In at least one of my recent endeavours I've come to realize that taking time to protect your work online can be pretty important for some things.
Not just images, graphics and photos, but your written work, like blog posts and articles, stories and poetry. Pretty much anything you put on the net.
Some folks won't worry much about whether someone has copied their blog post or photos, but for those who are concerned, there are some steps you can take that help. While there is no real protection for anything you put out on the internet, making the effort can do two things - offer protection from those who just don't know any better, and help to educate them about copyright and plagiarism.
Anyone who follows any of my free blogs will already know that I'm pretty happy to share much of what I do with others. That's just my nature. What I'm not happy to see is other people claiming my work as their own. While none of these methods shown here will really stop anyone who is out to copy your work and put their name on it, some of them will help you find any work of yours that's been used elsewhere.
Copyscape is a service that will search the internet for written work. They offer a free service (limited, but it works) and paid programs for greater coverage. You simply put in the url of the page where your work is displayed (a blog page or website page), hit enter and wait. It will search around the net looking for whatever article or written work is on your page and then list places it found it, if any.
CopyrightSpot works essentially the same as Copyscape, though the service is at present, completely free. It is, however, still in "alpha testing", but it does seem to work reasonably well. Like copyscape, it is designed for the written word. You can also use their logo to show that you check your work against their service on a regular basis. While this won't stop someone out to purposely copy your stuff, it might give them pause if they realize you will eventually find them.
For images, the same folks who put out CopyrightSpot have MyFree Copyright. Here, you can upload a small version of any image or graphic and create a footprint for it, then get a registration number to place on your images, along with the logo if you want. This service also works to protect a file of written work, or text whether it's a web page or pdf or other form of written work. It too is provided freely. Each item you register generates an email to your account, showing the date of registration and registration number. While this is not the same as registering work with the Registry Office, it can provide a "time stamp" for your work, so if it's necessary to provide proof that someone else copied the work from you, this can be helpful. Like any other service, it doesn't stop unauthorized uses (nothing really does), but it has it's uses.
TinEye doesn't actually offer protection, but it can help you find your images on the internet. It's still in beta, and has a ways to go before it will become really useful, but it too works if images are used in a lot of different places. TinEye is essentially a "reverse lookup tool" for images - you can upload a low res version of your image and it will search around the net and list places where it's found. If you prefer not to upload an image, you can use the Firefox browser plugin, where you simply right click on your image, and it will search from that. Note that with the browser plugin, this won't work if you are using the clear gif method of protecting your image, because all TinEye will see is no image and a clear gif. There is also a version for macs.
The image bank TinEye uses to search is still somewhat limited, so if it doesn't find your image, that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't in use somewhere else, it just means that wherever the image is, TinEye hasn't indexed that particular site or space yet. The more people who use TinEye and submit sites for indexing, the better it will get.
Get the TinEye Plugin for Firefox here.
Get the mac version here.
While there are other similar services for protecting your copyrights, many are paid services. If you earn your living with imaging or writing, you might want to invest in a paid service, and/or register your work at the Registry Office for your country or state. But for the average blogger who might have a need to prove the work belongs to them, these free services should be sufficient.
(originally posted by the writer, me, on another of my blogs)