A professional photographer’s work is his or her signature. Before you distribute and share your photographs online, it is important to understand what copyright protection and image safety mean. In this short guide on how to copyright photos, we will try to answer the following ardent questions:
What Is Copyright?
Copyright is a legal term that refers to the rights given to a creator for his or her artistic work. This can be literary (books), visual (photographs, paintings), audiovisual (films), sculptural, or performative (plays).
*Computer programs, maps, and drawings are also included.
Secondly, copyright is classified as an intellectual property (IP) right. IP is defined as a product of creativity, the creation of one’s mind. Besides copyright, intellectual properties include patents and trademarks.
What does copyright infringement mean?
A copyright infringement is the use of a work protected by copyright without the author’s permission.
By “use”, we understand the distribution and reproduction of the work, as well as the production of derivative works. Examples of copyright infringement:
- copying an image by using photo printers for commercial purposes;
- publicly displaying an image online without crediting the author.
Naturally, a photographer is interested in spreading his work through diverse mediums of communication not only on social media. While it is difficult to control the printing and actual reproduction of your images, it is not only easier but also essential to protect them online.
Posting and promoting your images either on your website or on social media pages has the advantage of targeting a broader and more accessible audience. The disadvantage, though, is that it is much easier for people to “steal” your work. Smart sharing on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and so on, should thus be accompanied by a copyright notice.
How to Copyright Photos?
#1. Register Your Photos with the U.S. Copyright Office (or a government body that deals with intellectual property rights and copyright infringement in your country)
While most of your photos are automatically protected from the moment of their creation in the US, UK, and Canada thanks to the Berne Convention, you may want to register your high-value works with a government body. The advantage of such registration is that you can recover damages in case of unauthorized use of your photos.
Registering your copyright involves three steps:
- an application for copyright registration that will include personal and non-personal information such as your name, address, title and year of your photographic work, date and country of publication.
Note: you can also register unpublished photos.
- an applicable fee you can pay online – you will be required to make the payment before you get to the next step;
- a deposit which implies sending one or more copies of your photos. You can either upload photos electronically or send hard copies by post to the Copyright Office.
Registrations of photographs (visual arts works) should be sent to the following email address:
Registrations for Visual Arts Works Should Be Addressed To:
Library of CongressCopyright Office- VA101 Independence Avenue, SEWashington, DC 20559-6000.
Official Source: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap4.html#408” Co tips are available in a less difficult language (not so many legal terms and definitions as the actual law statement).
Pro tip: If you are about to sue someone for copyright infringement, and you haven’t registered yet, consult a lawyer first. If it’s fair use, there is no point in paying the application fees. On the other hand, illegal use of a copyrighted work is subject to fines starting at $2,500 and reaching $25,000.
#2. Use the Copyright Symbol on All Your Photos – ©
The copyright symbol is part of the so-called copyright notice. There are three essential parts to it: the “©” (or its substitutes – “copyright” or “Copr.”), the year of publication, and the name of the copyright owner.
Although it is not legally required to use the © symbol on your work, it is a way to declare ownership and improve the visibility of your name.
#3. Watermark Your Photos
We have to admit that watermarking your photos may affect the aesthetic experience of your viewers. Yes, it is a free method of advertising your work and of building your personal brand as a photographer. If done improperly, though, it can actually have a negative effect on the overall aesthetics of your image.
On the other hand, the Internet is not a safe place. Almost any user can download your photographs posted on social media sites like Facebook or even Flickr. There are settings that allow you to control which images are free for download, but any Internet savvy can easily copy them.
Adding a watermark to your photos may be, then, one of the solutions to protect your photos online. We have a few tips for you:
- make sure it is a subtle, unobtrusive watermark.
- place your copyright notice at the bottom of the photo and never on the entire image.
- use either your brand name or your website’s URL: e.g. David Hughes Photography or http://davidhughesphoto.com” rel=”nofollow”>davidhughesphoto.com.
- use a nice font.
How to Watermark Photos in Photoshop:
If you are an Adobe Photoshop user, this process can be very easy. Just use the Type Tool and place the copyright notice in gray at the bottom of your photo.
