Debate | Should you Watermark Art you Are Posting Online?

I am frequently asked by artists whether they should watermark their artwork before sharing it online. There seems to be a pretty widespread concern that posting artwork images online could lead to unauthorized reproduction or theft of the artwork. I don’t dismiss this threat out of hand, the theft of intellectual property is a very real problem. I would argue, however, that a watermark is a pretty poor way to deal with the problem, and that watermarks defeat the purpose of sharing work online in the first place.

If you are sharing your artwork online, you are likely doing so in order to achieve broader exposure for your work, build recognition for yourself and your work, and generate sales. In order to achieve these aims you want to show your art in its best possible light. Having looked at thousands (probably tens of thousands) of artwork images online, I would argue that the appeal of artwork is considerably diminished by including a watermark. Think about what a watermark accomplishes – it mars the artwork to an extent that a would-be thief wouldn’t want to steal it to reproduce it. That marring of the image will just as certainly diminish the appeal of the piece to a potential promoter or buyer of your work.

I would also argue that the decrease in appeal outweighs any protection you receive from a watermark. An important benefit of posting your art online is the increased exposure your work gets when it is shared.  Viewers are less likely to share artwork that is watermarked.

The likelihood of theft is pretty low. While there is a lot of intellectual property theft occurring online, it’s good to remember that there is an overwhelming amount of art online. The chances of your work showing up on t-shirts made in China is extremely low.

Typically, the images you share online are pretty low resolution. These images would result in poor reproductions.

There are legitimate legal reasons to assert your copyright when you post your work online, but a general notice on your website or a caption below your artwork will provide the same benefit without diminishing the appearance of your actual artwork.

If you have questions or concerns about your copyright and how to protect it, you should discuss the issues with an attorney who has experience protecting intellectual property. Last year I interviewed Steve Schlachman, a prominent IP attorney – watch that interview here.

What do you Think – Should Online Artwork be Watermarked?

Do you watermark the art you post online? Why, or why not? Do you have counter-arguments that I’ve failed to consider? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 Quick Poll

[poll id=”6″]

Edit: Examples of Watermarks Added

Thanks to everyone for posting your opinions on this matter in the comments – you’ve made excellent points. Some of you have been kind enough to send examples of your watermarking to give some ideas of your approach.

Jillian Chilson http://JillsFotoLuv.com
Jillian Chilson
http://JillsFotoLuv.com

 

Matt Suess http://www.mattsuess.com/
Matt Suess
http://www.mattsuess.com/
Karen Kyle Ericson
ren Kyle Ericson
John Haker
John Haker

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57 Comments

  1. Some years ago, a very prominent person high up in government called me to ask if it was ok that he had taken the liberty of reproducing one of my works as a 2×1 meters poster for a personal event, then gave it as a “gift” to someone for his office. I was speechless and the only thing i said was to ask him why was he seeking my approval since the thing had been done. To my surprise he said that I should be grateful and that he felt offended by my question and hung up. Should I watermark my works?

    1. That is the exact reason I watermark my work. At least if somebody is going to reproduce it, my name is on it. Also, if you lower the resolution as well as watermark it, it pretty much renders any reproduction worthless. The low resolution is key because it makes any image really difficult to see on paper. When you go to print it out, if you do it right, it comes out the size of a stamp or something ridiculously small.

  2. I agree that the odds of one’s artwork being copied by the Chinese is very slim. Even if there were a watermark on it, the Chinese are very proficient in reproducing from scratch images they would want to copy.

  3. In the metal craft world, there are few copyrights which can be defended. However, several of my colleagues have been given a heads up when their photos have been discovered on a sellers site claiming they sell the items. Which is why I watermark most photos of my custom ironwork.

  4. I watermark anything that goes on social media with a copyright symbol and my website. I want my website to follow my work wherever it goes. The watermark is usually on the outer edge of the photo, not blocking the main focal point, but hard to crop out without taking a noticeable piece of the work with it.

    1. I do the same as Maggie. I want my copyright and website to go where ever my image goes. I realize it only keeps the honest people honest so I try to put it somewhere in the painting that won’t scar the image. I feel it gives people who are interested in my work a way to find me.

