Copyright Laws

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Copyright Laws

Should you copyright your digital creations, your work? This is something that has come up in many different discussions. You just created a brand new design in Photoshop, or you took some great pictures and you now want to display them on the internet, do you want to protect how the items are used. Her are some links to copyright information and laws in the United States.

What do you think? What the laws in your country?

Law and Regulations



Copyright Law in the United States

Copyright Basics: What is Copyright Law?

Copyright Law & Public Domain

Curious if anyone's actually gone the full legal copyright route! Was it worth it? Do you think it's helped your business? (My business is still in its first year, so this isn't something I've looked into yet, though it's crossed my mind.)

I do watermark the designs I sell (much as I HATE to do it, I know it's the smart thing to do), and I've been trying to post clearer terms of use to the various places my work is scattered around the internet...though for the most part, I just accept people are going to snag whatever images they find. Credit's lovely, but as long as it's personal use or reposting to a tumblr etc, it doesn't bother me, as I spent my earlier years on the internet doing the same. smiley (I also figure those fall under fair use, which, as someone who spent a childhood copying songs to/from cassette tapes, is a concept I'm pretty attached to, lol!)

Melissa your post reminded me of something that I tell students in reference to taking and using items from the web.

A man traveled to Australia and took pictures. He placed his pictures on a site that displays pictures, but clearly stated they were copyrighted and not for sharing without expressed written consent. One day while surfing on the web he saw one of his pictures used in an add for an Australian travel agency. He sent them notice to remove the picture. That they were violating copyright laws and to remove the picture. They did not respond and did not remove the picture.

So he sued them. He won and the travel agency was out a large sum of money. Their response was that they did not know where the picture came from. But the may was able to prove it was his. This is an example of how it could hurt ones business.

Another example of placing your pictures out there is that there was a couple traveling abroad. They saw a picture in a store window of a family. The family was of their friends and neighbor from home. Upon getting home they told their friend about the picture. The picture was on a photo share site. It was marked private. So how did the store get their picture. They are not sure, but it was removed with letters of appologies.

This is exactly the reason why I removed my Instagram account and have no photos on my Facebook. When you place your photos on a photo sharing site like Instagram they are not your images anymore. At least not according to Instagram's and FaceBook policies.

Instagram changed the wording on their policies after public outcry where it became obvious that they could sell access to the public photos at third parties like in Judy's case a travel site and than Travel site would be in it's full right to use your photos in their advertisements. Because you agreed to Instagram's policies. Who reads those policies when you join a site right? You're waiting for your registration to finish and you are yeah yeah sure, now lets get on with it. But you really should take the time to read through these policies to know what you are signing away.

Suppose you have a very cute baby, well all babies are cute, but this is exceptional cute and you take exceptional cute photos, you're really proud of them. You even developed a watermark and a copyright notice. Than there is this baby food or clothing or whatever baby company who needs some cheap baby photos. Why pay for a model and shoots etc if they can pay Facebook(the owner of Instagram) and have access to thousands of baby photos?
No matter is you copyrighted the photos or not you agreed with their policies which gives them the right to use your photos for advertisement purposes. They argue and rightly so, that if you do not want your photos to become public you should have kept them private.

I could not agree with their policy and closed my Instagram account and removed my photos from Facebook. I can still share my photos with my friends and family just not through their money-hungry websites.

I'm fully aware that any photos I place online could, in theory, be stolen and used elsewhere. Which is why, as much as I'd love to trust in the inherent goodness of people (because 99% of people are, in fact, good!), I do watermark anything I intend to make money with. While I will occasionally see people re-purposing images containing a watermark, it's very rare, and it makes them look sketchy as all get-out. (I'm aware watermarks can be removed - I often did in school for personal-use projects - but it takes SO much time to do it well, that buying a stock image would be way cheaper!)

It *does* tick me off when I hear of cases of a company using someone's images without permission...on the other hand, it's comparatively rare, and once it gets out that's what they've done, it damages their reputation. (Not only because it's mean, but, talk about lazy design work!!!) I'm not naive that it *can't* happen, but it's a small risk I'm willing to take, trusting that if things do go wrong, justice/karma will be on my side in the end.

There's been a LOT of debate lately about the policies of websites like Instagram and Facebook... my own take is, they're giving me a free service, it's my own choice to upload photos, and, hey, if my face appears in an ad, yeah it sucks that they wouldn't ask first, but on the other hand...I'm famous! smiley (As far as I'm aware, no service will currently sell your images to another company for use in ads (even Instagram didn't technically say that's what they were going to do, though it was one interpretation of their temporary TOU) - though they may feature your content in their own ads. Which, again, it was my choice to "give" them.)

At the end of the day, I've reached a personal decision that I don't want to live my life being so paranoid that I'm unable to share pretty things with the people around me. But, with my supergeek-husband on the completely opposite end of the privacy/security debate (not even Google, whom we both trust, has his real name!), I *completely* understand why others may choose differently! It's definitely something everyone should carefully consider for themselves and their own situation, which I wish more people took the time to do.

Side note: I'd be so darn happy if the general public stopped assuming that Google image search results are essentially public domain (no, I cannot put a character from DISNEY'S "Cars" on your business card!)...but what can you do. smiley

My husband and I both majored in Media Arts, so we took part in a lot of discussion about the internet, copyright, all of these things, around 2002-2006 (which sounds recent, but, Twitter didn't exist, and Google Maps was still in development!). So it's been really, really fascinating to watch the Internet "grow up" and start to wrestle more actively with all of these things that we'd discussed in an academic context - and while he and I frequently chat about it, and he's tuned into the techier side of the internet, I'm really interested to hear views from..uh, more "normal" people than we are?? smiley