There are two types of images you don’t want spread on the Internet without your permission: embarrassing photos someone took of you or stole from you and artistic or creative photos you took yourself and don’t want anyone else to use. In either case, removing a picture from the Internet can prove difficult. However, there are a few actions you can take to get the photo removed.
Asking for Removal
Start by contacting the person who posted your photo without permission. You may personally know the person or it’s possible that the person found the picture online, saved it to his hard drive and uploaded it onto his own site. Find the name and contact information of the poster, alert him to the problem and ask him to remove the photo. Give him a timeline, like two days or a week, and tell him that you will take further action after that date. If the person is reasonable, simply asking may take care of the problem.
Contact the Host
While this doesn’t apply to all cases of posted images, you may be able to ask the website host to remove the image if the person who posted it doesn’t comply. For example, if a person posted your photo on a social media site and ignores or refuses your request to remove the photo, contact the social media site and explain the problem. In the case of artistic photos that don’t include an image of yourself, it helps if you can prove that you’re the original photographer with copyright on the image by pointing the site to your own dated posting of the image.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects American copyright holders of digital images. If you file a formal DMCA file with the Internet provider, rather than simply contacting them through their customer service, you may be more likely to see results. You will need to prove that the image in question is yours, so having copyright protection in place ahead of time will expedite the process. Be aware that should you continue to pursue the issue, you may have to take it to court if you can’t prove ownership of the image in question.
Avoiding the Problem
When it comes to photos of you, don’t do embarrassing things in front of people that you don’t know well. Don’t upload pictures that might prove embarrassing, either. Even if you quickly delete them, someone may have stolen the image in the meantime. For artistic photos for which you want full credit, file for copyright with the U.S. copyright office as soon as you post the image or even sooner. This will prove key in any legal action you decide to take.
United States Copyright Offices. Web. 18 Nov. 2011.