Signatures and Watermarks?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by crimbfighter, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. crimbfighter

    crimbfighter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My question goes like this, at my beginner level, is it worth or important to show ownership of my photo's with a signature or watermark? :scratch: I've noticed a lot of you more experienced folks have your photos marked with at least a signature.

    I know a lot about criminal law, but very little about civil or copyright law. Even though I don't have many photos worth anything right now, that doesn't mean at some point one of them I've already taken or will take may have value. Plus, with the digital age, it's easy to alter photos to make them your own and once they're out on the internet, they will always be out there. I've always thought posting on the internet is like putting a drop of food coloring in a lake, then trying to suck it all back out...ain't gonna happen...

    Also, would I need to be incorporated or have the signature copyrighted in order to take any action against someone using it? What rights do signatures or watermarks even actually give me? Would I then have the ability to tell someone they cannot reproduce, sell, alter ect my photo?

    Anyway, sorry for the multi part question. I searched the forum and didn't find any applicable threads, but if someone can link me to one, or another online resource, link away.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. LCARSx32

    LCARSx32 TPF Noob!

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    I always thought of watermarks of more of a deterant than anything. Most people are too lazy to edit out your watermark. Sure, some people will, but most will just move on to the next image result that doesn't have one.

    They also serve as a signature, just like artists sign their paintings. They are proud, so they sign it.
     
  3. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    You own the copyright at the instant an image is recorded in a tangible medium, the memory card suffices in the instance of digital photography. Your photos do not need to be signed, watermarked, nor do they need a copyright statement added to them.

    At that point you own all of the rights that come bundled in copyright and can control them as you see fit by dent of 'use licensing'.

    In the case of an infringement that results in your desire to seek damages, you must seek action if Federal Court, as copyright is Federal law.

    Federal Court rules, preclude filing an action until your copyright has been registered with the US Copyright Office. www.copyright.gov.

    The timing of that registration determines if you are allowed to seek statutory, or only actual damages.

    It is highly recommended that photographers register their copyrights at least quarterly.
     
  4. crimbfighter

    crimbfighter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Are you referring to specific photos, or do you mean a statement of copyright that encompasses any and all photos you have, are or will take? Do you have an example of what you, or someone, would actually register with the copyright office?
     
  5. crimbfighter

    crimbfighter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ^^^^^^^^ Disregard my last, I think I answered my own question... But here's another one. Does the same ownership carry over to photos that you have altered in something such as PS? Everything I'm reading thus far seems to apply to the original photo. Or does saving the altered photo on your hard drive constitute a new copyright?
     
  6. AgentDrex

    AgentDrex No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My favorite thing to do is to put my name into a text layer, make it pretty small, select it...turn it into a pattern...take the photo I want to "protect", add a new layer, use that pattern to fill the layer and lower the opacity so it isn't so distracting such as this:

    [​IMG]
     
  7. shmne

    shmne No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This is my basic understanding after Intellectual Property Law classes:

    Not sure if I understand your last question fully, "...saving the altered photo..."

    I believe you are asking if you edit a photo, do you still have copyright? Than yes.

    If you are asking that after applying for a copyright on one image, than will you have to apply for a new copyright? Than yes.

    Copyrighting photos and any digital document (graphic art, motion graphics, etc) is a $35 one time-per-batch fee. So if you have 500 files to copyright, it will be $35 for the batch. If you just get a copyright on one file, than it will be $35.

    As of right now I do not know if there is a limit to upload, I never really checked since none of my major projects have touched the internet up to date.

    It's been a while since IPL, but I'm almost positive that none of this has changed, and that I am correct.
     
  8. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    All your questions are answered at www.copyright.gov.
     
  9. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    By mail, the limit is 750 images per application ($40). Published and unpublished images require seperate applications. Your application will be rejected if published and unpublished images are included on the same application.

    Online ($35) it's as many images as you can upload in 60 minutes. Images don't need to be uploaded at full size. U.S. Copyright Office - Online Services (eCO: Electronic Copyright Office) is the link to the Electronic Copyright Office.
     
  10. burstintoflame81

    burstintoflame81 TPF Noob!

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    I sometimes put my name or a logo on the pics. Sometimes I use the pattern overlay described above. The good part of that ( assuming you use photoshop ) is that you can mask that pattern layer and paint over the important subjects in your picture so that the pattern is not over them but more on the background. I find more recently I just put several © + my initials in several spots. If you type the text, choose overlay and then adjust the text color and opacity to get it barely visible. Then just press CTRL+J several times to copy it. Then hold down V on each one and drag it to parts of the photo that don't make it as noticeable. You may have to adjust each individual layers settings again if you move them to drastically different spots/colored areas on the photo.

    A logo is usually more easily removed because its usually placed on the outer edges of the photo. Watermarks are a little more secretive since they can't be quite sure how many are hidden on there. So its harder to remove. Most professional sites online where you can host and sell your pics watermark the photos and remove the watermarks only when someone buys a print.
     
  11. crimbfighter

    crimbfighter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks a lot for all the good ideas!

    KmH, I know they are all posted online, but I often spend hours looking at statutes and wanted some direction before just aimlessly sifting through the information. Lets me narrow my search a little. So, thankyou for bearing with me.

    I think what I've learned from this is I will add a subtle signature of some kind to all my photos, more so for my own pride and as a deterrent, but only go through the copyright registration process and more aggressive signatures or watermarks for photos I am concerned about the possibility of infringement on.

    Thanks again all for the suggestions!
     
  12. AgentDrex

    AgentDrex No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Watermarks are sure fun to tinker around with; all sorts of different, interesting ways to proceed with them. I also like to devote an NTFS stream to showing a piece of text that says: "See I told you it was mine." Just in case someone wants to claim the photo isn't mine, I can replay the stream for them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2010

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