Image Protection

milkayphoto milkayphoto 67 posts

I have recently discovered that my images on Redbubble are not as protected as I thought. In my profile settings, I use the watermark feature as well as the transparent GIF overlay but still, I am finding decent-sized, downloadable versions of my images showing up in Google (and other search engine) image searches. This CONCERNS ME GREATLY as these images can then be used without my knowledge or consent.

I’ve written RB support about this issue, asking how it is these engines are able to circumvent the RB protections but have not received a response. So, now I feel forced to add a digital signature to all my images on RB. A process that will take some time to implement. Even so, all my un-signed images are floating around the net in cache.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Thanks much -


© Joe  Beasley IPA © Joe Beasley... 3915 posts

RedBubble has embedded your copyright into the metadata of your images.
IPTC — this group of metadata is encoded in 81 bytes (0.1k)
Application Record Version 0
Copyright Notice © © Milkay Photography –
IPTC (81 bytes binary data)
Raw IPTC data (81 bytes binary data)

However many websites strip this data out. Any protection can be bypassed and the image copied. I put a signature in my images and most will not go to the trouble of cropping or retouching out. It also that my copyright info is on any prints ordered.

MLabuda MLabuda 6968 posts

The engines don’t circumvent.

The images and our portfolios are indexed in google and other engines, as the engines index the web sites.

We can’t cloak or hide the links, here, the under lying code that is read by the engines.

How else would people find our works?

milkayphoto milkayphoto 67 posts

To Joe: Thank you for the information. I was aware of the copright encryption but it doesn’t prevent image theft by the average user and there is still the issue of constantly searching for images that have been stolen. I’m realizing that the only way to protect is to visibly watermark (which you can’t really do here on RB since they don’t have us upload a version of the image for viewing and a version for printing. Something I WISH they would do). So, I will have to digitally sign my images in hopes that discourages theft.

To Mitch: I understand that our images need to be in search enginesin order to promote our work. What I take issue with with regards to RB images is the decent sized files I am finding out on the web of my images. Files that can be downloaded and used without my knowledge or consent. I thought only the very small thumbnails would make it to the search engines. This is NOT the case and something RB should make aware to us users. Had I known this, I would have added my copyright stamp to the images right from the get-go. I thought I was safe here. My only option now is add a digital signature and re-upload all my images. Something that will take time to do. Another option I am considering is pulling all my work off of RB and finding a site that indeed offers protection to its artists.

MLabuda MLabuda 6968 posts

There is no 100% way to have works not picked up on the web of any size.

And this is not meant to be snarky, but, the only way to prevent images from being shared or found on the web, is not to place them on the web.

People copy images with large copyright symbols on them from Getty Images and then, there is the automated scraping software people can buy.

From our account details;

“Please understand it’s impossible to prevent downloading of images displayed on web pages, but activating this feature will make it more difficult. Your original high-resolution images are never displayed on the website, and cannot be downloaded”

Cindy Schnackel Cindy Schnackel 5064 posts

After searching for infringements you may have an idea of which images are most taken by now. Start with those, and replace a few at a time, with your copyright notice on them. I have found that putting a tiny but legible copyright notice on my images for print, (and a big one on my low res blog images), has cut down on the number of takedowns I have to send.

But no, there is really no total protection, nor any way to keep yourself selectively off search engines. I think RB has improved its ranking on search engines which is a good thing, so trying to swim against that stream would be hard.

I’ve seen two other sites where the right click protection is trickier to get around, (Art Wanted, and Blue Canvas…last I looked anyway), but none are impossible, and all sites have their pro’s and con’s. Some art sites have zero protection for images. I think the day is coming when better image protection will be commonly available.

milkayphoto milkayphoto 67 posts

To Mitch: Nah, not snarky at all. Nothing I didn’t already know. However, I did not know about scraping software….that seems like a crazy waste of time and I wish folks would spend their energy learning a craft of their own rather than stealing artist work.

To Cindy: Over the last three weeks, I’ve been dealing with the problem of image theft. Most of my images were taken off my WP site despite the copyright stamp in either the lower left or right corner. I have spent many hours filling out forms and sending DMCA notices. Over 85 different images of mine (with a total of over 250 infractions since many images were were used multiple times on different sites across the US and worldwide) were taken and used without my knowledge or permission. I’ve been able to get 95% of them removed, but the process continues as I have over 800 images to watermark and re-upload and images are lifted daily. I guess people like my work (a good thing) it just would be nice if I were actually profiting fromit. During this time I’ve been adding a very visible watermark to the WP images (since they are there for viewing purposes only), starting with the ones that were taken and then moving onto those that are searched the most.

