As a professional photographer, are your copyrighed photographs safe?

Many professional photographers use services such as Flickr to promote and share their work, and after this past weekend many photographers may have to rethink their involvement with different organizations, especially Flickr.

Jim Goldstein wrote an article on his blog entitled “How Every Flickr Photo Ended Up on Sale This Weekend“:

It turns out everyone’s Flickr photos were available for purchase through MyxerTones.com from July 3rd to July 5th, but Myxer disabled their Flickr integration after receiving numerous complaints.

I for one have many of my photographs uploaded to Flickr for others to see, and I don’t mind having them publicly available (and I have been contacted by individiuals wanting to purchase photos from Flickr), as long as they respect my copyright.  After reading Jim’s article and reading other horror stories of Flickr in particular I will be watermarking my uploaded photos (a shame I know, but some people never learn) to try and safeguard my copyright.

A great resource that I have found along the way (thanks to Google for this one) is a guide from the Wedding Photo Directory entitled “Copyright Your Photos – Guide to Copyright Protection, Registration, and Your Rights“:

One common misconception for any startup photographer is: once you’ve captured the photo, it completely belongs to you. However, in order to claim ownership and file a potential copyright infringement suit, you must properly present and copyright your work, register your photos, and know your rights as a professional photographer.

So the next time you are looking to share your professional photos online, or elsewhere, make sure that you have done everything you can to protect and enforce your copyright.  OR, if you are on the receiving end of these photographs, please take the time to verify where the photos are coming from.

6 Comments

  1. Hi, Jon! Thanks for writing this terrific post; it enhances the discussion that Jim Goldstein created at his blog. The recent activity of my company, Myxer.com, was one of the catalysts for Jim’s article, and — as your post points out — we immediately disabled our Flickr integration when we learned our service was distributing photos beyond the Creative Commons license.

    Myk Willis, Myxer’s CEO, recently wrote a post on his personal blog about our Flickr integration, and the creative and philosophical intent powering it. It can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/5bws7f

    I encourage you and your audience to read it, if only to learn more about the integration, to understand that Myxer did not sell any of the photos accessed via the Flickr API, and to see what Myxer has learned from this experience. As Myk writes in his post, these are “trying times for a massive number of creative people whose footing has been destabilized in this era of instant, zero-cost distribution of digital content on the internet.”

    We’re all finding our footing here, and we appreciate the insight you and other bloggers are bringing to the conversation. If you or your readers need any further information about Myxer or future iterations of our Flickr integration, please feel free to contact me personally.

    Best wishes,

    –J.C. Hutchins
    Social Media Marketing Manager, Myxer.com
    jc.hutchins@myxer.com

  2. I have always been leery of using flickr just for that reason – anyone will take your photos without a second thought – selling them is the worst thing i’ve ever heard of! How did they think they could do that?

    Chelles last blog post..Please Hold…

  3. It might help to prevent theft of photos by adding a watermark to them. You could also upload files that are relatively low in resolution so that it is less useful to those who might want to use your work.

  4. I’ve just commented on another blog where there is a competition running where EVERY submission is ‘free for any use in perpetuity’

    I just love how companies use these competitions to get photography for nothing…

  5. I remember once at Photoschool being told it was a compliment if someone stole a print of yours. Of course in those days you couldn’t just download an image off the net.

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