Graphics Detective Finds Unauthorized Uses

Posted on 6/1/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Graphics Detective (GD) in Belgium has developed a strategy for chasing online infringements that photographers may want to check out. There is no cost to the photographer unless there is a settlement. In the event of a settlement Graphics Detective pays the photographer 50% of whatever it collects.

The key to their success is that when they find an infringement they don’t go after the “big bucks.” Rather a lawyer sends a letter requesting a reasonable fee of between 150 € ($167.53) and 250 € ($279.20) for the unauthorized use. They charge the lowest fees for political, governmental, schools and social uses. They have found that a high percentage of users pay these fees without much complaint rather than risk further legal action.

The first step for a photographer is to send GD a digital file of the images in the photographer’s online collections that might have been infringed. An image file that is around 400 pixels on the longest side is perfectly satisfactory for their purposes. The photographer may also leave the metadata or IPTC details in the image file, but that is not necessary.

GD searches the web for uses of the images submitted. When they find one they notify the photographer and provide a screen grab of the site where the image was found and additional information about the owner of the site. The photographer is asked to review this information and indicate whether the image was legally licensed, or not. This is all the photographer has to do. Once the photographer has identified images that were not licensed GD goes through the list to determine if the uses were commercial or social, and begins sending out letters to the site owner.

GD says that their system is designed so image owners can easily go through a list of about 100 images in an hour and identify those that are infringements.

For some photographers whose images are available through agencies this review process may be the Achilles heel in the system. Often the photographer doesn’t know the name of customer was who licensed use of their image. Getting that information out of their stock agency can be very difficult. On the other hand, if the image has never been licensed then it is a safe bet it is an unauthorized use.

GD wants to protect the photographer’s reputation. Their in-house legal experts try to keep the settlement requests as reasonable as possible so they are not perceived as “legal extortion,” but as fair compensation to the photographer.

They have found that on average for every Internet search of 1,000 images in a three-month period they find between 5 and 10 unauthorized uses. Once they have scanned an image they will continue to search the Internet on a regular basis for other uses.

In one of their biggest success stories they scanned 5,000 images belonging to one individual. In a three-month period, they identified 352 websites with illegal use of this group of images. Letters were sent to the website owners and 60% paid a fee. (In a few cases the fee was negotiated.) The total collected from these 211 uses was 55,000 €. That works out to $30,731 for the photographer. And those images will probably generate more infringements in the years ahead.

Copyright © 2016 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff