What to Do If Your Images Have Been Stolen

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!


  • Linda

    What do you do when a photographer accuses you of stealing their work…and you did not? My friend is being accused of stealing images, but it’s actually another photographer with the same name. The accuser has posted negative reviews on my friend’s Facebook page, and had another friend accuse her and write terrible things on some of her images. The accuser and her friend live across the country. They have now blocked my friend so she can’t even get this straightened out!

    • Melinda Potter

      If she didn’t steal any images and there is no proof to support the claim, then… She doesn’t have to do a thing to “straighten” anything out. Other than the obvious block and delete comments.
      If she did steal, and the original artist has issued a take down or DMCA or has billed her, she would be wise to listen and oblige ASAP.
      When a photographer finds their images have been stolen, it’s confirmed through a google image search. The search will lead them to a website or page with their image/images being displayed. It’s not really about being told a name and looking up said name and throwing out accusations. “Such and such imagery stole your images!” and then going off franticly looking for “such and such imagery” and accusing the first listing that comes up under that name. It’s usually done with linking to the infringed work itself. What kinds of things were said under her images? Was it “Hey this is mine! Take it down!” or “You wish you made this picture!”?
      I don’t know maybe I’m jaded, or maybe I just need more information to understand the entirety of what you are saying/asking, but it sounds to me like someone found their images on your friend’s website or FB page, and your friend is trying to cover it up by saying “No, they must have me confused with someone else”… sorry, but your friend may be lying to you.

    • Melinda Potter

      she could make a post saying ” another photographer with the same name as me has been caught stealing other people’s work” and then link to the infringement and original artists. There by clearing her name, AND helping spread the word about a fraud. Somehow I doubt your friend will do that though. She’s probably too kind of a person to out someone who is illegally misrepresenting themselves 😉

    • Melinda Potter

      you could give us a link to the business that infringed and has stolen work in their port, and we all would be happy to investigate it and try to find all the original artists as well. Then your friend could prove it was in fact a case of mistaken identity.

      • BullShite

        This page has some of the best InvestiGooglers out there. 😉

    • Justin Case

      This has actually happened a few times around here, but it’s usually it’s the thief saying “I didn’t steal from you, YOU stole from me”
      Post a report (link at top of the page)

      • Melinda Potter

        yes, and even if she doesn’t want to report her here. As soon as she had someone write a review saying she was a photo thief, she could have just said “You have me confused with this business” and link to the guilty party. Pretty simple, but maybe there’s more to it than that?

        • U Really That Dumb?

          Melinda, check your msgs. Perhaps ‘other’.