I Can Remove Your Watermark with No Problem…

(blog post by RC Concepcion)

So stop doing it!  Really, It really takes no time at all, but I hate having to do it to your images…

Bold statement, huh?  As the Photoshop Guy that’s focused on one mission – taking Photographers to the web- I’ve spent a lot of time wondering about the recent movement to make your pictures as ugly as possible with Watermarks. The practice has come to fever pitch in Photoshop CS5.  Try as we must to share with you how awesome all of the other technology that Photoshop CS5 is bringing us, I invariably get the same question:

“With Content Aware Fill, can people remove watermarks even easier?”  I usually tell people “Yup.  But anyone with a decent amount of skill in the Clone (nee, Rubber Stamp) tool could have at your images just as fast. ”

You shouldn’t spend so much time worrying about watermarking your images. Anyone halfway decent will be able to rip them off, and you will be “DigiSlapped” 3 times.

Interested? Read More Below

The Three Slaps
Think of it this way:  As  a photographer, my job is to share with you the best image that I have made, in the event to move you- to buy, to sell, to say that I’m awesome, and so forth.  Considering that, the addition of the watermark in the center of the image takes all of that effort and throws it down the drain.  The viewers eyes are now set to do the dance of ‘let me see what this picture COULD HAVE been provided this big symbol wasn’t in front of it” All of that work is now lost. Consider the fact that some in the community may even see this practice as amateurish, and any effort you’ve put into branding yourself is lost. That’s Slap number One.

Now, we all know that the average photo hacker will take that 72dpi image and run with it to the nearest Walmart for printing, resulting in a really shotty reproduction of something you spent a lot of time and money doing – that’s Slap number Two.

Top that off that a person with just mediocre skill will probably do such a bad clone job that you’d hope the symbol just stayed on and they could have it.  That’s Slap number Three.

Why We Started Doing it In the First Place
There is a a little bit of a difference between a Copyright and a Watermark.  Without getting “Ed Greenberg” Deep (He’s an awesome attorney that does some kick butt classes over on Kelby Training), the Copyright symbol was meant to be on stuff to say “Hey, this symbol is here to let you know that I have registered this work with the US Copyright Office.”  You’d be surprised as to how many people will come up to you and say “Hey.. Art class 101 said that you own the copyright the moment you make something”.  You know what? They’re right!

Technically you are the copyright owner of that picture the moment you take it.  But, can you “Prove” it.  That’s what registering your images do.  They give you that added “I will take your wallet in a court of law and you will need to pay for my legal fees while you’re at it” flair to your work.  The copyright symbol is supposed to remind someone of that – kinda like the little blinking red light in the front window of a car when the alarm is on.

A watermark is supposed to detract someone from using your image somewhere by placing something ugly (usually your name,.. but i’m sure your name is wonderful :) ) in front of it.  I argue this – If you’re going to just put your name in big bold letters, couldn’t you do it cleanly in the lower right portion of the image?  Do it far enough in that the crop that a hacker would do would mess up the Feng Shui of the image and you’ll feel a lot better.

What You CAN be Doing
Now, kidding aside, this will make you feel like you have seriously exposed yourself out there for copyright theft – and that really isn’t a laughing matter.  I’m talking to you about this because I -want- you to be protected.  But i want you to be smart about where you spend your efforts doing so.  In that, let me give you a couple of things that you should do:

Use Metadata All the Time

Here’s an under 2 min video on how to make a Metadata Template (no sound)

You’d be surprised how many people troll Flickr for images for their next paid project that WANT to give you their money.  They want to do it, but you wont let them when you don’t place your contact information inside of the Metadata of the images.  Take a moment and create a Metadata template for yourself that has the most basic of information for all of your images: Your Name, Your Website, and Your Email.  I’m a big advocate of using Google Voice (if you have an account) for the phone number as I wouldnt want my cell phone out there with everyone.  With Google Voice, I can turn it off/on to forward to my phone as I see fit.  I never include an address to my images because.. imagine how creepy that would be?!?

copyright_officeActually Register with The Copyright Office
I cant tell you how many people use that Copyright Symbol and don’t actually register your image.  It’s like having a pretend Smoke Alarm!  Take a small moment to go to the US Copyright Office eCO Online system. In there you will be able to submit you images using their online filing system and paying (about 35 dollars, I think) a small fee.  Once that’s done, your images are officially registered, and you are protected from any copyright theft. This time will be MUCH better spent in that you will be able to recoup so much more by being able to prove that you are the creator of the work.

