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Images stolen from me are in Image Search - and I'm not



7:15 am on Apr 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


I've noticed in a few cases that when a competitor steals images from sites that I own, the stolen images appear in Google Image Search instead of mine.

Did anyone notice the same thing? Are there any ideas of what to do about it?



8:52 am on Apr 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Right now, it is not about the "stealing". Google Image Search rules changed somehow, and some images that had priority went down, some images at other websiters (leeching the images from original site) are being awarded (but there is a note stating, with a non clickable URL, where the image comes from). And some new images, stolen/taken from other websites are being awarded too.

If you have issues with your images being stolen, then email the webmaster or make a complain to the hosting company. Worst case scenario, fill out a DMCA claim.

If you are more interested about the Google Image thing, there is little to do. Sometimes emailing to Google can help just a little bit.


8:53 am on Apr 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

First check if he has actually copied the images or has just hotlinked them.
Second look at the images very carefully to see if they are your images. (I was nearly caught by this once when somebody else had published a picture of the same subject from exactly the same position)
Third make sure that you can prove that you are the owner of the images. Do you have negatives? Do you have soft copies with earlier date stamps? Have they trimmed off a watermark showing your copyright?

Follow up action depends on the jurisdiction that you are in, the jurisdiction that the copier is in and the nature of the subject.

Contact Google - IIRC there is a process for registering complaints like this but I can't remember the details.
contact the site owner requesting that they either take down the pics (or if you prefer to acknowledge you as copyright owner with a link)
If that does not get a response then complain to the hosting provider.
If no joy there then repeat the complaints in writing and use whatever process your local postal service has for having delivery formally acknowledged. You may want to take legal advice over wording.
Finally go to your lawyer.

If the pictures are hotlinked then rename the files.


8:57 am on Apr 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Why do I say there is little to do?
1. Supposedly, Google didnt pay attention much to Google Images in the past, so they made changes every 4-6 months about their image search results.
2. There has been reports of result changes in the past months, in which Google images results vary every X weeks or months. This is true, somehow. New images are being added, old images have been taken away or put in page 2 or 3. Leeched images are being awarded (with the "thieves" (or fans)'s sites being the land page.

Since the report (over a month ago), I tried to make some changes in my website, I added more text to images, improve titles, h1, and similar stuff. Until now, no result. And there are few who know about the subject. Most people know about Google SERPs.


9:12 am on Apr 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Piatkow said: "If the pictures are hotlinked then rename the files."

Sure that fixes the hotlink, but wont fix the Google Image thing.

If picture.jpg is renamed to image.jpg, then Google Image Search will try to look for picture.jpg... What? Is it gone? Take it down

If picture.jpg had at least a couple of hits (or dozens+), those visits will go, poof, gone.

This issue has also appeared when you ask your webhosting provider to put a "no-hotlink" rule on your hosting account. That way, no one outside your site (or sites you give them permission) will leach.... in those cases, same result... people have reported being kicked out of results.

Also, about getting a lawyer and stuff, too complicated and costly.

1. Email the webmaster who steals your images.
(sometimes they are fans or people who just liked your image... if that is the case, ask to make a credit and put a link back to your site, of course, the link must have a keyword (topic of your site), so it is an useful link).

2. If the first email doesnt work, make a "DMCA" complain to the webhosting company. (Not a real complain, but you mention you will make a formal DMCA complain).

This is the easiest way to go. Webhosting companies just run in panic when they see that. The company will email thief and ask to desist. Sometimes, they will close account (but they can switch from company)....


12:53 pm on Apr 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

First of all - thank you for your helpful replies. It is good to see I'm not the only one who suffers from this.

The site I'm talking about is an e-commerce site which is online for ~5 years and during this time dozens of sites have stolen its images. Some of them have no way to contact. I'll try the DMCA complaint. We'll see how it goes from there.

Does anyone have a clue why Google don't favor the original pictures owner?...