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Photo management

Image copyright: How it works and what to look out for

by Canto  |  November 13, 2020

3 min. read
A copyrighted screen.

Understand your digital rights and protect images against improper copyright use. Restricting unsolicited usage of your content is increasingly important in the online space. Take legal measures and add protection to your images.

Here’s a guide on how to keep your work safe, and some insightful tips on how to add extra security.

Copyright and image protection

Registered copyright protects the creation of anything considered original and formed by a person’s intellect. It safeguards against the reuse or duplication of an image without consent being given by a person or organization. Once an image is created it belongs to an individual like a photographer or content creator. Take steps to further protect your work with copyright that provides you with legal assurances. Learn the steps that can be taken to ensure your creative work is legally protected.

Here are five copyright benefits to keep in mind:

  • Reuse and reproduce on your terms
  • Create derivatives based on an original image
  • Ensure financial compensation for permissions or infringements
  • Control public display options
  • Own images and retain exclusivity
an exclamation mark
Take precautions to protect your images.

How copyright works

If you create an image you own the copyright. If an employee or freelancer is creating on behalf of an organization anything produced will legally remain with the employer. Government recognized copyright registration can be made by anyone who has created an image. Registration adds protection and secures the value of your images. Infringements made by an external user without permission is prohibited. Copyright makes the legality and ownership public, traceable and written in law.

Benefits of Copyright Registration:

  • Protect against the importation of works through U.S. Customs
  • Sue copyright violators in a federal court (U.S.A)
  • Increase visibility through public records of ownership

Keep in mind there is a fee for registration.

keyboard and copyright infringement form
Make sure to place digital logos of copyright onto your images.

Watermarked images

A digital watermark is a logo, text or pattern that can be installed invisibly to an image to validate ownership. A watermark can consist of a person’s name, company or logo. How you choose to use it is up to you. This is a simpler process than going through copyright registration as you can do it on your own.

Pros of Watermarking:

  • Acts as a deterrent to the theft of intellectual property
  • Track and trace capabilities
  • Increase visibility to help with branding

Cons of Watermarking:

  • Watermarks can sometimes be removed by third-party users
  • Lacks legal strength associated with government based copyright
  • Visible watermarks can be a total distraction

Once watermarks are embedded the creator retains the option of sharing original images with whoever they like.

a copyright logo
Copyrights discourage theft.

Alternative solutions to copyright

Keep backups of the original images you create and be aware of the assistance available. Backups create a timeline and leave a digital signature. They also provide an identifiable source of creation.

Press kits are another way to provide users with legal access to your images in a manner that allows you to stay in control of who uses what and when. An added bonus is the chance it gives to grow brand identity through the reuse of logos and images via user-generated content posted online. This type of cooperation between users and organizations can act as a possible deterrent for misuse, and help with promotion.

If someone wants to reuse images from the internet, they are going to find a way to do so. Copyright protects you against misuse. Understand the options available and safeguard your financial returns. And keep in mind the lifecycle of copyright and the stature it holds in court when making decisions on how to keep your images safe.