Watermark questions

This is a discussion on Watermark questions within the Do's and Dont's forums, part of the Photography Tips category; AFAIK , A watermark offers absolutely no legal protection. What needs to be displayed can vary by country. In the US, it's recommended by the ...

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Thread: Watermark questions

  1. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    A watermark offers absolutely no legal protection. What needs to be displayed can vary by country. In the US, it's recommended by the US Gov copyright site that all material include a statement in the form, © 2010, Charles Lupica. All rights reserved. Removal of this notice is a willful violation of the copyright holders rights and carries a lot more weight in court.

    A watermark is simply an inconvenience for anyone that wants to nab and use a picture. If the image is standard enough there's so many more images that are easier to use and less risky to nab. So as Steve says, the watermark mostly keeps honest people honest by making it too much trouble to remove. One of the big controversies recently is the "Content aware" fill tool in Photoshop CS5. A lot of photographers think that this tool is very good at removing things like watermarks.

    But, yes, small size, copyright notice and if you like, a watermark to discourage use. Also, if you have a website it's usually advisable to put your images into some sort of flash gallery as they're a lot harder to snag (a screen grab will get it though).

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  2. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Rather than watermarking, have you considered steganography? It would not protect you from theft of your images but it would help in proving that the images were yours.


  3. #13
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Michigan, USA
    Canon 5D mk II, EF 14mm f/2.8L II, TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS, EF 135mm f/2L, EF 300mm f/2.8L IS, Speelite 430EX II, 5380EX II
    I've come across a few great articles on photography, copyrights, and watermarks. The short answer is you should do something to show the image is yours. It doesn't necessarily need to be a watermark or visible in the image.

    Images will still be stolen & used without your permission, BUT... putting the watermark visibly on the front (even if it's tiny) makes it VERY hard for someone to claim "they didn't know".

    My own watermarks are _very_ obscure because I don't like to deface the image.
    Tim Campbell

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by TCampbell View Post
    My own watermarks are _very_ obscure because I don't like to deface the image.
    If you are going to use them then how you do it is a good IMO. If we put our images on the Internet and they are good then we can expect one to get stolen or used in some way without our permission. That unauthorized use of an image should be a concern to anyone trying to make money from their work or anyone that hopes to do that at some time. There are qualified ways of protecting ones work and yes the watermark stamps can be an important part of it. Some will claim the the use of a watermark will give them advantage in court and site such and such a law, etc. but it is much more complicated then that if it it goes to court because there doesn't just have to be proof the watermark was once there but there has to be proof the someone took the image and knowing removed the watermark or other copyright information... etc. and that proof is a much more difficult thing. Photographers who are worried about image theft but don't register their images with the US Copyright Office don't really seem to be all that serious about it to me. If you are serious about protecting the image and how the image is presented then this might be good suggestions (all) ~
    - Register your images with the copyright office
    - Make sure your copyright information is placed in text right next to the photo
    - Make sure your contact information is embedded in the file
    - Go after violations when they happens
    It is interesting that there are also reverse searches that can be ran on images that can help you find out where your image may be if you are following the above steps. These may also help find the origin of an image that you have seen and wish to ask permission to use. Two of these sources are; Tineye.com

    I personally prefer that when & if the watermarks are used they be put on a border but of course it is up to each individual photographer as to is an how they display such stamps & their own images too. I think borders are often as overdone as are some stamps are to a point of being a distraction from an image itself. Other folk seem to love the frames and do not look at them as distractions from the images displayed so again just personal opinion. At the time I used watermarks I tried many types and styles. My favorite was set up with a PS action so that the water mark was placed on a layer. That allowed me to easily pick a color for the watermark that matched the colors in any image, place the mark in the location of an image or border that was decide by image content, and then fade the mark to an amount of being obscure and less distracting. Having the watermark on a PS layer also has the advantage of allowing the photographer to remove it easily (turn it off) without cloning, healing, etc. Creating the action to do the watermarks this way is quite easy with the software of modern times and instructions for it (or free actions) can easily be found on the Internet too. If and when I ever return to watermarking any of my images I am sure that technique of place, color, fade would still be my choice.

    Thinking of the watermarks I can not recall ever reading or hearing a comment such as ~ "What a beautiful watermark you have." (but now that I mentioned that it will probably soon happen). I guess that personally I am more concerned about my images and the presentation of them then I am concerned with someone using my images without permission. A bit humor comes into the equation because at least I find it funny & I get a chuckle out of what I think is an over concern that an image my be taken and used without permission by some who then seem to think it necessary to put pretty strong stamps on all their images. They put the watermarks on all their image including the snapshots of their cat, their backyard storage shed as it just got covered with snow, and even on the snapshot of their younger brother Bubba who is visiting for the first time in 20 years. Now I will tell you if it were not for that stamp on their brother named Bubba his snapshot would probably set a record as the most stolen and used image of all times, I would grab it myself to put in my 'Brothers Named Bubba Image Collection'. OK, I was just kidding a bit but my point is that the image of Bubba was probably not a very good one before the stamp so why make it even less appealing to view and then show it to view with the stamp?

    PhotoshopUser Magazine has had a long running series of articles called "The Copyright Zone" which I have followed. It has been a wealth of information on Copyright Laws and protection of images and I have followed reading it with interest. Good reading and info IMO. That said and a grain of salt may always be good too because as with a lot of the information on the Internet about Copyright Laws, etc. it is executed by lawyers who give 'some free and good advice' which I think is the teaser and nearly always with the message added ~ "Come see us for more and $pecific advice."

    I speak only for myself but I am less likely to spend time viewing or commenting on any image defaced by watermarks and stamps, there are many good images on the Internet without those distractions that are pleasant to view too.


    Comments and Critique are always encouraged, considered and appreciated. Thank in advance too.

  5. #15

    Join Date
    May 2011
    Pictul gives you unlimited watermarking customization in seconds. Even if you’re a Photoshop whiz, this is the easiest, fastest thing out there. Try it free here.

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