Tips for Protecting your Images

Even with the existence of Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (RA8293), many photographers still are victims of copyright infringement. And the poor photographer can’t even sue the infringers (because of the money involved in pursuing the case) against corporations and publishing houses – which are more moneyed than the photographers themselves. The photographer can’t help but gnash their teeth in disbelief.

Meanwhile, here are some tips (though not fool-proof) that can deter infringers from using your images:

Read the fine print
This is usually taken for granted. Too often we find ourselves caught in some nasty surprise by not reading the terms and conditions. So, before uploading any images, read the fine print of that particular site offering a free on-line gallery service. So, don’t rush into clicking that ‘accept’ button. 

Avoid Rights-Grab Photo Contests
If you can, avoid photo competitions which are ‘manipulative’ (Yes, we have many of these here in the Philippines, contrary to the contests being organized abroad). I say manipulative because often, the rules/contest mechanics are obviously pro-organizers. Sometimes, I can't help but wonder if those photo contests was organized to just collect photos from photographers. Ironically, this has been going on for quite sometime. So, as much as possible, select the competition you enter where, even if you win, you still retain the ownership over the copyright of the image. Read the contest mechanics carefully. Here's the things you need to know about rights-grab photo contests.

Low Resolution
Do not upload files larger than 72 dot per inch (dpi). Since the purpose is to view images (online), said resolution is enough - 72 dot per inch (dpi) is same as that of the PC. As for me, I usually resize my images into 4x6 inch (proportionate to the full frame image area) at 72 dpi. 

Be sure to put watermarks on your images. You can watermark your images digitally or if you’re techie enough, you can embed a javascript (no right click script) or you may try Stephen Chapman's alternative means of image protection. But the simplest and most common means is done via Adobe Photoshop. You just have to lessen its opacity and place your watermark on prominent areas of the image. 

Before uploading, it may be well worth it to embed an IPTC data (International Press Telecommunications Council- a standard regarding meta data which is widely used in news images) on your pictures. This can be done with Adobe Photoshop (file> file info). There you can enter the title of particular image, author, caption, copyright notice, including keywords. Embedded IPTC data is helpful in image retrieval and makes it easy to locate images on a particular subject.

No Right Click
Images on the web can be easily copied and saved on a PC - through 'right click' and 'save-as' or through your page source but you can restrict copying of your image from your site by installing a javascript in your page. Here's a Javascript code you may use.

Lastly, avoid dealing with people who are after ‘freebies’ This is your way of educating your clients that, to produce an image is not an easy task and entails cost on your part. Charging a fee is the only way for you to have your expenses recovered and make profit out of your photography. As much as possible, know how/where your images will be used. Ask what do they intend to do with your images - will it be used for commercial purposes, a publicity, etc. For how long?

Just within the week, I encountered people posting in Multiply site asking for photographers who are willing to do event photography for free, and aside from that, they are asking for a resume and a portfolio of the photographers. Don’t you feel insulted reading it?


Web Development said…
Thanks ^^
I never thought about watermarking. From now on, I'll do that on my images.
andianka said…
protecting images, even entries can be hard online. we'll never know how to fully control it. nakakainis nga naman kung bigla mo na lang makita sarili mong take or sulat sa iba ng di mo nalalaman.

i don't think i made enough means on protecting my stuff. sad...
Dennis S. Rito said…
@ WebDev - you're welcome.

@ Andianka - it's hard on our part really. while we may never have total control over our images/ creations, instead we can make it hard for them to infringe our work or use it by putting any/ all of the things i mentioned (watermark, embedding of iptc data, etc.).
Ken said…
72 dpi, doesn't automaticaly equate to low resolution. You can have a high res images but set to 72 dpi. If you want low res images set longer side of a photo to be no more than 640 pixels.
eds said…
this is soo true.
thanks for the tip, Dennis.
estan said…
unfortunately, that's what's currently being practiced in the country right now. and corporations and publications think that they can always get people who will agree to give their photos or pay such measly sums. Pilmap is one of those.
Dennis S. Rito said…
Hi Estan, that is why it would be best for us photographers to bind ourselves as a group and act collectively. Until there's no collective strength, this current practice will go on and on. Further, there is a aching need to educate users of images about the value of photographic work. Many perceived our work as simply clicking the shutter button.

See also my post on Collective Management Society:
thanks for this very informative post.

i'll be more careful with my own designs.
Anonymous said…
hi! your post is indeed helpful especially to budding photographers who intend to crossover from being hobbyist to semi-pro. btw, would it be ok to repost your post just so it would benefit more people? I'll put credits to you...

estan said…
barring right clicking is not also good practice as several webpage functions are accessed via that method and it's just not user friendly. the other suggestions are much better.
Dennis S. Rito said…
Thanks for the comment, Estan

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