Do you remember the whac-a-mole game? (For those who don’t remember, it is that arcade game where you try to hit moles that jump out from holes). You probably remember that it can be very frustrating when you can’t keep up with these scoundrels that spring up on you. Whac-a-mole is a pretty good metaphor for the distressing situation of many people who struggle with illegal usage of their image. It’s not a fair fight - when you enforce deleting a photo used on some site without your permission, the same or modified image pops up on another two different websites. What can you do in that kind of situation?
Permanently remove photos from unwanted websites with the PimEyes PROtect
In many cases, the only method to remove photos from undesired websites is to take legal action. A personal image is protected by many laws (international and local), but sometimes it is very hard to enforce this protection without legal steps. You can delegate the care of legal documents to professionals like PimEyes. In the PROtect plan (a monthly subscription) we will handle the whole process of:
- Finding the website’s owner
- Preparing the legal documents necessary to enforce your rights to privacy and data protection (DMCA & GDPR Takedown Notices)
- Sending Takedown Notices to the website’s owner on your behalf
- Monitoring if the photos have been removed and report the results to you.
80% of our interventions end up removing the photo from the external database.
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Why is the problem of using stolen photos repeatedly coming back?
You already know how to get rid of a problem with the illegal usage of your photos. Now is the time to explain why stolen images pop up on different websites. There could be several reasons, but the most popular are:
- Photos are uploaded repeatedly by someone who has access to your images (e.g. ex-partner, a person who has stolen your photo) and is spreading them in bad faith.
- Photos are stored on some badly protected server or hosting.
- Photos were uploaded to a shady website (by you or someone else), and they haven’t been removed from its server.
Let’s expand on these points a little.
Someone keeps uploading your photos to the Internet in bad faith
This situation is unfortunately common and usually takes the form of revenge porn or creating fake profiles on dating or announcement services. If you know who is spreading photos, you can try to negotiate with that person or sue them for violating your image rights. If you don’t know who is using your photos in bad faith, you can report the crime to the police, but probably also have to fight with every single image uploaded to the Internet. Here PimEyes’ Alerts come to the rescue. Find out more about PimEyes’ Alerts from the article on our blog.
Your photos have been stolen from a badly protected server
Images displayed on websites are stored on servers or hostings. There are many companies that provide hosting services and sell servers. Unfortunately, many of them don’t protect data properly.
It’s easier for a hacker to infiltrate hosting accounts. Breaking security mechanisms gives them full control over all stored data. They can use it in bad faith, sell, or modify it against the user’s will. If you have uploaded photos to a website that uses bad server infrastructure, you can expect the problem of data leak. That’s why we dissuade you to give any kind of data (including photos of yourself) to websites that hardly seem to be trusted.
Do you want to check if your photos have leaked to the Internet? Use PimEyes’ search engine
Photos uploaded to a shady website pop up on different suspicious sites
The key to removing photos permanently from the Internet is to delete them from servers, not websites. Within the context of data, websites are secondary to servers, because data is only displayed on websites but stored on servers. Therefore, it is possible that a website is shut down, but the data is still in someone’s possession. That person can create another website on a different domain, and move the data from the server to a new site. The unwanted photos are still going to be on the Internet, but on another website that you will have to track down.
Why isn’t it enough to report the result from the PimEyes search results?
You probably have checked your results in the PimEyes search engine and found those which should be removed. It is your right to report them as abuse. We remove a particular result from the PimEyes’ search results for free. But, as you’ve found out from the previous part of this article, an image from the removed result will continue to be on someone else’s server (external website). This website is independent of us, so we can’t delete it. If you want to remove that photo, you have to contact the website’s owner and invoke your rights.
Can you erase your photos from the Internet on your own?
Yes, it is possible. You have to do everything that we perform on your behalf with the PROtect plan: find the website’s owner (name, address, contact email), draft legal documents (demanding to respect your rights to privacy), and send them to the website’s owner. In this article about leaked photos, we have described a possible scenario of your actions and problems that may arise when trying to delete your photo from an external server.
If you want to save time and energy, try out PimEyes’ PROtect. Upload your photo, find out where images with your face appear online, and hire us to complete the formalities necessary to remove those images from the Internet, all part of a monthly subscription.
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