digimarc_websiteGo Pro with Digimarc
If you want an AWESOME way to be able to make sure your fingerprint is put on your images, I think Digimarc warrants a look. Basically, Digimarc is a service that you pay for that allows you to place a digital watermark that people cannot see. You then get a back office where you can check all of the information and take action as necessary. They have a Basic, Pro, and Small business services among their packages and a bunch of tutorials showing you how to implement their solutions. I’d consider this a solid bet based on the cost if you are looking to protect yourself.

Click Here to check out the Digimarc website. You’ll be glad you did.

Check Out Tineye
Tineye is a great new service that’s coming. The short of it: It’s kinda like Google.. but for images. You upload an image, and it will scour the web and see if it can find websites where they are being used. This is a great service that will get even better as they go out and scour more content:

Click here to check out the Tineye website

Final Thoughts
Obviously all of this is my own opinion. I’m sure that there are a ton of people out there that have their own reasons to monitor and watermark their information – and in some cases, those solutions might make the best sense for them – and that’s fine too. What i’d like for you to consider today is just how much time and effort you are spending safeguarding something that will be broken into relatively quickly with the advent of computers and technology.

I’d argue that if someone -really- wanted to steal your image, they’d find a way to do so. Let’s say company X in remote land somewhere in the overseas stole your content for an article- would you know about it? If you’re not looking into these solutions i’ve mentioned- probably not. Your images could be appearing in tons of small market magazines, edited badly to remove watermarks and you’d be none the wiser. Why spend all of that time stressing about those images that you cant see, and invest the time in the tools that -could- give you the reach and protection you need.

Once you’re armed and Copyright – protected, then you can just upload and share to your hearts content! Imagine if a big company -actually- decided to use your image without letting you know.. and you found out….

That would be a great day for you indeed!

(if you want to read more about me, make sure you stop by The Layers Magazine Blog where I write about tech and Creative Suite stuff, My own Personal blog, or you can Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/aboutrc)

  1. I don’t put a watermark on my images, but I always put my copyright and contact information in the metadata. I also put the copyright tagline in the caption, not over the image, when it’s on a website. I plan on registering my images with the US Copyright Office, but I have a dillema: is an image posted to, say, Flickr considered “published” for registration purposes?

      1. The majority of coutries have reciprocal treaties with the US and are signitories of the Bern Convention. The US was a holdout for many years of the Bern Convention and as a result of the US signing on, creators like us benefitted greatly. One of the benefits we gained was not having to have a copyright notice on our images. That was directly a result of signing on to the Bern Convention.
        For more info on which contries teh US has treaties with, go to the government Copyright Office’s website at http://www.copyright.gov
        If you go to the .com site you get a commercial site. Don’t do that. It’s .gov

      2. “One of the benefits we gained was not having to have a copyright notice on our images.”

        More generally, no jumping through hoops for copyright protection.

        However, as far as the notice, if you’re going to bang the drum about the availability of statutory damages and attorney fee recovery, don’t forget to mention a benefit of including a copyright notice (as distinct from the fact that you don’t need it to establish copyright):

        DMCA Section 1202: (One of the claims Morel is raising when counterclaiming against AFP.)

  2. Good article. Tineye shows promise in tracking your images. I recommend Digimarc to students all the time, especially since it shows up in the Filter menu within Photoshop.

    You’re right about people who want to steal your content. Disable the right-click, throw it in Flash, doesn’t matter what you do, given enough time there’s a hack to get your images.

    1. Hey A.J.,
      Thanks for recommending Digital Watermarking to your students. I’m a photographer that works for Digimarc Corporation and wanted to extend a free 90 day trial of our basic software to you and your students. Go to this webpage: https://dfi.digimarc.com/selectProduct.aspx?family=pro , click on the Basic Membership sign up, then enter in Coupon Code: FREETRIAL2010 on the right hand side of the screen. It’s free and helps protect artists everywhere!

  3. Hi RC.

    Great post thanks for the info.
    Like alot of folks I used to add a watermark to my images before uploading to my portolios or blog but that’s a practice I stopped some time ago for the exact same reasons you mention ie spending alot of time to get a photo ‘spot on’ to then whack some symbol right across it. I now accept that people can and will use Photoshop or the like to remove watermarks so I simply add my name & logo underneath the photograph.

