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Watermarking? Is it just digital graffiti?

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
Dec 6, 2011
123
You would think that with all their access to wood they could take their own photo.. particularly in Kentucky!
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
You would think that with all their access to wood they could take their own photo.. particularly in Kentucky!
right! Last time I was there, the state was just LITTERED with one beautiful horse farm after another. I'm sure they could get exactly the same shot (or a better one!) on their drive to work every day. I guess that's why they think that it's free ;)
 

Boid

All-Pro
Dec 15, 2011
123
Bangalore, India
Rajiv
First Magnum has team of Lawyers, something the average working photographer does not have at the ready all the time, they let the little stuff go but do chase down commercial users. Most everyone including Magnum who makes a living creating and selling images has lost money because of image theft. As I said before, my images were stolen way before the internet, theft is the problem.
Yes, but they quit using watermarks because they must have felt they were ineffective. Which is what my point was.

Secondly If you read what I posted I never said watermarking stopped anything, I said it helps to establish a timeline of ownership. Also not all of the thieves have the photoshop skills to remove it and they may decide to just leave it.
You don't even believe that watermarks are particularly effective as a deterrent to thievery and yet here you are arguing in its favor. What on earth are you talking about? What timelines?

Third your logic chain is weak and full of gaps and jumps to attempt to support your agenda on the subject.
Agenda??? I'm not sure what you think my agenda is here. Maybe you think that my 'agenda' here is to stop everyone from watermarking their image, so that I could steal all the photographs in the world and pass them off as my own? Ha! Agenda indeed.

Your solutions are weak and naive. One thing you are right about, watermarks are a weak solution, but yours are no better.
I don't see you offering any solutions either, apart from accepting that watermarking is probably not one of them. On your website you don't seem to have any pictures watermarked either. So I'm not sure if you're just 'talking' here.

As for the solutions I offered, it has mostly to do with recognizing the nature of sharing which being on the internet necessitates. If you don't understand the medium, you'll have a bad time.

Because one photographer decides to give away images to market themselves does not mean it would or could for work everyone else. Great logic here all photography for free because it is not "art". It belongs to the world.
This was one example I offered. I'm certainly not advocating that everyone follow this. I will start a separate thread on photography vs art, and we could examine it in greater detail. It contributes nothing to this particular discussion apart from allowing people to make facetious statements.

Or the other example we should all teach because photo skills belong to the world.
And here another silly response to a serious suggestion. I was advocating and pointing out ways in which an established photographer could gain more visibility by sharing what he knows. In today's 'internet' world, it has become that much easier to reach out to a large number of people through say, a video tutorial or a website. It also has to do a lot with cultivating a future audience. Especially the younger generation, who probably knows nothing about your skills.

What do you do to make a living because it is for sure not photogrphy.
You're right. I don't make my living off photography. I do work in the creative field though, and I do have a substantial portion of my contracts talking about copyright and ownership, which I strictly enforce.

Do you also enjoy stolen music, books and films. It's ok because they are not "art" either
I resent your accusation that I might enjoy stealing music, books and film just because I happen to find watermarks on images unsightly. This statement more than any appropriated my initial response to your post.
 

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
Dec 6, 2011
123
right! Last time I was there, the state was just LITTERED with one beautiful horse farm after another. I'm sure they could get exactly the same shot (or a better one!) on their drive to work every day. I guess that's why they think that it's free ;)
Makes you wonder if they shot their own wood piles too.. hm..
 

Gary

All-Pro
Aug 19, 2012
123
Southern California
Gary Ayala
I would imagine all 100% of the people on this forum would be against stealing. What makes you doubt the 1%?
The absolute lack of vetting by the site. Sorta like the ol' Groucho Marx statement of "... I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me …". If I'm here, lord only knows what other sorts are here. So I left the 1% to cover the exceptions.

G
 

Gary

All-Pro
Aug 19, 2012
123
Southern California
Gary Ayala
Boy, that Google image search is fascinating. I just found a business that is using an image of mine to sell wood flooring. Does anyone have any generic invoices already made up. I'll love to send them one.

Because I'm not a commercial photographer, I don't think of things in these terms. I shoot photos to enjoy and share with others. But this business exists to make money, and a budget for photos for advertising should be part of that. Here's the website...... HOME and my photo on flickr
View attachment 60098
horse jump and fence by Lukinosity, on Flickr
Luke,

If you have a friend that's an attorney, a letter from an attorney will probably go a long way as opposed to you claiming it's your property.

G
 

john m flores

All-Pro
Aug 13, 2012
124
PS- Being handed the brochure must have surprised the hell out of you. How pleasant was your confrontation? Your story is very entertaining.