You can also watermark your photos by creating a new layer, creating the watermark text or design there, adjusting transparency, and applying any effects you want (Outer Glow, Bevel, and Emboss).
You can, of course, add a watermark to your work with the help of the software you commonly use to edit photos. A popular alternative to a watermark is creating a frame and placing your copyright notice within it.
How Can You Make Photo Copying Difficult for Netizens?
If you promote your photography business online and wish to protect your photos from copying, there are other two methods you can apply:
- disabling the right-click option prevents users from quickly saving the image on their computer. Instead of the “save as” option, they will get a notice stating that the photo is protected by copyright.
- using a hidden foreground layer; place your photo on a blank foreground image and whenever someone right clicks to save it, they will download the blank image.
- breaking the image into tiles – this is a time-consuming image protection method as it involves separating and uploading the image as a sequence of smaller tiles. If someone wants to download it, they will get only one tile. Although effective, this way of protecting your photos has another disadvantage: it may result in a slow loading time for your website.
Is There a Difference Between Buying a Photo and Purchasing the Copyright?
What we want to highlight here is that when someone buys a work of art or simply pays for a print, it does not mean he or she becomes the copyright owner.
Consider, for instance, the selling photos websites across the web. These sites sell images that are in between the full restriction of “all rights reserved” and the public, free use. The principle is simple: you pay for a high-quality photo, but you do not become the creator of that visual product.
Copyright ownership can be transferred for a fee. Similarly, you can pay for a license to use a work protected by copyright by negotiating with the owner. Any copyright transfer or license needs to be recorded with the Copyright Office.
Can You Get or Display Legal Copies of Fellow Professionals?
How can someone, then, copy, distribute, publicly display, or reproduce the work of a photographer without the risk of copyright infringement? Photographers and authors of other types of artistic products are happy when their work gets recognized. Equally, most of them are happy to discuss options for reproducing their images.
What you should do is check the image you want to use for copyright information. The image may be subject to a Creative Commons license which allows you to distribute the copyrighted work freely.
In any case, you can also contact the author and kindly ask for photocopying permission.
Learn more about the six types of Creative Commons licenses and their agreement with the copyright law, on the https://creativecommons.org/licenses/” CC official website.
How Can You Check Where Your Photos Are Being Used Online?
Checking where an image of yours is used across the web is not as difficult as you think. You can use http://www.tineye.com/ TinEye, which is a free image search tool based on a 13.5 billion image index. All you need to do is upload your image or type your image URL and you will be provided with pages of results pointing to its online locations and uses.
How to Encourage People to Share Your Work and Protect It From Copyright Infringement
One of the non-restrictive image protection options you have in this case is using a Creative Commons license. This will allow users to distribute your work for personal or noncommercial, editorial purposes.
Also, you can kindly ask your followers to share your images together with an attribution.
How to Copyright Photos: Essential Things to Remember
- Your photographic work, published or unpublished, is protected from the moment of its creation in compliance with the Copyright Law of the United States of 1976.
- Note that if you want to benefit from the recovery of legal fees and other damages in case of copyright infringement, you need to register with a government body such as the Copyright Office in the US.
- Copyright is a legal right given for a fixed period of time. To be more precise, in America any work created after January 1978 is protected upon copyright registration during the life of the author and 70 years more after the death of the creator. If the copyright is expired that means that the work belongs to the public domain and it is free for use.
- A copyright infringement may result in civil and even criminal penalties.
- It is important to control the reproduction of your photos as they can have a significant impact on your income. This is particularly important for professionals who rely on photography as their primary source of income.
- Watermarking your photos should be subtle as not to affect the viewer’s experience.
10 Reasons Why Copywriting is Important
In this day and age, it is vital that you get your work covered by using copywriting. In the social media era, copywriting is vital because people are stealing and claiming work left and right. It is not just professional thievery, but everyday reposting without credit. I see it time and time again. Artists of all kinds are putting out memos that ask those who want to repost their work to give them credit. It is so easy these days to do simple cropping of all credit and either claim it as your own or worse, repost it without giving credit to the owner. Since there is so much content online, it seems to be hard for people to understand the true worth of work like those in the past did. What this does is take someone’s hard work and share it with many people without ever telling them who did it. This takes credit away from the creator and attributes it to someone, somewhere, unknown.
