you can protect your art from online art theft right now.
Did you know Google image search has the capability of scanning your images, just like a finger-print reader? It scans the actual image and finds any identical copies throughout the internet.
Using this technology, artists can use an image of their artwork to determine if one identical to it appears on other websites.
How to Find Images Copied onto Other Websites!
This is surprising simple!
Open Google Image Search in your web browser.
This only works in Google Chrome!
Then, go to the the folder on your computer where your image resides.
Drag the artwork to the search bar in Google Image Search, and Drop Image Here appears.
If the photograph appears found on other websites, the results instantly pop up. Most of them could very well be your own postings of art.
As you can see, there are 33 search results for my abstract painting Entwined below.
Now, I have no idea why iceberg paintings automatically appears in the Google search bar, but that really doesn’t matter.
For my results, there was no indication in the Visually Similar Images that my artwork was stolen.
I did not see any copies on the first page at all - only my own sites that had the artwork displayed…. But, I found something very interesting on the third page….
I saw several websites there that wasn’t familiar to me. A couple listings pointed to sites that did not exist anymore, so I could not tell if no credit was given in the past.
But, near the bottom of the page, and some on the next, this showed up….
As you can see, these are Blogspot blogs, but in a foreign language.
I used Google Translate, and found no credit to me at all!
So, I left a message there and asked them to remove it, or give me proper credit.
I have not checked my other paintings and drawings yet to find out if they were stolen, but will soon.
(UPDATE: I recently returned to these pages and my painting did not appear! I also used the same Google search technique using a few other paintings… I had similar results with them… art theft by foreign sites!)
Best Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Art From Online Art Theft
- Make the image resolution small enough so that the image will be impossible to print.
- One thing I like to do these days is to place a link to my blog or my name on some of my art images, at the bottom. That way, if anyone copies it, I would automatically receive free advertising.
- Put your name in the image file title.
- Use a watermark for your images.
- Disable right-clicking with a script.
You should know that most of these methods can be by-passed by online thieves.
But, the most important thing you can do to prevent artworks from being sold elsewhere, is to use small low resolution images.
That way, they may be copied, but the artworks can’t be translated to quality prints.
I have posted more effective ways for preventing online art theft here:
How to Protect Yourself From Online Art Theft
There are many things we as artists can do to fight these art thieves!!
All this is detailed here…
What to do about Online Art Theft
Thank you I find all your articles very useful and interestingReplyDelete
Thank-you very much Bhagvati... You are welcome here anytime!
Good Info Graham, I've Placed Links Back To This Article On My DeviantArt, Redbuble And FineArt America Accounts To Let Others Know About This Neat Little Technique.ReplyDelete
Since So Many Of Us On DA Are Being Victimized.
Thanks so much! That is very much appreciated!
What are your Deviant Art, Redbubble, and Fine Art America profile links, by the way?
You are more than welcome to post them here!
Thanks for a great article!ReplyDelete
What would you say is a resolution "small enough"?
A resolution of no more than 400px on the largest dimension, depending on what you plan on using it for. That would be useless for printing. :)
Thanks for the suggestions Graham. The images on my blog are small and low resolution, but the gallery site they're stored in allows the visitor to enlarge the image. My blog stats list visits from all over.ReplyDelete
Now I'm concerned about my FB Page, that I just spent hours redesigning.It's full of my copyrighted images in a highlighted, large size. I really dislike watermarking, but that may be my only solution.
I tried using the drag and drop in google chrome. It did not work for me. I have a couple of sites and they did not come up. The only thing it is doing is showing the image with the location of it on my computer. I must be doing something wrong.ReplyDelete
This happens when the image is dropped into the search bar, instead of the blue box...
If you use flash to display your artwork, you won't have to worry about right - clickers. If the swf uses an XML file to access the images from a remote location then thieves with swf ripping software won't be able to get your images that way either. However, there can't be anything done about people who use the print screen function. A person could simply blow up the web browser with your low-res image, take a screenshot and clean it up in photoshop.ReplyDelete
The best way would be to use a watermark and explain to your viewers why it is there.
Dear Graham and fellow artists;ReplyDelete
It is nice to see such lively discussions and information.
I am a semi-retired professional artist and will try to share what I have learned when applicable. I also look forward to learning from all of you.
This is a very good article and I have ended up doing similar actions to protect my art on line. What I have been doing for Facebook, Picassa and Flicker is to make 3x4 inch renditions of my art then have a link to FineArtAmerica where my retail gallery is at gordon-punt.artiswebsites.com. FineArtAmerica does not allow right-clicking and downloading images, like RedBubble and other similar sites. However when I search my images on Google Images "nude female drawings" I find that the enlargements on FineArtAmerica some times show up, and downloading the large image is then possible.
Watermarks, name in description of image, name on image and creating websites that do not allow right-clicking are all ways to discourage copy write infringement.
I have not tried the Google search for my images yet but I am anxious to do so.
Take care - Gordon
How do you disable right clicking (I use dreamweaver CS3)ReplyDelete
There should be plenty of free scripts to disable right clicking. Do a search for "free disable right click scripts"...
You dont have to search to see IF google has taken your images, they have. Any place you put your images as an artist it is taken. The sites you put them on can stop it, by having their webmaster block such scans, you have to insist on it with them or close your account. Artists stand by like sheep and watch people rip them off right and left, copy your work reproduce your work, sell your work meanwhile telling you how good it is for you to market your work on their site. Wake up people, we are lied to up and down in this society and you are fool to believe any of it.Watch YOUR INTERESTS, they watch theirsReplyDelete
You say to use small resolution images, most sites if they are putting art work on products etc cannot use the small resolutions as they dont make you work look good at all. who wants to look at a fuzzy thembnail, will they buy your full res work on that basis. Wake UP! And besides who will buy your artwork in any case, if it is splashy trash yes it will sell. Otherwise dont bother posting it online find a reputable gallery or find personal clients.ReplyDelete
By low resolution I mean no larger than 400px at the largest dimension... (can be a little larger if needed) and I am talking about sites such as Facebook, Google+, and an art website. Facebook images are horrible for printing anyway.
This image is plenty big to display the image adequately, and to prevent people stealing them for printing..
I had a piece of artwork stolen from a show last year. The person who stole it felt guilty and returned it but how do I know if the person took photos to duplicate it? I have the original now but is this something I should even worry about?ReplyDelete
Putting your name in the image file title is also good for search engine purposes.ReplyDelete
It's really a hard balance to show the image large enough for a prospective client to wish to purchase and small enough to be unusable by thieves.
Putting your name in the image file name is also good for search engine purposes.ReplyDelete
It's hard to strike a balance between having the image large enough to look good for potential clients and small enough to be useless to thieves.
Thanks for the advice. Just checked some of mine. No stealing-yet.ReplyDelete
Hey Very nice Blog,Thanks For Sharing...ReplyDelete
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