Thanks,
Gary
I was shocked, to be honest. I was there representing a magazine that I write and photograph for and the person that handed me the brochure held a fundraiser when the publisher's husband passed away, so I felt like I couldn't just go after him with hammer and tongs.


Boy, that Google image search is fascinating. I just found a business that is using an image of mine to sell wood flooring. Does anyone have any generic invoices already made up. I'll love to send them one.

Because I'm not a commercial photographer, I don't think of things in these terms. I shoot photos to enjoy and share with others. But this business exists to make money, and a budget for photos for advertising should be part of that. Here's the website...... HOME and my photo on flickr
View attachment 60100
horse jump and fence by Lukinosity, on Flickr

With other companies I've confronted, they claimed ignorance and threw the designer under the bus saying, "the web designer did it!" That may very well be true, but that makes it doubly sad that a creative "professional" would steal from a peer.

Another company said (I'm paraphrasing here) "I found it on Google and Google didn't say that I couldn't use it."
 

pdh

Legend
Jan 2, 2011
123
it's funny, but as someone in the comments there points out, he's appropriated and altered the images without permission ... a nice irony
 

Boid

All-Pro
Dec 15, 2011
123
Bangalore, India
Rajiv
it's funny, but as someone in the comments there points out, he's appropriated and altered the images without permission ... a nice irony
As someone else pointed out in the comments, critiques and editorial use are considered fair use.

Which brings up another interesting point. Photographers fight for the right to take pictures of private individuals on the street, arguing that it's a public domain. Yet somehow this is ironic? Why?
 

KillRamsey

Super Moderator
Jun 20, 2012
124
Hood River, OR
Kyle
People in public can be seen by others, so I've never seen it as a legal issue that you can take a photo of them in the same space. Now it CAN be a problem in the realm of manners. If I jam a camera in your face, or shoot you when you're tying your choes and your buttcrack is showing... that's not cool. Legal, but not cool.
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Nov 12, 2010
124
bart
^ also, there's no such thing as a public domain when it comes to the internet - you're always on somebody's "ground", and you'll be legally required to conform to whichever rules that person sets as long as you're there (as well as to the applicable laws, ofcourse). Now obviously that's "just" the legal (and technological) part of it, which won't in and of itself stop anyone from breaking those rules.

Meanwhile, using the google trick (pretty cool!) on a few of my images I found one shot of Rotterdam used by a couple of blogs, and another one of Barcelona used by some russian travel portal website that looks commercial... the bastards:mad::p and no, they didn't bother removing the watermark, even though it's fairly visible (but still not obtrusive) on that shot
 

flash

Veteran
May 6, 2011
103
Gordon
Oh wow. Stunning replies indeed.

Let's start with Magnum's opinion on the matter. They used to watermark their pictures, they don't any more. By Bob's logic, they must have stopped making a living from their photographs -
Magnum Photos Home
Magnum want are fine if you steal your images. They're in the businaess of sdharing images. You use the image illegally and they have a team of people who'll find them and send you a large, large invoice. So they get their money. Actually they get more than they would have if you had just paid a licence fee.



Gordon, a watermark does detract from looking at an image, and unfortunately to me it signals that the photograph was most likely taken by an amateur, who is more intent on protecting his image, than presenting it well. So in that sense I will continue to judge it and move on to other images that haven't been maligned. If however, it gets you more work, keep at it for sure.
I'd suggest that pros use them first and then amateur's copied the idea later. The good news is that I don't care if some people are offfended.

The purpose of the original post was to point out that watermarks are ugly, and in most instances, an UN-necessary evil. Somehow the entire thread became about theft. I call *cough* bullshit. In my opinion watermarks are at best a work of desperation and at its worst (as Gary points out) acts of unfettered narcissism.
Where do you get off saying it's narcissim? Maybe it's pride. It's a perfectly normal human emotion to have pride in something well done. "I made this image. I'm proud of it. I want to be associated with it". There's nothing wrong with that. In *my* opinion people who don't watermark their work are ashamed of the picture or have something to hide. (No, I don't, but you get the idea, I hope.)

The thinking behind putting up a watermark goes like this -
1. My images are getting stolen
2. I must do something
3. This is something
4. I must do it
No. It goes like this.

1. I have a bike. It's parked in the world biggest bike rack.
2. I don't want my bike used by others without my permission.
3. Theives are more likely to take my bike if it is unlocked.
4. I understand a bike lock wont stop all theives, but it will deter some.
5. I park my bike next to one that is unlocked and I lock my bike.

So when some peadophile is trolling throgh Facebook looking for photos of kids. He'll take yours, not mine because he's probably too lazy to remove watermarks.

