Photo Plagiarism - How To Avoid It - Original Photography

in #photography6 years ago (edited)

Plagiarism is wrong, and more often than not photo plagiarism is not only wrong, but is copyright infringement and ILLEGAL too!

Do what is right – not what the Steemit community is willing to accept as right!

Image ©Diane Macdonald. All Rights Reserved.

It's pretty much agreed by all that plagiarism is wrong, and text plagiarism is not tolerated on Steemit. Image plagiarism in another matter. @steemcleaners does a great job of fishing out text plagiarism, but when it comes to photo plagiarism, they only touch the tip of the iceberg. As long as someone links to a source, Steemcleaners are OK with it because it shows that the writer is not claiming the image as his/her own. I would like to see that change. REAL photo plagiarism is more than that! CITING A WRONG SOURCE IS ALSO PLAGIARISM


an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author:


: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's production) without crediting the source

There is the mistaken belief on Steemit by some, that wherever you find an image on the web is the source! Really? Google, as the source is busy clicking away so that you can have free eye candy? Of course not! Google is a SEARCH ENGINE! Surely tech savvy Steemians know that already!

Pretty much every one of my 8,000+ images listed with stock agencies on the web can be found through a Google search; all will show up as listed with the agencies, and some will show up on multiple websites where the images are being used both legally and illegally; some will show up on art sites like Fineartamerica and Redbubble where I have placed them. I am a professional stock photographer. I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in overhead over the last 20 years on my business. My photography has worth. It is not free – no matter where you find it!

Time and again though, I see people saying, “But what am I supposed to do? I can't find the photographer, and I really want to use this work.” The answer is pretty simple DON'T USE THE WORK, BECAUSE THE CHANCES ARE THAT IT IS COPYRIGHT MATERIAL ANYWAY, AND YOU WILL BE INFRINGING ON COPYRIGHT IF YOU USE IT! You are not entitled to use it just because you like it!Only the photographer and/or an agency representing the photographer has a right to use the work. PERIOD! No one else has a right to use it in any fashion without permission or a licensing fee being paid. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding why it is so difficult for some to understand that simple truth.

So what is a poor Steemian who wants to make a fast buck to do?

  1. Take the time like the original photographers did to learn how to take your own photographs!
  2. Use images from Pixabay, but at your own risk. There is no guarantee from Pixabay that those images are copyright free. Those uploading them had to state that they are, but we all know how that goes – a few bad apples ruin the batch! I suggest always checking with Tineye (directions are following) before using a Pixabay image – it could save you thousands of dollars from a lawsuit! Pixabay is off the hook, but you are not. You are expected to double check that the images are indeed copyright free, and that all model and property releases are in place, and if there are any restrictions on the use of the images. Pixabay requires no attribution – which is probably how the wholeImage Source: and a link started on Steemit.
  3. Unsplash is another source for free images, and they too don't require attribution, but giving the photographer and Unsplash credit is the decent thing to do, don't you agree?
  4. Another way of getting images for your blog is to make use of Creative Commons Licensing, but be warned. Attribution is required:

Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

It is also up to you to make sure that the terms of the license are being followed. Yes this is maybe hard work! But, you are not entitled to everything you see on the web!
5.You could use images that are in the Public Domain, but again you still need to research your findings, and it is still good etiquette to give proper attribution!
6.PURCHASE A LICENSE! There are plenty of sites where you can purchase very cheap image licenses (although you will always need to check the terms of usage, especially as Steemit is a for-profit site and the photographer would not get to share in the income.)

So, how do you use Tineye to find a source? I am glad you asked. The image is of my cat Tessie, sticking her head into a box on Christmas morning. I took the photograph! I am the source! The image is licensed through Getty Images and they have a deal to share the image with other agencies. It is also available on Fineartamerica.

Here's where I found my image on the web (where it is most likely being illegally used.) I would need to check my sales statements from 2013, but I will not hold my breath, as very few of my sales come from eastern countries. The images are most often simply stolen and used. I GUARANTEE THAT THS SITE IS NOT THE SOURCE.

So, in a few very simple steps that will take you only minutes, I am going to show you how to find the real source!

  1. First go to

  2. Drag an image from a browser, or your computer and drop it in the search bar.

  3. In the case of my image, I got 2 pages of results. Sometimes an image will have pages and pages of results, but this example is good for showing you how to use the tool.

  4. As you can see, when you first drag the image over, defaults are used, so all results are shown in the order of Best Match. I do see the site where I found the image though.

  5. The next step is to change the settings in the drop down box to “Oldest”. This will ensure you get a more accurate idea of where the source is. Note the Filter by Domain/Collection box. Often an image that is not stock will be listed on a website or in a photo collection. The chances are very high that those images are copyright protected and and not available for free use.

  6. The next step was to show only the 4 results found in stock.

  7. Getty Images is listed as the oldest result, so click on the link. It will take you here and you will see this:

tessie from Getty.JPG

Very clearly , I am the source of the work, and very clearly the image is not free to use! If you find an image on a stock site it is not free to use!

