The question of watermarking my photography has been a debate raging in the back of my mind for about a year now. On the one hand, I want people to know I was the photographer who captured the image, but on the other, I think watermarks tend to distract from the image. Well, my mind has decided on a protocol for now: I will watermark all images I wish to sell as art, but those that I’m capturing for a client will remain unmarked such as a Portrait or Wedding.
The whole world of copyrighting really began in 1976 to protect creative intellectual work. Things like a Play, Performance, Book or Painting could be protected and ensure that the original author got the credit. Now that anyone with a smart phone and an App can share an image whether captured from a museum or on the bus, it’s incredibly hard to track who will see or use your image, or how they will use it. The Internet is a wonderful tool, but also a wild one: no one knows where your creations will reach or be used.
Chase Jarvis, photographer and creative entrepreneur, hosts a live-web based show where he covers topics from Portfolios to hosting successful Creatives. Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting in on the discussion for – The Evolution of Your Creative Rights – basically a panel talking about Creative Commons, Copyrightingand the Internet. This show helped me decide what and when I should use a watermark.
It all boiled down tot he fact that the world of creative rights is evolving and we don’t know where it’s going to end up. All we can do for our work is tell the world from the start how we want it to be used. Adding a watermark with copyright symbol clearly communicates that it’s ours and we want the credit for it. Now, not everyone will see this as a clear statement, and that’s where copyrighting should provide some help.
Creative Commons licensing is another way of clearly stating your intentions with your work: it’s a way to mark it for credit but share it freely. Many bloggers and businesses utilize this wealth of work instead of paying for stock photography or professional work. In my mind it’s a great solution for helping folks get their name out there and their work seen. The downside of course is that the market for commercial creatives is shrinking.
What about you? Do you copyright your work before you share it on the Internet? Do you repost or share the work of others without credit?
It’s a whole new frontier of creative license, and the government hasn’t caught up yet.