    Protecting your work is a big issue. I remember not so long back having a phone conversation with a photographer who has featured here as a Guest Blogger, at the time he’d been the ‘victim’ of copyright….but not just one image, I mean ALL of his images on his site, in fact his whole site had been copied with the only change being the the photographers name. Everything…colours, logo the lot..identical. The ‘thief’ had even changed the name in the ‘news articles’ included in the site to feature his own.

    This ‘theft’ was only brought to the attention of the photographer by a friend who by accident stumbled across the site when browsing the net one day.

    Needless to say the ‘matter’ sorted but it just goes to show the length some people will go to.

    Getting back to your post, I really like the idea of Tineye; definitely alot of potential for that and especially how it could improve in the future.

    Great post RC,
    All the best to you and yours,

  4. Great article RC. Like others here, I make sure my metadata is accurate (and DO use a Google Voice number for contact). I don’t use Flickr except for submitting an image to last year’s Photowalk contest. I learned of Tineye last year and randomly tried it with my Photowalk image. . . and found a website using it! Once I pointed out the obvious copyright issue we resolved it. It was a royal PITA as an enthusiast which made me sympathize for the professionals even more.

  5. This isn’t just not “Ed deep” it’s wrong:

    ” But, can you “Prove” it. That’s what registering your images do. ”

    While if you register within 5 years of first publication, the registration certificate will serve as presumptively accurate as to the facts within it (such as the author of the work), this does not mean the purpose of copyright registration is to prove ownership. I would think that is common sense.

    If I can take your work and register before you do, I have lost my copyright because you can prove you’re the owner ? All of the facts in the registration certificate are obviously subject to being rebutted.

    Register because you can’t sue until you do. And because Congress wants to encourage you to register so they give you (as you noted) some goodies if you do it fast enough: you can ask for attorney fees and statutory damages.

    1. Ham, one thing is “absolutely” for sure, without the registered copyright you will never even make it to court. No laywer will even take the case as it must be tried in Federal Court.

      1. Not only will a lawyer not accept it, you can’t file a copyright case in court without a registration in hand. If you need the registration quickly to file a case, it costs “about” $700 to get an expedited registration right away, vs $35 for a regular registration filing and it’s 2 to 3 months to get in hand.
        Read more on the copyright blog Ed Greenberg and I have at http://www.thecopyrightzone.com that reflects our Copyright Zone column in Photoshop User magazine (shameless plug).

      2. Jack said: “you can’t file a copyright case in court without a registration in hand. ”

        As a blanket statement that is not correct, Jack. That is the majority rule but it depends on the circuit. (It also happens to be the view of the Copyright Office for what its worth).

        It’s interesting that you made that statement because the Supreme Court just recently declined to address that issue (which has split the circuit courts): whether you need to have “registration in hand” or merely made an application for registration. (What the Supreme Court did address is that 411(a) is not a jurisdictional requirement meaning a court can adjudicate disputes involving unregistered works.)

        “If you need the registration quickly to file a case, it costs “about” $700 to get an expedited registration right away”

        FYI, if your application has been pending for at least six months you can have the expedited application fee waived if you are about to file suit (this fee waiver rule in effect through July 1, 2011).


      1. “you lost me at Presumptively”

        I will try to do better:

        Presenting a registration certificate doesn’t prove ownership of copyright.

        What it will do is shift the burden to the other party to prove you are not the owner. You are presumed to be the owner of the copyright because that’s what the certificate says. The other side has to rebut it.

        You only get this benefit from the registration certificate if you register within 5 years of first publication. Otherwise when you sue for infringement it’s up to the court as to what weight to be given to the facts in the registration certificate.

        Better ?

  6. Great post RC – I tinker with watermarking off and on. Mostly off – but when Lightroom 3 Beta introduced their new WM feature I had to try it out and threw a few photos up on the flickr stream with them on. Though I do tend to put them bottom right, it’s still a visually distracting element and I agree with you on this: if someone wants to steal my image, they’re going to, no matter what.

    Think of all the istock photos you see in publication that the designer couldn’t be bothered to shill a few bucks out for (the watermark intact). Those photos are a bit more commercially viable than my own.