This week, while doing a different kind of image search, I discovered the redbubble files in search engines. This was just something I didn’t expect as I thought they were more protected. I did see that many of you digitally sign or copyright your Redbubble images and now I understand why. So, I am in the process of doing the same with the hope it is a deterrent. I know it will not prevent all theft but it may give viewers something to think about. I am also trying to educate the public since many feel that what they find on the internet is theirs for the taking.

If interested, you can read what I’ve been going thru here: as well as the latest follow-up here:

Thanks for the information (all of you!). As I stated, the solution to the RB issue seems simple enough: allow us to upload two versions of images: one with embedded visible watermarks (an embossed style would be great) for viewing and high-res images for printing (NOT available to the public).

milkayphoto milkayphoto 67 posts

Oh, one thing I forgot about…. RSS Feeds. The RB images that show up in RSS feeds are the largest of all and when you click on them and are returned to RB, no transparent GIF is displayed nor the watermarking symbol in the view mode.

MLabuda MLabuda 6968 posts

We can submit Ideas

milkayphoto milkayphoto 67 posts

Yes, Mitch, I’ve submitted this idea (along with others) but that queue appears to be a black hole where ideas go in but none ever get implemented… :-(

MLabuda MLabuda 6968 posts

I’ve always thought there is some notion that because I submit a suggestion it will be acted on, but, the site owners will do what they want with the suggestions.

Cindy Schnackel Cindy Schnackel 5064 posts

Great blog posts and very useful info in the links. Sounds like you’re on top of things, and now it’s just a matter of doing the editing, and staying on top of it. I would love it if you went and posted links to your two blog posts, on my Journal about finding and taking down infringements

Re: the blog post about the lady who flipped out: Amazing what that woman wrote to you, how ignorant she was, and how adamantly she defended her ignorance! Typical “blame the victim” response, like asking rape victims what they were wearing. Same old excuses, “found it on google,” or “you shouldn’t be online if you don’t want your stuff taken,” blah blah… Their excuses are not only ignorant, they’re irrelevant.

milkayphoto milkayphoto 67 posts

Aw, thanks so much, Cindy. Your words are very kind. I so very much appreciate the encouragement and support!

When I have a moment to breathe I will be creating a separate page on my blog regarding my experience and hope to provide good information on how to protect images (watermarking, copyright info, and so on), how to find stolen images (the tools and how to use them), as well as what to do if you find an image that is stolen (locating DMCA policies, using WHOIS, writing and sending DMCA/copyright infringement notices). I will also be including information re: Pinterest (a site I do like but realize now the damage it can cause for artists if your images are not protected properly).

Yeah, that ladywildlife is something, isn’t she? Her email is priceless which is why I chose to include it. You simply cannot make that stuff up! I didn’t even bother to respond to her. Would be a complete waste of my time. All I care about is that she removed my image, which is what I asked her to do in the first place. I like how she said I “attacked” her. Seriously? She should realize that it was she who threw the first punch by taking my work in the first place! Oh and the part about my blog being “not safe for children”….now that’s a leap, eh? Ridiculous.

I will post my links on your journal entry. I would like people to read/know about this experience. If I can help others out there, that is a bonus.

© Joe  Beasley IPA © Joe Beasley... 3915 posts

I will post my links on your journal entry. I would like people to read/know about this experience. If I can help others out there, that is a bonus.

Please do. That was the motivation behind the formation of the Copyright Protection Group

MLabuda MLabuda 6968 posts

The best image protection, begins with us.

It is up to us to protect our works unless we use a service, like, Digimarc or Picscout.

We can look out for each other.

milkayphoto milkayphoto 67 posts

Thank you, Joe, for proving the link to the CPG. I wasn’t aware of that group and there is so much great information out there. Should I post my links there as well or is that inappropriate?

Couldn’t agree more, Mitch and that is exactly what my latest blog post states. I have been so naive, as I’m sure many artists are. You just don’t think of this kind of stuff (the dark side of the “business of art”). I like “we can look out for each other” – how awesome is that? Yes, I watch your back and you watch mine. We are stronger as a group, for sure.

I appreciate all the information!

MLabuda MLabuda 6968 posts

Education, in any thing is key.

People, rob, steal, murder and on and on.

The web is awash in piracy, copyright infringement, etc.

It won’t stop, though, with each new piece of technology, it is a challenge to work around it, each new law, circumvented and tested and worked around.

© Joe  Beasley IPA © Joe Beasley... 3915 posts

Your membership in the group and the posting of links would be welcomed
Also there is a Facebook group

milkayphoto milkayphoto 67 posts

Thank you, Joe. I did join and post!

Facebook isn’t for me. :-(

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