Copyright – to © or not to ©

Does it matter? What has it got to do with the average blogger?

There is no ‘average’ blogger though is there?

I’ve read a couple of blogs recently discussing the use of copyright on photographs.

leannecolephotography

and

Mike Hardisty Photography

It’s not a new issue, it used to come up years ago on dogblogs when people added a brief © and their name, or their website, or just a few initials (as I do).

We all think our own dog/s is/are the most beautiful one/s in the world and would not want some sneaky toerag to lift our photos to add to a calendar or an advert. Chances of it happening are extremely slim, but there is more to it than that.

Me being Ms Ethics and Ms Principles, the reason I copyright photos is to make an extremely simple statement.

Not ‘I think my photos are brilliant, so please don’t steal them’ – because if someone wanted to do that, they could get rid of the text anyway. But because some people make money out of photography. It is their living. I do not make money out of my photos, but for every free photo that is taken and distributed, some professional photographer, somewhere, is not making money. Simple.

And, the discussions I have read recently about adding a copyright statement were on photoblogs.

People complain that it is intrusive and takes away from the photo. If you have a painting by a famous artist do you complain that the signature takes away from that work of art? OK, so it may not be slapped right across the middle of the painting, but signing one’s work off is hardly new.

Another apparently deemed it as advertising. I couldn’t get my head around that. How can you advertise on your own blog? That struck me as a particularly stupid point.

Copyright was one of those topics that we learned about at journalism college. Must have been the law component, but anyway, I paid attention to it because it was interesting. At the time, there was a neat divide. Staff photographers on newspapers did not own the copyright to their photos, the newspaper did. Anything taken privately was separate. And clearly self-employed photographers owned the copyright to their work.

While the law has changed since then, the basic principle is still the same, although self-employed photographers may now be asked to waive the rights to their photos by publishers hoping to cash in on later sales from a decent pic.

But if you are not a professional photographer, and someone uses your photo without your permission and without paying you, do you care? No, probably not. If you ever find out, you may even feel flattered. Hell, it cost you nothing to take, someone thinks it’s good enough to steal, so what’s your loss? How about if they are making money out of it? Still think the same way? Maybe, after all, not your job, so not important.

But for some of us, it is our job. Photography, writing, art. Those sort of useless jobs that everyone can do. Never mind that people have gone to college, trained for years, and passed exams in these areas.

In my case, (BI ie Before Internet) it was freelance journalists who got up my nose. Someone wanting to write the odd column every week, no training, no knowledge of law or newspapers, and a bit of pin money to eke out whatever else they received an income from.

There are plenty of good amateur writers and photographers out there. I’m not denying that for a minute. But there are also people trying to make a living out of their skill and expertise in those fields.

Adding copyright to your photos, or your blog pages isn’t pretentious. It’s reminding people that while everything on the internet may be freely accessible, it isn’t up for grabs. You don’t take anyone else’s work without a) asking and b) preferably paying for it.

Which raises the question of re-blogging, but brunch calls.

In the meantime, there is an excellent site called the UK Copyright Service which explains far more than I can, and I daren’t steal their work – obviously.

Luckily they provide a neat HTML link and point out that I don’t need permission to use it. I wasn’t aware permission was needed for links – but who knows??

Top 10 Copyright Myths page from UK Copyright Service.

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About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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17 Responses to Copyright – to © or not to ©

  1. EllaDee says:

    Timely post which is right on the money about copyright. I commented on Leanne Cole’s post (as you did) http://leannecolephotography.com/2012/07/09/yaapeet/, I don’t watermark photos but I do compress them to web format, so there’ll be no major commercial artwork or images being produced from them, I’m in demand don’t you know 😉 and I have a basic copyright blurb on my About pages but as per 5. of your link “Copyright will apply whether there is a copyright notice or not.”. As for reblogging other bloggers’ posts & rarely reblog between my own. I’m just not into it and immediately delete unread re-blogged posts unless there’s a [considerable] accompanying individual post of relevance. For my own posts I will insert relevant links with credit. Finally, I always make the distinction, I blog: this is a pastime, I’m not a writer…self evident if you read my posts 🙂

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    • I knew you’d read Leanne’s obv. Here is the other post about it that I read recently, http://mikehardisty.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/i-need-your-help/
      where the author uses frames for his sig. The frames are nice but it makes it even easier to steal an image. I know, I just did it.

