We spend a lot of time talking about photography lighting equipment, shooting techniques, and buying advice. But now that you have taken hundreds of photographs, how can you protect them against copyright infringement? In an online, digital world, stealing photographs has become even easier. What steps can you take to protect your work?
- First, copyright your photos. In the U.S., no action is even required. It happens automatically when the photo is created. But, if you want extra protection, photographers can file photos with the U.S. Copyright Office.
- Photographers who have their own website can make photocopying more difficult with either hidden layers or tiling. Both require changes to your website's HTML code. To create hidden layers, place the image behind a transparent foreground image. The online image will appear normal, but when a user tries to save it, the file will be the blank foreground image instead. To tile, break the image into smaller image tiles. It will look like a continuous picture, but when a user tries to save, they will save one tile image at a time.
- Create a watermark to increase copyright protection and to receive credit even when someone uses your photograph. The only downside is that it can distract from the image, and if it is too subtle, it can be easily covered up.
- A watermark alternative is to create a frame around the photo with your name and other details.
- Store copyright information in the image file's metadata. This can be done through most picture editing software programs.
The best action is to quickly identify infringement and take action. You can search for your image on the web using Google's image search, TinEye, or Digimarc.