You can use this method to check EVERY image you consider uploading to Steemit. Surprise, surprise! But even Pixabay has stolen images. A quick Tineye search is all it takes to do the right thing and use only photography you have the right to use!

Here is a link to a current post about the subject by @vincentleroy.

Some links to other posts I have made on the subject:
How To Avoid Copyright Violation And Image Plagiarism - How To Effectively Use Google Images

Copyright - What does it have to do with you?

STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY – Do I have the right to use it on Steemit

Hey Steemit - Royalty Free Images Are Not Free Images!

FREE Photography On The Web - Where To Find It

Making A first Impression On Your Blog With Photography - Do It The Right Way

Camera:Canon EOS 5D
Lens:EF50mm f/1.4 USM
Exposure: 1/60 sec; f/2.0; ISO 1600
Post Processing: Adobe® Photoshop and Adobe® Camera Raw,


Thanks for taking the time to read this! I appreciate it.

To check out my art prints and stock images online, please visit my website.

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Are you looking for something unique as a gift this holiday SEASON? Please check out all the products I have available on Fineartamerica here and Redbubble here. You will find household goods, apparel, cell phone and tablet covers etc. as well as traditional prints! Thanks for looking. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! :-)

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Great post man!

Tineye looks awesome.

I didn't know that about pixabay. Most of us just think we can trust that the pics there are royalty free.

Well, it's only natural when you think about it. Those who cheat will cheat anywhere! It's easy to Upload there and say you own the copyright, just like it is easy to do the same thing on Steemit. Most of the times you are safe, but you just never know these days. I've had to have my images removes from free sites before. Wallpaper sites are bad!

Ah, there's the problem! Royalty Free Images are NOT Free images. That's how I have made my living for over 20 years! Royalty Free is a type of licensing! Click on the Getty Images link to my cat image and you will see how free they are LOL! What you do mean is COPYRIGHT FREE - a HUGE difference!

I can see how this is a vastly misunderstood issue.

Yes, it was never a problem when only professional designers etc were using stock images, because they all knew about the different licensing. Now, it's unfortunate that so many see the word FREE. And think that the Royalty Free images must be free. They are just free of further royalties once the first licensing fee has been paid. With Rights Managed images, on the other hand, a fee has to be paid for every usage. It's really important that anyone using images understands image licensing.

Wow, that sounds like a mess.

That sounds very hard to clean up. Teaching the masses is a difficult task lol.

Like herding cats lol

Yes, if only the agencies had a crystal ball way back when - then they would have coined a different term for RF images! Some of the masses don't want to be educated, though. LOL! Then they would have to be accountable.

More and more professional photographers on here are writing blogs about unauthorized image usage, so maybe eventually it will be accepted as something undesirable to include include in a blog.

Certainly, outside of Steemit, most bloggers understand the rules, because many have been slapped with lawsuits. Unfortunately, Steemit is attracting not only the serious blogger and professional photographer, but also the average person who wants to make a buck or two! And they just don't understand the consequences - YET!

Getty Images does allow the embedding of our images in blogs for free (the link goes back to Getty) - however Steemit does not support the code! Not sure if Steemit would qualify anyway, because the use could be interpreted as commercial.

man. And to add to the issue there are so many anonymous accounts many people may not even be able to be sued if it came down to it.

Definitely a real issue. Not sure how to handle it though.

The hosting site could be liable - and that would mean all of us. :-( It is uncharted territory, but it is already being tested! Anonymous users need to be especially careful!

@dmcamera great post, it had to be said! Im new here and have wondered about this as a photographer my self, hopefully a solution is found!!

Great to have you here @alexabbottphoto, and welcome! Thanks for taking the time to comment! I feel that education is the key, as many just don't know, although there will be some who have no desire to be educated. But those are the hardcore plagiarists who will always find ways to beat the system!

@dmcamera I was told that that biggest loss is to your self when you cheat, so hopefully there is some form of digital karma!! Looking forward to following your blog and happy holidays :-)

Well, they do say what goes around comes around, but in the meantime a lot of cheaters are making good money. That's true in a any walk of life too, I know. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Seasons Greetings! :-)

Does Tinyeye have an API? If so, maybe a service like cheetah or steemcleaners can plug into that. Its something i'd be interested in for sure - i hate having to check images are genuine before upvoting them.

They may well do, because the stock agencies use the professional version.. The problem is that I would get hundreds of false positives, because I am here on Steemit and my images have been available on the web for over 20 years! There is no way a bot would be able to determine if I am the photographer or not!

Yeah, i'm the same, not so much on stock photography sites, but on galleries such as 500px and my own site. It's a real tricky problem to solve.

I think it's up to the community to say we won't tolerate it, but I sometimes feel that my voice is so small, because many don't want to listen!!

Well im listening. Unfortunately, thats just 20 fingers between us to plug a dam that is leaking copied content all over Steemit :(

And of course all over the web too, because Steemit is not a private site! Maybe there are enough photographers now that we could start our own drive to clean up the act!

its certainly something id be interested in getting involved with. I think I saw about a month ago someone who wanted to clean up the photography tag but i can't remember who it was (it might have even been you...)

Err...... make that 30 fingers ;)

There are more of us fighting it now than when I first started, so that's a good thing!