The other day I went to an old historical house in Saint Augustine and there were two paintings dating from the 1600s. Even they had small, simple signatures on the back. Wanting our work to be attributed to us is nothing new. Humans from the beginning of time wanted their credit where it was due. Whether by signature, by saying their name in a song, by adding a photo to the back of their novel, everyone wants to make sure their hard work is enjoyed as well as appreciated. That’s why when you repost, it is vital that you give name credit. It is not just a money thing, but a pride thing. It’s fair to attribute credit.
1. Copywriting Shows Pride in Your Work
Getting credit gives a sense of purpose, and when you steal the work of others, it does the exact opposite. When someone has to steal or pretend to get the credit of great work, it does something worse to their pride. Creating something worthwhile that in some way impacts others is a form of self-confidence. It grows up worth and motivation to keep going.
2. Work to Copywrite is Infinite
Creativity has infinite possibilities. Creating is something that can make it big or make it small, but what’s important is that you make it. There is enough creativity to go around, and this is an important lesson to learn for those who are looking to take yours. Copywriting is a teachable lesson for people who want the instant gratification of getting false credit for something they did not create.
3. Copywriting Protects
For the artist, it is a common mindset that putting yourself out there is not what it’s about. True artists are typically meek and humble. Many want their work to speak for itself, without them having to do a whole lot of talking. This is not a bad thing. This is the imprint of someone who is more concerned with creating than the reaction, and that is the best place to be as an artist. But putting your stamp on your work if you are the demure artist is important to protect you from those who may want to take your work. Remember, it is not a pride thing for you, it is simply a way to make sure you get the profit and people are able to find your future work cause they know the artist/creator. This means more impact.
4. Copywriting Sees Ahead
All the experts in creative work will tell you that the only surefire way to get your work noticed is to create a lot of it. We tend to look at the biggest creators in our field and feel like they were overall incredible, but we forget that they have a story much like ours. They probably have created hundreds, maybe thousands of works in order to get that ONE that caught on in the mainstream public and got picked up by the masses. Tons of trial and error, tons of creating, and hoping for the best. This very reason is why putting your mark on your work is the most important thing you can possibly do for your future self and your future work.
You truly never know the work of art you create that will be your big break. It may be one you don’t even love all that much, or one you didn’t put the most amount of work into, or the one you created on a whim. You never know what may get big, and it’s likely it is the one you least expect. A photo you took for fun and decided to share, a post that goes viral that was written in the dead of night when you sat alone with your thoughts, a painting of something inconsequential and ordinary. Copyright everything, you never know which one will make it big and you’ll be glad you got all the credit.
5. Copywriting Sets Up for Reproduction
If your work makes it big, chances are you may want to reproduce it in a different form. Create a sequel of it, per se. Add writing to it. Change the filter. Revise it. If you want to make changes or updates in any form, you need to own it fully. When it is in the works, it may seem like a silly notion to Copywrite for this reason. But once your baby is out there in the world, it will seem more compelling of an idea!
6. Copywriting Gives Creative Control
I listened to a podcast the other day by the woman who created Carol’s Daughter, the hair brand/company. She created this multi-million dollar brand from the ground up, literally. She started it in her kitchen while staying home with her baby. Once it got big, all these big-timer professionals kinda came in and took over. They took control away from her and went behind her back to make decisions. It was a horrible situation for a woman who nursed these products to what they are from nothing more than stovetop natural hair creams. It was a fight, but she finally figured out that everything was happening behind her back and she was able to fire and rehire those who would consult her and explain the decisions to her before they were made, without her consent. The same can easily happen to you with your photos or any creative work, really.
