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