Watermark Your Photos (“copyright” is the only “right” mentioned in the US Constitution)

 

 

As come the daffodils to remind us winter is going away.

As come the daffodils to remind us winter is going away.

Is a watermark worth it? Should I really or do I really need to put a watermark in my photos?

The answer is yes… and no. Ok that was confusing. Seriously there are times when it is prudent to put the mark in and there are times to leave it out. And recently while seeing an interview with Ed Greenberg famed intellectual property attorney and co-author of the book “The Copyright Zone,” Ed cites a recent case to come through the courts that upped the ante for the removal of a watermark to between $30K to $150K and that is some serious cha-ching for taking someone’s photo and say “cropping out their watermark.

The average person should be concerned about images being clipped off of social media sites like Facebook, Flickr and Twitter and so on. But do you really have to watermark everything? I say “no” of course not. But let’s take a closer look. So if you take a photo of your dinner and post it, then I say no. Or you take a photo of the new shoes you’d like to buy and you want to show someone on Facebook, again this is a no. But let’s say you have a beautiful shot of your granddaughter blowing out the candles on a birthday cake then this is a big yes. Oh and how about that beautiful shot of the girls, even though you shot it with your phone it was awesome and again we have a big yes. Placing a watermark is not going to keep somebody from stealing your photo, but it sure helps a lot. It is kind of like putting a lock on your bicycle. If the thief really wants it he will find a way to steal it, but it keeps 95% of the bad guys away. Also remember once you post to Facebook you don’t own the photo anymore, Mark Zuckerberg owns your photo and he isn’t going to do a thing to keep somebody from stealing it. But by putting a watermark in is a big deterrent.

Go a step further and put the © symbol in. It means very little and it hasn’t been required since Jimmy Carter was president, but by putting the © in it does give your attorney even more leverage if you were in court. You don’t have to be a famous photographer creating fine art prints to have your photo stolen. I always remember the case many years back about the girl who had her teen photo stolen and it found its way to being on printed abortion literature and was being used four states away at various medical facilities. It had been used for over five years and lo and behold a college friend seen it and notified her. So not all cases could be that extreme, but why take the chance. One thing you must know is; if you created it then it is yours and you have the right to decide who can use it and where it will be used. Yes you have that right and the US Constitution says so. As Ed Greenberg & Jack Resnicki point out “copyright” (exclusive Right ) is the only “right” mentioned in the Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 states “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;.” All other “rights” or freedoms are part of the “Bill of Rights,” so I guess our fore fathers were really up on people protecting intellectual property. With that said remember you give up sole ownership when posting to social media. It is in the fine print when you agree to the terms of use. So while you do not own the photo, by putting a watermark in you do show that it was once yours.

Here is another example of when to watermark. Let’s say you have a business website and you have photos posted to the pages as almost all websites do. If you are using photos that you created then you should watermark them. Let’s just say Jack is a nice guy and has a landscaping business and part of what he does is building beautiful stone walls. Jack is very proud of what he does and wants to use photos of past work to get future work and he is so proud of his stone walls that he wants the photos to look the best they can. He hires a local photographer to take some images, edit them and Jack sends them over to the webmaster for his site. Now the photos are up and they look great, everybody can see examples of Jack’s work. But… ole slippery Sam is in the same business and lives 500 miles from Jack. Sam builds his own website and he has photos that he shot with his iPhone, but well… they don’t look as nice a Jack’s photos. So ole slippery Sam does the copy & paste and steals Jack’s photos… you know? The ones with no watermarks. Like I said Jack’s a nice guy, so nice he paid the photographer to take the photos and now he just gave them away for free to Sam. This scenario plays out every day all day long. Would Jack give his truck and tools away for free so another guy to go make money? Most likely not. In this example those photos are like “tools” and they are used to make money.

So how do I and where do I? Watermarking is very easy there are free apps you can download for Droids and iPhones that make simple text watermarks and some will also put in an image. If using an image you have the best results with a png file rather than a jpeg file. Png files are transparent and are perfect for watermarking. There are several ways to convert a jpeg image over to a png, but at the very basic you can open a photo in Microsoft Paint (every PC has it) and choose “save as” then choose png file under the box at the bottom where you type the file name, hit “save” and you’re done. I’ll post a tutorial later.

Now we have made our clever watermark so where do we place it? I know I’ll put it right in the center of the photo and this will certainly stop the photo thief. Yes it will and it will basically ruin the viewing pleasure of all who come to see your photo. I like to keep the watermark in the lower corners, although I have friends who like to put just simple text along the edge running top to bottom. Matter of fact I recently at the beginning of 2015 made my watermark a logo for my photography business. Prior I had used simple transparent text with a © and after a few years I was bored with that and made the logo I use today. It is not a matter of “will someone steal my photo” but rather “when will they steal my photo.” I have posted before about how I have had photos stolen and even had them re-edited and the bastard put his watermark in but credited me as the photographer. Did make sense, anyway I see his Instagram profile is gone now lol.

So you decide for yourself… Most people are lazy and will never do it.

Foot note: For an ultimate source of copyright info I recommend picking up a newly revised copy of The Copyright Zone by Ed Greenberg & Jack Reznicki or checkout their classes on www.kelbyone.com

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