    Metadata info on import is key for me – it’s just part of the workflow and it’s a no-brainer. I actually DO have my address in there – I’m not unlisted, nor a celebrity like you RC – so like theft, if someone wanted to find me there are a bunch of other ways to do it. Who knows, maybe someone will mail me to license my image?

  7. I dont watermark my images, but Ill play devils advocate…

    Just because someone can steal my car, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t lock it. Dont you think that watermarking at least mildly keeps people from stealing it? I mean they might just keep searching and find one without a watermark so they dont have o waste 5 seconds removing it?

    1. Id argue that if they -want- your image, it’s only 5 seconds.. Heck.. I know people who will take the image -because- it’s watermarked. Kind of like a “Oh, you think you’re gonna stop me?” attitude.

      Hey.. you can watermark a portion of it somewhere if it helps.. but to put the big C over the image.. that’s just asking for the slap.

      Also depends on who’ stealing it, right? I’d almost want to -make- it easy for someone like SI to use.. because I’d want to use Digimarc to track it, show up at their door and say “Hey.. i believe you have my property”

      If a kid steals my image somewhere in remotetown USA to brag to their friends or use it as a desktop wallpper.. I wouldnt be making money on it anyway.. and if I were.. the return would be small.. so context also plays in here.


      1. Actually, I would be honored if someone liked mine enough to steal them (now one of my cars, well…). I did have one person use my photo without my consent (he put it on postcards for his business). I told him he owed me 50% of the take….so he gave me a dollar….sadly this is no joke.

  8. I think it depends on what the image is used for. For instance, I don’t put watermarks on pictures I share on the Internet. Where I do use them is when we provide proofs for our high school seniors business. With the advent of high quality scanning, our print orders dropped dramatically. We then started adding our watermark and texturizing the surface to reduce the possibility of getting a high quality scan, it worked. We have actually increased referral business because the families now have a much higher quality print to show their friends and family resulting in more bookings.
    Just my two cents!

  9. Hi RC – Excellent writing — very informative, and entertaining ;)

    Has anyone here looked at digitally signing their photo files? I’m a Lunix/Unix guy so I don’t use Photoshop, but ran across digital signatures for ways of verifying authenticity of files — if they’ve been altered, then the signature wouldn’t match. That wouldn’t stop someone from say, printing, scanning but if someone altered the watermark, that would indicate in a failed signature. Not sure if this is even do-able in web/blog; wonder if browser rendering of jpeg’s would handle it?

  10. Regarding the registering of my images. Does the $35 cover only the images that I upload during that session, or can I always add to it for no extra charge?

    1. Hey Mark:

      It doesnt. This is talking about how to protect your right as the owner of an image, and have the option to sue someone for fair compensation should someone steal from you.

      Creative Commons is a completely different animal. Totally a good thing.. but not something I’m adopting on my photography.


      1. Can you explain why, RC? I actually pulled my images off of Flickr until I had time to watermark. Now I’m torn over the whole thing. Digimarc Pro is nice but an extra $99/year in addition to the cost of a webhost and the cost of sending your images to the Copyright office gets pretty pricey for an amateur photographer and actually prices us out.

      2. Ric:

        Believe you me, I can feel you on the economics front of this – and I wouldn’t want to armchair your situation and make judgments on your situation.

        Finances aside- I’ll say this: if you happen to be in the business of trying to make money on your images, and you want to make sure that you have an option to sue for fair compensation – then you need to put ‘into’ that as well.

        I figure a web host to be 8 bucks a month, 99 for Digimarc, plus 35 for the submission has you “In” this business for about 134 a year, plus 8 dollars a month for the hosting. I’d argue that you’re trying to sell an image (or at least you should be) for more than 134 dollars. IMO, that cost of protection is low- considering how much we fear to lose if someone uses the image. I’d have a hard time seeing that as ‘pricing out’ photographers as a business. In the end, theres a cost of doing business – any business… heck i’d go without cable or a cell phone for a month if it meant protecting my images for a year.

        If finances are to play however- then your decision is made for you and you know what you need to do here. I’d suggest being discrete about the watermark and hope for the best.

  11. Great post RC! While Scott shows in several of his books how to generate various watermarks, I’ve never been happy with the resulting degradation of the image. When I use watermarks I put them in one of the corners.

