What To Do If Your Modeling Photos Have Been Stolen
Whether you are an experienced model or a newcomer, you know how much work goes into your modeling career and obtaining great photos. Not only do you put in hard work, but you also spend time and money on them as well. In addition to paying photographers, you may have also paid for professional makeup, hair and clothing stylists.
With all of the work and expense that goes into your modeling photos, finding out someone is using them without permission is a gut-wrenching feeling, but is there anything you can do about it?
Luckily, there are a few things you can do in this situation, but your best bet is safeguarding yourself from incidents like this in the first place. You can do that by reading and understanding the terms of service on any site you upload your photos to ahead of time. This way you’ll know if these terms have given other users the right to use any photos on the site as they please, or if they are breaking the rules (or the law) by doing so.
Gather Your Evidence
If your photos have been posted on a website take "screen shots" on your computer. This will be important evidence that you can use even after the site has taken down your photos, especially if you are seeking compensation from them for having used your photos in the first place. Any other evidence like printed material or videos also need to be gathered and saved for proof of your claim against them.
Contact Your Agent
If you are represented by a modeling agency it is important to notify them immediately. It is your agent's job to protect your image and brand and they will take action to investigate and correct the situation. It may be that your photos are being used legally and were part of a "buyout" which would allow the client to use your photos in a variety of formats.
Contact the Website Owner
If it turns out your photos were unlawfully copied and used on a specific site, contact the site owner or even the hosting company. For example, if this happens to you through Facebook, you can report these photos specifically to Facebook by selecting the option “Report This Photo.” You will then be given further prompts to explain why you are reporting the photo and that it is being used without permission.
Contact the Client
If your photos turn up in an advertisement for which you were not compensated, you should contact the client directly. The client may have contracted an advertising or media agency to handle their advertising and the client may not even be aware that your photo was used without permission.
Contact a Lawyer
If you’ve exhausted your options for trying to get your photos taken down from a site by yourself, there are lawyers who specialize in copyright and intellectual property law. Hiring one may be your best bet if you feel you are owed money from whoever was using your photos without permission. If the photos were used in an ad of some sort, this is a more likely scenario than if someone was just using your photos and pretending they were their own.
While this situation can be upsetting and difficult to handle, don’t panic or lose hope. People who use photos without permission often haven’t done the work of trying to hide it, and instead, run on the assumption that the model whose photos are being used will never find out. This means they also don’t tend to have any safeguards in place that would protect or defend them if you were to take legal action, which will give you a leg up on them in legal proceedings.
Again, it’s better to be proactive than reactive with your modeling photos, which means trying to avoid this situation in the first place. That is why models who join ModelScouts.com have a choice of privacy settings inside their modeling profiles. Models can choose who will have access to their photos, such as:
A. Only agents and scouts who are pre-screened and registered on our site
B. Registered agents, scouts and other model members, or
C. Registered agents, scouts, model members, and the general public
By choosing Option A., models have the extra peace of mind that their photos will never be used without permission and their image and brand are safe.
However, no matter what you do your photos may still be stolen from other websites or social media accounts where you post your photos. In that event, stay calm and try the above steps to get your modeling photos taken down or at least to receive credit for them. Do your part to warn other models of sketchy sites/companies who steal photos and stay alert for similar reports from other people in the industry.
See more on this topic at our modeling expert site at TheBalance.com (formerly About.com)
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