Before you proceed any further it is important to make sure that the other person or website cannot claim something called "Fair Use". In certain instances, a website may use your photo under the "Fair Use" clause. To understand more about "Fair Use", see here. For a simple checklist to follow to see if fair use applies to your photo, see here. Please note that in all instances of fair use, they may not alter your original work (including adding their own watermark) and they must provide credit to the original artist. 99 percent of issues where you found your photo on someone else's website do NOT fall under "Fair Use".
The first step is to gather evidence.
- Capture a screen shot showing the image on the offending person's page.
- Capture the main URL to the page you found the infringing photo on.
- Click on the image to open it full screen, and make a copy of the direct URL found in the address bar.
- Follow back to the person's profile page and capture the direct URL to that page.
- Document their name.
- Click on the "About" section on their profile and take a screen capture of the next page if possible. Some have filled out location, phone numbers, etc. Capture this data if present.
- Go to the link at the top of the page for the DMCA sample letter and fill that out entirely.
- Print it out and physically sign it.
- Scan it back into your computer and turn it into a PDF.
C/O Yahoo! Inc.
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Take the printed copy with your physical signature and fax it to: (408) 349-7821
Take a digital version of that letter (word doc, etc.) and turn it into a PDF. Save it for your records.
Next, do a direct copy and paste of the letter into an email and send it to the following email address. Do not send the PDF as an attachement. In fact, do not send attachments of any kind: firstname.lastname@example.org
You may elect to try and call them as well at (408) 349-5080.
If you are in the UK or Ireland you will also fill out an online version at the following URL.
You have now done everything you can, but the things you have done carry considerable teeth. If you have done what we told you above, you have gathered all the proof you need, and have filed an official DMCA with Yahoo using all three methods that are available.
We suggest waiting 2 weeks to see if anything happens. We are betting that something will. After all, you have notified them using every means possible, and have followed the directives outlined in the DMCA. If they fail to comply after 14 days, you can now take this to the next step.
Now it is time to notify the FBI. The FBI has a copyright/piracy task force set up for pursuing these matters. It used to be only for things like movies and music, but that has now been extended to include things like photographs and works of art.
The following link will take you to the specific page at the FBI where you can file a complaint. It is called the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). You will need all of the information that you gathered so far, as well as a complete outline of what you have done to notify Yahoo up to this point.
This is not quite ready, but it is something I am actively trying to get put in place. I am seeking attorneys who are also photographers, to assist with sending a certified cease and desist letter on behalf of the photographer.
You will never be given the voluntary attorney's phone number and contact information. You will fill out an online form and include all of the details you have done up to this point. They will charge you a nominal fee to cover the costs of certification - I am thinking about $20 or less - and send a form letter with the pertinent information included.
It should never make it to this step, but if it does, then an actual lawsuit is going to have to be filed, and for that you need an attorney. At the top of this page, click "Legal" for a list of attorneys that we are currently recommending.