    2. What a great idea. I hadn’t thought of putting my website on them but will now.

      I have found photocopied prints of my paintings or prints (possible cell phone photos?) for sale at flea markets for $5 – $25. I’ve also had them show up on T-shirts at malls. I don’t have watermarks on my web photos, but I’m changing after reading this.

      1. It is truly the way to go, in my opinion. You can make it so it does not interfere too much with the appearance by putting on the edge of the image and making it somewhat transparent. Honestly, though, if somebody is determined to borrow or appropriate your image in some way, they will do it. It depends on how determined they are. They may have to reproduce it by hand or from scratch, but at least you deterred them enough so they don’t use your work itself.

  5. Jason, I have to vehemently disagree with you on this.
    I use social media every day to promote my work (photography). Even before using social media, I found unauthorized use of my images by using Google’s reverse image search tool. Even this weekend I discovered a website, https://wallpart.com that parses blog posts and other websites and offers un-watermarked images for sale as prints to their customers. I found 5 of mine listed there from my blog, which I do not watermark and also from my stock house, Alamy.
    In my humble opinion, in this day and age, artists MUST watermark every image posted in social media and on their websites. I don’t think the watermark needs to be obnoxious but it does need to be in a place where it cannot be cropped out and probably at less than 100% opacity.
    Using this approach, I feel comfortable in my followers sharing my posts with their friends which works to expand my potential client base. If someone does cut and paste my image at least I always get credit for my work. I have even had followers call or email me about using watermarked images in school projects etc.
    To the best of my knowledge I have never lost a sale because of a watermark but I have made several new clients as a result of my web and social media posts.
    Since most people don’t understand copyright and it’s pretty expensive to pursue legal action, take-down notices and watermarks have become the preferred protection for artists showing work online.

    1. Thanks for the information. My work was also on the wallpart website. I do not usually watermark, but will start to do so. I noticed having watermarks didn’t stop that website from using the images though. I alerted one of my friends that her watermarked images were also on that website for sale as posters.

    2. Thank you so much Dusty for sharing your experience with Wallpart.com. I just checked it out and they are offering to sell three of my images, that were taken off of the Saatchi Art website where these images are available for sale. I have taken screenshots of these three pages and contacted Saatchi Art since their name is also included in the title at Wallpart. Hopefully a collaboration between Saatchi and myself will delete these images quickly. When artists upload images to the Saatchi website they are not allowed to watermark the images, however, I worked hard to convince them to not allow downloading of any kind from their website if we can’t watermark them. Obviously these three were taken in some other way…REALLY appreciate you sharing your experience!

    3. Oh my! I just checked the link that you gave and I too have an image that they are selling!!! How disappointing!!! I guess I am going to have to start watermarking!!

    4. Wallpart is a physhing scheme. They pull images from Google search results and offer them as posters (not sure if they actually sell them). There is a link on the site to report copyright violations: do not click it! You run a good chance of contracting malware or have your info sold to spammers. There are other sites like this, so do your due diligence and google before you click.

      1. Well, wish I read this before using that tool to report their blatant disregard of my work.. sigh*…like I need more junk mail.

    5. The thing is that someone with reasonable image editing skills can remove a watermark rather easily and without removing a chunk of the image itself. And there are many out there who can do this. The other side of the coin is that artists sometimes feel protected by using a watermark when they should exercise caution and perhaps refrain from posting an image at all. Grabbing images on the internet is a big problem and is not likely to go away. However there are so many millions of images on the internet that it becomes very unlikely that yours will be stolen. However that said if it makes you feel better to watermark images then you should do it, even if it will not prevent it.

  6. Generally the people that want to ‘steal’ your photo or art are the type of people that want a little 5 x 7 photo of it or will use it for wallpaper. They are not going to buy the original art anyway.
    .
    A low res digital image is not going to be confused with or worth the same as the original piece of signed art.
    .
    If you want to watermark it, then this is my suggestion:
    .
    https://danielteolijr.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/this-is-what-you-photogs-should-strive-for-online-decent-res-and-a-mini-unobtrusive-classy-watermark/
    .
    Naming your digital files is also important:
    .
    nsfw
    .
    https://danielteolijr.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/the-importance-of-naming-your-digital-files/

  7. Don’t put large scans of your art online. I put pictures of my art online, but only at a size for viewing on a computer screen. It wouldn’t print at very high quality.