7. Copywriting Provides Selling Control
Maybe something you create you will want to sell in the future. Who knows? People love to purchase good artwork, and copywriting allows you to have free reign over who you sell it to and when you will sell it. Sometimes you create something for the sole purpose of sharing. As a creative person, you may need an outlet where you share work without selling it, but later on down the line, especially if it gains traction, you may want to sell it. Copywriting protects you to be able to do this.
8. Copywriting Means Others Need Your Permission
Recently, there was a cake from a social media famous baker shared on a celebrity’s page without giving her proper credit. This was a big no-no on the celebrity’s part, because not only did the baker make sure she got her credit, but her fans made sure the celebrity knew how wrong the action was. In the end, the celebrity had to give her baker full credit in multiple ways and hopefully, she learned a good lesson for the future. Even the rich and famous are not excluded from copywriting laws. Had this turned into a legal battle, the baker would have made good money, knowing the celebrity made good money through her career.
When you Copyright the work you share, the person who wants to post it to their personal account and share it needs to ask you first. You can also add a disclaimer allowing people to repost with proper credit. This is so important, just look at the case with the baker and famous woman. In the end, the baker ended up getting full credit and getting her work out there to the masses. She was already a famous baker, but this situation enhanced her fame and was followed by a ton. If she did not have a claim in her watermark to this work, she would be missing out.
9. Copyright for Your Legacy
If you are a person who wishes to leave a legacy for future generations, whether that be to leave your mark on the world or to keep your work in your family tree after you’re gone, then you should Copyright! Your work will outlive you and copywriting lasts 50-70 years, sometimes more, and it could outlive your children! Maybe you want your kids to reap the financial benefits of your legacy work. Maybe you want a memorial, a museum, or some kind of remembrance after. No matter what, make sure you Copywrite to have your best contributions to the world be part of your will and legacy for generations to come.
I have always wondered about those who get incredibly famous after death. How incredible, to be laughed at, treated average, and not have your work understood in your life because it’s way ahead of your time, but then have it become life and world-changing after your death. This happens often. Many of the artists you see now, composers, scientists, writers, etc, are people who truly were not embraced until it was too late. This should get us all thinking about our unpublished and published work differently. Even if it never sees the light of day, it may when your life is over! If it is found in generations to come, don’t you want the credit to still legally go to you?
10. Copywriting Breeds Honesty
The old saying is true. Honesty IS the best policy! Copywriting your work keeps others honest. It allows you to claim what’s yours when it’s out in the wild, and keep others from getting their hands on it. It cuts down on those who will steal it without a second thought. It’s not your job to keep others honest, so let the copyright and they’re conscious do the work for you.
Copywriting for Music
What Does Copywriting Music Protect, Exactly?
All creative expression is a bit different. For music, the things that are protected are the reproduction ability of your music, the ability to rearrange or change songs and albums, your ability to be the sole performer, and if others want to perform, they must go through you or you people. The ability to distribute albums and all types of copies of your work. The images you use on your album covers, inside your albums, on your cd’s and even on your social media platforms. And the ability to choose who you will allow doing these things to your music.
A Story and Lesson in Music Biz
I will never forget the big story that hit the news recently. A huge musical celebrity shared on her social media how there was a breaking of friendship and co-workers up when her songs were brought from the record company she worked with years ago, by a man who had bad intentions. The way this artist expressed her sadness hit hard with many people. This hurt her deeply and it showed. As a young teenager who had little experience in show business, she did not protect her songs. This artist is not one who has writers, she is known for writing and sometimes co-writing all her own music. After the record company that she has long left sold her music to this man, that now means she has no creative freedom over it any longer. Someone who is an icon for many and household names does not have access to her own songs. The ones she wrote from the depths of her heart. The ones you know by heart and are fully aware of who they belong to when you hear them. They aren’t hers. She can’t remake them, she does not own them. It’s sad to think something so personal and dear to a creative could be bought and sold, but that’s just the world we live in.
The lesson to learn here is not to repeat the same mistakes she made. She was young, naive, and unaware of how bad people could be out there in this world. She trusted too much and did not protect herself. That means we could hear these songs come back and she would have no financial gain or recognition whatsoever. They would not pass through her hands. You can avoid this by simply being serious about your copywriting. Don’t wait around for something like this to happen to you, too.