    The easiest way to grab an image off a screen, bypassing all the metadata effort, digital signature effort, etc. of the artist is to do a screen grab. As long as the grabber wants to use the image on a screen, the 72dpi resolution will not be a problem. No amount of metadata tagging or electronic signature will protect that image, nor disabling right-click. Metadata and signatures are embedded in the file but when you do a screen grab, you’re not downloading the file, your grabbing the visual rendering of that file.

    I was impressed by the examples on Tineye. With images increasingly being consumed on-screen (iPad anyone?) than on-paper, copyright will only protect you so far and only in the jurisdiction to which it applies. Try pursuing US copyright infringement against a non-domestic transgressor – an exercise in futility if ever there was one.

    As with digital music, those with a predisposition to pay for creative talent will pay and those with a predisposition to steal will steal (or ‘share’ in the popular euphamism for consuming copied digital content without paying the creator of said content).

    I’m not saying registering copyright and seeking to protect your right in your images is a bad thing. I’m just saying that the digital world makes protecting those rights ever harder.

    1. I will tell you that in the last few years I’ve collected several 5 figure settlements as a result of my work being infringed and my work being registered. Without registration, I would have collected maybe 5 cents rather than 5 figures- $$,$$$. It also helps to have a really good IP lawyer.
      When someone infringes my work, I hear bells going off in my head: ca-chingg.
      If it is a non-domestic infringement there are sometimes ways you can collect. The big mistake is to try and do it yourself rather than getting a lawyer. That’s a mistake even here in the US.
      I never ever contacted an infringer myself. Big mistake if you do. I always called my lawyer first thing and let him handle it all.
      BUT, and it’s a big but, all my work is registered.
      I do a job and I register it as it goes off to my client. It’s teh cost of doing business. Nothing gets posted anywhere to show anyone until it’s registered. That’s more important than any watermark, any metadata. Register your work.

  12. I have NEVER had a photo stolen by a genuine thief; i.e. someone with the knowledge to remove a watermark or someone who knew it was wrong to publish the image. However, many times well meaning but uninformed people and companies have used my images without permission. Every time it was because they gained access to a non watermarked image. Sometimes people have published (usually out of ignorance) large versions of a low resolution sample or proof image with embarrassing results when they credit me for the crappy image. There’s nothing quite like seeing your name below a newspaper’s feature spread and finding that someone took your image from a thumbnail version of the real thing.

    Furthermore, most of the bad experiences have been connected with people I know personally or companies I deal with. I register my images, but I doubt if I would haul a good client into Federal Court and ask for $150,000 because some intern made a stupid mistake. Usually sending a bill with a letter explaining the copyright laws does the trick.

    The best way I’ve found to avoid this kind of heartburn is to put big watermarks on images which are released to people other than the actual person who will do the printing for publication. Yeah, they’re ugly, but if an editor or client can’t overlook the watermark and realize the value of an image, they don’t deserve their job.

    My goal is to make good published images, not pretty proofs. The downside risk of having a crappy thumbnail published is not theoretical; it’s quit real and in my experience far more damaging than harm I’ve suffered from some sophisticated thief. Then, it might just be that my well meaning clients are too stupid.

    1. “Then, it might just be that my well meaning clients are too stupid.”

      Trust me, your clients are not stupid and it’s not done by interns.
      They are very sophisticated and continue to do so, because photographers send them bills for tiny amounts rather than sue them.
      When you talk with an IP lawyer liek Ed Greenberg, it opens your eyes as to what really goes on.
      Even newspapers (and Ed has sued and collected from many, many times) continue to rip off photos because what they pay unsophisticated photographers is peanuts. It’s cheaper for them in the long run to continue ripping off photographers because too few sue.
      Don’t get me started .

      1. After seeing you guys on Photoshop User TV and Kelby Training, I have been in MANY an argument about image rights. One person told me that if I put it on the Web it’s understood that people can take it and use it! I always refer them to Kelby Training and your videos.

  13. My issue is Canadian copyright, which different than in the US. In Canada, copyright is yours once you create the work. However, for photographers being the author and owner are 2 different things. If the photos were comissioned by a 3rd party, then under the law the 3rd party owns the copright, not the photographer, unless you have agreed otherwise.A sharp client may know this and may not agree to waive their ownership.This is a huge sticking point with photographers in Canada as this is not the case for other artists. Still lots of lobbying to change it.

