How to Prevent Piracy Of Your Images

When you think about piracy, the biggest cases amongst the art world have to do with music, movies, etc. Those are all things that were created: content, if you will. But sadly, very little is done about imagery and preventing or stopping piracy. People consume and love to listen to music and watch movies or videos, and over the years they’ve been completely fine with providing a fee to get the content that they really, genuinely love and enjoy. However, no one has really come out to try to protect the rights of photographers in equally big ways. While Trent Reznor and Tarantino talk a lot about paying to get a great experience that they’re working very hard on, people have been acknowledging this.

So here’s what we need to do as photographers.

Chris Gampat The Secret Order of the Slice You and Me on the Couch, Now (1 of 1)ISO 2001-13 sec at f - 2.8

There are really two different ways that we can do this. Here’s the first method:

  • Stop capturing photos
  • Start creating photos
  • Find inspiration from various things
  • Come up with unique ideas that you’re passionate about
  • Develop a genuine creative vision
  • Work really hard on those projects almost as if they’re a production
  • Register them with the government and get a copyright
  • Go about contacting gallery owners, curators, photo editors at publications, and other gate keepers to spread the word and distribute the content that you’ve created
  • Ensure that you have a centralized website where people can come back to to find more of your work
  • Keep doing this and make people hire you for your creative vision or license your photos if they’re using them for commercial reasons.
This may indeed look like a mistake, but believe it or not after Photoshop accidentally created an image like this, I tweaked the images for days until I recreated the effect myself.

This may indeed look like a mistake, but believe it or not after Photoshop accidentally created an image like this, I tweaked the images for days until I recreated the effect myself.

This is how we’ll truly be able to compete in a world where everyone thinks that they’re a photographer. Unfortunately, they’re not a Photographer–and the difference has to do with intent. They don’t understand that you can create a whole load of awesome photos and various cool ideas that they can’t–and that that’s what they’re paying you for.

Heck, people want to DIY their own wedding photos these days!

Otherwise, here’s the other way:

  • Go capture photos
  • Keep capturing really good photos
  • Get better and better at it
  • Get pirated one day and realize that there is nothing you can do about it
  • Or at least very little
  • Cry
  • Take all your photos offline
  • Learn to not trust digital
  • Shoot film
  • Take film for development
  • Learn to not trust development company
  • Learn to develop film yourself
  • Live in the woods and off the grid
  • Huddle with your photos and say “Ahhhh, my precious” just like Golem in Lord of the Rings
  • No one will ever get your photos.

Now that’s a bit of a stretch there, but realize that you’re going to have to take risks and if someone is stealing your images, you know that you’re doing something right at least. Still though, with no big companies really looking to protect us, it’s up to us to do it.