The Art of Stealing Photos Online

To steal or not to steal?

Now that is an important question some unethical, mindless and incredible people do NOT ask themselves before stealing photos online  (even if they have watermarks) thinking they are doing no harm and they will not getting caught in the act!

Imagine this. You open the Instagram app as usual, you see notifications about your new followers but then something really strikes you, you stop for a second and recognize one of your images and the worst part? This new follower is using it as their profile picture! The nerve! They have become masters of The Art of Stealing Photos Online

Has someone even stolen one of your photos online? How did you find out and what did you do? In this blog post I share one of my experiences and the actions I took. Read all about it and hope it helps everyone! #copyrights #photography #travelblog #blog #blogging #bloggingtips

Well that is exactly what happened to me a few days ago and I must admit that something rose on the inside and it was not necessarily a feeling of euphoria or made me want to twirl.

How dare do they steal one of my images, which is kind of hard to reproduce as it is a collage, and simply upload it without even caring that it is not theirs. It clearly says on my IG profile that it is copyrighted and also on my blog I state very clearly that all content is protected.

What does it cost for anyone to simply ASK for permission? Too lazy to write an email, send out a tweet, send a message through Facebook or perhaps send a dove with a message attached to its legs? Now seriously!


Instagram screen shot, stolen profile photo


(posted more than a year ago)

Travellersoul76 Instagram photo collage

See any similarities? Oh wait; they removed my quote in theirs!

This account appears to be professional at first glance when the only thing they seem to do is to repost other people’s photos (again too lazy to upload their own)

They sure are lacking originality and the only thing that I do think saves the owners of these photos is the fact that Repost App actually gives you credit. At least you are not completely forgotten!

Now I took a few minutes to recompose and think what had to be done.

First of all, I left them a message below one of their reposted photos

Instagram screen capture, note to account owner, photography rights

I then thought of reporting them immediately, so I looked at the options offered by Instagram

Instagram screen capture, report instagram account, Instagram options

Since they took a copyrighted image, I went to the last section, Intellectual Property.

Then to my surprise a very long list to better describe my issue

Instagram screen capture, report instagram account, Instagram options, Intellectual Property, rights

What I didn’t realize is that the last paragraph clearly states that if it is Intellectual Property Infringement, it has legal consequences and is of serious nature. Would I go that far and proceed against some people who really don’t matter? I stopped for a long moment.

If it was a company or if my images were used for commercial purposes perhaps but for someone meaningless? I retracted and thought it wasn’t worth continuing. It really was not worth my time and effort.

What I did is leave them again a note on their timeline but guess what happened when I tried to post it?

They had blocked me! Now that is the right way to do things. And want to guess what happened next?

Instagram screen capture, profile photo changed, IG screen, photography rights

They changed their profile picture to something more like them (plain and fill the blank) All it took was a message to make all of this happen!

Now really an online etiquette shall be taught from the very beginning but focusing more on Intellectual Property Rights! Just because it is there online doesn’t mean that you can take it and make it your own! People need to think seriously of any possible consequences.

One of my readers, John, sent me some interesting links regarding the Art of Stealing Photos. is a site dedicated to stop this bad practice online. A very interesting post I found is where the author got Facebook involved in a serious discussion about photography rights and it is simply unbelievable the responses he got from the headquarters.

So basically if you upload content to Facebook, it becomes property of the Giant and hey, guess what? Instagram was acquired by them so the same applies then? You grant them a license and you still deserve credit for being the creator. Any content shared on Facebook is legal as long as it does not violate any of their rights? Say what?

I am shocked that I’m learning about this very late in the game but it is quite eye-opening let me tell you! It makes me think twice before posting anything there.

Now going back to Instagram, did you know that there are some people out there making outrageous profits from YOUR images? Don’t believe me? Then you must read this story about an artist, Richard Prince who takes people’s Instagrams without permission, exhibits them in a gallery and sells them for as much as $100 000!

How is that even possible? What happened to violating Instagram terms and conditions again? How can someone have the guts to just take any image he pleases without the owner/creator/photographer being aware of such a thing?

What adds more injury to the insult is the fact that no credit is given nor a fair share of the sales he makes. Who’s laughing on the way to the bank?

What left me speechless and puzzled is the fact that one of the Instagrammers, who appears in one of the selfies that was included in the exhibition/sale, did not know about it and she didn’t mind. She went as far as saying that she did not want a cent resulting from the sale or sue the artist. That is just incomprehensible. What would you have said and done?

It is only until they are told to remove the image or copied text (word for word) that they wake up. Apologies are not even offered and they are the ones who are insulted and block us forever (boo hoo, cry me a river).

In this digital age, there is no control over what can be done about copyrights or intellectual property or is there really?

People are free to do what they please and with all the information that is found online it is very hard to “catch” those cyber thieves and teach them a lesson or two.

