My photos are starting to walk should I put a logo?

This is a discussion on My photos are starting to walk should I put a logo? within the Photography Discussion forums, part of the PHOTO FORUM category; There is such a thing as digital watermarking where encrypted data is actually encoded into your image so even if the photo is radically cropped ...


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  1. #21
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    There is such a thing as digital watermarking where encrypted data is actually encoded into your image so even if the photo is radically cropped the info is still present, unlike a visible watermark. The best thing about it is it can be, and is, tracked. If anyone uses the image it will be reported to you. Neat stuff.

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  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by twinkle_turnip View Post
    (disclaimer: I am not an attorney, the following is not legal advice and is not intended to be applied to any specific individual)

    Quote Originally Posted by clupica View Post
    Having said that, as I understand US law, if you fail to put a copyright notice explicitly on the image your rights are virtually nil. Any one using an image that does not have copyright can claim ignorance. The court penalties or awards (in the case of an advertising use) will be limited to a few dollars because the user had no way of knowing that it wasn't fair game.
    This is completely untrue.

    ...

    Copyright law is confusing in the areas of fair use, ownership, and how damages are awarded (since contract law only allows for compensatory damages). It may be more difficult to assert a copyright without giving notice, but this is only so far in proving that you are the original owner. As for how copyright is established, you do NOT need to register it, nor disclaim that it is copyright (such a ©). The idea that you were ignorant that it was not copyright does not set well with US law, which routinely does not grant exemptions on the grounds of ignorance.
    I have read all of the information of the US gov site serveral times and I fully understand it. Nothing I said contradicts the information on the US government website. I did not say that you don't have a copyright, I said that the amount of damages that you can claim are very different if you don't make your copyright known. Most legal findings that I've read state that the amount of damages that you can get are very, very small, in the range of microstock, if you fail to have the image properly identified as your own.

    That same government website a year or two ago said that to obtain "maximum" protection that the copyright notice must appear and must be in the form of © plus year plus copyright holder name plus rights claimed. © 2010, Charles Lupica. All rights reserved. You still have rights if the notice isn't present, but the amount of damages that you can get is heavily dependent on proving that there was wilful misconduct.

    Most of us are unlikely to run off and sue anyone but why take the chance when adding a copyright notice is so easy.

    Charles
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  3. #23
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    From the US goverment circular referenced above:

    QUOTE
    [b]Use of the notice may be important because it informs
    the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies
    the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication.
    Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if a proper
    notice of copyright appears on the published copy or copies to
    which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access,
    then no weight shall be given to such a defendantís interposition
    of a defense based on [b]innocent infringement in mitigation
    of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in section
    504©(2) of the copyright law. Innocent infringement occurs
    when the infringer did not realize that the work was protected
    So the government allows an " Innocent infringement" defense if the copyright notice isn't visible.

    ---
    The above "Innocent infringement" when the copyright notice isn't visibly present can apply to the digital signature by digimarc, that is, the notice is hidden and someone can still claim Innocent infringement; thus limiting the damages.
    I currently spend a fair amount of time on Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/103236949470535942612

    my personal website (not very current I'm afraid): clupica and family
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  4. #24
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    Hey charles, sorry about that. I so often hear so much bad info on copyright, I just kind of jumped to conclusions about what you were saying.

    Still, I do very much disagree that your rights are "virtually nill". I think you'd need a pretty darn good lawyer to pull "innocent infringement" argument, this is especially true where damages are greatest where people who would illegally use an image for commercial purposes. Anyone in this position should have been aware that the work in question is copyright upon creation, unless it is some specific special circumstance. And yes, what a defendant *should* have known is taken into account in civil law.

    In conclusion, creative work is never placed into the public domain unless it is specifically released to the public. So I think, anyway, in normal circumstances, it would be exceptionally difficult to prove that you honestly thought it was public since ignorance of the law is never an excusable defense, even if ignorance of a copyright status is. If I were to guess, the defense would have to prove that it is a reasonable assumption that the work is public, short of a circumstance where the work is copied notoriously without permission and previously used extensively in a similar context, I cannot imagine under what circumstance this would be true.

