Are stolen designs/images causing you more upset? The unethical online businesses have stolen your name and given themselves a similar name and offered most of the same services and products as you do.
Most importantly, they have stolen several of your original designs directly from your website, featured items, social media images, etc., and have them hanging in their store. Indeed, the daring copycats don’t even recreate or alter a bit, they exactly copy and paste what you have.
Top 06 Tips To Stop People Stealing Your Designs/Images
Therefore, it is high time to teach a good lesson to these stealers and make your artwork/designs/images theft protected.
1. Do not protect your images with watermark only:
Unfortunately, most watermarks aren’t waterproofed. Research released by Google says even a complex watermark can be easily taken out, blurred, or erased using simple photo editing tools.
Moreover, the research concludes that a randomized digital water-marking where the watermark changes constantly using online tools. But, we would recommend you must go for a robust solution i.e. digital signature.
2. Use digital signature:
Nevertheless, watermarks aren’t a perfect anti-theft solution. Therefore digital signature is tough enough for the stealers to beat. You can create digital signatures with image editing software. Unlike the watermark, it does not impact the visual of the image.
Basically, the digital signature is visible after someone downloads the image. Therefore, anyone determined to use the image will have to ignore the digital signature or crop the entire signature area.
3. Add hidden foreground layers:
You are protecting your images with a hidden foreground layer.
Basically, there are three major layers in an image. They are the foreground, middle ground and background.
The foreground is the front layer which is closest to the observer. Therefore, a hidden foreground layer means adding a transparent foreground layer to the image.
When somebody downloads the image online the downloaded only shows the blank layer in the front, not the actual image itself.
You can easily add hidden foreground layers using Photoshop or other image editing software. It is one of the best solutions to protect images on your website.
4. What if Stealers hotlink your images:
Have they copied and pasted image on their site and social media, or are they hotlinking to them?
Hotlinking means somebody gets your image URL and embeds in his own website. As a result, he fetches the same image as you have on your website. It is exactly taking image URLs from somebody’s Twitter account and displaying it on your website.
If hotlink, change the original images to something else, the hotlink will change. And the image will not appear in all of their copied hotlinks. And finally, re-upload the original images to your own site under a new filename.
Then, sit back and watch the fireworks!
5. Consult your lawyer and file a Lawsuit:
Basically, it becomes difficult to prove the originality of your designs. Although you have the original file, you could have copied it from someone. Therefore, if you intend to file a legal suit your lawyer should be able to advise you on what steps you can take next.
A cease and desist order or injunction has legal power. A cease and desist letter is not legally binding, although it is a formal step that may be followed by a lawsuit if the recipient ignores it.
If they are using your actual image files (your mockups etc) on their website without permission, they are violating your intellectual property rights. File a DMCA complaint with their web hosting service, be it Shopify or Name Cheap, or whatever. Do likewise with FaceBook, Twitter, whatever they use. Be all legal and professional sounding when doing that.
6. Let God sort it out and you do your business strong enough!:
The last solution you have is to continue to run your business with integrity. Stay creative. As harsh as it gets you let God sort it out.
Your best option is to just out compete them, if your business is strong enough. Don’t let them become established. If you have a list of contacts behind you then mobilize social media, through family friends and customers.
Don’t get into an online fight match, that never works. Just sell your service and experience. Pick a few lines – a tshirt, a polo, a hoody etc. – to work very cheap. You could even work all of your garments at virtual cost, and just earn on the printing. I think you will too if you stay the course.
It is a hard pill to swallow but one you will likely swallow again. There is really not much you can really do unless you have the time and especially the money to take action. You would spend 100X on a lawyer then you would lose on the potential loss of business. It is just the cold facts. Even we got so pissed the first time this happened to us could not see straight. Usually, it just becomes part of any product design and printing business.
How confident are you in the originality of your designs, and are they good enough to take legal action over? You might have to content yourself with just walking in their door and firing a mouthful of f-bombs at them.