Upload & Sell: Off
About 4 years ago, I made a photograph in Sedona which has become quite popular. Within the last half year, I have noticed the photograph popping up in places where it should not be, basically, without my permission. I will admit, I was naive and posted it on Flickr without a watermark, not expecting anything to happen. Well it has, and apparently a lot.
Here is the image I speak of... http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianplipski/2849075795/in/set-72157607539584690
I saw a timeshare company using the image in an advertisement here in the Phoenix area where I live. I have seen people using the image as their cover photo on Facebook. My friend saw an advertisement on a Sedona adventure company vehicle using my image. Another friend saw another advertisement online for another company, Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa, using the image also. I just spoke with them, and pretty much all I got was, "everyone in Sedona is using this image, so we figured we would too. We thank you very much for sharing this great image." I have never given anyone permission to use the image.
I am a full time student in pharmacy school, as well as working to support myself, so I have very little free time or money. My question is...can I *realistically* fix this problem? Photography is not my main profession, just a hobby, so it is not effecting my income. Has anyone had similar situations and been able to rectify them without having to go to an attorney and forcing the issue legally? My sister is an attorney, but her firm won't let her do a cease and desist letter unless...I forget specifically, I think they have to check that any of the offenders have not been prior clients, otherwise it will be a conflict of interest. Or is this going to be a lesson, to always watermark my photos?
I have not submitted the photo with the copyright office. Should I still do that, or is it too late? Basically, can it be applied retroactively, or only to instances after I have submitted the copyright?
Thank you for your time!