Photography Copyright Protection: Online Resources

We spend a ton of time talking about marketing photography online – helping photographers extend their reach through websites, blogs, social media, etc. So, it should be no surprise that we often get questions about protection.  There are some amazing resources for photographers to learn more about protecting their copyright.  We’ve taken a stab at gathering up *some* of the best resources we’ve found – mostly from industry organizations, government and nonprofits, and a few voices of wisdom in the industry.

Yes, getting your work online exposes you to risk of theft. And yes, uneducated web users generally have a severe lack of respect for photographers’ copyright and image use restrictions. To avoid this risk you can simply not participate. Shut everything down and only share images when asked directly by a potential client. This is obviously a really bad idea, and the worst long term solution for your business. Your customers are doing business online, linking up in social networks and browsing the web, so it’s where you and your images need to be if you care about getting new work. So, you’d better understand your rights and the tools at your disposal to both protect you from theft and prosecute when theft occurs.  The following should give you a good start…      

If you know of articles and resources to add to this list, please share in the comments section below. 

US Copyright
United States Copyright Office
A Brief Introduction & History
Frequently Asked Questions
Registration of Photographs
Copyright Office Fees
eCO – Electronic Copyright Submission

PhotoShelter tutorial: Electronic Copyright Registration for Photographers

International Copyright
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Directory of World Copyright Offices
Legal Pitfalls in Taking or Using Photographs of Copyright Material, Trademarks and People
WIPO Intellectual Property Handbook
World Intellectual Property Statistics


American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) Copyright Resources
Registration ©ounts – Recordings from a full day copyright seminar in April 2010
Copyright Overview
Best Practices for Registering 
How to Register (Podcast)
What to Do if Your Registration is Rejected
What to Do if Your Work is Infringed
When is an Image a Derivative Work?
A Brief History of Copyright
FAQ on Copyright Law
FAQ on Registration
Summaries of Fair Use Cases

Protecting Yourself With Good Photo Metadata
SAA Photo Metadata Project
PhotoFocus: Scott Bourne’s “Three Reason’s Why Every Photographer Should Care About Metadata”
Pro Imaging David Riecks’ “Who is Stripping Your Metadata?”

Protecting Yourself With Watermarks
Tutorials for adding visible watermarks to your images using common photo software.
Adobe PhotoShop
Adobe Lightroom
Apple Aperture
PhotoMechanic
PhotoShelter

Understanding the Dangers of Orphan Works
ASMP Orphan Works Overview
ASMP Orphan Works FAQ
ASMP Podcasts on Orphan Works

Protecting Yourself on Social Media
ASMP Review of Social Media Terms of Service & Summary of Best Practices
Reporting Claims of Copyright Infringement on Facebook
Controlled Vocabulary Survey of Metadata Preservation on Social Media Sites

Protecting Yourself in Photo Contests
Pro Imaging: The Bill of Rights for Photography Competitions
Photo Competitions – What Many Organisers Don’t Want You to Know

Understanding Public Domain
Public Domain Sherpa An online guide to understanding Public Domain. Articles include:
10 Common Misconceptions About Public Domain
Duke Law – Center for the Study of Public Domain – Public Domain FAQ’s

Understanding Licensing Models
ASMP Guide to Licensing Photography
PLUS Coalition
Creative Commons
Creative Commons Licenses — describes each of the six main licenses offered when you choose to publish your work with a Creative Commons license.

Voices of Wisdom

Photo Attorney® Carolyn Wright 
Five Things You Can Do To Protect Your Online Images
Help! I’ve Been Infringed!
Using the DMCA Takedown Notice to Battle Copyright Infringement
The Fuss About Fair Use
Defining Non Commercial Use
PMA Webinar “Photographer’s Legal Guide”

Plagiarism Today
Great section on how to deal with plagiarism and copyright infringement when you discover it, including guidance on how to contact a host to get offending content removed, and cease and desist letters.

APA National Business Manual “The Key to Copyright Protection” by Jeff Schewe

Editorial Photographers Copyright Resources
EP also includes a List of Copyright Lawyers

The Copyright Alliance - A non-profit, non-partisan educational organization dedicated to the value of copyright as an agent for creativity, jobs and growth.

The Copyright Zone – A “Survival blog for photographers, artists & the confused.”  (By a humorous photographer/attorney duo.)

Again, there’s no doubt you can share more resources, so please let us know and we’ll grow the list!

Next Post:
Previous Post:
This article was written by
There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Frazer Waller at 8:05 pm

    Here in the UK we have an organisation that collects money and hands it out to artists, designers, and photographs for images used without permission. Well worth signing up too if you are in the UK and publish your work. Frazer frazerwaller.com

  2. Stock Tips at 3:09 am

    The best online photography business resource. Dozens of articles and tips about: photography website marketing, selling photos, stock photography, SEO, digital asset management..

  3. copyrightuk at 3:10 am

    To prevent photography from being copied just place the actual image behind a transparent foreground image. The online image will appear completely normal, but when someone tries to right click and save it, the resulting file will be the blank foreground image, and not the background. http://copyuk.tumblr.com/

  4. J. Molson at 9:39 pm

    If there is a potential that you will be generating significant revenue from a work, if you spent a significant amount of time and money creating a work or you know it is something that has a high probability of being involved in litigation, registration with national copyright offices can be used to supplement the http://www.myrightskeeper.com registration. This is especially applicable in the US, where the lack of registration will limit available remedies, such as access to statutory damages.

    Registering copyright with national copyright offices is fairly inexpensive for a few works but as soon as you are dealing with a number of works (multiple versions/drafts; daily blogs; pitching a potential client with a number graphical works…) the amount can be very high as each work typically requires its own registration. In that case, registration with a MRK’s Premium lockbox will be convenient and inexpensive.

    This been said, a registration with MRK will strongly enforce the protection you obtain with your national copyrighting office. First of all, and that is the most important point you should consider, most Copyright Office’s (apart from the U.S. Copyright Office) do not provide a mechanism to deposit a copy of work’s content that is the subject of the copyright registration. In those cases, the applicant simply gives the work a title. The MRK recordal will supplement the registration by providing digital time stamped evidence of the actual work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>