Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Copyright In The Digital Age
Know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to the usage of your photographs
Safeguarding A Web Presence
While print media (magazines, brochures, catalogs) is a major consumer of images, the Web has increasingly become a large market for photographs. Its existence also has made it one of the easiest ways to acquire an image without authorization.
Search engines such as Google and Yahoo offer features that allow users to find virtually any type of photographic image in seconds. A user then can easily right-click on an image and download it to his or her computer and incorporate it into the design of a Website or brochure. The sense that the Internet is a “free space” makes some people assume that the content on the Web is or should be available without due payment to the originator of the art.
In January 2005, the SAA released the initial results of a report to determine incidents of misuse of their members' images. Working in conjunction with PicScout, a software company that has developed an Image Tracker system that compared SAA photographers' images with commercial Websites in North America and Germany, a sample of 20,000 rights-managed images was provided to PicScout. The initial results found that images were being misused at 11 times more hits than what PicScout commonly sees with a wide range of other agency/distributor clients.
“Though it was a very small sample, we feel very confident that it revealed the level of infringement,” says SAA's Reid. “We chose images that we knew hadn't been licensed for Web usage in the past year. So it was a very pure sample.”
Reid explains that such discoveries should be seen as something greater than a reason to recoup fees. “There's an opportunity there,” she continues. “It's not just about hand-slapping. We're trying to change habits and increase awareness.”
According to Reid, there were numerous cases where the problems were a result of an existing client's bookkeeping errors or lack of awareness of a rights-managed license. “There can be just a general air of confusion because digital files are flying around so quickly. People, either through ignorance or intentional malintent, are pirating images, basically not respecting the value of copyright. Yet I believe that many of those could prove to be potentially great clients. I've been hearing from the stock distributors in general that they will make the effort to try and convert someone into a paying customer. The happy ending would be to be paid for what belongs to us.”
The Web is the ideal venue to display your imagery to a broad audience, but once your photographs are posted, they can be easily downloaded with the click of a mouse by anyone. Protecting your copyright is something every pro should be doing because if you don't make the effort, you could find yourself facing a judgment of copyright forfeiture in a courtroom.
Reduce The Risk Of Placing Your Images On The Web
The immediacy of the Internet provides clients with the opportunity to quickly view your best work. Such access makes it easier to download and use your copyrighted photographs without permission, however. Although low-resolution images posted on a Website aren't of sufficient quality for most print work, they still can be used on the Web or even in a short-run brochure. To safeguard your copyright, there are several software titles that will make such use more difficult.
Digimarc MyPictureMarc 2005
Photoshop includes a Digimarc filter that introduces a watermark to an image as noise. Different levels of durability will increase or decrease the quality of the image. The nearly invisible watermark survives most typical image edits and file format conversions. Its full functionality is provided by subscription to Digimarc's MyPictureMarc 2005 service. Depending on the level of service, features can include online image backup and image tracking. List Price: $49 to $499. Contact: Digimarc, (800) 344-4627, www.digimarc.com.
Script Software iWatermark
iWatermark 2.0 makes it easy to create visible watermarks on individual or groupings of images on both Windows and Mac platforms. User-customizable logos or signatures can be superimposed at different locations or opacities, making it difficult to edit out the watermark. List Price: $20. Contact: Script Software, www.scriptsoftware.com/iwatermark.
ArtistScope Secure Image Pro
Besides reducing an image's resolution and watermarking, disabling a user's ability to click and download an image from a Website is another way to protect your images. Secure Image Pro 4.0 disables “right-clicking” on images on a Web page, preventing the copying or downloading of an image file. The software includes batch processing and supports distribution on CD. It also prevents against unauthorized linking of your images to blogs or other sites. List Price: $85. Contact: ArtistScope, www.artistscope.com.
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