    I will examine this more in detail later, I am kind of wondering if this applies to criminal copyright law, rather than civil. But, again, I'm no attorney, so it's probably better to just avoid copyright infringement in the first place and provide proper notice.
    bear with me. i don't have an escape button...

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by twinkle_turnip View Post
    ... so it's probably better to just avoid copyright infringement in the first place and provide proper notice.
    That's really all I'm saying. If the copyright notice is present then there's no guessing as to whether or not it was unintentional infringement. This is also why I question putting images on places like Flickr, where they strip out all of the metadata so that there is no way to identify the originator of the image.

    Charles
    I currently spend a fair amount of time on Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/103236949470535942612

    my personal website (not very current I'm afraid): clupica and family
    my photogarphy : cwlupica - Photograher
    my photos on SmugMug. StudioLupica on SmugMug
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  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by clupica View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by twinkle_turnip View Post
    ... so it's probably better to just avoid copyright infringement in the first place and provide proper notice.
    That's really all I'm saying. If the copyright notice is present then there's no guessing as to whether or not it was unintentional infringement. This is also why I question putting images on places like Flickr, where they strip out all of the metadata so that there is no way to identify the originator of the image.

    Charles

    yeah. i just get a bit antsy when it is implied that without notice the work isn't copyright, or that, as in this case, violating a copyright without notice is completely unenforceable. I do not know about in Europe, but in the US there seems to be a great amount of confusion on this topic and many people still actually believe that you have to put up some fee to "register" a copyright with the federal government. Many other misconceptions exist, such as the idea that a copyright can be abandoned, which it cannot, or that without the ©*mark it is in automatically in public domain, which is also untrue.

    Still all sorts of weirdness happens with copyright law. Like I said before because this is dealing with contract law only actual damages can be assessed in civil court, and punitive damages cannot be recovered by a copyright complaint (as far as I know). So it gets kind of weird when trying to assess damages. I read briefly earlier of an artist who appropriated the IP owned by the Marlboro brand, but did so in a positive fashion. The court ruled that because it was essentially an advertisement for Marlboro and because the value of the work was less than the value of the publicity no actual damages were rendered and therefor no actual damages could be recovered, despite that copyright infringement occurred. I'm not saying that this makes such appropriation legal, it's still not, but the complicated part of copyright law is more in the areas of damages than what is and is not a violation.
    bear with me. i don't have an escape button...

  7. #27
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    DSray, Very interesting about the digital watermark. Something to think about, I like the idea. Thanks for the link.

    All the copyright info is interesting. I do wonder how much copyright actually helps small time photographers at all... I mean it does deter people who may not know any better and want to do the right thing to put a copyright mark on your photo, but when it comes to actual thieves the photographer would have to spend money going after them, no? How many people actually do this?
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  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by WetBottom View Post
    All the copyright info is interesting. I do wonder how much copyright actually helps small time photographers at all... I mean it does deter people who may not know any better and want to do the right thing to put a copyright mark on your photo, but when it comes to actual thieves the photographer would have to spend money going after them, no? How many people actually do this?
    A copyright notice does not deter many people, action does. When the "thief" receives a notice of copyright infringement from a copyright attorney, they respond accordingly. There is so much garbage on the internet that it is often hard to distinguish the truth from all the myths. Whether you are a small photographer or large, you are still a business, and therefor must protect yourself and your brand. Copyrighting your images is so easy today (you can do it online), and should be done in batches. When you find that some "thief" has stolen your image, contact your attorney.

    A lot of these "thieves" love to throw around the fair use clause, but as soon as the registered letter comes in the mail, they shut their mouth.

    If you consistently allow "thieves" to steal your work and you do nothing, you are setting a precedent that will hurt you when you finally choose to enforce your copyright.

    A pattern of behavior is easy to prove in court, and will protect you should you have to go that route. In 100% of the cases that I have been involved with, the "thief" immediately paid the fee for use once the lawyer got in touch. It is never good enough for them to simply remove the image and say sorry.

    Having a lawyer draw up your copyright notice is not that expensive, and they can also draw up form letters that are easily mailed upon infringement.