  8. …apart from social media, my art students are always looking for subjects to paint using pictures from all sorts of sources (pintirest) being one; I always suggest to name their source or inspiration on the back of the piece; however my understanding is that if the size is different from the original, it is o.k. ? What is the Rule on that?

    1. While I am not a legal expert, I am a painter and illustrator . I have had experience with copyright infringement with my work being used for profit without my permission
      Artists are always influenced by others at some point and using another’s work can be done within certain parameters- I have done parodies of famous deceased artists giving my humorous twist and my style to the work- the original artist or title of the work is included in my title- I give credit to the original artist. As I have changed the work a good deal from its original form, I am not in violation of copyright- this is true if you use photos or other artwork for inspiration. You must “ change” it to make it your own. This means it needs to be “transformed “ into something new- this is not about percentages of change. If the artist is still alive then permission must be obtained.
      With art students who are learning and develop in a style copying is fine- student works that are copies can be displayed with credit to the artist, but should not be for sale. As you are dealing with students, what I suggest here if they are old enough are good rules to take with them if they choose to pursue artistic careers

    2. No! Changing the size does not matter. It is still an infringement of copyright. However, if the students are just using the image as an exercise and not passing it off as their own or selling it, then there’s not much harm done, and it probably falls under fair use. As other artists have noted here, there needs to be a substantial degree of transformation, a very noticeable change. No matter the students’ age, they can learn to respect the work of other artists.

    3. Even using copyrighted images as reference for student work is prohibited. How long does it take an instructor or student to ask permission? Some may, some won’t. You legally owe it to the artist to ask and refrain if she says no.
      A great resource for students is http://www.commons.wikipedia.com. By virtue of uploading images to this site many images are free use. Some ask only for recognition or reference, and others are without copyright.

  9. I don’t watermark my online images. The way I see it, is they do diminish the Artwork & the sort of people that do steal the images are probably savvy enough to use Photoshop or other image editing software to patch over the watermark. Collectors usually want a genuine piece of Artwork & not a rip-off…

  10. Of course we should watermark. In the old days of doing publicity, no one would consider producing a business card or a brochure without one’s name and contact information on it. Today’s online marketing means that my art will wanders far afield from its origin. From blogs to Pinterest, to Instagram — to sharing on Twitter and Facebook. I want my art to be traceable back to me should someone want to buy a piece that they “like” – or to be able to see more of my work on my website. I’d never consider releasing my art into the wild without a watermark. If someone is offended by a small transparent reminder on the image, then they probably weren’t a serious customer to begin with.

  11. I agree that prominent watermarks that obscure the art are off-putting, but I do add a discrete copyright notice in a corner of the lo-res images of my art that I post online (not on the original files, which I keep on my computer). The reason for this is not that I’m afraid of people stealing my art, but rather for attribution. If you share your art online, your images will travel far and wide across the internet, and that copyright notice you placed in the caption on your website or social media does not travel with them. I feel that anyone viewing your art on any website, regardless of how it got there, should be able to see who the artist is.

  12. I used to only watermark my photographic images, at the bottom corner so not impeding the images, which is standard for photographers when sharing on social media. I didn’t put any watermark on my paintings or fiber art and found that lots of my works were being shared on Pinterest without any attribution to me as the artist or link to my website where they got it from. Some of my works were even attributed to other fiber artists so maybe they shared my works from their websites, I don’t know.

    Now, in addition to the small watermarks on my photographs, I add a bit of white area below each painting or fiber art piece and put the copyright symbol with my name. That way, when it gets shared to social media, unless the person crops that out, which would be extremely rare, at least the work is properly noted as my work and not anonymous or as the work of another artist, which is even worse in my opinion.

  13. Interesting perspective that I never thought about, and it makes a lot of sense. But I am considering adding a line at the bottom of my art photos with either my name, website or both. The reason being, I do a lot of looking at art on Pinterest and very, very often there is no indication of who the artist is, even on the link or the link is bad. If it is a link to Etsy, many times the link takes you to a page of various items from many sellers, not to the item you wanted to see. It is not good.

