Copyright Confusion

What has happened to society that means our brains are wired to ignore a giant watermark over a photo, or to just use other people creations as if they are our own...Is that a rhetorical question? I'm not sure....

It's 2019 and the future is looking bleak. With apps that remove watermarks and the public being fed more and more false information about the law on image useage, it is hard work keeping an eye on every photo you have ever taken as its makes it's way through the wilderness of Social Media. Finding photos that have been credited to you online...Easy Peasy Lemon Squeeze. Finding photos that you have taken that have been altered, stolen or used wrongfully...Hardy Hardy Lemon Hardy...

I asked my instagram followers whether they thought they fully understood copyright law, the answer was very interesting! Over 75% said no. Now copyright law is actually quite simple to understand, It is fairly black and white so I'm not sure where all the confusion has come from. I am not really sure where we begin educating people on this? Whilst it is a very really crime, and actually super easy for me to take people to court over it, non photographers don't view it this way its almost a joke! I feel like maybe as photographers it would help if we stood up stronger against it. Whilst I do know a few photographers who regularly threaten court action, most approach the issue with a slap on the wrist over a politely worded email (VERY british).

I feel that unless I actually try to proactively educate my followers, I can't up my stance on copyright crime (Obviously, legally, I can). So thats what this is about, trying to help you all just a tiny little bit.

Lets go through some main points:

  1. A common misconception is that once you post an image to Facebook, you loose all your rights to said image, and people (and Facebook) can them use the image as they wish. THIS IS NOT TRUE! A photographer (or any person who takes a photo), legally always retains copyright to their images. I am not sure how this rumour has spread, but it is incredibly damaging to a wide range of companies and individuals. Just yesterday I was part of a copyright dilemma where a fair few people commented that the image had been rightfully used because the image originated on facebook...It is actually quite upsetting that people believe this and therefore were siding with the individuals in the wrong.

  2. You should not be changing the images I take in any way. That means you are not allowed to crop or remove my watermark, you cannot photoshop items in or out of the image and you cannot post with a filter or any colour correction over the top. I am more than happy to alter an image for you, so talk to me if you want an image to look a certain way or if you want things photoshopped. I promise I don’t bite.​ I know people aren't doing this maliciously, however you must try and understand that I edit the photos in a certain way for a reason. Whilst I am unlikely to threaten an individual for posting on instagram with a filter, it is upsetting that they have spent money utilising my 'skills' and then decide that they can make it better with an instagram filter. Spoiler: It usually makes an image look a lot worse.

  3. Giving a company a commercial license does not mean they then own the copyright. This is again another misconception, normally from big companies which is very scary!! A commercial license means I am allowing the company to use the image, as it is, in the ways listed on the commercial license. They cannot sell the image or use it in any ways I haven’t given permission for.

  4. Copyright is automatic as soon as the photo is taken. Many believe copyright only applies if the image is watermarked. This is completely untrue. Whilst I do watermark the majority of images on social media, my clients receive un watermarked images that are still protected by copyright law.

  5. If you do not have a commercial license for the images I have taken for you, you must not use these images to advertise ANYTHING. Message me to ask! Depending on the situation I am often to happy to give you permission to use the image without charge! I just appreciate clients coming to me first.

  6. If, as a client, a company approaches you asking to use the image I took, you are not allowed to give the company permission. You must refer this request onto myself. This is a HUGE one that really grinds my gears! Remember that a lot of my business comes from referrals and people seeing my images online. If a company then reposts my image just crediting the client, or in fact no one at all, another company may then repost it from the other company, and again and again and again. That could have been a great advertising opportunity for me and helped me build my brand. That may seem petty to many but as a small business, working for my self. I make my living through situations like this.

So there are some main points to get your teeth into. See, its not actually that difficult is it.

I really hope that helps some of you. If you are ever in doubt pleas just ping me a message, I promise you I don't bite and I am always happy to advise and help wherever I can.

So now you are copyright boffins!

Emily xx

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer!!!!!!!

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