Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Copyrights, protecting your photos, and CC licensing.

You automatically have copyright on your photo as soon as you click the shutter button on your camera. The problem lies in proving it if your image is stolen. If you have the RAW file, if the EXIF is attached and your camera's serial number is in it (although this can be faked), or if you only post a crop or a version that's smaller than the original and you keep the full size on file, you're good. ...the problem is, most of the time when your work is stolen you'll never know and if you don't know about it, you can't take legal action against them.

As far as not allowing your work to be stolen, if it's on the web it can be taken. Many photo hosting sites try to put protections in like not allowing right-clicks, but there are well known workaround for getting around that (google "right click blocked" without the quotes and look at the 3rd result).

Your options are:
  • Watermark it: Put a graphic or text (like your name) over thephoto. There is software that can remove watermarks if they are clear or even if they are opaque if they are over sky or grass, so for maximum protection they need to be put over important parts of the photos (like facial or building details that can't be "figured out" or"faked" by software).
  • Post only really tiny photos that aren't worth stealing.

...for the record I don't do any of this. It's too intrusive to the viewer and doesn't allow normal people who like my photos to download them to use them for their wallpaper, etc. So, I give many of my copyright protections away by using a Creative Commons license that allows people to download or use my photos on their blogs, etc as long as they are using it for personal use. I've tried to sell my photos, but I found that it takes too much marketing (which I hate). So, this way, people do the marketing FOR me because part of my Creative Commons license says that they need to attribute the photo to me including the url for my website that advertises my photography lessons and product photography work.

The upsides of giving my copyright protections away have been amazing! My photos have been used on all kinds of blogs, some popular enough to be dugg. They've also been used by travel sites, one's supposed to be put on a brochure although I haven't heard back from them in a long
time, but they've been on news sites, and I've been contacted about getting 2 of my photos published in books as well. To me, the trade's been well worth it.

For more on Creative Commons licensing check out: http://creativecommons.org ...their licenses are customizable so you can keep or give away whatever rights you choose.

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