  14. I have started adding a “watermark” signature in the lower right when I post to facebook. I found people were copying my photos and posting them somewhere else. With my information on them, someone who is interested can find out whose photo it is. So even if someone isn’t actually stealing your photo, without a signature line, no one who sees the copy will know who it belongs to.

  15. I am currently in the middle of a legal dispute with three major poster print companies regarding selling my work without my consent, with the careful representation of a great intellectual property and photography law attorney. So I would like to share what I have learned from this experience to fellow artists:
    1) Watermark your images in a way that does not ruin the overall composition of the work. Not only does it protect you but if someone sees your work anywhere that it is shared and wants to buy it they can find the artist who created it by Googling your name.
    2) It is REALLY important to register your work with the copyright office if it is online. If you don’t, even though you inherently own the copyright of your work once it is created, if you don’t have it registered you don’t have much of a case, which means no financial settlement and the infringer can drag its feet in complying with your requests.
    3) Make sure that your image file has your copyright information imbedded in it. For example, I use Photoshop to create my digital image files, so I use the File Info option to embed all copyright information. I also use the Save for Web and Devices option which will automatically add that the image is mine with a date ( important if you have to prove it is yours)
    4) On websites like FB, I always upload watermarked images and post links of an image from my website to share my work. On IG I only post watermarked images. And any websites where my work is being sold, I make sure that the image cannot be right clicked or saved off the website. If the seller allows downloading off their site I try to convince them to at least use a smaller image file @ no larger than 100 dpi.

    I google myself at least once a month to see where my images might be. If you find someone trying to sell your work online without your consent first take screenshots of each page that shows your work being sold and get an attorney. Even with an attorney representing me it takes time and effort to prove I owned this work. I was careful with my work before but now I know better!

    1. Excellent advice as I have been through this experience more than once. Registering your work and having a VAU number helps if you need an attorney and proves you own the work.
      Someone stealing an unregistered work can reproduce it and copyright the reproduction- now you have to prove you are the owner.
      Also I register work in a series under a master title which helps keep the registration fees down and protects each piece in the series – a little more paperwork but a cost savings.
      I was glad to read your post as so few artists understand the importance of registering their works. And this helps to educate them

      1. Thanks Bettina! This has been such a stressful experience. I really thought I was doing a good job protecting my work until this happened. It has been important to me throughout this process to share this with others anywhere I can!

    2. Here’s another idea . I agree with all your input. I also use Digimarc which is invisible to the eye but is embedded into the image. That way the appearance looks “normal” but the Digimarc service can trace usage worldwide. Cost is about $100 a year.

  16. About two years ago, soon after I started painting and selling my work online, I discovered someone blatantly using one of my paintings as her logo on her site and ALL her packaging and beauty products ( in spite of me uploading it in low res format! )
    Ever since I have, sadly, watermarked every image I upload. Lesson learned the hard way.

    1. Thank you all for this excellent advice, and thank you Jason for starting this conversation. I am a new artist online and have watermarked my work and wondered if this was still the way to go. After reading your comments, I will keep the watermark but make some additional changes per the advice given.
      Thanks again!

  17. I’ve had my physical art stolen but not digital images … that I know of.
    I don’t watermark my images but I can see where a photographer almost has to. Even low resolution images can be manipulated.
    The photographer daughter has a mechanism on her website where you click on an image and a small (c) copyright symbol appears and prevents copying; warning and prevention.
    The cost of litigation is prohibitive and pirates know that. We can obsess over this issue and expend more time and money than the original painting is worth. If a lowlife discovers a site where images can be lifted you will need to watermark thereafter … they’ll be back.

