Protecting against copying.....


TPF Noob!
Jun 8, 2007
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Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I would like to know what other people do to protect their pics against recopy. I just had a client ask me about taking the images I sale to her and recopying them....I explained to her that is illegal and had her sign an agreement. What do you do? Do you stamp your pics....imprint something (olan millish) on them?
I know if you use texture in your prints they can't be copied very well. Talk to your local stores and let them know who you are and that you don't give permission. Then have your printers place your Business name on the backside of your pictures. Places like Wal-mart and Shopko are starting to watch for Copying. You can't stop everyone but that may stop a few.
People can get a decent copy by using a $50 flatbed there isn't much you can do, if you are worried about them making copies of prints that you have sold to them.

Personally, I think a good solution is to adjust your prices and include the digital file of images that you sell....basically, you are selling them the right to make copies as well. You may loose on reprint sales but that's why you charge more upfront. Also, you can diversify your product line...for example, you could offer albums, gallery wraps, framed prints etc. Sure, they could probably order most of that stuff themselves, if you give them the file...but that's extra work for them and they may not be certain of getting great results. If you become familiar with these products and the companies that sell them, you can be sure to get great quality, which is hopfully why they would buy these things from you.
The photographer I work for used a "pebble" texture paper when someone asked about copying them. When you scan it in it looks all grainy. But grain that isn't suppose to be there. The original is fine though. Maybe check with your printer to see what they offer? He only uses that paper with people he suspects may want to copy and tells them it's the standard paper :) Sneaky huh?
Mike has a point. Another solution is a contract. Spell out © restrictions in the small print on the order form they sign. Point out this paragraph upon delivery. And yes, I put a © w/my name and "all rights reserved" on every pic I deliver. Even if it is Olan Millsesque.
Ok I just got kicked in the stones on this one today by a neighbour.

I made up a 8"x6" of this shot and dropped it over to the neighbour. The Mammy wasn't there so I was told to call back. Today I bumped into her in the street and asked her did she like the photo?
She said "Yes it's great and I've dropped it up to Boots (drug store) to get copies made". Now I'm in a sticky situation because it's a neigbour that lives 50 yards away.
I said "ehh well you're supposed to come to me for copies"
She said "Ok then you make me a couple of copies".
I said "no problem they're 10 euro each" Now she backs down and says that she has to ask the other Mother first.

Either way I'm scerwed. The mistake I made was leaving the photo in their hands but we'll see what happens.

I was thinking of putting an artistic logo or some text on the front of these type of shots from now on that will cause the copying companies to react to/refuse the job. Or what about non removable stickers on the back? Or a copyright information stamp? I will write to and talk to them about adding it to their service.

Yap, next time put a big text across the photo, occupancy like 60% or so...

They can see the photo, but can't copy it, leave your number on it too ;)
Personally, I think a good solution is to adjust your prices and include the digital file of images that you sell....basically, you are selling them the right to make copies as well.

The other problem that you have with this is crappy prints in the world with your quality and name attached to them. A friend of mine always gets prints at walmart and they look like junk. I'd never want someone to see that picture and think that that is the quality that I sell.

I advise against this!
it seems the overall sentiment here is that you can do things to *discourage* copying, but you can never really 100% *prevent* it.

that's a shame
Textured prints and stamp the back of all your prints. Sure it isn't fool proof, but from experience from working at a lab it makes our just much easier when you can flip a print over say "See here where it says Copyright ____ Studis. Please call XXX-XXXX for reprints, that is what you need to do, we can not legally make you a copy"
I just had some trouble with this. The aunt of a child i took pictures of make copies of the ones the mother already paid for. Although it was annoying that she made them instead of buying them from me, I was mostly worried. Those kiosk machines make terrible copies!
The woman as it turned out, had no idea that what she did was illegal and she felt bad and returned the copies to me, OMG they were disgusting.
What I did then to avoid any awkward feeling in the future was, for her honesty in returning the crappy photos, I printed he rout the ones she wanted and gave them to her. Now we have no hard feelings, she isnt embasarred and I am not mad.

But reallly there isnt too much to do about it. :(
When it comes to private clients, the best way to prevent copying, is to charge (and make your money) on the shooting, not on the prints. I know a lot of photographers do the opposite to keep the initial cost for the customer low, but a lot of people likes the idea of paying more for the initial shooting, and then not having to worry about expensive prints.

Dealing with private clients is something I just do every now and then, but when I do I simply give them a CD with high res images. I then recommend the lab I use for making the prints.

Chances are of course always that someone will use that CD to make some horrible kiosk prints, but I think the chance of that is smaller when they have a high res original, and can have nice prints done for a rather low fee. It will at least keep customers from scanning poor sample images.

If the client wants me to make the prints, I simply order them from the lab, and adds on a percentage on top, but they are still very reasonable priced.

As for the legal aspect: It is not illegal for a private individual to copy a photo for their own personal use. It is however illegal for a professional or 3rd party to do this or for a private person to do it for profit. So if you use your own scanner and printer at home to do it, it is legal, but if you bring it to a copy shop to have it done, it is illegal for them to do it.
I don't know why boomersgot3 is giving advice about copying pictures. Just google her name and ask anyone with Operation Love about her abilities to steal and copy pictures!! She is notorious for it!!!!
Rule #1 - Never use proofs. Always project. Copyright becomes moot because they would have a hard time copying a 16x20 or larger.

Rule #2 - Refer to rule #1.

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