5 Resources to Help Protect Your Photography

5 Resources to Help Protect Your Photography

In an ideal world you will not have to use some of these resources to protect yourself against image theft. However, the use of OPP (other people’s photography) is rampant – sometimes out of malice and sometimes because of a simple misunderstanding or lack of research. Here are 5 things to explore to help you protect your work in the first place and what to do if something unlawful happens to it.

Copyright Your Work

For $55 a batch (as of this writing, updated July 2014), you can have your photographs registered for copyright.


Just because it is on a screen doesn’t mean it’s not your property. Jim Goldstein, whose work is pictured here, is under “lock and chain” without being unavailable. He writes extensively about copyright.

Register Yourself as a Photographer

For free you can register yourself with PPA so that others can find you when they are interested in duplicating your work. If you are an ASMP member, you can also get into their Find a Photographer database. Additionally, register yourself with the Plus Registry, which is also a great resource for all things licensing related.


You don’t have to be a lawyer to know your rights.

Keep Your Rights Nearby

Know your rights as a photographer without having a lawyer on speed dial. A U.S. attorney has put together a handy printout to refer to if confronted for taking pictures (UK version here).


You’re going to be upset so just stay calm and go through the proper channels.

Prepare to Write a Nastigram

Sending a DMCA takedown notice is scary. DMCA Info makes it a little less daunting with plenty of info, including a notice template. Where applicable, you can also request items to be removed from Google products, including a subsection requesting the removal of items because of copyright violation. Further protect yourself with a free account on Lenstag, a gear registry that also offers free DMCA and Model Release documents as well as optional extension downloads that search for stolen gear and images online.


Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, do a little homework to protect yourself. You may need it later!

Educate Yourself

ASMP and PhotoShelter have joined forces to provide a free guide to copyright and protecting your work.

Share your own experiences and lessons learned in the comments below!

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Alexandria Huff's photography and lighting tutorials can be found on 500px and her blog. She is a Marketing Coordinator for BorrowLenses.com and also writes for SmugMug. She learned about lighting and teaching while modeling for photographers such as Joe McNally and has since gone on to teach lighting workshops of her own in San Francisco. See her chiaroscuro-style painterly portraits on her website.

1 Comment

  1. Good stuff. And though this might have been implied here, I would also say for most situations…

    *please note, I’m not talking about National Geographic stealing your photograph or a company using it for billboard advertising, etc*

    Just relax. Most people I have dealt with in this situation can’t understand why you aren’t flattered that they’re using their photo. They are not photographers. So I usually first send an e mail with the tone “Hey…I noticed you were using my image” and then briefly educate them on why that isn’t appropriate and what they can do (buy the image or stop using it) to remedy the situation. One time I sold an image because of this and most of the time I get a sincere apology and fast action.

    And yeah, occasionally, I’ve had to become more aggressive and take it further. But for the most part, I’ve gotten more flies with honey than I have with vinegar. I compare it to when someone owes me money for work. To them, it’s $500. To me, it’s half my rent or my utilities and food for the month. I had to learn to take my ‘hurt’ self out of it and deal with it professionally. And I’ve actually made a few business relationships because of it.


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