Watermarking? Is it just digital graffiti?

flash

Veteran
Real Name
Gordon
I watermark my working images religiously, if they go on-line. And I'll keep doing so. Having a watermark is like having a bike lock. Sure they can still steal it, but they're just as likely to take another bike. One that's not locked.

Watermarks are ugly and detract greatly from any image I put them on and yes they can be removed. They're a neccessary evil for the working photographer. SOme of course don't. They may dislike them strongly enough or in the case of the cited Steve McCurry, the images are so well known that watermarking doesn't make any difference to them being recognised as the author of the work. My stuff isn't well known and I need/want the money they generate.

Mostly, the people who steal my images (on a monthly basis usually) don't have those skills. They're just reposted, watermark and all. It's usually the hairdressers and makeup artists at weddings who do it and they just take them from my Facebook page and put it on theirs. I do it because they're getting commercial use out of them and I'm going to get the credit. And in their minds they don't value images, even though they make money from them, enough to actually think about licencing them. But I get noticed by the brides and grooms that vivit their Facebook pages and websites. And yes I do get referrals from those.

The one's who do remove the watermark do actually know they're stealing. There's no blind ignorance there. I can find them. I often do and they get a rather large invoice, a letter from my lawyer and a pull down notice. We don't have any of the silly copyright registration laws that the US has. If you take one of my images without permission then you're open to all legal avenues. I rather enjoy the frantic phone calls telling me that I'm going to send them under or they thought it was OK because every one does it. Mostly I'll let them off and come to an arrangement. A couple of times I've collected on the invoice I've sent. I don't steal music, movies, images or software and running my puny little business is expensive. I don't have an employer supplying me with my gear, computers or an expenses account. If you want to benifit from my work then there's something in it for me, period.

I've had more than one instance where an ASX200 (equiv to the US Fortune 500) has used my images in both printed and on-line form. These are companies who turn over BILLIONS of dollars who have the same "it's alright to steal" culture as some recalcetrant teenager in a loft. When people are making money off your images it's alright to ask for compensation and it's allright to employ method to deter theft.

I'm not a fan of the "I can't stop it" or "I don't care" brigade. As far as I'm concerned those attitudes make it impossible for those that DO care. It aids in the creation of a culture where it's OK to be a theif. It's cool if you want your images shared, even for free. But I think you should clearly say so. Use the Creative Commons licence system to clearly explain that your images can be used. By not chasing theives you both empower them and passively support stealing. If all enthusiasts took advantage of whats available and clearly stated what usage they'll allow and then actually chased it up then all that would be left to steal would be millions of iPhone photos.

And if a watermark puts you off from looking at my images? To be perfectly honest I couldn't give a stuff. There's plenty of other works you can look at. I have a nice watermark free print on the wall at home for myself.

Gordon
 

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
watermarking is pointless and ugly and generally applied to images that no-one would want to steal,

At the point in which any of us becomes judge of another's work and whether or not it is 'worthy' of protecting or not we are subjecting ourselves to the same arbitrary judgement calls. If something is mine, or anyone else's for that matter, it is mine or theirs respectively and they have a right to protect it period. It is not our call to tell another person what of theirs is worthy of safekeeping and while the marks are ugly, even the professionals use them.

But wouldn't hiring a lawyer be something a bit more of a concrete thing to do, rather than a bunch of text, usually at the bottom of an image, which takes 5 seconds to clone over in PS? To me a watermark is akin to doing nothing to protect one's image. It just creates an illusion of having done something, and moreover ruins the image in the process.

You are correct in that if someone really wants your image they can try to photoshop that watermark away. There are other ways of less obviously leaving your identifying mark as well [see Zack Arias] and as you say, if you copyright an image or images properly then you should have little problem in seeking legal counsel and rewards in court should any situation go to that extreme.

I am trying to reach a level of humility, where none of this matters and I truly don't give a rat's if someone steals my stuff or not. But, like all of us here, no matter how much I try ... I am still a sinner, and one of those sins is self-importance. Tolerance and no watermarks will make this world a better place, open the door for world peace and would toss a chicken in every pot.

The world being a better place is supposed to begin with not stealing from others, not with accepting that others will steal from you and letting it go. There is accountability off the computer, there should be on it. Someone on facebook is not being starved out and in dire need of taking someone else's photo of a fire hydrant with flowers painted on it. When the world is a better place we will still sign our works so that others who want those kinds of works know it is us they need to find-- BUT the difference is we won't have to in order to protect those works. There is nothing wrong with being pleased with something you've created Gary.

