Copyright is an issue that seems to be largely ignored. I think much of the reason is due to ignorance about copyright and the abundance of free images on the internet. I am bringing the subject up now because I have experienced a drastic increase this year with people using my images without purchasing them and without my consent.
Here is the definition of copyright from
A copyright is a legal device that gives the creator of a literary, artistic, musical, or other creative work the sole right to publish and sell that work. Copyright owners have the right to control the reproduction of their work, including the right to receive payment for that reproduction. An author may grant or sell those rights to others, including publishers or recording companies. Violation of a copyright is called infringement.
Photography is considered an art. My business is based on me creating art and then selling that art for a profit. As a creator I am covered in the definition above. I own the rights to the photographs I take. When a customer buys a photograph, the customer is just buying specific usage rights as defined in the copyright agreement.
If something is copyrighted, there should be something to tell people that the work is copyrighted. The word "copyright" or more common, the letter c inside a circle denotes copyright. The picture at the head of this blog is an example. The images on this website are watermarked with the picture shown above and also have a message that pops up when someone tries to right click the image saying the images are copyrighted. Occasionally I will put pictures up that are not copyrighted if I want people to be able to use those images for other things. Those images are not watermarked and are right clickable for download and linking.
Now that copyright has been explained, onto why I am writing about it. When someone uses a copyrighted picture without consent it is equivalent to stealing something from a brick and mortar store. There can be very serious legal consequences depending on the illegal usage. There has been an increase in the number of my pictures being used on Facebook without consent of any type. From what I can figure out, there seems to be a certain demographic that is more prone to do this. The most frequent offenders are under 25 , white, male, and ride motorcycles. If you can't afford to download the picture, click the share button to the bottom right of the picture and the image can be shared with your Facebook friends. It also provides a link back to my website. When someone uses the print screen to get a picture (illegally), I get no credit for the picture.
Do not assume that just because a picture can be viewed on the internet that it is free to be used as you like. If there is a copyright mark, it is not free. Pay your money or be labeled as a thief. If you think nothing can be done, you are wrong. Offenders can have very large lawsuits filed against them, depending on the nature of the infringement. In most cases, sites like Facebook are very good about working with the copyright owners to forcibly remove illegal usage of copyrighted materials from the offending pages.
Posted by Patrick G. Welch on May 17, 2015