    Regarding registration, you cannot do a batch registration in Canada as you can in the US, accoring to our IP office. You have to register one image at a time, which seems silly if you have hundreds of photos from a shoot.

    Different countries, different rules.



  14. Just regarding a watermark as proof of copyright – am I missing something here? Is it just on the image as a deterrent? Surely, if you are shooting in RAW, the fact that you possess the raw file is proof enough that you own the image.

    You will never give the RAW file out on the web only a converted jpeg image. You can’t reverse engineer the raw file, as it actually contains more information than the jpeg. I wonder if anyone has tried to used this as proof that they created the file for copyright ownership?

    1. Great question. Also what of original scans of paintings with the date of the scan and date of backup of the scan eg on a DVD-R which cannot be changed after burning.

  15. Great post. I use a logo on my images that contains my name and website address but I am more than likely going to stop putting it on there. As you say, they will just crop it. That is exactly what I am going through right now. Two different places took one of my images, cropped my logo out of it, and used it in advertisements. The sad thing is that it is a pretty crappy photo that I never thought anyone would want to steal. Haha. The crappy thing is I had a copyright lawyer tell me that filing a federal lawsuit against them would cost close to $11k which I know I couldn’t get back from the offenders since they are both small time places.

    Like you said, they are going to do it one way or the other.

  16. I just read Ed and Jack’s “The Copyright Zone” article, titled “You Too Can Make No Money Working from Home!” in the March 2010 issue of PhotoshopUser.

    Since Jack has made a few comments to this post, could he and RC comment on utilizing Facebook and other social networking sites to encourage business (or just get noticed). In short, is there a way to take advantage of social networking, yet still be able to protect yourself?

  17. Wonderful post; it is wonderful to see another professional photographer pointing out how worthless and disfiguring watermarks actually are! To me, this has always been a running battle – and will always be a running battle – between the photographer and would-be thieves.

    An escalation in onerous copyright law only inconveniences the masses, technological obfuscation is trivially bypassed, outright litigation is expensive and simply not putting images online is defeatist, so maybe at the end of the day the only real solution is constant vigilance and embracing the fact that your images will be takes (and misused).

  18. Good discussion all! ..But one thing no one has brought up is INTENT! Company’s, infringers, thieves, whatever you want to call them will say ..” i didn’t know about copyright or that he had a copyright, or I didn’t know about METADATA! My lawyer and others I have consulted (Has it changed?) have said that the actual “act” to change your watermark or metadata by photoshop or cropping shows WILLFUL INTENT to steal! This actually I believe will bring you even a bigger and more definitive judgement. It is that very act of taking that “ugly” but very powerful watermark off that shows a court the complete arrogance and CRIMINAL intent of the infringer. As one poster put…any good art director or designer can see thru a watermark to see wether the work is good or not! Let me also say that anyone thinking that copyright law is just “trivial” (***earlier poster, see below) is probably not making a living at photography…this is how I feed my kids. It’s not trivial to try and stop UNAUTHORIZED use.

    *** (An escalation in onerous copyright law only inconveniences the masses, technological obfuscation is trivially bypassed, outright litigation is expensive and simply not putting images online is defeatist, so maybe at the end of the day the only real solution is constant vigilance and embracing the fact that your images will be takes (and misused).)

  19. yeah this whole watermark removal with content-aware filling made me come up with a question (or an idea…)
    as an astrophotographer i deal with a lot of photos with heavy noise all over (mostly chrominance (or color) noise. luminances are just not a big problem).
    so i was wondering, if we made a good selection out of the noise, are we able to use content-aware filling to remove noise?

  20. “Disable the right-click, throw it in Flash, doesn’t matter what you do, given enough time there’s a hack to get your images.”

    Not even this works, for example with a Mac, all you have to do is use Preview, select Image grab, and it automatically creates a tiff file… so not even Flash images are safe!

    As a Canadian with inadequate copyright legislation, I sympathize with fellow Canadian Darren C above in his comments about protecting pirated images. But here’s the rub. Let’s say I discover some US mag has indeed pilfered one of my travel images. I can send them a letter demanding payment, and they can just ignore me.

    So what’s the next step? Probably an official lawyers letter… ka ching ka ching… $ to pay. If that doesn’t solicit a response, next is to go and sue da basterds! More lawyers fees… upfront I might add, as they certainly won’t do this pro bono.

