Every once in awhile I will 'google' my name or my shop name and see what pops up. I've found myself mentioned in all kinds of fun places LOL!
This time I also got a bit of a surprise but it has a happy ending. I found that prints of one of my paintings of an owl were being sold on the site called 'Fine Art America' by a person in India. The name of the town was impossible long; I kid you not, it probably had about 25 or more letters in the name! Anyhoo, he was offering several size prints and greeting cards. It even had my by-line and you could see a portion of my signature. I was rankled. :)
I sent him an email and asked him to remove the image immediately and then I sent an email to the site itself. I didn't know if I would get a response from either of them but within an hour the image was gone! At first I thought the site had removed it but the following day I received a personal email from them. They apologized and said that they had canceled his membership. I felt a pang of guilt at this...it seemed rather harsh but maybe he was 'stealing' from other artists too. Who knows. I was really impressed with how quickly they responded.
I know this type of thievery runs rampant on the internet and there isn't much anyone can do about it. Even a watermark can be removed with the technology out there nowadays. I'm glad that I've moved to mostly three dimensional art. It can still be copied of course but at least the copier has to physically make the copy and not just steal the image.
A fellow artist on deviantART, where I have a gallery, gave me a link to a site called TinEye. It is a reverse image search engine. It finds out where an image came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or if there is a higher resolution version. You can use it to see if anyone is using your image anywhere. How cool is that!
Here is an excerpt from their site:
TinEye is the first image search engine on the web to use image identification technology rather than keywords, metadata or watermarks. It is free to use for non-commercial searching.
TinEye regularly crawls the web for new images, and we also accept contributions of complete online image collections. To date, TinEye has indexed 1,719,139,600 images from the web to help you find what you're looking for.
You can find them at www.tineye.com