WHY MY IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHT PROTECTED
Recently there was a great blog post on The Copyright Zone about posting your pictures to websites and instead of limiting their use, listing them as Creative Commons; you can read it here. The reason for the post was that a photographer had uploaded his images to Flickr and accepted the Creative Commons license. He later found that an image was being used on a map cover without his permission. However, by using Creative Commons he did grant his permission and lost in court.
As a photographer and graphic designer, all of my images have been registered with the US Copyright office; this protects me should someone use my image without paying me for that use. Over the years, I have been in many arguments about whether or not it’s necessary to register images. Many other photographers believe that you can list your images on a website and by simply saying that someone cannot use the image they’re protected. (This is true in part…you are granted a copyright as soon as you snap a picture, but if you haven’t registered it with the Copyright Office, the judge won’t hear your case.) Still, others have argued that listing your images as Creative Commons is for the good and that restricting your images is selfish and unfair.
Obviously, I disagree. I have been a photographer, off and on, for 30 years and I’ve paid a lot of money for cameras, tripods, flashes, magazines, classes, and conferences to improve my skills. I’ve been up late at night and up early in the morning to capture an image; there are far more images that no one other than myself have seen versus the number of images that I have made public. It has taken me years to learn Photoshop so that I could create believable digital composite images or digital composite artwork. To me, all these aspects are extremely valuable and have helped make me who I am today as a photographer and artist. I refuse to simply give up my images for free; in fact, I use a program called Digimarc that embeds a watermark and can be tracked even if the image has been cropped, this and registering my images with the Copyright Office protects me.
I would never ask a doctor to perform a service for free in exchange for me recommending them. Could you trust the work of a mechanic that you’ve asked to work on your car for free because they should take pride that when you drive your car down the street people will see his work? Photographers and Graphic Designers are skilled tradesmen and you should treat them with the respect that they deserve. And as photographers, you should not be posting your images with Creative Commons for the good of all mankind. You are only helping the big companies like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.