      The old right click thing is another myth in my opinion. Someone told me how to insert the code, and I could still steal photos on my own blog (using a different browser and not logged in). Why? Right click is a windows thing and I’m a Mac thing. Plus, all you have to do, is look it up on the internet and find out how to get round it, even on windows.

      Downsizing pix is good, although a shame for decent ones. I do love looking at decent pix on full screen size.

      I have reblogged a couple of posts (probably three in total) and that was partly as a way of sharing other blogs. I was going to do it more often, for that reason, but I have too much else to spout about. I think links and credits are important (essential actually) but I notice from the WP stats that few people, apart from you and I click on them. But like using the ©, I’ll continue to include them as I consider it good practice.

      Like your version of blogging and writing, mine is the same with photos. I take a few pix to brighten up my blog. I’m not a pro photographer (or even an amateur one!) but others are, and I respect they need to make a living and don’t need people making it even harder by gaily saying ‘anyone can use my pix for free if they want.’ It really devalues the currency.

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  2. Interesting debate. Personally I really don’t care. People are free to use my images if they want to – sometimes I have been asked and that’s nice. I’ve also seen some of my text turn up elsewhere as well and I feel good about that because earning money from a hobby is not my motive. Why do I say this? Well, because a lot of pictures that I have seen on here by people who call themselves photographers are quite frankly nothing better than the average amateur can achieve with a mobile phone or a box brownie! As I see it blogging is for the common people – share away!

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    • I knew I could rely on you to argue with me. 🙂

      I don’t claim to be a photographer at all, hence the ‘not a photoblog’ line describing every pic, although I do claim to be some sort of a writer. Sometimes I get lucky and there is a decent pic ends up on the camera. Some ‘photographers’ take brilliant photos, some take good ones, some take mediocre ones, and as you say, some are no better than ours.

      Digital cameras and photoshop make it far easier to manipulate photos, although, quite frankly, with the exception of marking it with a © and invariably increasing saturation and contrast, I do very little else. I’m fascinated when people take a load of photos of the same thing, RAW of course, layer them, and add goodness knows what else. I forgot to say that’s HDR(I) of course, got to get my abbreviations correct. I think photography was a lot more skillful when people used that olde fashionede filme stuffe.

      Having said all that, I do think that there is an awful lot about photography to learn, and I’ve never found the time, so I appreciate those who have learned it whether on an amateur or professional basis. But they tend to look at photos with a totally different eye. Rather like I look at text from a different perspective.

      In the meantime, if you ever see any of my text/pix elsewhere, do let me know, and then I can jump up and down and cause havoc. As I said on a previous post, I am NOT a sharing person.

      PS, I won’t feel guilty picking up rubbish bags around Gib thinking that I could be doing you or any of your colleagues out of a job 😉

      Like

      • Picking up litter is the duty of a citizen of any country, protectorate, overseas territory etc. so please carry on and I won’t get irritated about it – after all, there is always plenty of actual rubbish (as opposed to blogging rubbish) left for those of us who need to make a living out of it clearing it up!

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        • Not throwing litter away is the first duty. Especially when there are numerous bins around, and if there aren’t, take it home. Easy. Glad you approve though – and double seal of approval – these are the bags we pick up (to save buying them) to clean up after the dog. What more can you ask for in a conscientious citizen?

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          • You are an example to everyone – well done! Raining here again today – makes street cleaning easy!

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          • Not really. I’ve just never seen the need to throw rubbish in the street. And as for dogs, we live in a city so that’s what we do. Now, cats in gardens are something else again which I will be writing about muy pronto.

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  3. bluonthemove says:

    When I did my post about Rufus the Harris Hawk, I didn’t want steal one of his photos off somewhere like the BBC website. Given that Harris Hawks are fairly similar to the untrained eye, I got a pic of a Harris Hawk from freedigitalphotos.net

    They offer low res versions of their photos for free download, which are more than adequate for blogs, so long as you clearly credit them, as I did within the caption of the photo. Higher res versions are also available, at a small price. They prefer a clickable link, but I wasn’t going to play about with html within the caption text thank you very much.

    I know nothing about photography, haven’t a clue what you mean by “adjusting saturation and contrast”; is this the wonderful world of Photoshop? Apart from cropping, the photos on my blog are pretty much straight out of the camera. Microsoft paint is my level of sophistication when it comes to digital photographs.

