During the recent BOI Start Up Gathering Digital Skills sessions a topic arose about protecting your images online. In this week’s blog post we continue the conversation and offer some copyrighting tips that can help you protect your imagery online.

For both start up and established businesses there is nothing more frustrating than spending time and money on professional photographs to market your business and then find they have been used by someone else online. Unfortunately in this digital age if you post your photos online there is a possibility they will be “borrowed”.

More often than not when your imagery is “borrowed” the offender is simply unaware they were doing anything wrong, most people believe that if it is online it is free to use.  However this is not the case as your imagery is still covered by copyright laws however in such cases of copyright infringement it is best to pick your battles.

If you way up the opportunities and exposure generated for your business by marketing online the pros certainly out way the cons. But there are some methods available to make it that bit harder for others “borrow” your imagery.

Watermarking Imagery

BOI Start Up Gathering Dublin Attendees

BOI Start Up Gathering 2015 Dublin Attendees

One quick and easy method is to watermark your imagery by adding your business website URL, Name or Trademark on the image you wish to protect.

You can do this by adding a copyright mark “©” followed by the word Copyright (Optional) and the year in which the work was first published, the next and last step is to add the name of the copyright owner which would typically end up looking similar to our example above (© 2015 OSD.ie ).

Although a majority of the internet would not have the knowledge of how to remove this watermark, there is a percentage of the users who would have an understanding of photo editing in which case may try removing your watermark. Again this is not fully preventable but it is possible to make it more difficult to take your image, you can embed your watermark in an area of the image in which it would cause difficulty to remove like the centre of the image or covering a more graphic side of the image as in the actual object or place your image is focusing on.

Watermarking Tools

Watermark.ws – The free account allows you to upload up to 5 images that are under 500KB each and allows users to edit their images and add the necessary watermark that is needed for copyrighting.

PicMarkr.com – Allows you to upload images through Flickr, Facebook and Picasa and edit them or add a watermark if needed.

Watermarktool.com – Allows the upload of up to 5 images under 200KB each and lets users add a text watermark.

iWatermark AppAvailable to download for Mac Windows, IOS & Android. Allows you to quickly add watermarks direct to your photos on any device and then share across social media platforms.

How long does copyright last? – Typically copyright last for the creator’s lifetime plus seventy years.

Upload Low Resolutions

Another method is to only upload low resolution images to the web. This means that when your images are borrowed, the offender doesn’t have access to a larger size that they can blow up and reuse as they will look pixelated.

Add Copyright to Metadata

There is also a method of adding copyright information directly into the metadata of your photos by using your DSLR or a photo editing tool such as Photoshop

Although these methods may not offer your images 100% protection, they will help to protect your content from majority of the internet.

Google Reverse Image Search

Want to know if any of your images have already been used, re-edited and distributed online without your permission. Try to google reverse search your image, check out how reverse image search works.

Our main piece of advice always make sure when you are using imagery online give credit where credit is due whether it is crediting your own imagery or if you are using free to use imagery for your business blogs or social media posts via creative commons always credit the owner/creator.

Top Image Credit:  freepik.com/littlevisuals

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