Tracking Down Image Thieves as Part of a Business Plan?

Dan Heller’s Photography Business Blog: Making money from your stolen images:

Wow. Well Dan Heller’s stuff continues to be some of the best photography related writing on the web. Today Dan takes on the topic of stolen images on the internet. This is in fact a white hot topic right now. Last month superstar Flickr photographer Rebekka Guðleifsdóttira for instance had some of her photos ripped. I covered this on my blog here.

Dan makes the point that damages for stolen photographs can actually be much higher than we might at first assume. And while many of us might be hesitant to pursue image thieves due to the perceived costs associated with this (and documented by Rebekka in her case as well), Dan suggests that if a photo sharing company were to create a more streamlined approach to this, that this could actually turn out to be a fairly lucrative business in and of itself.

I’m not sure 100% on this one yet but I will say that Dan Heller certainly makes you think. On the one hand I really like this idea a lot. Especially running Zooomr we are in a good position to think about how we might implement something like this. I like this idea because I think it would be really cool to be part of a photo sharing site that actually went after image thieves and acted as an advocate on behalf of their photographers. If, as Dan suggests, going after image thieves financially is as lucrative as business as it might be, this would seem to make a lot of sense and possible be yet one more way to help make income for photographers — by getting judgments and settlements for their stolen images.

If Zooomr or other companies actually pursued image thieves with a zeal and it made financial sense, I suspect that this could also cut down dramatically on image theft on the internet. It could also create a new sort of freedom where photographers might feel totally free to share even their highest res images if the settlement payouts are as lucrative as Dan suggests.

On the other hand, I’m certainly *not* crazy about building a portion of a business plan on suing people. Maybe images thieves do deserve to be sued, but I’m still not sure that building any core business component around litigation really makes sense.

Thanks for the great article as usual Dan. I’m very interested in what other people think about this meaty subject. To me it’s pretty complicated but definitely worth some serious thought and reflection. And thanks Owen too for the heads up on this one.

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