No matter how long you’ve been blogging or managing your Instagram account, chances are you’ve come across this issue: your photo has been stolen by a brand or another account. Yikes! Basically what that means is that a brand/account has taken a photo from your blog or IG feed and used it on their own without proper credit to you and/or your photographer. This can be a tricky situation to navigate as you may not know your rights as the creator of the content.
While there are many resolutions and paths to getting these issues taken care of, we wanted to address the 3 most common scenarios in which your image/likeness is being used without your consent, and what you can do to be compensated for your work. Note, we are not offering legal advice in this post, we’re simply guiding you to potential solutions.
Here Are the 3 Most Common Scenarios When Your Photo has Been Stolen
Instagram In Feed Post
A common situation is when an account uses your image in a photo and did not properly tag you. First, you’ll want to make sure you didn’t give this right away when signing a contract with a brand. This is sometimes sneaked in and if you did not read the contract carefully, you may have missed this clause! If you did not have this agreement with them to provide images, then you’ll want to politely DM or email the brand requesting that they properly credit you. Here’s an example
Thank you so much for sharing my image, so glad you loved it! However, I noticed that you did not tag the original source back to myself and/or my photographer. I kindly ask that you please update this Instagram post as soon as possible with the appropriate photo and photographer credit. Thanks again and I look forward to your response!
We find that typically a simple message gets the point across and you just may need to follow up with an email or a comment in the post.
Advertisement, Paid Social or Website Usage
If you ever see your photo pop up as a digital ad on a website to sell products/services etc, this is a violation of your intellectual property. Again, you will want to make sure that you didn’t give the rights away to these images in a contract with a brand. If you’re in the clear there again, here’s what to do next.
Take a screenshot of what you’ve discovered and email the brand/agency who is promoting the image. Below is an example of what to include.
I wanted to reach out to you at (INSERT BRAND NAME) as I noticed my image was used in an ad/website without my consent. I’m so happy you loved my image, but as I’m sure you may know, this is copyright infringement. This image wasn’t authorized to be used in an ad from myself or my photographer. As the owner of these images, it would be required to purchase the rights to use these accordingly.
If you can also provide me some information on how long this ad has been running and where that would be great. I’d be happy to send over an image licensing agreement and an invoice so we can transfer image rights to you. This way you will legally own the images and can use them as you see fit.
Coming up with an appropriate rate varies. It may be a rate you and your photographer came to an agreement on, or you can always review the Getty Images calculator for an idea. Truly this comes down to what you feel your image is worth and how/where the image was used. Clearly, an image used on a giant billboard would warrant more money, than one that’s used as an image on a website in a carousel for the product. Use your best judgment as every situation is different.
Follow up several times to come up with a solution.
If they don’t agree, don’t take it down, or don’t respond, you may want to seek out legal advice but also weigh your options as it could get expensive going after something like this.
At the end of the day, brands and major companies know this is ILLEGAL. So reaching out in a professional manner noting image rights, intellectual property etc, should easily get your point across and should hopefully end in a positive resolution.