I was wrong! Watermarks are not completely useless! Keep reading to learn more.
Some time last year I wrote a blog post and made a video, describing why I think watermarks are useless. In that blog post/video, I used four arguments to support my opinion: they get in the way, they are easy to remove, they don’t provide a way to measure “exposure” of your work and they don’t provide copyright protection.
It is that last point where I made a mistake, and I thought it would be wise to make corrections.
How did I realize my mistake? The truth is, I didn’t. I recently saw a post on Fstoppers facebook page talking about watermarks, I commented with a link to my blog post and… somebody named AC replied to my comment, explaining how my information about copyright was not quite accurate.
Through his replies and a brief, very kind, email exchange, AC shared a lot of information explaining how, in many cases, copyright lawyers do recommend watermarking images as well as filling meta-data with your copyright information. He also shared quite a few links that explained all this and how this copyright protection *may* even work for international creatives against US-based infringements. AC shared the following links with me and agreed for them to be posted here
Copyright Office & Copyright Attorney Links
1) The Value of Watermarks: http://thecopyrightzone.com/?p=1351
2) Seven Reasons to Add Watermarks: https://www.photoattorney.com/7-reasons-add-watermark-photos/
3) Including CMI to Photographs: https://www.photoattorney.com/options-recovering-infringement-damages/
4) Washington, DC Copyright Attorney Joshua Kaufman (Video Copyright Registration): https://youtu.be/cBOKkrleY3Y
5) Washington, DC Copyright Attorney Joshua Kaufman (Video Copyright Notice): https://youtu.be/IQGx2NOcca0
6) The US Copyright Office 2018 video guide on how to register groups of UN-published photographs: https://youtu.be/xyMNIzkyAoQ
7) The US Copyright Office 2018 video guide on how to register groups of PUBLISHED photographs: https://youtu.be/vgEDW-RBSCY
NOTE: You can NOT mix published and UNpublished photographs in the same registration–they MUST be separated into their own specific registration.
8) US Copyright Offices FAQ: https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/index.html
9) Additional Copyright Office general question assistance: https://www.copyright.gov/circs/
10) Registering your (photographic) works at the US Copyright Office (Registration Portal): https://www.copyright.gov/registration/ and https://www.copyright.gov/registration/photographs/index.html.
11) Ed Greenburg Copyright Attorney YouTube video (LONG):
Video #1: https://youtu.be/Yi9353BTM_s
Video #2: https://youtu.be/6QC_cuq0b6w
12) Why Registering Your Copyrights is More Essential Than You Think: https://www.rangefinderonline.com/news-features/tips-techniques/why-registering-your-copyrights-is-more-essential-than-you-think/
In general terms, AC’s research was way more complete than mine and I have to say: thank you AC for pointing me in the right direction!
One more thing: I still need to point out that neither AC nor I are lawyers, so please don’t take this information as legal advice. If you have questions about copyright or legal issues about your creative work, talk to a local lawyer, preferably someone that specializes in your legal matter.
And that is how watermarks do serve a purpose. Yes, they get in the way and still don’t provide a clear way to track exposure, but they can help you protect your work. Of course, this protection is even better if you register your images with the copyright authority in your country.
Have you registered your images? What was your experience? Please, leave a comment below.