We all like posting images of our hard work online for the rest of the world to see. It’s pride. Satisfaction in the work we have done and interesting to everyone else to see what work other people are doing. There have been some really great examples of work this year, unfortunately, there is a worrying increase in the number of images being stolen by other individuals and companies for them to be passed off as their own work.

Image theft rising

In the summer of this year we had a big spate of rather public image thefts being passed off as someone else’s work. The culprits were over in Ireland, so not direct competition to the companies they had been taken from. However, that’s not the point. The point is that someone else worked hard on that job, to secure the contract, fit the work and make the money on it. It’s a matter of pride an principle in a lot of these cases.

One my own jobs was subject to this I found out today. An installation company in the south of England has used one of my doors from a bigger installation and passed it off as their own. This followed on from some other examples of our work being used by another company in the summer. It amazes me that in 2014, after all the attention given to this issue earlier in the year, this sort of stuff is going on right now, and in broad daylight! These companies are proudly tweeting, posting on Facebook, posting on their own websites, these images that they claim to be of their work, but are obviously someone else’s!

Homeseal Windows Yorkshire was another to suffer the same fate the previous weekend after their images were found on another company’s eBay site, who also had a Twitter account. On came the expected questions and onslaught from other industry profiles who quite rightly were outraged by the blatant misuse of someone else’s image.

A developing issue

The internet is a great thing. It has made infinite amounts of information and resources available to every man woman and child, for free. It has brought us all closer together and the world is able to talk to each other instantly. But the internet has also brought a side affect in fraud. It is so simple to save an image from another company’s website and claim it as their own. How we can police such a thing is difficult. So far, instances like the ones mentioned above have been found via luck rather than anything more strategic. Nor can we spend our valuable hours searching around to make sure other’s aren’t stealing.

Tougher penalties could be an idea. But even so, who can be bothered to start legal proceedings now? Perhaps the most obvious answer to most would be to watermark every image on your site. But have you seen what that looks like? It’s an idea we are contemplating in our office, but we just don’t like the idea of every image on the site having a great big white watermark. It doesn’t look nice to look at and takes the shine off what could be a very slick looking page. For clarity, the red door that we had stolen online today was indeed watermarked, but it appears to have been removed – the other problem with watermarking.

I fear this is going to be a developing issue as we become more tuned in to this sort of problem. We’re all going to become more aware of it, and therefore looking out for it more. I suspect that 2015 will be increasingly tainted by cases of image theft. If anyone has any ideas on how to curb this growing problem, please leave them in the comments section below. Everyone who has had their work stolen will appreciate it!