Allow the image to remain
Request the image be removed with a takedown notice
Send the publisher a request that they credit you for your work
Send the publisher a license request, stipulating the licensing fee that must be paid to continue using your image
So far in our series on image copyrights, we’ve talked about the basics of copyright laws as well as some essential facts that are important for all photographers to be aware of as it pertains to copyrights.
Now we dive into some commonly-held misconceptions about image copyrighting that do nothing but hurt the bottom line of photographers like you and me. From ineffective ways to protect your images to misunderstanding the Fair Use doctrine to thinking that protecting your work is a long, drawn-out process, we debunk myth after myth, and offer up the best way to protect each and every image you take. Let’s get started!
Myth #1: Right-Click Disabling Protects My Images
Myth #2: “Fair Use” Means People Can Use My Images Without My Permission
Posting someone else’s work on social media sites like Twitter has become a ubiquitous aspect of daily life. It’s such a standard practice, in fact, that most people seem to not realize (or simply don’t care) that, in most cases, it is absolutely illegal to do so. The problem, of course, is that it’s such a common practice to copy and share images that, in the past at least, policing who’s taking your images was extremely difficult to do. Besides, many people that copy others’ work claim it’s okay under Fair Use
Fair use has become the excuse by people all over the internet for using other people’s images without the original photographer’s consent. Though Fair Use does allow, in some instances, for copyrighted materials to be used without permission, it’s much more restrictive than what most people think. By and large, Fair Use is governed by four factors as outlined by the United States Copyright Office:
The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes. For example, your copyrighted images can be used by others without your permission for the purposes of commentary, criticism, or teaching, but not for commercial purposes. So, a teacher could use your image in his or her classroom to teach a photography principle, but that same teacher couldn’t use your image on the cover of a photography ebook they have for sale online.
The nature of the copyrighted work. For example, if your image is highly creative, it’s less likely someone can use it without permission and claim Fair Use than if it is a factual image. So, an image in which you highlight a new photography technique is more likely to be protected than an image you took of a protest in the streets. The former is creative in nature; the latter is factual in nature. Furthermore, how much your image has been published is also a factor. If it has been widely shared on the internet, Fair Use is more likely to allow use without permission than if you’ve posted the photo once on your website.
The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. The extent to which your image is used will determine whether it is Fair Use or not. For example, if your image is posted by someone else on his or her blog in the context of a critique, as mentioned above, then the publisher is likely allowed to do so under Fair Use. However, if the publisher simply steals your image and posts it to his or her Instagram account without any commentary or attribution of the work as being yours, Fair Use would be difficult to apply.
The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. This is the most restrictive tenet of the Fair Use doctrine because it protects the value of copyrighted work from being diminished. For example, someone that takes your image and publishes it widely on the internet could very well diminish the value of the work if you try to sell it. After all, why would someone buy your image if it’s already all over the internet? In such a case, it would be difficult for that person to claim Fair Use.
So, while Fair Use does allow for some instances of using images without the permission of the photographer, in many cases, Fair Use simply does not protect copyright violators.
Myth #3: Stolen Images Don’t Affect Me
Of course, we all hope that the images we take and share online aren’t ripped off by someone. But the sad truth is that it’s far too easy to steal others’ work and more than likely, at least one of your images, at some point, has been taken without your permission and used by someone else. Denying that it happens won’t do you any favors. Copyright infringement impacts all of us, and taking measures to protect everyone’s work is the responsibility of each member of the photography community.
Myth #4: Protecting My Work Takes Too Much Time
Sure, a decade ago protecting your work might have been a time-consuming, difficult process. But that just isn’t the case today. Photographers have more tools at their disposal today for protecting what’s theirs than ever before. And though there are many choices for ensuring your work remains yours, one service stands head and shoulders above the rest - Copypants.
If you want to protect your images, there is no easier way than Copypants. All you have to do is sign up, give Copypants access to your online collections - be that in your portfolio, on Instagram, Flickr, or elsewhere - and Copypants will scour the internet for you, looking for copies of the images you worked so hard to create. Once duplicates are found, you’re notified and given several options for recourse:
All of these options are easily accessed within the Copypants platform. You don’t have to hire a lawyer. You don’t have to draw up complex legal documents. You don’t even have to send your requests with your own email address. Everything is taken care of by Copypants on your behalf, making it simple, easy, and painless to keep track of your work, protect it, and potentially collect fees from people who are posting your images. Ten minutes - that’s all the time you need to use Copypants to protect the images you create!
Don’t let commonly-held myths about copyrights prevent you from protecting your work. Let Copypants help you keep track of who’s using and sharing your images so you’re sure to get the credit (and the money) you deserve for your hard work!