Protecting Images On The Web

I was talking with a friend not long ago and the conversation went something like this. " I was on FaceBook and saw a few pictures of yours I liked, but when I downloaded them and tried to print them they looked like crap." My response to this was " that is on purpose, you're not supposed to be able to download and print them."

Let me start off by saying I really appreciate the honesty of this person and realize he didn't know any better at the time. With this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the legal issues of images on the web and some of the ways I protect my pictures after being burned a few times. 

To put it plainly the best way to not have my images stolen from the web is to never post them, but when your photography is a source of income that really isn't an option. 

I think it makes perfect sense to protect your images when you rely on them for your livelihood but I also know no matter what measures I take, nothing will stop dishonest people from stealing my content and photos if they really want to. I figure it's best not to waste time trying to achieve the impossible, it's better to simply try and deter downloaders by making it difficult to access or use my pictures. 

So what is image theft? One example I have is the person on Twitter who posted my picture of a moose and cropped off the watermark. Fortunately for me, Twitter notified me that someone had shared my picture. When I went to see who, there it was, my Moose, no watermark and a comment about how he had captured this amazing photo.

I made a comment that I don't mind people sharing my images but please give me the credit and leave the watermark. He apologized right away, problem solved. The use of an image, drawing, illustration or photograph without the permission of the owner is considered theft or copyright infringement under the law.

This would probably be a good time to explain what a copyright is. A copyright is a form of protection that prevents the use of a piece of work created by the owner. In my case the minute I press the shutter button and capture an image that image is mine according to the law. To press the issue even farther you can register an image with the United States Copyright Office so that the copyright is traceable. I myself don't register because of the sheer amount of images I produce, I would spend most of my time doing paperwork. Instead, I rely on most people being honest, watermarking, low resolution and metadata. If you visit the Services page or the Portraiture page here on my site you will notice my copyright warning at the bottom of each.

A quick note on international copyrights, there really isn't an international copyright law which provides automatic protection for creatives like myself against unauthorized usage: however, most countries have copyright laws that pertain to that country. Copyright protection is provided internationally through the Berne Union for the Protection of Literary and Artistic property Berne Convention and the  Universal Copyright Convention. 

Let's take a look at two of my images so you can see what I do to protect myself. The images you see below are a couple of my favorites from the Class C district basketball tournaments in Red Lodge, MT where both the Bridger Scout Boys and Girls won the district titles. Both images will be close to identical in size, watermark, and metadata.

The original image size of the girl's picture below is 28MB the one here is 679KB and when uploaded to FaceBook and some other social media sites it becomes even smaller, which is why when you try to print it out it looks awful.  You will also notice the watermark in the lower right-hand corner. I place it there to try and keep it away from the important parts of the picture but big enough and high enough that if you try to crop it out you completely change the image. Now for what you don't see but is embedded in every image, metadata. This is how the metadata reads, File Name DSC_7500.NEF, Date Saturday, February 17, 2018, 9:25 AM, Size 28 MB, Dimensions 6000x4000, Shot 1/200 sec. f/5.6 48mm, ISO 2106, Device Nikon D7100, Owner The View From Scott's Office. This metadata stays with the image no matter where on the world wide web it goes. 

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Varsity Boys-57.jpg

The last way I protect my images is that I'm DCMA protected. The DMCA offers me free protection for my website which includes a takedown service. If I happen to find someone using my images or other content without permission, the DMCA will threaten legal action on my behalf which is usually enough to scare infringers into taking down my content. This is a pretty good deterrent for serial image stealers and they also offer a free image watermarking service, but I prefer to design my own in photoshop. 

So to reiterate, I don't mind at all if my images are shared, it's advertising, just shoot me an IM or email and let me know what you plan to do with it and chances are it will be fine. Also when sharing please leave the watermark intact and if you would like to purchase the image just let me know on my many social pages or right here on the Contact page, my work is very reasonably priced and comes with a photo release form so you can legally print out the images for nonprofit. 

Sorry to have such a serious article this time I usually like to inject humor into my posts but I felt it was important to get the point across that it isn't right to use or print someone else's work without their permission. It is no different than a person walking into a furniture store and taking a chair just because it was on display for all to see.  

I hoped this helped clarify this issue a bit but if there are any questions please feel free to comment and I can possibly get a little more technical and in-depth into whatever it is you would like to know. 

As always I would appreciate it if you would sign up for my email list. Facebook's new algorithms make it very difficult for pages like mine to be seen unless there is a lot of meaningful comments or shares on the post. Your email will never be used for spam only updates, new products or discounts. Also if you have time please click on one of the banners ads around my site. I spend a lot of time on this blog, my website, and my photographs and time isn't free, so I'm trying to gain a little compensation for my time and effort through these affiliate programs and you never know you may find something you like, especially the new NFL gear. 

If there is something that interests you and you would like me to research it, let me know. I have varied interests as you can tell if you have read any of my blogs and I really enjoy researching different topics.

Comments and shares are always welcome. Have a great week all.

Your friendly neighborhood photographer,

Scott

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