  18. Gabriele- Your post made me twitch- I will start by saying you are not alone by any means and I have had art teachers ask to take pictures of my works at shows because they want to do my work with their students. Somehow they think this is ok because it is for students. No, it is not flattering to me and NO it is not ok because it is students. I taught art in the public schools for over 30 years and I am proud to be able to say that my students had to work from either their own original ideas or actual objects or plein air landscapes (and learn how to translate 3D into 2D as they picked up drawing skills). Pinterest did not exist then, but if it did I would have told my students I would vigorously search it, so I could be sure they were not copying other artist’s work and if I found they were there would be the same response as plagiarism brings from English teachers. As art teachers we need to make sure we are teaching our students that art is a form of self expression that is a visual message. When they try to copy it is absolutely a great time to bring up why copying others is not an art process of self expression. And before I get a lot of responses – I am not referring to Renaissance painters copying the masters as a form of learning- but searching art shows and pinterest and social media for work to copy is a violation of the artist copyright and represents intellectual property theft. Students understand it is wrong in terms of poetry, writing and original music and likely wouldn’t consider copying any of those art forms and slapping their names on them- now is every art teacher’s time to use this teachable moment to make sure their students understand that it is not ok with visual art either -and the originator owns that idea and that work. (Changing the size does not matter). Have a great discussion with them and while you are at it let them know that artists don’t grid and copy from calendar art either. I also used to love to point out to my students that I do not have a teacher greet me daily with assignments and you need to look within for you own artistic voice and ideas. Thanks for bringing this topic up in this issue- it is an important one with lots of implications towards the development of future artists.

  19. Jason, I always enjoy your articles and the comments, and don’t usually reply, but this time I must. Recently I found that a company in New York had lifted one of the images of my dog prints from my website; made it into an embroidery program which they sold to an embroidery company, who sewed on a t shirt and retailed through a dog supplies vendor at a dog show. Ironically the person for whom I had painted the portrait saw it at the show. I think we may be working with a copyright lawyer shortly. I have a copyright statement in my site’s print section, and she is upset that anyone would reproduce her pet without permission. We’ll see how it goes.

  20. A number of years ago, I had my photography and digital art work featured on a magazine in my area. As a result I got a lot of nice coverage, but also got a really awful email from somebody I didn’t know who claimed he saw a comment by me on the internet which expressed a view he thought was terrible. Since I didn’t remember ever writing such a thing, I did a search on my name trying to find what he was talking about. The results of that search showed many(!) websites using my work on their sites, some with credit to me, but a lot without any credit. And worse, some of those sites were ones I would not want to have anything to do with. This is what made me include a watermark on all my internet posted work since then. I use a partially transparent copyright symbol with my name and embed it on the bottom in the image. I realize that with some effort, it could probably be removed, but it would hopefully take more work than it would be worth. I feel it is the only way to protect my work and keep it off of sites I don’t want to be associated with. On my website, I state that anything purchased would not have the copyright on it.

  21. Great post, Jason. Creating watermarks takes precious time, and I figure if someone steals my art claiming it’s their own, eventually they’ll be discovered as a liar and a thief. The best solution is to proliferate the internet with as much of your art as you can with links to your website. That way people will know what’s yours and what’s not.

  22. Very good comments. I am also a songwriter and aware of the pitfalls of copyright in that art form. I just put a photo of one of my paintings on Facebook, without a watermark, and now am rethinking that. I wonder if anyone ever crops their work for social media so that the original is different (and defendable) than the copy. We live in an age where some think everything should be free to use no matter what. There have even been articles stating the thoughts of those who want intellectual copyright to end, so that everything is free to everyone. I think that I might replace that photo on FB with a cropped one with a copyright notice. Thanks to all who shared their own experiences and valuable suggestions, here. It’s sad that we even have to discuss this, and sad that everyone in the world isn’t honest. Thank you, Jason, for bringing this up.

  23. Watermarks are ok as long as they don’t detract from the art.
    Meta data can be coded into images too.
    Regards someone printing art out, that does happen. Someone saw prints of my art for sale in Spain and my designs have come back at me from China. It’s flattering. I don’t like it but I’m not a great marketer anyway and more interested in just DOING art.
    When I did a lot of art shows and people stole originals, now that made me angry. They stole my time. Or when galleries can’t account for where my art went, that’s upsetting. So the theft of a physical painting is much harder on an artist than an image. If an image is stolen you can contact the person responsible and tell them to cease and desist selling it. An artist holds an automatic copyright when doing original work.

  24. Jason Horejs wrote, “There are legitimate legal reasons to assert your copyright when you post your work online, but a general notice on your website or a caption below your artwork will provide the same benefit without diminishing the appearance of your actual artwork.”

