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Image rights & copyright – copied and stolen images on the Internet

Image rights violated, copyrights ignored, and thus copied and stolen images end up illegally on the Internet. If you talk to various Instagrammers, bloggers and YouTubers in recent weeks, it seems to have become a new fad to misappropriate images and videos and pass them off as one’s own property....

Image rights & copyright – copied and stolen images on the Internet

Image rights & copyright – copied and stolen images on the Internet

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This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)

Image rights violated, copyrights ignored, and thus copied and stolen images end up illegally on the Internet. If you talk to various Instagrammers, bloggers and YouTubers in recent weeks, it seems to have become a new fad to misappropriate images and videos and pass them off as one’s own property. Thus, video clips of other participants, Instagram pictures or even photos on blogs seem to be “free thought”, usable at any time without restrictions and without image rights. A source reference is completely overrated anyway, and it seems much better when you can brag to your followers with photos of places where you yourself have not been.

A copyright notice, image rights or a URL is simply ignored or cut out, video clips downloaded from YouTube channels and simply uploaded to Facebook in their own pages. Source citation – of course also missing here.

Image rights & copyright

Since it has also happened to me in recent weeks several times that image rights and copyrights were violated in a brazen way and the answers and reactions of the people were absolutely brazen and impudent in part, it was also time for me once to pick up in the column “Bloggerlife personally” the topic of image rights and on the one hand to clear up with some “misunderstandings” with image rights, but also to make it clear that it is no longer fun.

Have I it also some years ago my image rights still “tolerated” and made the effort to remove “dear please please to say”, so also with me the point has come where it simply takes too much time and effort, the answers of those are not acceptable, so that I now also do it, as some travel bloggers already for some years and these things now immediately forward to an appropriate image rights and copyright law firm.

Some of you may know the situation of Jeremy Kunz of whose content was simply taken over by a well-known Swiss newspaper. The information that went through the net at that time can still be found on Twitter, for example.

I will continue to make my photos available on request, put together my own packages for bloggers and hotels reporting on events – but as before – only with source attribution and special rules.

Copied and stolen images on the Internet – image rights

In this day and age, it’s not very difficult to see where images appear and who has permission and image rights, or who has simply copied. A helpful application here is, for example, Digimarc within the Adobe package for image rights and copyrights.

Even if blogging lives and exists on “sharing and commenting”, “liking and spreading”, it is still about pointing out who had the “idea” and who is the copyright holder. There’s a reason why “embedded” functions exist – on Pinterest, on Flickr, and on YouTube. Even Facebook content can be easily incorporated into one’s own website and blog using the corresponding function, and the origin and image rights are clearly displayed, with the Likes & Shares going in favor of the creator.

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Freebooting – the new phenomenon on Facebook and YouTube

Anyone who deals with videos and regularly creates their own content in painstaking “detail work”, post-edited and uploaded to the YouTube portal, would of course also like to get a “certain recognition”. Be it through video views, likes and comments, or even new subscribers. Another interesting factor on YouTube is, of course, monetization, especially if the video or the channel also has a corresponding follower layer and some views are generated.

If the video is now embedded and shared on Facebook via the “Share” link, it’s perfect! The Facebook user has an interesting content to share with their followers, the video producer gets the “credit” in terms of views, likes, new subscribers and possibly the advertising revenue.

However, if the video is simply downloaded and re-uploaded as its own “Facebook video”, the connection to the creator of the image rights and copyrights is completely missing. Video views are significantly higher because Facebook pays higher attention to its own videos, the reach of the Facebook page is significantly increased, but advertising revenue, likes, etc. do not go to the producer and the ranking is negatively affected. Videos with good views are always shown preferentially on YouTube.

Current examples show if videos are very good and generate 1 million views and are re-uploaded on Facebook, another 3-10 million views would be added – only these 3-10 million views are no longer credited to the creator. Possibly some fame, but nothing else….

Whoever uses the share button offered by the producer under the YouTube video is acting fairly and safely – whoever re-posts a video, which is not his property, is liable to prosecution and the case law is clear. Talking yourself out of it – you wouldn’t have known – is not accepted and the penalties and damages can get very high, very quickly.

The question is, of course, what can I do if my video has been uploaded to Facebook or other sites without permission or image rights?

Take screenshots of the page in question, preferably with date. If necessary, take several screenshots of the page so that all content is shown and ask the person to remove the video accordingly. With Facebook, as well as with YouTube, there is also the option of reporting the copyright infringement directly. A corresponding form must be filled out and usually one receives a message from both Facebook and YouTube within 24-48 hours. Claim damages and contact a lawyer specializing in media law, who will initiate the next steps – warning letter, cease-and-desist declaration, action for damages.

Even if I myself am not a big friend of providing my videos and photos with a branding based on image rights and copyrights, this is still the easiest way to make it clear already on the photo and video that it is protected by copyright and makes later work seriously easier and the “talking out of it” becomes more difficult.

There is nothing at all in this day and age against mentioning and sharing a post on the blog. Clicking on a link is a standard today and also I like to show where you can find the location, how the picture is taken or also reveal – which products I use or I can recommend for new YouTuber for example.

INSTAGRAM – Regram, Repost, Share, Embed – Image rights.

With Instagram it’s a difficult situation and yet the case law is – actually – clear. If you upload an image with the Instagram app, you of course accept Instagram’s Terms of Service, which grants Instagram the right to use the distributed image. But as a private person, displaying an image through an app via Regram or Repost on my own stream, even if the name of the other account is visible, is legally difficult.

Without permission from the person in question (where of course you don’t even know if they are the photographer or own the rights to upload the image), the situation is relatively clear and there should be a clear violation of copyright. If the person is then not even named – the situation is clear.

