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Up until now I have not watermarked or emblazed my logo across these photographs, because high quality photographs are a big part of my site, and I personally hate seeing something partially obscured by logos on other sites. So, I've resisted doing anything like that myself. Of course I have copyright notices and big text on the page about not reproducing/linking these images, blah blah blah, but no one determined to take those photos ever bothers to heed such warnings.
But this is really starting to bug me. What have others done in this situation? Of course I have no problem proving that said photos are my own, since I'm the only one with the full resulution originals.
I wouldn't be quite so annoyed if they credited the source or linked to the site.
1) Educate people not to.
Unfortunately, that's it.
I'd go with a small homepage url in one corner of the image (similar to what corbis has been doing for about the last eight years).
It's not ideal, I know, I held off from doing it for ages, but I started doing it in the end. If people are going to copy your images, they might as well be advertising your site at the same time.
This has resulted in the copiers cropping my photos. One person actually claimed to have purchased the right to the photos from a stock photo company, but was unable to name the company.
I have found that a "love letter" from a lawyer is effective 90% of the time - and the other 10% of the time, I've had to contact the hosting company and suggested that a DMCA complaint would be the next step.
Every hosting company pulled the entire site, not just the images/pages that infringed on copyright.
By posting your content on the web, you are making it available to copy, and there is no way to stop it, because copying the image is how it is viewed in the first place. So you have to be responsive to illegal use. There is no way to automate it.
Personally I have found the legal cease and desist orders, get ignored at best and laughed about, at worse. And once they remove the materials, there is nothing you can do. SO in my opinion MANY webmasters believe that IF they are caught they will only have to remove the content, so what's the big deal!
They need to be educated that they are taking a HUGE risk and that they may lose thier site (including the domain name) because of such practices.
There has been much information given the public about the fact that it is illegal to take content from the Internet, so I no longer believe a webmaster who feigns ignorance and cries that they just made a mistake.
And I certainly do not spend thousands in legal fees anymore to just get them to remove it (after having made monies from using my content on their site). First I shut the site down and then I determine whether the ROI is worth further legal action.
No more warnings.