You have found that your images have been stolen… now what? You have a few different options on what you can do besides only reporting the theft to Photo Stealers.
1. Send a Cease & Desist letter. This is an email (you can find various form letters via Google) where you are requesting removal of your intellectual works from the website within a set amount of days before you pursue legal action. This is not a requirement. If you choose, you can skip to any of the following steps.
2. File a DMCA. Often the stealer refuses to remove the copyrighted works so you need to move on to reporting the image as your intellectual property to the online host of the image – be it a website, Facebook etc. To file a DMCA for a website, use Who is Hosting This to find the website host. Here is a great walkthrough from the Photo Attorney. If you need help with this, please feel free to contact me. Facebook makes it pretty easy to file a DMCA – use the report feature and follow the links until you get an option to flag the image as your intellectual property. Most other social media sites have a similar report feature.
3. Send an Invoice. Send the photographer/business an invoice outlining your cost for the use of the image for the length of time and purpose they used it for. I highly recommend this method if you have had images stolen by a business but many have had luck with this method with photographers as well.
4. File a lawsuit. If you have had enough or have had no luck with the above steps, call a lawyer and file a lawsuit. Note that you can sue even if the image was taken down when you requested. You get more damages if your watermark was removed and/or if you have registered the image so make sure you are doing both!