As an attorney, I remain very much aware of copyright law and "fair use" versus commercial use of images. I am not an expert on such, but I know to refer to code or to an attorney steeped in such knowledge before selling an image.
I was amazed to read the story on this woman's blog, regarding the overseas theft of not only her image, but her family's as well. Imagine this - you have a professional family protrait done, and you ask the photographer if you can use it for your blog or Facebook account. The photographer agrees, and you do so - but sometime later a friend - who happens to be in a foreign country - sees your family's image being used on a billboard!
I am thrilled to have reconnected with so many friends on Facebook. One of them sent me this message yesterday:
Alright, so how’s this for random: I’m in the car, taking my wife for a check up, pass by a new grocery store and notice that they have a picture of you, your husband and two kids on the store front window. Life size. I kid you not. Will take a photo of it later today and send….
What you don’t know from this message: this college friend lives in the CZECH REPUBLIC.
Clearly, my family did NOT take a picture for any advertisements - either here or abroad. And, clearly, whoever hijacked the picture assumed no one would recognize us so far away.Hmmmm…wrong.
Wow. As the photographer of many images, I own them. I cannot use them for commercial reasons absent a model release from the subject, or can use them for editorial purposes without the permission of the subject - the law is blurry on that. Nonetheless, reading this blog entry made me realize that I have to take steps to protect my work.
So, I recommend the following:
- If you are going to upload your own material on your blog - such as a picture of your kid or an event at your church - go ahead but upload only a low resolution file. This discourages copyright violators because it will not reproduce correctly.
- If you really want to be sure, add a copyright notice, preferably on the face of the image. In Photoshop, I have created an action that puts a transparent copyright notice across the face of the image. Sorry if it is annoying, but I want to protect my images.
Please note, however, that if you see an image here, or in my Flickr account, that you would like to have or use, let me know. If I know you, chances are I will send you a higher resolution image, depending upon the use. When I uploaded the Bat Day pictures to my Flickr account, I had several people properly and legally ask me if I could use the shots, whether on media blogs or simply for Facebook or MySpace avatar use.
I continue to hone my skills as a photographer. It is my hope someday to become "professional" and with continued practice, practice, practice, I believe I can do so, even if only as a "side" job. I really love photography and my pictures mean a lot to me.
I started my Flickr account so Walter - the parish and school webmaster - could easily "grab" photos for use on the St. Joseph church and school websites. People seem to like my photos and I want people to enjoy them, so I have expanded my use of Flickr. But I am going to be smart about it and guard my intellectual property.