    That’s really bad advice for creatives—artworks need to be timely registered with the US Copyright Office to receive the full force of copyright law.>>>

    Though including a website copyright notice and art captions/copyright below artworks are important, it’s MORE important for US artists to timely register their artworks to have legal standing to “enforce” their copyrights. Typically, without a timely registered copyright, it’s not economical for artists to pursue money damages against art thieves.>>>

    Artists who choose NOT to timely register their copyrights, at the very least, need to affix a watermark (a copyright attributed name, logo, or signature name—include the copyright logo and year of first selling or distributing the art) & corresponding metadata to obtain legal redress against US-based infringers: e.g., © 2018 Jason Horejs (reddotblog.com).>>>

    Per US copyright law, if a watermark or metadata has been removed or changed to hide a copyright infringement, artists are eligible to pursue DMCA/CMI (Copyright Management Information) statutory damages ($2,500 to $25,000) against US-based infringers (this legal option does NOT require the work to be timely registered with the US Copyright Office). The artist is also eligible to pursue his/her attorney fees & legal costs against the infringer. See this art attorney link: https://www.photoattorney.com/options-recovering-infringement-damages/ >>>

    Along with the important copyright points I addressed, include a proper copyright attribution watermark, a URL/handle, and corresponding metadata so others can find you, especially if your “orphaned” artwork is not coming up via a reverse Google or Tineye search.>>>

    Nothing against IP attorney Steve Schlachman (a patent and transactional attorney???), but I’m bias towards Joshua Kaufman and other copyright litigators (trial attorneys); Kaufman reiterates: “If I can only tell you one thing […], register your copyright, register your copyright, register your copyright”: https://youtu.be/cBOKkrleY3Y

  25. I think the argument that “it’s pretty unusual to have your work stolen” is naive and disingenuous, especially for someone of your caliber of knowledge. I also think that watermarking is not as effective as it could be – but it requires the thief to at least take the time to rip the mark off the image. Which might make someone else’s art more appealing to steal than yours. And, I think most buyers aren’t as put off by watermarking as you seem to think they are – many see it (especially on social media) as a necessity, and a mark of professionalism. That said, I invite you to read a few of the tales of woe posted with wearisome regularity on the Facebook page “Who Stole My Images?” I promise you, you’ll think twice about doing EVERYTHING you can to protect your images, and livelihood, online. Sadly I know of too many who wish they had.

  26. Thank you Jason and all the people who have responded to this blog. This is really valuable information. I do copyright my work with the Copyright Office but I have not watermarked my photos. I want to spend time digesting this information. Again, thank you for your comments.

  27. ¨Watermarks are pretty easy to remove these days so they’re not worth the effort. It’s better to share images that aren’t at full resolution and size. Personally, I’ve dropped the fear of copying and stealing and make my art available to the public in digital form.

    1. Linda Ursin wrote, “Watermarks are pretty easy to remove these days so they’re not worth the effort.”>>>>>
      Please read what I wrote in a previous post: An infringer who removes, covers-up, or changes your watermark to hide a copyright infringement is liable up to $25,000 for violating US Copyright Management Information! How can new potential clients find you if there’s no (watermark) attribution and/or URL and/or social media handle—your work is “orphaned” without a watermark (and/or metadata).

      1. My signature is on the art and it’s my style. Plus, I share my art a lot more than anyone else ever will. That’s how they find me. I’d rather have less worrying than trying to cover my art with a sticker they can remove. It’s hard to figure out who initially removed it and used it first anyway, and I’m not in the US so I can’t use your legal system. You don’t need it watermarked to claim copyright here. If it’s obviously your creation, it’s yours. I have the originals at home and photos from the creation process.

  28. When I share my art online, I reduce the resolution and the image quality, and I also change the file info (easily done in Photoshop) to copyrighted. I layer a watermark onto the image in a layer that is very transparent. I don’t make the watermark really visible unless you know it is there and know where to look for it. This way I don’t mar the image but I think it would really mess up an attempt to print it. The watermark looks quite a bit like my signature. It’s easy to do and I just feel safer this way.

  29. I just checked on WallPart and found thirteen pages of images from my blog available for sale as posters! Some were not even my artwork or quilts, just personal photos. Astounding that a third party thinks it is permissible to market these images without permission.