Such a great post and I will resteem it for more to see

Thanks! I struggle with it sometimes, but every now and again something sets me off. LOL! I'm noticing more and more pro photographers coming on board and writing about it. There was a link I meant to add, so I'll need to edit!

Yes it’s great to see more Photographers coming onboard 😎

It is! A few months ago when I posted about such things, I felt so alone. Did you see @juliank's post exposing the cheaters?

Yes I remember that I saw Another one today about plagiarism I forget who it was by but good d to see

Yes I saw Julian’s post he does that weekly I think 🤔

I need to follow him more well there is plenty more I should be doing. Lol! Perhaps the post you saw is the one I added to my post after I edited it? It was in the comments section of @juliank's post.

I saw that one but there was one other ibrem

Great post and I have used Pixabay in the past at some point and this I didn't know you could check the pictures in tineye. Great advice.
I will probably not need to use it as I use my own pictures but still good to know.
Thank you for sharing my friend!

You are welcome. We all live and learn on here. :-) You are probably mostly safe, but you just never know..... It's always best to double check! Just like on Steemit, there are those who claim ownership of the work of others. Sad. :-(

So true we all live and learn, much I didn't know when I just started here.
But along the way we learn new things and how it works and what to do and to avoid.
It's sad that people are still claiming what's not theirs, making an effort is not to much to ask.
Hope you are having a great evening. It's late night here so I'm going to sleep soon.. Lol
Take care of yourself my friend 🤗

Oh, I have learned so much too and keep on learning. I love learning about new things, so hope to always be that way. That kitty by the way is my Tessie who passed away in June at age 19. She loved Christmas paper and boxes!!🐱🐱🐱

I know me to 😆 love to learn new things and improve. Life is a learning process 😉
Aww so she was one of the cute kittens you lost? 🐱❤️🐱❤️🐱 she is really cute and funny how she has her head down the box.. Lol such a character.
I understand that you miss her.
Tessie is a beautiful name.
Great memories with the pictures we have of our beloved babies 🤗

We named her after my home village in Scotland - Portessie. Will miss both of them getting into all the boxes this Christmas, but I know my son's cats will oblige! LOL!

That's cool, naming her after a village. Portessie.. Beautiful and then Tessie 🤗 love that.
I understand it will be hard now around Christmas and all without them putting heads down boxes and just be the wonderful characters they were. I feel the same way about Elvis its really a reminder now that his not here bugging me when I wrap the Christmas presents and he pulls the strings and steals the
But I hope we will remember the great times and have a blessed Christmas my friend 🤗

Yes, remembering the good times is important. It helps us to heal. Blessed Christmas to you too, my dear! :-)

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Awesome post I love every post I like

If you do take it from a site like pixabay and site the source though, it's at least defensible. Granted, not very. You'd likely settle out of court.

Although it is possible that steemit might become a regular target for litigation in the future, due to it's very public payment system.

The problem with Pixabay, is that the people using the images are not likely professionals, so don't understand that it is the USER that is liable for incorrect usage. No one will be lenient with you because you thought that Pixabay had it covered. If you are a blogger, you are supposed to understand the rules! You should never ever use an image with people in it from Pixabay. You have no access to model releases, and you have no idea whether the people ever signed any.

There are also some property images you may not use because you do not have the proper property releases, and the people uploading them had no idea that there were restrictions. Disney is a prime example. Search Getty Images for Disney. Their images are controlled for editorial use only. Search Pixabay. Those images can be downloaded for any use whatsoever - even commercial! Try getting that one by Disney! Those photographers have no idea about the rules of stock photography usage! They take photos and upload them with no knowledge of the business.

I think that Steemit may be in for a rough ride at some time in the future. I had two of my own images being used illegally on here, but I let them off with a slap on the wrist. Perhaps I should have been tougher. High profile photographers will not hesitate to sue! Some are even making more money going after infringers than creating new content these days!

Bloggers are expected to know...but they don't. I'm not sure it's really fair, but it's how the world works. You should try making another blog post that's more along the lines of things you need to know about using images, because clearly you know better than many, and realistically not everyone is going to get into photography.

Great post! I will resteem this. A while back I encountered someone who's opinion was that all images are free and cannot be copyrighted because you can't own pixels. It was such an absurd argument I went cross eyed for a minute.
The issue of image copyright needs to be repeated here over and over again.. keep up the good fight!

Thanks! I know you have done your bit too. Every now and again, I feel like I have to say something. More and more photographers are joining, so I think the noise is going to get louder! I came across that person too. I too was stunned! It's definitely the age of entitlement! Thanks for the resteem! By the way, we named our cat in the photo Tessie, after the village of Portessie next to Buckie, my home town! :-)

aww that's a lovely name! Yes I think the more photographers that join and write about copyright the better. Its a constant learning process as new people join who are ignorant of the law. One can only hope they listen.

Unfortunately, many are treating Steemit like Facebook. That's the reality they know. They don't realize that the Photography tag is reserved for original photography only.@steemcleaners is strict about that one!, although the copyright material is never removed. At least they are warned and perhaps flagged.

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