Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Copyright protection © for photographs, does it really mean anything?

It seems that every picture we see on internet forums, blog sites, and websites in general and in magazines all carry the © Copyright protection . Example: “© 2007 John Smith, All rights reserved.”
Please note that the pictures used for this particular post were chosen because they are bad pictures, similar to some pictures seen sometimes on internet forums, blogs, magazines with the © copyright protection. Read on...

I have seen the Copyright protection © on some photographs that couldn’t be given away. I understand how someone can be partial to his or her work, but to copyright any and all images one post on the internet may be a little pretentious. I’m guilty of it too on this very blog. Do we think that the picture bandits surf the internet in the middle of the night in search of bad photographs to steal? I don’t think so; there isn’t much money in that.
Stock agencies used to be a great source of photographic images, where one could purchase photos and use them in advertising. It was also a great source of revenues for many photographers. That was when photos were produced from films. In the digital world we now live in, everyone can produce good photos. Because there are no film or processing costs in the digital world, (Just the initial cost of the memory card(s) and of course the camera equipment), one can take thousands of pictures of the same subject. By the law of average alone, one great picture will emanate from using this method. It’s probably one of the reasons that Stock Agencies are not what they used to be. Instead of charging hundreds of dollars for the use of one picture, you can now download beautiful pictures for a few bucks. As for the photographers who supply these photographs, there is only a very small commission. I use the word photographs, but they are actually no more than downloadable computer files. Apparently, here in the US, the moment you create a picture, you have a copyrighted image. You don’t have to affix Copyright protection © beside each images you publish or upload on an Internet site. That’s all fine, but in reality, there isn’t much you can do to protect your images. You see, if someone steals one of your images and uses it for a publication or for profits of any kind, the only recourse you have is to take them to Federal Court. Taking a case through judgment, (according to a copyrighted article I read somewhere), may cost as much as $50,000.00 (Yes, that’s fifty thousand dollars) Should you win the judgment against the photo bandit, the amount might not even be enough to pay for your legal fees.

There is apparently a way to get the copyright law working in your favor. Register your images with the Copyright office through the “Library of Congress”. There is one very special benefit to having them registered that way. If someone infringes on your images and if you take them to court and if you win, they get to pay all of the court costs and legal fees, maybe. An attorney knows this and will try to get his client to settle out of court.

Registering is easy. You can register as many images as you can fit on a compact disk or other recording media, for less that $50.00. There are two categories of images you can register; published images, (images that have brought some revenues) and unpublished images.

From my point-of-vue, it looks much simpler than that. Don’t post any admirable (by you and your mother, at minimum) image files larger than it is necessary to see them on a computer screen. Most digital imaging software has a copyright tool that can embed a message in the viewable image as a watermark as well as an encryption in the image file. Use it. If you get lucky enough to be published, sign a contract stipulating exactly the rights of the buyer. Just make it very hard for someone to copy your image full size. Keep the original big files on your computer or whatever you use to store your files.Thank you for reading,

Yvon Bourque

Most of the material found in the above post was copied from someone else's publication, but none-the-less, this article is copyrighted © 2007 Yvon Bourque. All rights reserved.

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