Multimedia News

The Most Stolen Images

Photographers have it very difficult nowadays. Most people think the internet is a free self service area. Individuals and even companies download whatever they like and use it for their own purpose or business.
What can photographers do about it? Some decided to do nothing or they just ignore it while others decided to keep an eye on copyright infringements. The future will tell us what the better decision is.
And here they are, some of the most stolen images, which got reported hundreds of times, sometimes removed and even better produced income in form of compensation payments for copyright infringements.

latex is fashion © karl louis
nun and heels karl louis
nun and heels © karl louis
strada del fetish 2006 © karl louis
strada del fetish 2006 © karl louis
fetish ballerina © karl louis
fetish ballerina © karl louis
up © karl louis
up © karl louis
general motors truck © karl louis
general motors truck © karl louis
leg lines © karl louis
leg lines © karl louis
blue latex © karl louis
blue latex © karl louis
fit black © karl louis
fit black © karl louis
fit black © karl louis
zahra and the harleys © karl louis
zahra and the harleys © karl louis
zahra and the harley © karl louis
Strada del fetish 2010
strada del fetish 2010 © karl louis
stairs green 140-4076_r © karl louis
© karl louis
latex is fashion 1468 © karl louis
dominique la mer © karl louis

The Most Stolen in Instagram

Instagram is very popular and thanks to the built-in filters everybody can very easily alter an image.  Unfortunately a lot of users do not give credits and/or tag the photographers and therefore copyright infringements are also on the rise. I don’t use Instagram anymore and have one post there only. Below is an example.

ultratight grey © karl louis

The image was made by me in Cologne on August 18, 2018. A few days later the model posted it with proper credits and got many likes. Some users reposted it with credits but some simply used the picture for their own purposes like e.g. selling leggings. Have you noticed the high number of likes (2374, 2865, 7902) on these 3 copyright infringing posts? For Zuck it is normal to make money even with criminal activities (and of course fake news).


I will keep you updated about this and other commercial copyright infringement cases like the ones below.

At least 2058 cases up till May 4, 2020

One more example:

The Most Stolen in Twitter

Another social media network where you see many copyright infringing posts. There are almost never credits given e.g. to my Twitter account.

ultratight bosa (with Francesca Felucci) © karl louis
ultratight walking © karl louis

Tumblr = Copyright Horror

Tumblr is one of the worst sites when it comes to respect for artist and models. The picture below of Francesca Felucci in black leggings in a Marina in Sardinia is just one example. Usually they crop the photos so my signature is not visible anymore.

Francesca Felucci - Ultratight Black
© Karl Louis

What can you do as a photographer?

There are several copyright service companies on the market which can help you taking care of your rights.

Let me give you one reference, a company which I have worked with successfully for many years: PhotoClaim , founded by a photographer, Nico Trinkhaus. Visit their website and apply. It’s easy and they charge you just 45% only when a case is won. Otherwise, you don’t owe them anything.

There are also other copyright service providers like e.g. ImageRights, Pixsy and Copytrack. I worked with all of them and can advise you to keep your expectations low. This is also the case for Lapixa, which I’m currently testing.

Pixsy **

With Pixsy I’ve had 1283 hits which resulted in 148 claims. 136 got closed for various reasons, 7 are still pending and 2 got paid out.
They have a good front-end and their back-office works rather slowly. They are stronger in USA and use image post-licensing.

Copytrack *

Copytrack found 1700 hits which produced 300 cases. 280 got closed, 14 are still pending (up to 6 years!!) and 6 got paid out.
They have a good front-end but their back-office works very slowly, especially for cases in USA. They use image post-licensing. I do not recommend Copytrack.

As these two examples show you, the hits/pay out ratio was very low, 0.16 – 0.35 %. The cases/payout ratio was between 1.3 and 2 %.

ImageRights (not rated)

ImageRights has a subscription-based system only and therefore is not fully comparable to the others. They are strong in USA and produced 7 payouts for me.

Lapixa (not rated yet)

The frontend seems to be well made but the actual case submission is rather complicated. You should go through a checklist before submitting a case which is in contradiction to their advertising where e.g. Calvin Hollywood is saying “just upload your images, wait, receive the money and take a vacation.” In reality, most users won’t even be able to get through the checklist and if you’re experienced it means nothing else than you do most of the very time consuming work.
“Truth does not belong to the one who shouts the loudest” or let this be a confirmation that you simply should never trust advertising.

PhotoClaim *****

PhotoClaim has the highest payout ratio because they check and open cases (claims) themselves in contrary to the other services where you submit them yourself. They have a simple front-end but their back-office works quite fast and does much more work. They are stronger in Europe and do not use image post-licensing (which is better for photography).

All rights reserved © Karl Louis

2 replies on “The Most Stolen Images”

Karl you have photo’s stolen from you because the images are superb. It is easy to look at what took you decades of learning and creativity and think there isn’t too much that is comparable. With my printmaking graphic images I leave hidden traps just in case I have to prove ownership. Many of the thieves set up, steal images then fold up and disappear before you can find them. This World and Societies have changed so much with the World Wide Web. Too many are Arm Chair Commandoes sitting behind the anonymity of their Computer Screens. They are all tough and offensive bullies. I caught one who copied my antique padlock image of the Skull and Crossbones which was made during the late Victorian period of circa 1890’s. After advising him of the image theft he claimed it was on the Web and free to re-use without any credit ! Another image was stolen from me and made into a reverse image LOL Karl it seems this shall be a continual pain in our modern unethical World ?

Brian, there are two types of copyright infringers, criminals and dont-knowers. The criminals either get a DMCA takedown notice or a letter from my lawyers. For the dont-knowers I don’t have enough time to educate them but sometimes I do it. The following graphic is a good one:
There are months I make more money with compensation payments from infringers than by selling content. Unfortunately too many commercial infringers hide behind privacy services or operate from eastern countries, like Russia and China.
It’s a big fight and we should never give up!

Comments are closed.