watermark/copyright question.....

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Southerngal, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. Southerngal

    Southerngal TPF Noob!

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    How exactly does a watermark work? My daughter started cheering this year and at her first game I took a group pic and the other mothers loved it and offered to purchase them. After that they insisted that I take pics at the games and they would buy them. I have actually been selling the pics, but of course I have one mother that wants to make a scrap book for all the girls (28 to be exact)....each book 20 pages w/3-4 pics per page. She wants me to give her pics for the album....at least 60 pics....I did say GIVE! Then she is gonna copy each image 28 times and put them in her books....Did I mention that she plans to sell these books!!! I have decided not to participate....I have already begun my own album for my daughter and not to mention I would be losing out on the profit. Through this I found out that she has been making copies of the pics that she purchased from me....I want to prevent this further. I have started stamping the back of my pics....this should help prevent printing at the local Walmart. Does a watermark prevent people from copying an image? What is the exact purpose of a watermark? and if I use one will I be able to upload and print my pics online w/out problem.

    Sorry for all the rambling......here are a few pics that she wants for free


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  2. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    From what I've read through this forum Southerngal, is that if you stamp the back of your prints, a legitimate photo service will not make copies without a release. There is info to place watermarks within this site as well. I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

    Excellent photos. It's kinda funny to see all the water/energy drinks sitting around for these little girls. (Not that there's anything wrong with it and not that they don't deserve to have them.) Thumbs up for #2.
     
  3. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    A watermark is a translucent (usually) word across the front of the picture that hinders the efforts of potential mooch printers.

    It'll say something like your name or "do not copy" or something.

    If you want her to stop. Tell her that she does not have the right to do that, and that if she would like copies of the photos she is to buy them. You are the owner of the rights to that photo.

    In this situation, I'd make my own book and sell it, and show her that you can't have a good book without a good photographer...maybe next time she'll strike a deal with you.
     
  4. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Well, considering that your copyright is being infringed and you want it to stop, you have a few options.

    On legal letterhead, have your lawyer make up a letter\agreement that defines infringement of copyright for photos, details your cost per photo or copy and indicates an agreement by the purchaser to respect your copyright. Have them read it and sign it when they purchase a photo from you.

    If you are aware that someone has copied your photo without permission, send them an invoice for the copies along with a letter indicating it must be paid within 2 weeks for example or you will insitute court action. If the time limit is exceeded then you take action in small claims court or sell the debt to a collection agency.

    Do not tolerate infringement of your copyright to your photos.

    skieur
     
  5. Southerngal

    Southerngal TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the info.

    I cant tell you how much water/sport drink has been spilled at every game. I actually watched one little girl poor BLUE powerade on herself to cool off....seriously! Her mother had a fit....lol! These pics were probably taken in 100 degree weather.

    Thanks for the advice.....putting a watermark on my pics wont prevent me from uploading them and printing them online, will it?
     
  6. Mike Jordan

    Mike Jordan TPF Noob!

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    It seems that team mothers (and fathers) see nothing wrong with coping pictures like this. They think they are doing everyone a favor by coping and putting the images together for every one else. It's bad enough when someone does it for free but worse when someone does it and then wants to be paid for it. And since you probably see this person at every game and practice, if you don't do something, you will get madder and madder about it. If you do something, then she will get mad over it. It can turn into a no-win situation pretty quick (hopefully her daughter is not your daughters best friend). Frankly though, it would be better if she was mad rather than you.

    Your images are copyrighted the moment you take the pictures. The good news is that it means you have the Federal Government standing behind you should someone infringe upon your copyright. The bad news is that in most cases, the average person can't afford to protect their copyright from someone that wants to make money off your images. A Intellectual Property lawyer (one that handles Federal copyright, trademarks, logos, etc.) does not come cheap, nor does taking someone to a Federal Court to sue them for copyright infringement. The good news is that the Copyright Office came up with a law that provides a way for the average person to protect their copyright. The bad news... well, bad news for those that infringe, is it's pretty easy and can be done very cheaply. :D It's called registering your images with the Copyright Office.

    Registering your images does a lot of things for you... one it makes it easier to prove they are your images. Two, they give you more power to go after an infringer. If you have to sue someone and win and you have your images registered before you were infringed on (or within 90 days after you make money off of them) besides any judgement that you might win (which for a small case is probably going to be very little) the infringer gets to pay all court costs and lawyer fees for both of you. So even if you don't win a dime, the infringer could still end up owing the court thousands. This is a big incentive to register your images. Just the fact you have them registered will most often let you send a bill to the infringer demanding payment and rather than get taken to court, they will pay. Especially when you tell them your images are registered and suggest they go talk to a IP lawyer about what that means to them. I've been infringed on 4 times. The first time I didn't have my images registered and the woman thumbed her nose at me. I registered from then on and the next 3 times when I found out, I sent them a letter and a bill and gave them the option, pay or be taken to court. Only once did I have to even have a lawyer write a letter. I've never had to go to court and I've made a lot of money... much more than I would have had I sold the images for the next 10 years.

    To register your images, all it takes is a single form, $45 and a CD. You can register as many images as will fit on a CD (I believe they allow DVD's now) as long as they all fall in the same catagory (same copyright owner, all published or all non-published, etc.). Your registration starts the day the Copyright Office receives your form and CD. Although it will be another 3 months before you get your certificate of copyright and another 3 months before the registration shows up in the Copyright database. You might never had to use the benifits of the registration, but the first time you need to, it will feel great to know they can't just thumb their nose at you because they know most people don't have the images registered and they can't afford to do anything about it.

    Even if you work out something with this woman, as long as you are taking pictures and selling them and displaying them, you should register your images. I'm a big advacate of registering and take the oppurtunity to suggestion it when ever I can. People that use an image for a screen saver or print it off to put in their cubical at work or other minor things like that really don't bother me at all. But when someone takes my images and tries to make money off of them or say they took the pictures when they didn't... those I go after. :D

    If you are interested in more information and some links to the Copyright website, I have a short tutorial I wrote on it. You can find it here:
    http://www.sitnprettyphoto.com/display/copyrightinfo.html

    Putting watermarks and copyright info on the back of the images won't help if the person has their own scanner and many places still won't stop someone from making copies at the store. Even putting a watermark on the front won't stop some people. They either remove it with photo editing software, trim it off or just ignore it. If you put it on heavy enough to really discourage someone from using your image, then it ruins the image for viewing by the people you want to see it. It will stop the casual person though from taking your proofs... but you don't want to put a watermark on the images you sell. And that's where they can copy them if they want. It takes a little bit of work to protect your copyright, but it's worth it.

    Mike
     

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