Some sure have perfected the Art of Stealing Photos Online and get away with it like a thief in the night.

If you had the power to change something, what would you do?

Have you had someone steal your photos online without any shame?


Share your two cents and speak your mind!

I sure can’t wait to read from you 🙂

Until next time!



10 thoughts on “The Art of Stealing Photos Online

  1. Great article — I totally agree on this one! I’m not sure I would grant access if asked (it would depend on the case), but I can assure you I would press charges against an account if they didn’t ask!

    • I’m glad you liked the post Valerie.

      I too would definitely need to think through before actually agreeing to let someone use any of my images.

      You know as a photographer is a lot of work, enjoyable of course, but then again it is a choice we make whenever we share it with the work online or off.

      Getting recognized for our creativity, originality and inspiring people is worth more than any funds.

      As far as suing someone, then they have to be either a big company clearly violating the laws but a small account? Is it really worth your time, worrying for no reason.

      I simply asked them to remove my photo at once, which they did.

      However I did report them as spammers and violating copyrights.

      Instagram has millions upon millions of accounts to manage or take care of but again you do what you have to.

      It is an ongoing debate and well, better keep your eyes open right?

      Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Hi K,
    The nerve of some people! Stealing photos and then blocking the owner and pretend nothing happened. I am glad you found out about and and that you kept to your principles and didn’t enter into legal actions. I know about instagram and facebook but the problem with running a blog simply is that we have to put nice photos out there to share with followers, which plays in the hands of this giant. It is utterly unfair!!

    • Thank you Anne Marie!

      Yes, the nerve these people have is just beyond me.

      They are the offended ones, not the owner of course.

      Can we ever win against the giants? I mean they make up rules that benefit them, not the people that actually create content so that THEY can be even more $ucce$$ful!

      I still think that the Golden Rule should prevail everywhere and that is don’t do any harm to anyone. I am sure they wouldn’t like it if someone did it to them in return right?

      Life is a boomerang!

      Thank you for your input 😉

  3. I recently received an email from someone several months ago, asking for permission to use one of my photos in my blog for a piece he had written. I was very flattered and immediately gave him permission. He ultimately cropped out my watermark which peeved me a bit but at least he had asked.

    Like you, I’ve also had my instagram photos copied and used in someone else’s profile. It was so surreal to see a photograph YOU took on someone else’s feed, taking credit for it. WHY? is the question that comes to mind after the initial shock. People CAN’T be that lazy and without morals, right? But alas, they are. When confronted, like in your story, they blocked me and then changed their account name after I reported them.

    I’ve learned that it’s the nature of the beast with online posting of photos. They WILL BE STOLEN because it’s SO EASY. You caught this perpetrator but imagine the others you’ll never notice. It’s enough to depress me but I have to move on and let it go. However, if anyone uses my images for commercial purposes, then I’ll do my best to go right after them – hard.

    As always, great article!

    • I just can’t believe how some people have the nerve to just go ahead and edit one of your photos and do what they please and think that it’s no big deal if they make it theirs?

      Did you call him on it? I would have asked to delete it from his site or take it down immediately!

      Yes Ok, granted he asked for permission but still, it’s not cool what he did.

      These days our nerves and patience are put to the test and well what do you expect with people with no morals or professional ethics or a conscious for that matter?

      What still baffles me and makes me want to slap my forehead is the fact that THEY are the offended ones, are hurt (again boohoo me cry) and then block you or delete any comment you leave on their profile as they don’t want their followers (fake I assume) to read what they do? Seriously! Sick and twisted IMHO.

      Reporting them doesn’t really do anything or go anywhere or stop them from continuing which is sad. Shall I write a post about photography netiquette? 🙂 I would love to include you in it as you’ve great examples!

      After reading so many comments and events, I have to agree with you. Little minds will do whatever they please but if companies use it and know that we own the images and go ahead and use it without permission, then I will go further as you said!

      I appreciate your time and valuable input!

      Keep up the great work.


      • Yes, I actually did call him out on it and told him that he was not suppose to crop out the image in any way to remove my watermark but by then, he had already posted it to his article. He gave me credit for the photo though so I wasn’t TOO terribly miffed. 🙂

      • Well ok if you called him on it and gave you credit for your own photo then that kind of makes up for it but still. Cropping our your watermark was wrong. The right thing to do was to simply replace it with the original. He could have gone back to your site and downloaded it, simple does it no? 🙂

  4. I read about that artist that is notorious for doing that kind of “art” in the art world. Sorry to hear the news about the Instagrammer who took your image. I saw one famous photographer who posted on his site the scammer, and it was eventually taken down. His followers were completely upset and let the scammer know…

    • Yes, he is known by everyone as a photo stealer and he doesn’t give a hoot.

      On the contrary, he laughs all the way to the bank!

      People are smart and know what’s right from wrong.

      Photographers unite!

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