Ok, now on to solutions to the problem of theft -

1. STOP uploading print sized images! If your photograph ends up in print without your approval, stop making it available.
That would be great except 90% of images stolen are reused on-line. They don't need print resolution.


2. Use CC licensing to share your images
This will help.

3. Recognize that your images will always get stolen and there's nothing you can do about it WITHOUT DEFILING YOUR IMAGE. Let me re-iterate that. There's... nothing, nada, pfffft, diddly-squat... that you can do about your image getting used on the web. So as Gordon pointed out, ex post facto you can send DMCC take-downs or notices etc, for the images to get taken down. In MOST regions of the world, that will achieve NOTHING. If your image gets hosted on a Chinese server on a Chinese website, best of luck getting a response to your DMCC. So suck it up.
But it will deter theft. Locking your car at the shops doesn't stop theft. It can only deter theft. But you still do it. I'd rather loose my car than have photos of my kids advertising some junk on the net.

Solutions on generating awareness -

1. The idea for this post originated when I came across an article, where a photographer was giving away prints of his work by leaving them hanging on walls in various parts of the city. GIVING AWAY his work to generate awareness about who he was, and the kind of work he did. There are 3.5 trillion (!) pictures that have been taken till date, 380 billion of which were taken last year, so if you have ANY perspective at all, recognize the fact that your image needs ALL THE HELP it can get to make the best possible case for itself out there. A watermark makes your image that bit worse.
I'm not trying to get my work out there. I'm trying to STOP it getting out there. Anyway that doesn't work. An example. Remember the iPhone photo of the plane crash on the Hudson River. You all remember it. Who took that picture? Having your work out there doesn't mean that people will bother to look at who's work it is.

2. Teach! If you actually know how to make an image, share how you did it. In fact, do the exact OPPOSITE of what a watermark sets out to do. Here's a wedding photographer who doesn't watermark his images - Ryan Brenizer — NYC Wedding Photographer. Problem solver, storyteller. » "Work is Love Made Visible." --Kahlil Gibran and actually has a 'photographic process' named after him.
Ryan seems like a nice guy and he's chosen his path regarding his files. But that doesn't mean anyone else doesn't have the right to choose a different path. Like I said earlier. If you don't like watermarks, there are plenty without them. If you want to see my stuff without watermarks, tough.

Anyway. These theives are too damn lazy to find an image on the net they could legally use for free. What makes you think they'd actually pick up a camera in the first place.

What needs to be done is a change in attitude toward theft and a very very large stick to back that up. If the US removed the stupid registration laws for images and damages and a law was passed that provided a flat $20,000 (individual) or $100,000 (corporation) fine (half of which was paid to the photographer), then you'd see some change. Then support that by getting some of the micro stock libraries to actually do some advertising and you might stand a chance. What we need is an iTunes for images and a photographic society that chases theives down like the music industry does.

Gordon
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Nov 12, 2010
124
bart
^ I bet that a properly set-up image hosting service a la flickr, that automatically registers your images and goes after offenders, would be an instant smash hit with pro photographers!

(in my opinion 20k would be too high a penalty, but that's another matter)
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Nov 12, 2010
124
bart
^regarding the article you linked to: personally I don't care what big name pros do - I just do what makes sense to me. Saying famous photog X uses watermarks, or famous photog Y doesn't use them, does nothing to convince me - I find the art enjoyment argument much stronger, and if someone is fine with people taking his/her images and using them for whichever purpose: power to them! If someone else feels he has a stronger case for protecting his copyright, through deterrence or from a chain of evidence point of view should it come to a conflict, power to them as well!

I think all the major arguments pro and contra watermarks have been made already, so it seems to me that unless there's someone with a really new argument (or an amazingly clear way of explaining a difficult old one), everyone should be able to make up his or her mind based on what's already been said... not that I want to deny you guys the "right" and / or pleasure of slugging it out here on the interwebz, but if the arguments don't really contain anything new, it becomes a bit boring for most readers - and I'm one of those people who just can't ignore the hope of finding a new argument added to the discussion, so I keep reading any new posts almost compulsively!:redface:
 

Boid

All-Pro
Dec 15, 2011
123
Bangalore, India
Rajiv
Well heck. As it turns out, watermarks do have some practical value. It could get you some additional moolah in the case of a court case. The fines start at $2500 and go to $25,000 in addition to attorneys' fees and any damages for removing the copyright mark. Blog post about it highlighting the particular portion on the law -

Photo Attorney: Watermarks Can Be Music To Your Ears

Still doesn't stop it from making pictures butt ugly though.
 

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