Photography is a creative process of producing the artwork in the tangible form. Just like writers and painters have exclusive rights on the piece of creative arts produced by them, the photographers also enjoy these rights. By default all the photographs taken by you exclusively belong to you, i.e the rights to copy, distribute and adapt the work vests in you. Still when you publish your photos online, there are no stated rules to restrict downloading or copying of the images. The expansive nature of internet is enough to render loopholes in the safe and secure copyrighting mechanism. Everything goes fine till the images are used under fair usage doctrine, but the troubles stir when someone tries to use your images in unintended manner. It is really difficult to monitor and restrict the people from using the images in unintended way, especially when freely available for download over the internet, but you can try one or more of the ideas given here to protect your digital photographs online.
The most obvious thing to restrict the people from downloading, using or distributing the images is to issue a copyright warning underneath the image. Make them clear that unless using the images under fair usage doctrine, they need explicit permissions for using the images either for personal use or for public sharing through blogs and social media networks. This disclosure when published along with the image serves as the proof of copyright infringement in severe cases.
Issuing a copyright warning just act as just another statutory warning or a headline grabbing attention but does no good in stopping the copy-cats from using your images. It keeps the sincere people off the bay, while you have to think and act smart for obstructing the rest of the crowd. You can do so by disabling the downloading of your images, in one or both of the ways given below:
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- Shrink Wrapping Image: Shrink Wrapping is a process wherein an image is wrapped around a transparent image to bluff the viewers. When the viewer tries to copy your image, he will actually be downloading the transparent image toppled over the original image. Check out this article to learn how to shrink wrap the image.
- Slicing And Dicing: Quite similar to shrink wrapping the image, this technique also bluff the viewers by rendering a view of original image. In slicing and dicing technique, you slice the image into several parts and then reconstruct the image as a jig-saw, which even though appears to be a single image, actually happens to be a combination of tits and bits.
But there are caveats to this method. First, you can benefit from this code only when you present the images on your website. Second, this method will not restrict the users to copy the image through print screen option. But yes, it will definitely discourage a lot of copy-cats from using the original work of art.
Watermarking The Images
Even after applying so many techniques, it seems that it is quite difficult to stop the people from downloading the images. So the better idea is to watermark the images. Watermarking the images serves as the stamped and sealed document which specifically credits the creator of the art. When the users download the images bearing watermarks, they end up publicizing the artist. You can easily copyright the images in this fashion in Lightroom or Photoshop. Some Photoshop experts can however do away with the watermark and copyright symbol by implying the Photoshop tricks.
Embed Copyright Info To EXIF Data
The digital cameras save the EXIF data along with the image file. The EXIF data consists of valuable information about the camera, lens and scene specific settings. Along with this, it also includes a section for copyright info. You can feed the copyright info right into your camera. The copyrighting in this way gives a clear indication of the owner of the photograph. Just like watermarking you can also embed the copyright info through Lightroom and Photoshop. This info travels with the photograph and thus reveals the original author or owner of the artwork.
Uploading Low Resolution Images
The last thing you can do to protect your rights as the owner of the original artwork is to publish low resolution images online. This will discourage commercialization of your artwork through print media.
Even after implying so many techniques, it seems rather impossible to completely bulletproof your images online. These ideas may also come in your way of gaining publicity as a photographer. In fact look at it the other way round and gain exposure by distributing your photographs under various licenses — creative commons licenses for instance. It promotes sharing of your photographs and alongside ensures that the photographs are not used in unintended way. We will talk more about licensing in the upcoming post.