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  9. #29
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    (disclaimer: I am not an attorney, the following is not legal advice and is not intended to be applied to any specific individual or case. if you choose to use the following in legal matters I can not be held liable for any damages. The following is intended only as conjecture, and is not presented as having educational, legal or informational value. In plain english, what I have to say is BS and if you get your legal information on internet forums you're a fool - so don't come running back to me when it doesn't work.)


    Steve:

    "If you consistently allow "thieves" to steal your work and you do nothing, you are setting a precedent that will hurt you when you finally choose to enforce your copyright."

    Can you point to specific case law about this? I really do not think that this is the case, maybe, but I've never heard that before I spoke with you on this topic. But I do know that the value of work will be specific to context, so perhaps if you allow Coca Cola to violate your copyright might affect damages you can collect from Pepsi, but I don't see how allowing individuals to casually violate your copyright would affect damages you can collect from a commercial violation. Of course you could always claim that you prefer coke to pepsi and have a personal, albeit bizarre, incentive to see that Coca Cola does well.

    Also, a copyright violator cannot say that because an artist never sold a single work, the work that they stole also has no value and therefor damages cannot be assessed. This is essentially what you are saying: that the value of previous work would set a precedent for the value of current or future work and therefor decrease the amount of damages which can be collected. It just doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But if you have some example, let me know and I'll look into it.

    WetBottom:

    Provided that Steve is mistaken about precedent, a copyright owner must evaluate several issues before bringing suit in a violation. If steve is correct, then you might want to disregard this.

    What is the cost of recovery? Obviously you will go broke enforcing copyrights that have limited damages.

    What is the liability of enforcing the copyright? Sueing a 12 year old girl for posting your pics of ponies at www.supersaverhosting/jane/ponyfanclub.html may end up hurting you more in the long run - especially so if little Jane attends the local Junior High School.

    Creative commons may have a license suitable for situations where you might want to limit use to a specific condition (non commercial, attribution, ect). An attorney could also draft a license which specifically suits your needs.

    (note: i misread your post. here is my original post on my views on copyright and smaller photography studios)

    I think in this market it is not appropriate to price photographs the way that they used to, when photography was much more expensive and the photographer could physically control his negatives (and most of them were men).

    Many younger photographers allow reproduction rights or transfer the property outright to the customer (work for hire). Despite what the APA might have you believe, these practices, be it formal or informal, do not affect the quality of work which you are buying from the photographer, and many talented photographers have less draconian approach to property management.

    Simply because you permit reproduction does not automatically mean that you give up your copyright, either. The only way that this would happen is if you specifically sell the copyright along side the work (which is what I did when working as a graphic artist). Any license agreement or property transfer can be drafted by your attorney with any level of restriction or liberty granted to the client. In my agreement copyright was owned by the client, but I retained usage rights limited to promotional material. You could also permit "reproduction for personal, noncommercial use" while you still retain ownership. Co-ownership between the artist and the client is also possible as well as Creative Commons licenses of various type.

    Today's market demands greater flexibility in reproduction. Weather it is legal fact or not, clients view images of themselves as their property and feel that they should have a right to reproduce said images. Today's generation of new photographers respond to that market and provide a product which allows them to do so.

    I think the problem with some of these practices comes up when the terms are vague and the images is used in a way that is unexpected. Many pro-ish photographers do not clearly define who owns the image and how it can be used. Typically the photographer will be the one who is screwed in the end since limitations on reproduction weren't clearly defined when they say that reproduction is OK. So it's still a good idea, if not more so, to speak with an attorney about the licensing the product you wish to provide.
    bear with me. i don't have an escape button...

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by R0B View Post
    An alternative to a 'watermark' is to do something along the lines of this:

    It looks a little bit more professional, doesn't really spoil the picture as it doesnt go straight through the middle, and would make the picture a real bummer to steal...
    I agree that a 'watermark' in the typlical definition of the word is a bad idea and believe that the above example is a good way around it especially if your into weddings/couples/infants etc as it certainly adds a feeling of professionalism.

    I do believe however that you should never watermark/frame/logo any thing on your personal website portfolio. It gives off the exact opposite effect in this instance and looks more amateur than professional. For blogs I think it's fine, and for client viewing areas of course this is fine aswell.


 
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