U4D: Copyright, you, the law
It is good to be back with the Up for Discussion posts, but for the title I have trimmed it down to U4D. It doesn’t take up as much room. I thought I would start with a post on Copyright, you and the law because it seems like a good subject and can never be written about enough.
Recently I had experience, which I will tell you about in a minute, but it brought back the importance of knowing your rights as the owner of your images. It is so important that you learn what the rules are, to protect your work and to also make sure you are not using other images illegally.
A couple of weeks ago I was sent a message on Facebook to inform me that someone was using one of my images on their page and claiming it was their own. I had a quick look, but thought the processing on it was so bad it couldn’t be mine. The image was of light trails in front of Flinders Street Station. I told the person who let me know I didn’t think it was mine and she showed me the blog post it had come from. So I took another look at the image.
This one, and it was one of mine.
At first I couldn’t see my watermark on the image, but then it stood out so clearly.
I left a comment under the photo saying something about how it was great that she likes doing long exposures, but perhaps she shouldn’t use my image to show that.
I decided to message her and tell her not to steal images. She claimed she hadn’t, that she had taken it. I then told her that the image was mine, it had my watermark on it. She clearly hadn’t seen it, and continued saying it was hers. I also asked what would the chances be of us both taking the same image with the same light trails, exactly the same?
She removed the image from her Facebook page, but continued to say it was hers. When I asked why she removed it she replied that she didn’t like negative comments on her page. I don’t know why she didn’t just remove the comment then.
It has to be said that I continued the discussion and suggested if she was going to be so adamant that the image was hers perhaps she should put it back up, that I would put mine up and we could let people decide for themselves who the image actually belonged to. She declined.
She had been found out and I continue to check her page to see if anymore of my images are there. In this instance my watermark was my saving grace, it was there and recognisable.
It was a good outcome for me, the woman was using my image without my permission, passing it off as her own, and she had done more processing to it. She violated so many copyright laws. She was, more importantly, trying to use my image to promote her own business, so using it for commercial purposes. It was amazing to see it happening.
One of the things that I don’t like about Facebook is how they remove all metadata from images and the original filename. People can remove that themselves, but most people wouldn’t. When FB does that it takes away all your protection and makes it much harder to trace images.
This woman has a history of steeling images, but you can’t trace them, unless you know exactly who took them.
If you are putting photos on Facebook make sure you have them watermarked, and do it in such a way that it is hard for people to remove them.
In Australia you don’t have to register your images, but you should keep all files that show how you created it. If it comes to a fight to prove copyright if you have the original image and all the files to show how you created it, then you are going to have a better chance.
There are sites available that are meant to help you protect and fight for your copyright. I haven’t looked into it, but an article was recently written for Digital Photography School which you might find interesting, ImageRights – Finding and Pursuing Copyright Infringement of Your Images.
The best way to protect yourself is to know the law and laws around Copyright. In Australia you can go to the website for the Australian Copyright Council. For overseas I found the following which has some great information.
How can you breach someone’s copyright
There are so many myths around what is allowed and what isn’t on the internet. The obvious one is “if it is on the internet it must be free”. Of course, that isn’t true.
It is illegal to take someone else’s image, remove the watermark, to work on it and use it for your own purposes. Recently I saw that someone had taken an image from a well known artist, reversed it and then applied textures to it. I am fairly certain if the artist in question saw what this person had done it they would not be happy. You must always get permission, unless otherwise stated.
I found another site, Copyright Agency here in Australia and they had a great page on Copyright Myths, and I think it is something we should all take notice of, read and memorise. It not only tells you what your rights are, but what people are not allowed to do to your images.
It seems the old idea, if you change the image by 10% you aren’t breaching copyright, is a definite myth. I know many will say what about that guy in New York who stole the Instagram images and sold them for tons of money, well I don’t know. I have no idea how he got away with what he did.
The best thing you can do if to be aware, if you know your rights then you will know when someone breaches your copyright. Knowledge is protection. So arm yourself with it, and be prepared to fight, if necessary.