Nastassia Davis' Blog

Copyrighting & How To Protect Your Images Online

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In the beginning of my experience with digital photo sharing (which began around 2005) I didn’t like watermarks on pictures. Whether the mark was splattered across the middle, or typed in some weird font in the bottom right hand corner, to me, they’d always come off as a distraction, an obstructing of my view to some degree. Call me a weirdo, but yeah, that’s just the way I felt at the time. The watermark actually started appearing on my images when I began photographing singer, Janelle Monáe, in 2008.

At times, I’d try thinking of creative ways to incorporate my name in the finished photo as an extension of the creativity displayed in the artwork.  For example, take the image below “Imagination Inspires Nations (2719)”. It’s futuristic outer space feel is what inspired the circular orbital structure of my name in the image. At least, here, I felt these letters weren’t just placed randomly somewhere but were apart of the creative concept itself.

According to the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, it reads:

“The Congress shall have Power to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for a limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”

Basically, our founding fathers saw the importance in protecting creativity and innovation. Because of this, they granted for limited time exclusive protections for both artists and inventors for their writings and discoveries. These limited protections take the form of today’s intellectual property laws. Currently, copyright right law allows for your rights to last a lifetime plus an additional 70 years. Your copyright comes into existence the moment you capture a photograph. The instance the shutter closes and you create a digital image or film negative of a scene, that photograph is protected by copyright law. I learned this from attending a webinar from PPA (Professional Photographers of America) this summer.

So, watermarked or not, images you create are yours and you have every right to contact anyone who has infringed upon that copyright. Now, taking that protection a step further, digital photographers should get in the daily habit of watermarking their photos before publishing to the world wide web. This helps make it easier for people to contact you should they want to use your image for a blog article, a book cover, etc. Let me add, that always doesn’t ensure bloggers or companies will respect that and contact you. Trust me, I know! I’ve had my full legible name on pictures and certain bloggers didn’t care to contact me nor hyperlink back to my site. And sometimes, they may even have the audacity to crop out your name, too. Know that will come but you don’t have to accept that. Since you value your work and want proper credit, it’s imperative that you kindly contact them about it. They have broken a very serious ethics code, plagiarism being one, according to the International Federation of Journalist, and should be approached about it.


Input MetaData Info on Photos Using Photoshop

Unfortunately, as a result of my own negligence in the past, some of my images I’ve posted online were shared around without my watermark. It’s always an awesome feeling when others like and share your work with others, but then you do yourself a huge disservice when you don’t take time to watermark your pictures. Don’t make the same mistake I did. I strongly recommend any artist or photographer who cares enough about their photos to make this extra step. Here is how you can do this in Adobe Photoshop.

1) Open Adobe Photoshop software (I don’t think the versions matter ).

2) Open the image you want to watermark.

3) Go to the Photoshop Browser at the top and click “File” then pass the curser down to “File Info

Should look like this:

4) Then, a menu comes up where you can input metadata on your photo. Think of it as your digital photos’ DNA or “fingerprints”. This information will stay with the photo no matter where it goes on the web. That screen should look like this:

Fill in the fields provided, like “author”, “keywords”, “description” and whatever else you wish. The info you type in will be forever embed with the image once saved. To correctly make the copyright symbol for MAC, type alt/option and “g” together to make ©. For PC, hold down Ctrl and Alt at the same time and press C Ctrl+Alt+C.

U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, DC.

Also, I deem it necessary to mention if you want to legally copyright your work, you must register your images at the U.S. Copyrights Office in Washington, D.C. There is an online office (eCO) where you can go to fill the application. Afterwards you’ll have to bring them to the official office in Washington or snail mail hard copy images to the address listed on the site. You can do this for music and other creative works, too.


Written by Nastassia Davis

September 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Posted in Copyrights

Tagged with ,

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