I can therefore always only strongly recommend to get a written permission in advance – whether by Instagram contact or by email and even then you are not one hundred percent on the safe side.

If you use some great images from Instagram for a blog post, there is also the possibility of “embedding” here, similar to YouTube or Facebook, and you build the code into the website accordingly. Here, unfortunately, a weakness of WordPress is present, because the code is often not implemented correctly and the design of the page is destroyed, the image is not or only partially displayed. If you use the IFrame function as I have shown here, essential things of the image are cut off, which are originally specified. The creator gets at least the mention above and the option to follow the channel – but this is not a reasonable and safe solution either.

Use of images by companies, websites, etc. – Prices and fees

Often there are also the requests from commercial websites or companies to use an image – free of charge. The photographer or the source under it is of course indicated. The positive aspect is certainly the request and the interest in the image – compared to the simple download and use – but for many companies it is still the attempt to get cheap content for their own pages.

I can also therefore only advise you not to accept every offer and especially never to transfer the rights to the image completely and permanently. For some bloggers, an offer to get amounts of EUR 100 or more for a single photo may sound tempting, but if the travel company then uses it to design the entire advertising campaign and no longer has to name an author, it is certainly not a fair deal.

The question that always comes up is, of course, what price can I ask for an image in commercial requests. What is a fair payment for bloggers and what is “taking advantage of bloggers”. After all, even as a blogger, you don’t want to be considered rude if you just don’t know your stuff and give your personal value for the image.

There are various tables on the Internet where you can get an approximate price for the individual photo. Here it depends on range/circulation, where the picture is to be used size of the picture (in print e.g. 1-column, 2-column, first page, etc.) First use or multiple use Should the image be part of a series, etc.?

The “German Journalists Association” (DJV) offers a corresponding list of possible fees – (source DJV) for a picture on its website. Further information is also available there.

If the photo is to be used for a website or online media, the price of course depends again on various factors:

  • Range of the page
  • Size of the image
  • Exclusive use of the image or for free use
  • Will there be a link to the photographer or not, etc.
  • Are the images to be used exclusively in social media or also, for example, in booking portals (HRS, Trivago, Expedia, etc.)?
  • Is it a single image or a whole set of images.

Here there are no reliable values yet and the fees are usually always agreed personally. If you look at the asking prices of various bloggers for the use of 10 photos for flyers and catalogs, the prices range from 50 EUR to 2,500 EUR. Of a uniform value can be spoken thereby certainly not.

These values are also decisive values in the event of copyright infringement or illegal use of your photos. Those who use the images from other sites for their own website or their own social media must often expect claims for damages of 100-300 EUR currently per image, plus the cost of lawyers, etc.. Thus, a single image can quickly already entail costs of over 1,000 EUR. Lawsuits over the use of 100 and more unauthorized image uses have already cost over 10,000 EUR, which were also confirmed by courts in the last instance.

Source citation / citation of the photographer / etc. – Image rights

Often one sees under many blogs under foreign photos the reference “Source: Pinterest”, “Source: Google” or “Source: Internet”. That this is of course not legally compliant for image rights, should now explain itself. The use of the images is in no way legalized by such annotations and can be tracked down in a short time by corresponding image robots.

The use of third-party images always requires the appropriate image rights permission of the photographer (or photo agency). Exceptions are images that are explicitly marked with the Creative-Common license – but even here the photographer and the source must be indicated in most cases. For more information, please refer to the corresponding image.

Jurisprudence clearly states that the naming must exist in connection with the image and no unclear collective naming at the end of the blog post or laterally without clear reference to the individual image for image rights are allowed.

If the naming is not done or completely incorrect, the photographer can claim appropriate fee costs and will usually get through all instances right. There are enough judgments in the direction, which confirm this procedure. At the same time it is for many documentations and also for the readers a difference whether it is a bought picture from a picture data base for the illustration or for the moment and in the context was taken.

The photographer alone has the image rights and the right to claim the image credit or to allow it not to be placed. He alone can determine what is to be stated as source citation and in what form. If the source is omitted from a non-own-produced image, the photographer can immediately assert a claim for damages.

Image rights & copyright - copied and stolen images on the Internet

CONCLUSION – Image rights and copyrights, image credit on blogs, social media, etc.

I can only recommend you here, as in the various blogger workshops also, again and again, with the use of images from other sources without image rights – to be very careful. Be sure to get it in writing what to call it and who is the photographer of the images. A note at the end “photos by xyz” is not enough.

Before you use an image for your blogs and your social channels, where it is not quite clear where the image comes from, I can only advise against using the images accordingly. Image rights and their violation can lead to your channel being completely blocked in the long run.

If you provide your photos for projects, clarify the conditions beforehand and not only when the image is already in use. If the publisher or customer wants to have a selection of images in advance, send these images in smaller resolution and with a clearly visible copyright notice on the image. If the customer has decided, you can still send the images in the appropriate resolution.

I can only recommend to use a program like, where you can upload a whole ZIP file (up to 2GB) (or each image separately) and then copy in the terms of use. The end user will get this information displayed and emailed to him before he can download the file(s). You will then receive a confirmation email that the images have been downloaded.

If you use a program like Adobe Lightroom (about 100 EUR for Mac and WIN) you have the possibility to add a simple copyright notice for all images. Your information about the photographer, etc. can be easily stored in the EXIF data of the image and are thus visible to all users and clarify the use.

Please also be careful if you repost content of a blogger, as you do not know if the model or the photographer has the copyright on the pics.

Believe in yourself, your personal dreams and start your own journey – just for you….

Believe in yourself, your personal dreams and start your own journey – just for you….​

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Table of Contents

Believe in yourself, your personal dreams and start your own journey – just for you….

Believe in yourself, your personal dreams and start your own journey – just for you….​

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