Attention all photographers, artists and designers: Your website needs protection – maybe more than any other type of website!
Here at Legal123, we are constantly surprised at the number of photography and digital print websites that have little or no legal protection for their work. And these websites are the most at risk – their work can be so easily copied, stolen or altered.
If you’re a photographer, artist or graphic designer, here is what you need to do to legally protect your images and photographs online.
1. Include a Copyright notice on your work and website
Generally speaking, you do have some protection as Copyright of your work is immediate upon creation of your work (press the camera button, draw or sketch the image, paint the painting, etc). However, you should not rely on this alone.
Neither a Copyright notice nor registration is required for Copyright protection in Australia or in most other countries. However, putting a symbol and notice on your work and website will alert visitors to your website that this is your work and may act as a deterrent for people trying to copy it.
2. Put watermarks on your digital images
All your work should include a watermark, with your name or website name, on the actual image. This notifies people that this is your image, makes it more difficult to copy and reminds them that they are not permitted to reuse, copy, modify it etc., without your approval. Remember, people are not even allowed to scan or digitally alter your image without your permission.
Watermarks can be done in a number of ways: anything from right across the image to a discreet logo in a corner. As soon as someone removes this in any way, it violates your Copyright and is considered Copyright Infringement. It also acts as stronger evidence that someone was attempting to steal or copy your work if they have removed the watermark.
3. Have clear Licensing Terms on your website
This is one of the most important items for your business. If you are selling images, photographs, digital prints, etc. through your website, you need to have clear Licensing Terms. These set out how purchasers may use your images and what rights you retain. Without these a purchaser could assume they have purchased all your full Copyright ownership.
For example, if you are commissioned as a photographer to take some family portraits:
- The client owns all rights to the photographs unless you both have agreed otherwise prior to the work commencing.
- Or you might agree in advance to provide a limited License, that your client cannot reproduce the photos and must purchase any copies from you.
- Or you might provide a non-commercial License, where your client can reproduce or use the images as they please, but excluding any commercial use.
- Or the License you grant can even restrict the right to repost on social media sites or limit their use in public.
You should consider all of these license variations and include them as Licensing Terms on your website.
4. Use Release Forms
In order for you to use videos, images or photographs you have taken of your colleagues, students or clients for marketing or anything related to your business, you should have them sign a Release Form.
Even though the subject of a photograph does not acquire rights to your photograph, they may limit your ability to use the photograph. This is where a Release Form comes in. Release Forms contain specific wording to allow you to use images for specific purposes.
You should get a Release Form whenever you can – even if you are not sure you will need it! If you hire a model or use a friend’s child in a photo shoot, you should have them sign a Release Form, so you can show you have the right to use the images.
What about public subjects? You have a right to take and use photos of people in public provided you can establish that “there is no expectation of privacy”. However, if, for example, you have taken a photo using a long lens camera into someone’s home or private property, it is likely you have no ownership rights to any photo as you have breached their right to privacy.
If you value your creative work, you should take the time to protect it – legally. These are some simple first steps. If you are a photographer, artist or designer and you need help with your online business, we can help you at Legal123, so get in touch.