    Then there will be the protracted delays, and if some big news organization, or regional paper decides to fight it… more costs involved. Forget about small claims court like we have here in Canada. Although we can make claims up to $7,000 – imagine trying to subpoena someone in Austin Texas!

    The best remedy is probably to keep web posted images under 800px on the long side @ 72ppi. Some fellow pro’s say not more than 500px. That way if someone does pirate your srgb jpeg images, at least they will look like crap if they try to upsize them!

    My two Canadian cents.

    Frederic in Montreal.

    PS I place copyright on all my posted images, though its usually artfully placed, and additionally, copyright and contact info in the IPTC file.

  21. I give a disk of web sized images not suitable for printing to some clients, these images have my Kevin Russo Photography printed on the bottom, These images end up on various web sites through out the internet, Modeling Sites, Net working sites, etc.

    For me it’s advertising, and it works. I have had enough calls stating” I saw your image on __________ and I really it, can I make an appointment with you?

    So for me it has nothing to do with copyright it’s about advertising.

    Kevin Russo Photographer

  22. Watermarking certainly has it’s place but as a deterrent for serious thieves it’s only an inconvenience if you want to leave the image viewable. Where it works is
    Event Photography where you’ve got to post a large number of shots and many of the potential clients are cheapskates – at least having an unmissable watermark shows them up for what they are if they try to use the proof!
    As someone mentioned above: sending low res versions for publication review often results in the editor just using the copy you submitted but is less likely if it carries a big notice saying “Low Res For Review Only” watermark (although I’ve had that happen to me before now – how do these people keep their jobs??)
    Copyright in the UK doesn’t require registration and with that comes the burden of proof issue. For very important cases (and not just photographs) send yourself a copy by mail and keep it sealed to establish a date of origination.
    Usually big companies that use your work without permission pay up when faced with the facts as the costs are small compared with the possible negative publicity. I once had the Design Director of a major UK retail chain try to tell me we were lucky they’d chosen (read, copy) our design to front their Autumn window campaign! The MD was somewhat more realistic and settled immediately: a good price for a job I could never have sold in!
    Copyright in Thailand where I now live is a non-existent concept unless you’re prepared to enforce it with ……er..force.

  23. I had a teacher in highschool who used to say a lock is ment to keep an honest man honest.  If someone wanted to brake into your house they will.  Same holds true for watermaks, that watermark will keep an honest man honest.  However, there are many people who see your watermark as a challange.

  24. While I agree almost 100%, I have started adding what I think is a subtle watermark, actually my branding logo, to the small versions that I share on photo sharing sites. I am not doing this to “protect” anything but more as a means of branding, my images are all registered with the copyright office and that watermark has nothing to do with that.

    I have found that once an image is shared a couple times beyond my site, or a site that has my name on it, there becomes no way for the viewer to find me, if they want to. Since I started this, or seems to have worked as I have gotten email and social media contact from people who say that they found me through a shared image and used my watermarked name to find me.

  25. As someone whose work has been stolen since 1976 (ppl merely set a mag on a copy stand and photographed it), and no one has EVER objected to my posting or they using on their Facebook, website, myspace my watermarked images … Total folly to tell photographers to stop watermarking.

    It’s GREAT viral marketing! People are so glad to find me, whether to say thanks for all the great photos, didn’t know one LA woman took them, or to license or buy a print. You can talk all you want about it … but people are genuinely appreciative I post so many photos and apologetic when they use non-watermarked images. That’s the public.

    As for the media companies, they pay up, although not as much as if I registered it. But with the amount of photos I’ve taken, and keep scanning my old punk pix, if I were to register all the time, I’d go broke. Unless I get a case where someone pays a lotta money.

    Most ppl don’t bother removing the watermark. They rather find another image. And yes, they will print a low res image cos they really don’t see the dif between 72 dpi and 150-300 dpi. I’m sure all of us have seen images printed like that.

    Talk all you want about the dangers of watermarking. In my life, it’s only a benefit.

    Finally, did anyone ever say to Van Gogh or Picasso, don’t sign your paintings? Never.

  26. I used to use your Watermark Creator extension in Photoshop CS5 but had a disk crash and installed Photoshop CS6 to my new hard drive. I’m missing the Watermark Creator now! Is there a download available? I tried finding it on the web, but the version I found installed blurry and did not function.

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