I’ve been asking myself for ages whether or not I should be watermarking images when putting them online. Opinions seem to vary on the idea:
“Professional photographers watermark their images. You’re not a professional photographer”
“Watermarking? Why would you want to do that? It destroys the look of the photograph.”
“If you’re going to do it put something discreet on it.”
And so I’ve varied between using tiny, inconspicuous print at the bottom of my photos in order not to appear pretentious and in order not to give the impression that I might even *think* I’m a Pro, to using glaringly obvious fonts stretched across the width of the photos on my ‘I couldn’t give two hoots what you think’ days.
And then there were some photos that I never watermarked at all….like the one below…which is a photo of our dog that was taken by Ally about two years ago (and which is now watermarked with something that isn’t a watermark but big f*ck off print!).
After reading a post on thesnappysnapper.blogspot.com on the Unauthorised use of Photography and Copyright abuse, I thought I’d try out a couple of the links that the author, Stephen Power (Limerick Photographer), mentioned in the post, to see if any of my own images were being used anywhere.
Google Analytics showed me that several photos on my website had been downloaded at some stage or another. I took the URL of those images and typed them into TinEye where several images showed up a few times in other people’s blogs. I wasn’t too concerned about them really, until I typed in the URL of Ally’s photo of our dog.
Cole Legal Group (www.texasinjurylaw.net)
Texasinjurylaw.net was the first website that showed up under my image search for the ‘Alsation Photo’. At first I couldn’t see the photo on the website, but as I flicked through the site the image appeared in the flash banner.
Imagine a law firm using an image in their banner without the consent of the copyright holder? I note that they don’t mention on the site if they specialise in copyright infringement. Yes, I’m fairly sure that a web designer somewhere is at fault here, but still….the irony of it…
I tried to contact the law company through the form on their website on Monday night but I’ve had no reply from them yet, and I’ve made another attempt to contact them through the form this evening. Both times I was told that my form submission was successful.
They’re hosted with GoDaddy.com who state that they ‘support the protection of intellectual property’. GoDaddy.com also explain how to make a copyright claim, so I guess that might be my next step.
Capitol K9 of Montgomery (www.capitolk-9.com)
This dog training website had the image in their ‘Personal Protection K9′ section. I emailed them in relation to the image and they subsequently took it down and said that they ‘didn’t see the harm in sharing’.
Only they weren’t just ‘sharing’. They were using the image to promote their business.
Der E-Kreisel (Popoela)
Der E-Kreisel appears to be some sort of rap musician. Ally’s image has been used, it would appear, as a cover for his MP3 track ‘Popoela’, which has been uploaded to so many places around the internet that it would be impossible for me to report the infringement of copyright to them all.
You can see the image on this page on Facebook. I contacted Facebook and they have since removed the image.
However, I then found the image on a band page, which is proving a little more difficult to have the image removed from as it’s part of an app, and Facebook need the actual URL of the image.
Vimeo removed the image and the track immediately when I emailed them.
This is just the tip of the iceberg though. The image has been uploaded to countless websites, including:
I’ve emailed a few of the website administrators and they look for a letter rather than an email, and, like I said, there are so many of them!
I emailed Der E-Kreisel about the Facebook App and told him I would be seeking advice from my solicitor, and he sent me a reply in which he laid the blame on his ‘agent’. I would think that I should send Der E-Kreisel and invoice and he can deal with his own agent. I don’t see why I should be chasing people’s agents, but I’ll seek further advice.
At this stage I am sick of looking at the dog’s flipping picture, but because I think it’s rude, underhanded and unethical to take the image without seeking permission, and particularly because of the fact that the image belongs to my daughter, I am determined to take the matter further.
And from now on, ALL my images will have a disgustingly obvious watermark stretched across them, and people can think what they like!
Watermark your work, and don’t let others profit from what you’ve created!