This article highlights issues that confront image creators/ copyright holders when they become victims of image theft.
How to find the Contact Information of the Website Owner who has stolen your Photo?
In this post we’ll tell you how to find out who owns a website that uses your picture without a license, step by step.
Have you ever wondered who owns a particular domain? Maybe it’s because you want to know who owns a website you found interesting, you want to learn more about the origin of an email address, or perhaps you have discovered that one of your photos has been stolen and is used on somebody´s website and you want to contact the photo thiefMaps. Regardless of the circumstances, there are several ways to find out who operates a website.
So, how do you find the contact information of a website owner?
1. Search on the website first
When you want to identify the website owner, your first step should be to look for contact information on their website.
If you are lucky, you will find the contact info in a few seconds, but in many instances, you will land on a page with no information at all. In that case, skip straight to the next step.
2. Look for contact info on their Facebook profile
If you're still struggling to find contact information on the website, try your luck by looking on social media. If it is a corporate website, they will typically have social media accounts. You will likely find most of the contact details on Facebook in the About section. Since it is a business account, Facebook will often require that business contact data is visible.
How can you find a Facebook profile associated with a particular website? Just take a look at the homepage first. There, links to social media profiles are usually displayed as icons that you can click to get to their profile. The second option is to go to Google and type in the term company name site:facebook.com. If the company name does not match the domain name, try typing domain name site:facebook.com in the search box.
It´s best to find complete contact information but rest assured if you only see an email address, it can sometimes be sufficient to reach a domain owner. Don't give up if you can't find any contact data on Facebook (or other social media network), just read the next tip.
3. Search on Google Maps
Usually, companies are registered on Google Maps, which helps their customers to find them, so, it’s worthwhile to look for their contact data there. It is straightforward: just type company name or domain name in the search box and click on the Maps section. You will instantly get their contact info if there is an entry related to the website or the company.
4. Search with Google on other websites
Again, if it´s a business, it may be listed in various business portals, company directories, or web portals. Just take your time; Google it and see what you can find on the internet. If there is still no contact information available on Google (or another search engine), it is time to dig deeper and read our next recommendation.
5. Check the Whois record
Did you know that all domain name registrations are regulated by ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers)? Each domain name requires a registrant, administrator, and technical contact, which can be the same person or company. Each domain owner must provide a name, mailing address, telephone number, and email address. This information is saved in the WhoIs directory and is made available to the public.
Enter the domain name in the Whois database search field, and the tool will find the relevant information about that domain name. You might notice that the results are similar when you check with more than one WhoIs lookup tool mentioned above. But trying the domain name search with multiple tools can be helpful because then you can get more accurate information if the domain is hosted at a specific registrar.
When privacy is enabled, you can use the information listed in Whois under registrant to contact the domain name's owner. The email address listed there should forward to the domain owner, depending on their email settings. Unfortunately, domain name owners can decide to keep their information private. Many domain name registrars now offer domain name privacy protection, which hides a domain name owner's information from Whois queries. When using this protection service, the real contact information will usually be replaced with the registrar's information. In this case, it’s much harder to find the domain contact owner if they’re using such a service.
In such a case, there is just one option left, how to get the contact information of the domain owner:
6. Contact the website’s registrar
Once you have exhausted all other options, you can contact the registrar where the domain name is registered. As mentioned in the previous step, Whois provides information about where a domain name is registered (domain registrar). If privacy is enabled, you can use the information provided in the directory entry or look up the registrar's contact information on their website. You may not get the information you want if the privacy feature is enabled, but registrars have certain obligations if a domain has been used for illegal activities.
ICANN's "Preliminary Specification" (adopted May 17, 2018) requires that registrars "provide an email address or web form to facilitate email communication with the appropriate contact [of a domain name], but do not need to identify the contact email address or the contact itself."
You've managed to find the contact details of the website owner, what’s next?
The next step would be to document an infringement (to take screenshots, etc) and write an email to the website owner. You can find tips on how to write emails to copyright infringers that help you succeed in this article.
For more information about Photography Copyright, check out the Fair Licensing Copyright Guide.
The Fair Licensing is a service that helps you make your claim against a copyright violator. Our team will gladly support you.
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