Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year 2020 - Change your camera's copyright notice!

Happy New Year. I hope it's a happy and healthy year for you!

It's January 1, 2020. That means we may or may not be starting a new decade.

While it may look obvious that a new decade has begun, if we're consistent within our Gregorian calendar counting, we'll have to wait another year before that happens.

There's confusion about when decades start because Pope Gregory XIII, who in 1582 introduced the calendar most of the world uses, didn't start the calendar with year “0,” but started it with year “1.” In fact, in the Gregorian calendar, there is no year “zero.” From the year 1 BCE (formerly BC), the calendar goes to 1 CE (formerly AD).

Therefore, when a new century or millennia starts, it begins on a year that ends with a “1,” not a “0.” So, to be consistent, new decades should really start with a “1” too, but since we talk about decades belonging to teens, twenties, thirties, forties, etc., most people have gotten used to thinking decades start with the year at “0.”

It's time to reset your camera's copyright notice

Regardless of whether or not today starts a new decade, it does start a new year. That means it's time to reset the copyright notice in your camera to reflect the new year. Make sure your 2020 images have the correct metadata information embedded in them.

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 notice into every image I make:

“Copyright © 2020 NSL Photography. All Rights Reserved.”

Why should you worry about copyright and copyright notices

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 copyright is important to you, but why should I worry about it? I'm not selling my photographs.”

For professional photographers, protecting the value of their images is clearly important, but maybe it should be a concern for all photographers. 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 or attribution? How would you like it if credit for your photo was given to someone else?

In addition to helping photographers protect the “value” of their images, Copyright law also allows photographers to maintain control of the use of their images. I believe that is of great importance for every photographer, pro and amateur alike. How would you feel if one of your photos was used without your permission to advertise a product or service or promote a person that is dangerous, that you don't like, or is morally repugnant to you?

Here are two real world examples that illustrate the importance copyright in maintaining control of one's work. One has to do with profit and the other, politics and political gain.

Over 2.5 billion online images are stolen every day

Copyright theft for profit:A friend of mine is a marvelous amateur wildlife photographer. Much to her dismay, she found out that that some of her online images were being used by a for-profit private wildlife preserve without her knowledge. The company secretly screen captured a few of her best wildlife photographs. They used them commercially on their website and in their newsletters to attract customers.

The business literally stole her hard work, only made possible by her expertise, talent and effort. They were making a profit from her work and offered her nothing for its use, neither compensation or even attribution.

This kind of unbridled theft happens daily. Hundreds of thousands of people troll the Internet for images. Some will offer to pay for photos, but apparently most just steal them. According to Copytrack more than 2.5 billion online images are stolen every day, with almost 49% used on commercial websites.

My friend availed herself of the protections of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. With persistence was eventually paid for the images' use.

Stolen images are regularly used in ways that violate the photographer's ethical standards

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?

Metadata copyright notices are photographers' first line of protection

If you believe your images have value and/or desire to maintain control of their use, you need to protect your images' copyright. The first thing you should do is insert your copyright notice into the metadata of each of your digital image files, automatically, if possible, via your digital camera.

Many digital cameras have a menu item to insert your copyright notice into each image made in the camera. If so, use it. If your camera doesn't have that choice, it most likely has a comment insertion menu choice. In that case, enter your copyright notice as a comment. 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 great new year.

1 comment:

Ellie-Dallas said... took your similar article last and this, and a friend having an image stolen that was used by white nationals to convince me. I'm inserting my copyright notice via the camera and on all my images. I'm even registering my photos that aren't of friends and family that I put on the Internet.

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