If you've ever had an image misappropriated and won't get upset by some foul language you may be amused at a watermark I just added to an image of mine that has been making the rounds lately.... Penguins (or how my favorite shot in a long time still didn't save my day) | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Your watermark is hindsight hm? Sorry to hear that but I do like the photo and-- its message.

Having a watermark is like having a bike lock. Sure they can still steal it, but they're just as likely to take another bike. One that's not locked.

Watermarks are ugly and detract greatly from any image I put them on and yes they can be removed. They're a neccessary evil for the working photographer. SOme of course don't. They may dislike them strongly enough or in the case of the cited Steve McCurry, the images are so well known that watermarking doesn't make any difference to them being recognised as the author of the work. My stuff isn't well known and I need/want the money they generate.

Mostly, the people who steal my images (on a monthly basis usually) don't have those skills. They're just reposted, watermark and all. It's usually the hairdressers and makeup artists at weddings who do it and they just take them from my Facebook page and put it on theirs. I do it because they're getting commercial use out of them and I'm going to get the credit. And in their minds they don't value images, even though they make money from them, enough to actually think about licencing them. But I get noticed by the brides and grooms that vivit their Facebook pages and websites. And yes I do get referrals from those.

The one's who do remove the watermark do actually know they're stealing. There's no blind ignorance there. I can find them. I often do and they get a rather large invoice, a letter from my lawyer and a pull down notice. We don't have any of the silly copyright registration laws that the US has. If you take one of my images without permission then you're open to all legal avenues. I rather enjoy the frantic phone calls telling me that I'm going to send them under or they thought it was OK because every one does it. Mostly I'll let them off and come to an arrangement. A couple of times I've collected on the invoice I've sent. I don't steal music, movies, images or software and running my puny little business is expensive. I don't have an employer supplying me with my gear, computers or an expenses account. If you want to benifit from my work then there's something in it for me, period.

I've had more than one instance where an ASX200 (equiv to the US Fortune 500) has used my images in both printed and on-line form. These are companies who turn over BILLIONS of dollars who have the same "it's alright to steal" culture as some recalcetrant teenager in a loft. When people are making money off your images it's alright to ask for compensation and it's allright to employ method to deter theft.

I'm not a fan of the "I can't stop it" or "I don't care" brigade. As far as I'm concerned those attitudes make it impossible for those that DO care. It aids in the creation of a culture where it's OK to be a theif. It's cool if you want your images shared, even for free. But I think you should clearly say so. Use the Creative Commons licence system to clearly explain that your images can be used. By not chasing theives you both empower them and passively support stealing. If all enthusiasts took advantage of whats available and clearly stated what usage they'll allow and then actually chased it up then all that would be left to steal would be millions of iPhone photos.

And if a watermark puts you off from looking at my images? To be perfectly honest I couldn't give a stuff. There's plenty of other works you can look at. I have a nice watermark free print on the wall at home for myself.

Gordon

All well said--- I just like this post Gordon. :)

Kristen, I fully agree with you. Ultimately the watermark is a symptom, like locks of all kinds, of the larger problem of stealing.

That was the whole point of my response Dan, to draw attention to theft [the cause] rather than to dwell on the symptom [hideous watermarks] as well as suggest some understanding and tolerance of those who are only trying, even if in a weak way, to protect themselves. It shouldn't be a.. we don't watermark/you do thing. It's should be more of an.. it's sad that anyone feels they need to watermark thing. Because it really is.
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Real Name
Nic
The dichotomy of the internet.

On the one hand it is the most amazing platform for the free exchange of information, ideas, and content, and yet at the same time it provides the exposure that makes it possible to use that same platform to make money from selling information, ideas, and content.
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Real Name
bart
You are correct in that if someone really wants your image they can try to photoshop that watermark away. There are other ways of less obviously leaving your identifying mark as well [see Zack Arias] and as you say, if you copyright an image or images properly then you should have little problem in seeking legal counsel and rewards in court should any situation go to that extreme.
that's been my approach for a while now, although I'm still trying to find a happy medium between not obtrusive and completely invisible
 

Landshark

PhotoDog
Location
SoCal
Real Name
Bob
Even if the watermark is removed in Photoshop, by having it in the original image it helps to establish original ownership.
I have to say that the original post is a fairly ignorant statement from someone who does not make a living as a photographer.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many of my images are stolen, all the time. It is a sad statement of where we are at that respecting the work of others is held with such little regard. Why people feel comfortable stealing I have no explanation, other than they are without ethics and common thieves.
As to me I use to use watermarks on what I posted here and elsewhere, got so many complaints that I stopped and just lowered the resolution of the images before I post unhappily knowing full well that they may be stolen.
 

