How to Prevent Your Photos being Taken and Published without Permission?

By Geoff Harris

Taking and publishing someone else’s picture without permission is copyright theft, whether the pictures are being used on someone social networking site, or for a major advertising campaign.

Most people carrying out copyright theft, do so accidentally, without realising that it is illegal.  Others just don’t care, as the chances of being found out are very slim.
But what can we photographers do to protect or prevent our pictures being taken and published without our permission?

Here are my top tips for protecting your images

Always ensure your contact details are attached to every image.  You can do this by completing the file info fields in Photoshop, Paintshop Pro or Lightroom which are then stored as metadata files, which travel with the images
Always specify the exact use the image is allowed to be used for.  Either in an accompanying letter or included in the metadata file
Include the copyright symbol ©  together with your name in the metadata. Some popel also like to include the year but this is not absolutely necessary  © Duncan Heather 2011
When uploading work online, consider displaying this copyright information on the picture itself. There is a fine balance between ruining your photo with an over dominant watermark; and something so discrete that it can be easily edited out.
Be aware that, when uploading to social networking sites, many of them strip-out the metadata to reduce the file sizes.
Never upload pictures at more than 72dpi
When publishing online, never upload picture bigger than they need to be.  I would suggest a maximum pixel size or 1024 px along the longest edge.
Avoid marking your work as Licensed under Creative Commons (LCC) as it allows people to use your work without perpission

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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