You didn’t think we would notice.

You didn’t think we would notice.

With all the madness the design community has endured with the pilfering of my and others’ work in recent months, the thought inspired me to create a poster. The sentiment was this: The professional community that I have come to know – especially the online community, has not only taken the pilferers to task, we have banded together to watch out for each other. I am very proud of this.

I know we cannot completely stamp out copyright infringement and plagiarism, but we can try and make the casual infringer aware of the damage they are doing by downloading others’ work and using it without permission.

Let’s stick together as a strong design community and continue to look out for each other.

So, how can you protect yourself from your own image pilfering?
  • Keep track of your images. Have a naming convention that you can easily keep going and where they were posted.
  • Use metadata in your images. Include metadata, creation and copyright data information when saving in Photoshop or Adobe Bridge.
  • File for copyrights on your images. You can file for copyrights in groups of images, too and save some money.
  • Be careful where you post your work. Only submit to sites that you know or trust.
  • Be a good neighbor. If you see a familiar image that looks overly inspired, contact the original designer if you know who it is. If not, Tweet it.
  • Scan the image servers. Use Google Reverse Image Search or to see if anyone’s using your work.
  • Cease & Desist letters – Get a copy of a DMCA form and have it ready if you need to send it.
  • Consider digital tracking software. Services like Digimarc can label, watermark and track your digital library.
  • Turn off image links on your website. Although not a big solution, it can certainly deter the casual infringer.
  • Label your work. Let the pilferer know that they are borrowing your work should it end up beyond your reach.
And hey, let’s be careful out there.


  • Leslie Burns

    LOVE this, except for the DMCA advice. DMCA protections are only for third party hosts. You should go after actual infringers, for money damages. The DMCA does not protect them. 
    Yes, I am a lawyer, but this is NOT LEGAL ADVICE: It is offered for educational purposes only. :-)

    • leighton_hubbell

      Thanks for the suggestion, Leslie.

      I was under the impression that the only way to collect monetary damages was if you were the actual copyright holder and had it legally registered. Thus, the reason that many of us have been forced to resort to the DMCA notice route. Is this not true?

  • H. Cuddy

    I’d rather watch out for each other, than the FCC. =-|      

  • Nathan Sarlow

    I hope I can get as famous as you Leighton so I can start worrying about this ;)

    • leighton_hubbell

      LOL. Right! I don’t know about that famous thing.

      It doesn’t seem to matter who you are to the thieves. All you have to do now is find out for yourself with Google Reverse Image Search. You may surprised what you discover, Nathan.

  • Christopher Magruder

    Nice work on the poster and the post.
    I agree that if we all work together and keep our eyes out their we can, at the very least, reduce the amount of rip-offs on the net.

    • leighton_hubbell

      Thank you.

      Yes, indeed. With a lot of the neat, new tools available, we can make it a lot more difficult for copyright infringers, for sure.

      Thanks for stopping by, Christopher.