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Tracking your photos with Photoshop and Google Alerts

Sound Of Vision

Well-known member
Almost everyone who uses internet eventually uploads/publishes some stuff. Photos and art are most common. And since this forum contains lots of posts with photos of your work or photo tutorials, I think this might come handy (at least to those who have PS...).
There is a simple way to protect your image without a big visible (and ugly) watermark..

Metadata is essentially information embedded into your media that stays there.
Through Photoshop (most versions CS, CS2, CS3 for sure) all you have to do is go:
FILE > FILE INFO, and it will bring up all your embedded info. Simply embed a copyright warning in the correct box (if in doubt, use the HELP function on your software)

For instance, i might use "Sound_Of_Vision_2008"

Now my image is protected with an invisible, digital watermark.. but lets not stop there.. Lets have the internet tell us any time someone posts my image with my invisible copyright!

Google alerts, one of the best kept secrets on the interwebs.
From here, I can enter into my Search terms:Sound_Of_Vision_2008, tell google to notify me once weekly (more if you are a big shot) and have them sent directly to your email!
Just like that, you are informed of every infraction that takes advantage of your work!


Well-known member
I knew this was possible but didn't know how! Thanks so much, I will def be doing this, my pics have been re-hosted without my permission many times. The drawback is that people who know a bit about Photoshop can easily remove all the exif embedded data if they want to so it's not foolproof I think.


Active member
That's so awesome! I had no idea you could do that!! I almost deleted my MySpace account about a year ago because someone stole my pictures and created a whole new (pornographic) MySpace account. NOT cute. I'm so excited over this!


Well-known member
Depending on where you upload your pictures, though, it can remove the EXIF information (I'm pretty sure myspace/facebook does this, along with other photo hosting sites). Also if you do "Save for Web" on photoshop, you'll lose the EXIF info. "Save As" will keep it. I've had ACDSee delete the EXIF as well.

So it's not foolproof, and you'll want to make sure that all that data is still there after you resize on your computer, upload, etc. A way to check is to right click, save as to your computer, and then open it in a photo program and try to view the file info.

Flickr and smugmug keep the EXIF info, BTW. I've dealt with those two.

Also, for a copyright notice, I'd put your legal name. A forum username/knickname is nothing legal. My copyright notice I include is really long and goes into tha that image cannot be downloaded, rehosted, altered, etc and has my legal name several times. If you just want to track the image, a username met work, but I know for me personally since I'm a photographer I want my legal name in there in case I have to open up a copyright violation claim.

Personally, I still think a watermark *in a place that can't be cropped out* is the surest bet. Uglier the better, haha.


Well-known member
No problem!

I also learned a week ago that if you watermark an image, and then someone takes that image and removes the watermark, that's a huge legal no-no, worse than if they just took the image. That's because they're knowingly taking an image and purposely stripping ownership information. Fines are like up to $25,000US and what not. Not that I can say any of us would be in the position where we'd have to prosecute someone over this (at least I hope nobody has to deal with it), but I figured I'd add that information in for everyone. At the very least it's more backing if you have to fight a hosting company for removal of stolen images.

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