  30. I just took a look at the wallpart.com website referred to above and I saw several images of paintings they had grabbed that had a large watermark right through the middle of the image. So watermarking it does not mean your image will not be appropriated and resold and wallpart seems to think they can sell a poster even if it has a big watermark. Also reading above comments about the experiences of bringing suit against those who have grabbed your images without permission convinced me that this is not the way I want to live my life, worrying that someone is stealing my artwork images. No watermarks for me.

    1. Stan Bowman wrote “Also reading above comments about the experiences of bringing suit against those who have grabbed your images without permission convinced me that this is not the way I want to live my life, worrying that someone is stealing my artwork images.”>>>Something like 95% of all US Copyright infringement actions settle out of court. That’s good to know and very reassuring, as no artists wants to spend time litigating to enforce their copyrights.>>>By timely registering your artworks with the US Copyright Office and/or properly watermarking them with your copyright attribution, you provide your copyright attorney/litigator LEVERAGE to push the copyright infringer to (quickly) settle out of court. If the infringer has removed, covered-up, or changed your watermark (and/or metadata) to hide the copyright infringement, and you, the artist, prevail during trial, the infringer is now liable from $2,500 to $25,000 in statutory money damages for violating your Copyright Management Information (CMI) AND (at the court’s discretion) liable for your attorney fees + legal costs + other money damages. Infringers want to limit their legal risks, and their best option is to settle out of court.>>>Many IP attorneys will take CMI violations and timely registered copyright infringements on contingency; I know of two in NYC.

  31. The photographs I post on FB are not the same ones that I post on my website. I down regrade the resolution and place my watermark on them before uploading to FB, which is also connected to my Tweeter page. The photographs that I post on my website, don’t carry the logo nor do I down grade them what so ever. I have seen way to many of my friends have their stuff taken and used, so I try to minimize my footprint as it were online. I hope my opinion helps out 🙂

  32. Lots of great comments here!

    WALLPART, (AKA, SCRAPER SITES): as someone already mentioned, these can be phishing scams and/or infect your computer. They get those images by ‘scraping’ them from the web when you give them a search term, (like your name!), and/or their own efforts to scrape popular subjects.

    Use the DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT, free, do it yourself, no lawyer. With any infringing site, look up the site host and send the host a DMCA takedown notice. This is a US law but a number of countries comply with it and US site hosting services must register a DMCA agent contact with the US Copyright Office.

    I’ve sent probably hundreds if not thousands of takedowns now. Info on how to find infringements and send takedowns: https://www.redbubble.com/people/cschnack/journal/7750976-copyright-infringement-find-it-get-it-removed

    PREVENTION:

    SMALL IMAGES: a partial deterrent. Of course you should post small images online, otherwise your page will load too slowly, and it increases the risk of more serious infringement. BUT…small images look just as nice on an infringer’s site as they do on yours, and that’s all they need. They’re crooks, they don’t care if their buyers get a bad reprint.

    WATERMARKS: I started watermarking a few years ago when I found myself spending a day out of every week on reverse image searches and sending DMCA takedown notices. Watermarking stopped about 90% of infringements for me without hurting my sales.

    GOING VIRAL ISN’T NECESSARILY PROMOTION: An unidentified image isn’t promotion. Most infringers are the casual type and will move on or at least only ‘share’ the image as-is.

    BUYERS PERCEPTION:

    In my experience, buyers can look past a watermark and comprehend why artists feel they need to use them. Explain if needed. Infringement is on the rise, so people should expect to see more measures taken to prevent it.

    HOW TO REVERSE SEARCH AND HOW TO SEND TAKEDOWNS: Over the years I compiled enough info on how to do reverse image searches, how to find site hosts, and so on, that I put it in a post on one of my sites. I hope you find it helpful to deal with your infringement problems, too: https://www.redbubble.com/people/cschnack/journal/7750976-copyright-infringement-find-it-get-it-removed

    Sometimes, artists say they have not had an infringement problem, and I ask if they have done reverse searches regularly, and they don’t know what that is. When they find out their art has been used for things they don’t approve of, without being asked or paid, they often change their mind about watermarks. I WISH we lived in an honest world where you could display your art online and no one would misuse it. But we don’t.

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