Pelao

All-Pro
Location
Ontario, Canada
Real Name
Stephen
Even if the watermark is removed in Photoshop, by having it in the original image it helps to establish original ownership.
I have to say that the original post is a fairly ignorant statement from someone who does not make a living as a photographer.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many of my images are stolen, all the time. It is a sad statement of where we are at that respecting the work of others is held with such little regard. Why people feel comfortable stealing I have no explanation, other than they are without ethics and common thieves.
As to me I use to use watermarks on what I posted here and elsewhere, got so many complaints that I stopped and just lowered the resolution of the images before I post unhappily knowing full well that they may be stolen.

I'm not sure I understand the motivation behind the original post, including the statement that photographs are not art. In the end it is an individual decision, and it certainly does not bother me when people choose not to use a watermark.
 

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
Even if the watermark is removed in Photoshop, by having it in the original image it helps to establish original ownership.
I have to say that the original post is a fairly ignorant statement from someone who does not make a living as a photographer.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many of my images are stolen, all the time. It is a sad statement of where we are at that respecting the work of others is held with such little regard. Why people feel comfortable stealing I have no explanation, other than they are without ethics and common thieves.
As to me I use to use watermarks on what I posted here and elsewhere, got so many complaints that I stopped and just lowered the resolution of the images before I post unhappily knowing full well that they may be stolen.

I'm not sure which is worse, my not posting anything anymore or your posting non-marked photos and being unhappy about it. It is unfortunate it has to be either way. I'm trying to find a non-invasive solution but haven't yet. Regardless of the money I don't make.. they are still my babies. I am curious though Bob, as a pro, do you have categories of photos that are each given their own level of value or importance as to how you safeguard them? For example, you probably take snapshots, you probably also have personal work and then you have your business. Do you feel less inclined to safeguard your snapshots [or maybe not even care about who reposts etc..] than say your personal work or are they all your babies held in equal regard? I am wondering if I should be viewing things in levels as to their importance or value to me. I somewhat have been. Anything I have done that I feel is amazing I just don't post online. A shame really because I look like such a prat with what I do share.
 

Landshark

PhotoDog
Location
SoCal
Real Name
Bob
Kristen, you are right it is sad that we even half to concern ourselves with this issue, But to answer your question
I would put me work in four areas, happy snap images things I put on Facebook, are posted without thinking about where they end up, images I post on sites like this I just reduce file size and hope for the best, my work images, I have had so many images stolen for so long, even way before the internet . I used to go to a magazine rack and stare at some cover of whomever, knowing it was my shot, just somehoe altered and then realizing that someone had changed the dress color, so they could sell it as their own. A number of photo agencies used to be just photo “crime” rings. Anyway today some are pursued in court but most just live on, and on all over, finally my personal work only gets shown in person and rarely gets posted on the internet
 

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
It would seem then I am doing similarly, the 'I don't care have a look at this stuff' photos, the small 500px low res stuff I kinda care about and the stuff I will not put online at all. I don't have a pro folio.Thanks Bob.
 

Pelao

All-Pro
Location
Ontario, Canada
Real Name
Stephen
It would seem then I am doing similarly, the 'I don't care have a look at this stuff' photos, the small 500px low res stuff I kinda care about and the stuff I will not put online at all.

I sense there are quite a few who take pretty much the same approach.
 
I was working a motorcycle show when a guy walked up to me and handed me a small brochure for his local BMW riding club. It had one of my photos on the front. I say, "Hey, that's my photo." He say, "No, one of the guys in the club took the shot." When he wanders off, I bring up my photo on my iPad. Sure enough, the branches and pebbles on the road are an exact match.

I go home and start Googling (Google Images, click the camera icon and upload your own photo) and find over 30 cases of the photo being stolen without my permission. All over the world. Not just individuals looking to win an online photo contest (for real), but charities and for-profit companies. One company even used it on a Facebook inspirational poster and got over a thousand likes and hundreds of shares.

After all of this, it's the one image I have online with a watermark.

603319030_1c9199141f_z.jpg


Good luck cloning it out.
 

Gary

All-Pro
Location
Southern California
Real Name
Gary Ayala
LOL ... Inspired by your instructions for tracking images ... I toss a few of my images in Googles and discovered I've won a few photo contests, most recently with this image:

IMG1934.jpg


with correct attribution and all.

Gary
 

flash

Veteran
Real Name
Gordon
My personal favourite was the call i got from a printers graphic artist asking for the high res version of a photo stolen and used by a large firm in a brochure. It seems that the printers designer found me through the copyright exif info in the low res file. Too bad the companies designer hadn't thought of that.

I made quite a lot of money that day. Several times what I would have if they'd just licensed the thing in the first place.

Gordon
 

Latest threads

Top Bottom