Imagine this scenario: You capture a wedding image of a beaming bride and groom, backlit in a glowing field. The couple is (of course) thrilled; once they receive a USB of images (after carefully educating them about your copyright), the couple proceeds to post them all over the internet, as many happy couples do. The images appear on their personal and business Facebook pages, Twitter, Flickr, message boards, and the bride’s personal blog. And then one day, in an internet place far removed from its original source, you stumble upon your gorgeous (and still copyrighted) image being used to sell a product or service online. The image source isn’t credited--of course, because internet thieves don’t credit image sources--and your stomach sours when you realize that the copyright infringer is making money from your picture. Making money from your sweat and talent and expertise. This is theft of your intellectual property--and unless you’ve protected your images’ copyright, it’s hard to do much about it. To be completely and honestly doomsday about it, this scenario happens every day. Instead of promoting their goods and services by commissioning images exclusively or sourcing them from stock photography agencies, unscrupulous internet dwellers are just stealing them from other websites.
Don’t be this photographer; protect your rights against internet image shoplifting by registering your photography with the US Copyright Office (or your own country’s copyright agency). The process is relatively simple; we recommend registering your work every 3 months, and incorporating the steps for registry into your image workflow. Once you copyright your images, you become eligible for statutory and actual damages, should your images’ copyright be infringed. For how to’s, helpful hints, and best practices on the process of copyright, our newly redesigned Copyright and Authentication Bundle will ensure that your livelihood is fully protected. And the Bundle’s printable Certificate of Authenticity and Copyright sticker opens up a dialogue between you and your clients, on what copyright means for them and how they can help you preserve your copyright online.
Above all, remember that the keys to your copyright kingdom are in your hands. You can’t control if your images are stolen online, but you can control the ramifications when they are.
Special thanks to Elizabeth Messina for the beautiful image.
From a very early age I loved taking pictures and looking at them in magazines and books, but the art of photography captured my heart when I was a teenager, on my first overseas trip to Wales. From that point, I began shooting with a little film SLR and having my friend model for me. In college I took some digital photography and visual communication courses as part of my communication studies major, and decided to pursue a career in photography. I became a legal business and took my first paid client at age 20, and it's been quite a journey and adventure over the past nine years.
I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.