Copyright at Conception
Something different about music than other creative expressions is that the copywriting process can be done and should be done at the moment it begins being written. A lot of this has to do with the legal abilities, but also with the fact that there are so many people involved in the songwriting and music writing process, and that leaves tons of room for aspects and entire songs to get stolen. Don’t trust in the music business, you will end up hurt later. Get all the facts, do your research, and begin the copywriting process at the beginning of the creation of the song.
Copywriting is for Everything
Make sure to include everyone in the copywriting rights. Everyone from the musicians to the various songwriters and everyone in between can get credit. It does not just belong to the sole songwriter. Make sure you include those who have put in tons of hard work as well. There is more than enough credit to go around.
A simple rule to remember here is that in the legal process, songwriting and music writing are two separate types of copywriting. They are not the same exact work, which is quite obvious right off the bat, and the law does not view them as such either.
Publishing is Not Important
Whether a song is published or not, all songs can go through the copywriting process. This is an important factor and another thing that sets the Copyright laws and processes apart from other forms of creativity. It does not have to be put out in the world to be protected. This goes back to the rule of copywriting from conception.
Don’t Take the Easy Road
You may do some google searches and ask around about easier and cheaper ways to Copyright your music. You may think this is no problem at all and there will be a positive outcome. But the truth is, you want to make sure your Copyright protection can hold up in court. It is worth going the extra mile to protect your work! Don’t do anything outside of what is legally and truthfully suggested. Going a half-mile may prove to be just as bad as not getting any copywriting protection at all in the long run.
Imitation Is the Best Highest of Flattery
One of the best things is when someone wants to do a cover of your song. For most musicians, there is nothing more flattering than being able to have your song repeated to audiences you may never reach. Because it is common for people to want to redo your song, you must set up a legal and fair rate that has to pay to redo your music. This allows you to have something fixed so that every single time Because someone wants to do this, you don’t have to assume what they need to pay. The US Copyright Office can do this with their set rates, or you can go through a private agency. This is an aspect that will make you good money and hey, you may love a cover and find ways to do your own song even better! This aspect of the music business can really connect you with other people in the music business, as well as get the word out to those who may never have heard of you otherwise.
A Copyright Can Be Transferred
There may come a time when you choose to sell your work. The great thing about copyright laws is that work that is copyrighted can be transferred to another, it can be bought by the highest bidder and sold to whomever you wish to take it on. Copywriting is forever and will well outlive you, but if you chose to pass the work right along for whatever reason, you do have the option. This may seem crazy to the person who is in love with their creation, but down the line, people do all sorts of things that seem better at the time. I will never forget the story I ard about the woman who sold her business, one she had created from the ground up. It was full of her heart and soul, and her fans were not happy. But when she explained that to be bought up by this company, it meant she was doing well, everyone became so happy for her because she was recognized for how incredible her product was. The same may happen to you with your music, who knows? You are not locked in if you choose not to be. Keep this in mind.
Copywriting for Writing
As someone who professionally writes book reviews and is part of launch teams for books, I have seen how wonderful giving credit where credit is due is for the creator. As someone who has written essays her whole life, I have seen the importance of citing the creator.
On the other end of the spectrum are things like plagiarism, where people steal the hard work of a creative writer. This is a serious offense and rightfully dealt with legally. In the writing world, words are stolen left and right. It can be harder to call things original when we all use the same words. That’s why you should never leave your work up to chance that people will be good.
Final Thoughts on How to Copyright Photos
We hope our guide on how to copyright photos will point you in the right direction. No matter what method you choose to protect the images you share online, total safety cannot be guaranteed. That is why we recommend you to keep a close look-out over your online photos and take action in case of any violation of your rights. While only large scale copyright infringements are worth taking legal action, you can reach out to the people using your work and ask them to remove it or pay for it. For any other questions or suggestions you may have in mind, do not hesitate to leave a message in the comment box below. Keep your photos safe! Cheers!