Photography On The Net: Up For Grabs?
If you put your own photography up on the net, know that unless you watermark it or somehow can disable anyone from downloading it, it will pop up somewhere else on the net without you getting any money for it. This is one reason why professional photographers often work with specific sites or professional image companies that do just that.
A Whole New World
Photography on the net is the largest image library in the world. That means there are billions of websites containing billions of billions of images. Chances are, one of those web pages somewhere is going to going to have a copy of your photos. Get over it really fast. There is no way anyone can completely check the copyrights of every single block of text or photography on the net.
However, you don't have to completely despair. If your photos are only going up on personal web sites or blogs, then you know that no one is trying to make a profit off of them. Someone taking the trouble to download and post your photography on the net is actually not only a compliment, but free publicity for you.
When To Get Mad
The only time you really need to worry about your photography on the net going up on sites that don't pay you is when you find your images on business websites. In that way, they are using your images to help make them money that you don't get to see. That's one of the only reasons you would need to get mad enough to hire a lawyer.
The other reason to get mad enough to hire a lawyer is when you discover that your images are being used for fraud. This usually only happens to portrait photographers, or photographers who work for clothing catalogues. Sometimes, their images are stolen in order to make fake personal ads for fraud schemes.
The way these "lonely heart" schemes work is that they pretend to fall in love with someone online of the opposite sex and then get the love-sick person to send them loads of money. This is just a new twist on an old scam. It used to be that a scammer would pretend to fall in love with you in person, but now you can do it online, hiding your face behind someone else's portrait.
The good news is that you won't be prosecuted for a scammer stealing your images for fraud. The bad news is that someone is stealing your images for fraud. You might get investigated by police once the fraudster has been exposed, but the chances of this is unlikely.