Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year - It's time to change the copyright notice in your camera!

Happy New Year. I hope it's a healthy and prosperous new year for you and your family.

It's January 1st so it's time to reset the copyright notice in your camera(s) to reflect the new year, so your 2016 images will have the correct information.

Most digital cameras today, can automatically insert your copyright notice into the metadata of every image you make as they are stored.

Each of my cameras will be reset on the upcoming new year's day morning to insert “Copyright © 2016 NSL Photography, All Rights Reserved” into every image I make.

If you haven't been inserting your copyright notice in your images, to date, to protect them, I suggest you consider start doing it today.

I'm often asked the question when I run workshops, or anytime I'm with enthusiasts and we're talking photography, “You're a pro, so I understand why you place your copyright on your photos, but why should I worry about it? I'm not selling my photographs, nor using them in my work.”

It's a great question.

For professional photographers, protecting one's copyright, by displaying its notice, and using various online photo protections is a “natural.” Clearly establishing their copyright, and protecting it, protects the “value” of their images.
While that's true, it's certainly not the only reason to protect images via copyrighting.
For me, control of my photographs is just as important as protecting their value. I believe the issues of how one's images are shown and used should be of concern to every photographer, professional and amateur alike, even “family snapshot photographers.”

I'm sure you feel great when you get positive comments about your photos shown-off in your online gallery, but how would you feel if your photos were copied from your gallery and used as part of an email, newspaper, magazine or web page advertisement for business services, or products, without your permission, and maybe with someone else taking credit for your photos?
So it's clear, every time a person, from professional photographers to family vacation snapshot shooters, presses the shutter release on their camera to make a photograph, the image is legally, immediately copyrighted.
Image theft is a major reason everyone should protect their copyright —

I have a friend who's a marvelous amateur wildlife photographer. She makes stunning bird and animal photographs, and posts them for her family and friends, and frankly anyone, to see online.
She found out that more than friends and family think her shots are great!

A private wildlife sanctuary business took a few of her photos and used them in their email newsletters and on their website, never asking permission to use them. They didn't even notify her they were using her images. She found out about the theft from a friend who happened on the website, recognized the images, and asked her how much they paid to use them.

Some might not care, but if it was me, having taken pains to get my exposure and framing right, be sure the color was spot on, and having spent valuable time to make them perfect during post processing in my computer, I'd be feeling at least a wee bit angry.

And she was rightly angry. Rather than pay someone to make photographs for their business, this company literally “stole” her images to make a profit from them, by driving customers to their business. She immediately availed herself of the protections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Don't think this doesn't happen often. I assure you, it happens daily. Thousands and thousands of people troll Flickr, Zenfolio, Smugmug and other photo hosting sites for images. Some will offer to pay for photos, or at least give credit for using them, but many just steal them.

Misuse of images, sometimes gross, outrageous misuse is another major reason everyone should protect their copyright

Professional photographer Kristina Hill of New York took an engagement photo of a same-sex couple holding hands while kissing. One of the men posted the photo on his blog. A group opposing same-sex marriage “stole” the image, altered it, and turned it into an anti-gay attack ad, specifically targeting a politician for her vote in support of same sex unions.
I bring this up, not as a same sex marriage, gay rights or political issue, but as a very serious issue of gross copyright infringement. For many, misuse is worse than outright theft.
You may think this is an extreme case, but would you feel the same if one of your “family” images, or an image of one of your children was used by a business or person of questionable reputation?

I believe it's extremely worthwhile for all photographers, amateurs and professionals alike, to protect their images' copyright, and the first protection to use is inserting your copyright notice into the metadata of each of your digital image files, automatically, if possible, via your digital camera.

Today, many digital cameras have a copyright notice entry item within their cameras' menu system. If so, enter your copyright notice there. If your camera doesn't have a specific copyright menu insert, it will most likely have a comment item insert in the menu system. In that case, enter your copyright notice there.

To learn how to format your notice, read the US Copyright Office's circular “Copyright Notice.”
Finally, I suggest putting a recurring entry into your appointment calendar for January 1st saying, “Reset camera copyright notice.”
Have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

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