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How to Protect your Copyrights

written by: Mayflor Markusic•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/20/2009

With today's Internet technologies, it is far too easy for people to download or copy your published pictures. But there are ways to protect the copyrights to your photos. Here are some of them.

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    Copyright Protection Tips

    Each photo has commercial and sentimental values to its author. It is proof of the photographer's skills and achievement and it is a potential source of income. This is why the intellectual copyright laws include photographs. Unfortunately, in this advance digital age, it is easy to copy and paste photos and the photographer's copyrights are ignored. Thus, it is up to the photographer to take important steps to protect his/her photographic copyrights. Here are some suggestions.

    1. Watermarks - A visible watermark discourages indiscriminate copying and makes it very difficult to steal the image. Only the most dedicated and highly skilled photo editors have the ability to manipulate the image and remove the watermark. But this would take so much time that stealing the image is not worth the effort. For more information about watermarks, click here.

    2. Add a copyright notice to all of your work - A copyright notice is considered as the most effective deterrent against illegal copying of your work. It immediately tells everyone that copyright law protects the photos. The copyright notice should include the copyright symbol ©, the photographer's name or the studio's name, the year that the photo was taken and the city where the studio/photographer is located. If the photographer wanted to be contacted by anyone who wants a copy of the photo, then a phone number or an email address should be added. Then, this most important phrase should be included: "Illegal to copy and/or scan without photographer's written permission."

    3. Add copyright law information in your sales pamphlets and other advertising literature - This is a simple statement that should be added: "All photographs of (photographer's name) are protected from scanning, reproduction, and manipulation by Federal Law." It is a non-threatening statement but informs everyone that copying without permission from you is prohibited.

    4. Include copyright terms in the sales contract - In the contracts with clients, this can be added to the terms and conditions: "Client agrees to return to the (studio name) for any scanning, reproduction, and manipulation of the described photographs." Of course, if your sales package include giving digital copies of the photos to the clients, the statement can be changed into this: "Client agrees that copying, scanning, and manipulation of the photographs by the client is strictly for personal and non-commercial use."

    5. Implement some changes in your business operations - This includes policies that further discourage indiscriminate copying. For example, previews or proofs are allowed only inside the studio. If operating in cyberspace, the clients should be given unique passwords before they can access the previews of the photos. These online photos should be set at very low resolution so that printing them will produce grainy or blurry pictures.

    For further protection, it is recommended that photography works be registered at your country's Copyright Registration Office.