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How to Protect and Copyright Your Images

by Paul Cook | May 14, 2012

Digital photography has come a long way since the Polaroid camera. In today’s technologically advanced age, everyone has practically turned into a photographer. Social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flicker have revolutionized photo sharing. With just a click of a button, people have the ability to see images of their family and friends living in different parts of the world.

Although this photo sharing revolution has helped people connect, it has also created some trouble. Copyright infringement has become common. Dishonest people steal other photographer’s images and use them as their own. This is unethical and against the law.

According to researchcopyright.com, almost 30% of all images circulating on the web have violated copyright laws. In order to protect your photographs, you must make use of copyright protection. The two most important copyright tools are mentioned below.

copyright, digital art, photographer's rights, artist's rights, art reproductionCopyright Symbol

People assume that copyrighting any sort of work is restricted to large companies and professional photographers that use state-of-the-art DSLR cameras to capture images. This is a common misconception. Any picture that you take, regardless of what camera is used, is your property. You have full exclusive rights to use that photograph in any way you want.

For example, taking a picture, using a cell phone camera of local kids playing, is your property. No one can use that image without your permission. In order to let others know that the image is protected by copyright, use the copyright symbol () at the bottom of the photograph. Alternatively, "Copyright" can be written at the bottom of the image along with the name of photographer and year the photograph was taken.

Of course, you must register your images with the U.S Copyright office in order for the copyright symbol to mean anything. Getting registered is easy and can be done by filling out an online form and paying a $45 registration fee on the U.S Copyright office’s website.

If someone else tries to use the copyright photo, it is the photographer’s right to file a lawsuit against that individual for copyright infringement.

copyright, digital art, photographer's rights, artist's rights, art reproduction, watermarkWatermark

Watermarking is the process of placing a small semi-transparent image over the actual image. For example, placing a small image of the photographer’s name at the bottom (where the footer is located) of the actual image is a wise idea. If someone tries to copy the photo, the watermark is also copied along with it.

Watermarks do not have to be images. They can be a specific text, date or copyright. Watermarking can be done using photography software such as Adobe Photoshop. Tutorials on how to create a watermark can be found on www.youtube.com.

The general rule about watermarking is that the more prominent the watermark, the harder it is to steal the image. The disadvantage with this is that it may become difficult to actually view the photo altogether. The photographer must try and find a balance between image visibility and the watermark.

Watermarking an image is a great image protection strategy that should be used in conjunction with copyrighting. The picture thief will think twice before copying the image and using it under their name if both protection methods are implemented.

Here are some more links to do some further research:




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