I have recently signed up with ImageRights to keep track of my images and see who in the world were using them without my permission. To my dismay there were many.
I started this adventure in July, when a woman from the east coast asked about one of my photos of a craftsman style home I had taken. She wanted to know the architect so she could purchase the plans. I asked her where she saw the image and her response was " It is all over the internet." The alarm bells went off. I decided, to track down the illegal usages, were too much for me and decided to hire ImageRights to begin looking into all the usages. We came up with about 150 illegal uses and narrowed it down to 36 viable cases that we could pursue.
It is a lengthy process and can take up to 6 months to collect. For me it has been a real eye opener. I think the biggest surprise was the response from some of those infringers. The most common response was, well it was on the internet and so I thought I could use the photo. It appears that even people in my industry forget about copyright infringement and ownership of original art. One infringer actually sent me a message that I entrapped them by not using my watermark on my photo that another contractor illegally used on their blog. One thing I have learned is not to respond.
Now, I choose not to apply a visible watermark to my images since it is a distraction from my art. I would hope that people in my industry and out, who are interested in using my images, would simply call and ask.