Thursday, March 26, 2015

Alternatives to Watermarking Photos for Copyright Protection

Watermarks for photo copyright protection? Upload crappy resolutions if you fear people may steal your photos. Or don't post the photos online. Watermarks are easy to hack or crop out.

Are we afraid someone's going to steal our photo and make a ton of money off it? Fat chance.  

Have you ever known anyone this happened to, someone ripped off their photo and got rich? Really, you'll be lucky if anybody pays any attention at all to your photos. There are trillions of photos online now.

PHOTO ABOVE: Kim Johnson, photographer for Art & Society magazine.

On PhotoForum, Josh 66 said: "As far as protecting your work, the best thing you can do is not post it online if you're that worried about other people downloading your stuff. No watermark will stop someone from downloading your picture, and if it's too big it will just make the picture look like crap.

Either deal with the fact that people are going to download your pictures, or don't put anything online.

A nice compromise would be to only put crappy resolution pictures online. That way, when people steal them, their prints will suck."

Studio 101 Imageworks said: "Copyright is Federal Law and to secure all your legal rights, you have to register your copyright ownership with the US Copyright Office, a part of the Library of Congress.

So, the only sure way to keep your images from being stolen from the Internet is, don't put them there in the first place."

When I see a photographer or studio name on a photo, I automatically think of it not as a stand alone image but as an ad. I hate to say this, but it typically detracts from the aesthetic experience of the image. I feel the same about certain painters who sign their name really big on every painting.

Here's an article with reasons why you should not use watermarks.


While they make you feel more professional, poorly conceived or designed watermarks can make you look like a total amateur. (Make sure you choose a classy font and not Comic Sans.)

One thing’s for sure: Watermarks insert an extra layer of the commercial into your work, and it can be hard to know how people will react to that. If you’re comfortable with that, then you probably have no qualms about plastering your photos with watermarks.

But how many people have you met who actually make money this way? More often than not, successful photographers find clients by referral, not by random searches on the Internet.

That said, there’s no denying watermarks offer a way for you to brand your work if that’s important. But keep in mind that the most renowned photographers don’t seem to need watermarks; their style often speaks for itself.

It may sound depressing to hear it, but that beautiful photo of the sunset at the beach you took last summer is crowded out by about 134 million similar photos in Google Search. Unless you’re running a commercial stock photo agency, your images are lucky to be found, much less stolen.


What is your opinion on this topic?

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