Have you stolen any images recently?

Obviously a lot of you liked yesterday’s little image-searching trick in Google, judging by the correspondence. (For those of you who had trouble getting it to work – mainly Internet Explorer users – try clicking the camera and using the “upload an image” option rather than drag-and-drop. More here.) One interesting point which was mentioned to me was the ease in which copyright holders can now track down images being used without their consent. And as the technology gets better (which it will), this “Search By Image” feature will become as comprehensive a record of images as Google text search already is of any given phrase on the web. Which means if you’ve ever “stolen” an image from another website to use on your own, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to bank on the obscurity of your website to get away with it in future. And that’s only proper: none of us have any right to use a photographer’s or illustrator’s work without their permission. So be careful – and make sure anyone who builds or maintains websites on your company’s behalf knows the score.

Until now, of course, the most obvious giveaway that images have been stolen from stock photo sites is that the thief has left their watermark in place.

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