Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019 - Change your camera's copyright notice!

Copyright? Happy New Year.

It's January 1st, time to reset the copyright notice in your camera to reflect the new year. Make sure your 2019 images 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. By the time you read this article, each of my cameras will have been reset so that they will insert the following copyright and use statement into every image I make with them:
“Copyright © 2019 NSL Photography. All Rights Reserved.”
If you haven't been inserting your copyright notice in your images to protect them, I suggest you consider beginning the practice today.

I'm often asked the question when I run workshops, or anytime I'm talking photography with enthusiasts, “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.”

To start, let's be clear. Every time any person presses the shutter release on their camera to make a photograph, the image is immediately, legally copyrighted.

Use copyright to protect the value of your images:

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.

Use copyright to protect your control of your images:

How would you feel if your photos were copied from your gallery or social media and used as part of an email, newspaper, magazine or web page advertisement for business services, or products, without your permission, without attribution, or possibly credit given to someone else? How about if one of your photos is used to advertise a product that you don't like, is morally aberrant to you or that you think is dangerous?

I have two examples to share about copyright theft that will illustrate the importance of controlling ones work. In one instance it was theft for profit, in the other it was theft for political gain.

Copyright theft for profit:

I have a friend who's a marvelous amateur wildlife photographer. She makes stunning bird and animal photographs. Much to her dismay, she found out that that some of her images posted to her online gallery for friends and family were stolen by a private wildlife sanctuary business. Without notification, her permission and offering no compensation, the company secretly screen captured a few of her best wildlife photographs to use in their email newsletters and on their website to attract customers.

A friend who happened upon the website displaying them, recognized one of the images, was surprised there was no attribution and called her to ask how much the company paid her to use it.
Some might not care, but she did. She had a right to be angry. That business literally stole her hard work, born of her time, expertise and talent. They were making a profit from her work and offered her nothing to use it.

Don't think this doesn't happen often. I assure you it happens daily. Thousands and thousands of people troll the Internet for images. Some will offer to pay for photos, but apparently most just steal them.

My friend availed herself of the protections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and eventually was paid for the images.

Copyright theft for political gain:

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 due to 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, or perhaps you agree with the group who opposes same-sex marriage, but that's not the point.

How would you feel if one of your “family” images, an image of one of your children perhaps, was used by a business, organization or person to tout something you've fought your whole life against, or market an individual or organization that you find reprehensible?

First line of protection:

I believe it's extremely worthwhile for all photographers, amateurs and professionals alike, to protect their images' copyright. The initial protection all should use is to insert 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.”
I also 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!

(This is an updated article of my 2018 article about changing your camera's copyright notice.)


Frank-NYC said...

You finally convinced me. I updated my camera when I got up this morning. Thanks.

George said...

Thanks for the reminder Ned

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