    Links are interesting. I believe the safest way to use a link is to set it to open in a new browser window so the owner of the page linked to has no grounds for complaint, unless they’ve specifically forbidden linking to their site. In the days when people used html frames, I remember a small Scottish news organisation being taken to court because they linked to other people’s news stories which then appeared on a framed page with their name on a banner at the top of the screen.

    They lost their court case, were told to desist and cough up pennies.

    Although I don’t blog for reward of any sort, other than perhaps getting to talk to interesting people, I would be somewhat peeved if someone posted a substantial piece of text or a photo of mine which they then passed off as their own work. Maybe I’m just not the cuddly sharing type either.

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  4. I noticed your credit on the hawk pic. I’ve not tried html within captions, but as I don’t use other folks’ pix that may explain why.

    Sounds like you know even less about foto fiddling than I do 🙂 I use Photostudio which is the free software that came with my (Canon) camera some seven (?) years ago. Not exactly state of the art. It’s probably an extremely poor person’s version of Photoshop which I am just too tight to buy. I like photos to have some definition, so that’s why I increase the grey in them. Interestingly the ‘automatic’ choice for ‘enhancement’ always wants to lighten my photos 😀

    I’ve never got to grips with paint programmes though. Crop photo, deepen a bit, add copyright, and maybe a frame if it’s on everypic to try and influence the DuoTone background colour. I think it really depends what you want to do with the photos as to how much fiddling and manipulation you do. For me, they are nearly always illustrating a story, or just some current event snaps. No more no less.

    That Scottish case is interesting. I probably need to change mine. Not because I might get taken to court but I think it makes navigation easier for the reader.

    A few people have posted Pippa’s images on their dog blogs because of writing something about him. And while most didn’t ask, I didn’t lose any sleep over it. It was a pretty friendly circle. One person had a ‘no photos of my dogs to be posted elsewhere AT ALL’ type of sign, and got most annoyed when someone thoughtlessly and harmlessly copied one across. Much safer not to do it at all, or at least, definitely to ask first.

    One perfectly decent blogger interviewed Pippa a while back and took a piccy, fair enough, Pippa was getting publicity. As they said, hopefully it will send more people your way. It didn’t of course 😀 People just commented on the original blog and didn’t even bother visiting poor old P. A bit like posting your blog posts on FaceBook and everyone comments on there and not on the blog. Defeats the object.

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  5. bluonthemove says:

    Poor old Pippa. You need to get him down off the sofa and make him post more, but there again I’m a fine one to talk.

    Like you, I feel photos should enhance the story, so if I haven’t got the ideal photo for the purpose I’m more than happy to search the free stock image websites.

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    • It’s summer, it’s hot and so is he, by which I mean rather warm. And arthritis creeping in 😦

      I take enough photos, so usually have something. The odd snap, a bit of text, some current affairs. That’s it. Depending on the blog of course!

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  6. Leanne Cole says:

    You make some fantastic points, and I have to say I agree with everything. I think the thing that people don’t understand is that I have spent years learning my craft, I have studied and have my Bachelor of Fine Art. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on my equipment, and for people to just take the images is insulting.

    Apparently there is a way to find out if people have stolen your images using google, but I haven’t worked it out yet. I must drag out the article. It is not nice to have it happen. I do want to make a living from this, and my blog is my folio, not a place for others to take what they want.

    Thank you, it is great post, and it is great that other people are feeling the same.

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    • Thanks Leanne. We have different skills and qualifications but the principles are the same. Don’t steal our work. ‘Just don’t steal’ is a start!!

      Check out the link to Mike’s post (link in the text) where he told me in the comments how you can find out who has stolen our pix. Doesn’t work for me because I am Mac and Safari and I still don’t understand why anyone into anything remotely graphic uses Windows. For another post.

      People will always rip off your trade. Whatever it is.

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      • bluonthemove says:

        Maybe take a look at tineye.com its free for non commercial use and totally cross platform.
        Blu

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        • That’s a good one, thanks for that. Much easier than the other convoluted way I read about. Made me laugh as I have just walked in from an appointment with the optician 😀

          It’s extremely fast. The question is, should I be pleased that no-one has stolen the photo I tried or disappointed? 😉

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  7. Pingback: Caged, docked, and vamped | roughseasinthemed

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