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fairweather friend
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PostMon Jun 08, 2020 5:55 pm 
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There are a number of photographers on this site who frequently post some really nice work.  Saleable work, IMO.  And while my work is not nearly as polished as what I've seen posted here, I'm pondering just how much I want to share with friends and the public at large.

Back in Feb-Mar (right before Covid went, well... viral), I led a 28-day private river trip down the Grand Canyon and I'm nearly finished post-processing those photos.  (It takes a while to edit 4,300+ images!)  And while I can't wait to share my photos with my group, I'm a little hesitant to toss out the link on Google Photos just to watch everyone copy my work onto their stupid FB pages and God knows where else.  (I once had a friend (a cop, no less) who treated any image he found on the internet as his own personal property, so I know how quickly this happens.... like instantly.)

So how do you do it?  How do you share your work with friends and the public and still protect it for possible sale?  Is it enough to just place your signature and copyright down in the corner or do you do anything else?  (post low-res thumbnails or ???)

Yeah, I know, probably nothing I shot is worth a dime, but let's just pretend for the sake of argument.

Thanks in advance,
fwf
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pcg
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PostMon Jun 08, 2020 8:10 pm 
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First, if you're really concerned that someone is going to steal your photo and make money with it, then you should register it at www.copyright.gov. A copyright symbol by your signature is meaningless and totally useless. You must go through the registration process and you must do it BEFORE you post the photos in a public venue. Once your photos are registered, if you find someone is using your photo to make money, then you can inform them they are violating a copyright and they must cease. If they refuse, there are plenty of lawyers who will take on your case pro bono because US copyright law is written such that photographers are well-protected. The law states that you are due not only financial damages but all court costs and lawyer fees.

Second, place your signature somewhere on the photo if you want. I don't, but some are very flamboyant about this. I've found that the vast majority of folks who grab my photos online also credit me as the photographer so my signature isn't necessary and I think a signature detracts from the photograph. I do sign prints in an inconspicuous manner.

Third, don't put hi-res versions in the public domain. Something like 2000x1500 is ample to look great on everyone's being displayed.

Fourth, you can use Google images to search the Internet and see where your photo is displayed.

Now, let's stop and think about this.
1) If someone uses your photos to make money in the U.S. then you are entitled to compensation and strong copyright law is in your favor.
2) If someone uses it, without permission, to decorate their website, blog, or whatever, without making any money... how have you been damaged? If you're credited as the photographer, or your signature is on there, then that's great marketing for your photography and you should be grateful for that. Even if they go to Fedex printing and make a poster for their wall, how have you been damaged? Believe me, people that do that aren't going to pay for a photograph anyway, so let them publicize your photography for you, for free.

I sell photos, both digital rights to use high-res photos for whatever purpose, and also prints. I am fortunate that some of my photos have made the rounds on the Internet in a modest fashion. In hundreds of instances, I'm credited as the photographer almost every time. I'm grateful for anyone who wants to "steal" one of my photos and put it online. Sales are directly proportional to marketing and this is great free marketing for me.

Too many people fret about this and imagine that somehow the are going to lose money they imagine they would otherwise make. It just isn't true. Folks who treat anything they find on the Internet as their own personal property are not making money off your photos. Be grateful for the free marketing and don't stress. wink.gif
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Malachai Constant
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PostMon Jun 08, 2020 9:03 pm 
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Excellent advice peg As a IP attorney I have been involved In many copyright cases. I also have relatives who are commercial photographers. What many folks do not understand is copyright protects against making a copy of your work, it does not cover the underlying material. Say you make a beautiful photo of Mount Baker with perfect framing and arrangement and no distracting artifacts. If you post that and someone copies it you have a case. If however they drive to the exact spot and take the same picture with an identical camera and settings you are SOL. Unfortunately, technology has made it much easier to make great landscape photo. You no longer need to master the zone system on a large format camera. Usually the most valuable photos capture a nonrepeatable instant or a unique artistic interpretation. Reputable commercial operations will pay rather than face a court fight if you can convince them that infringement took place,  but except on rare occasions the rewards will not be great. There are vast portfolios of clip art which sell cheap.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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fairweather friend
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PostTue Jun 09, 2020 7:52 am 
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pcg, thanks so much for explaining how you both promote and protect your work.  That really helped!  Out of 4300 images I shot on this trip, there are perhaps five or six that are unique and artistic enough that I'd bother to put my signature to.  The rest I am happy to share, though it's always nice to see when someone gives credit (attribution) where credit is due.
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