I was wrong! Watermarks are not useless! Keep reading to learn why.
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. I said that watermarks:
- get in the way
- are easy to remove
- don’t provide a way to measure “exposure” of your work
- 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 the Fstoppers facebook page talking about watermarks. I commented with a link to my blog post and… a person named AC replied to my comment. He explained how my information about copyright protection was not quite accurate.
We had a brief, very kind, email exchange. In this conversation, AC shared a lot of information. He explained that, in many cases, copyright lawyers actually recommend watermarking images. They also recommend adding meta-data to your images with your copyright information.
AC also shared quite a few links that supported his research. Some of the links describe how copyright protection may even work for international creatives against US-based infringements. AC agreed for the links to be posted on my blog.
Copyright Office & Copyright Attorney Links
- The Value of Watermarks: http://thecopyrightzone.com/?p=1351
- Seven Reasons to Add Watermarks: https://www.photoattorney.com/7-reasons-add-watermark-photos/
- Including CMI to Photographs: https://www.photoattorney.com/options-recovering-infringement-damages/
- Washington, DC Copyright Attorney Joshua Kaufman (Video Copyright Registration): https://youtu.be/cBOKkrleY3Y
- Washington, DC Copyright Attorney Joshua Kaufman (Video Copyright Notice): https://youtu.be/IQGx2NOcca0
- The US Copyright Office 2018 video guide on how to register groups of UN-published photographs: https://youtu.be/xyMNIzkyAoQ
- 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NOTE: You can NOT mix published and UNpublished photographs in the same registration–they MUST be separated into their own specific registration.
- US Copyright Offices FAQ: https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/index.html
- Additional Copyright Office general question assistance: https://www.copyright.gov/circs/
- 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
- Ed Greenburg Copyright Attorney YouTube video (LONG):
Video #1: https://youtu.be/Yi9353BTM_s
Video #2: https://youtu.be/6QC_cuq0b6w
- 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/
As you can see, AC’s research was way more thorough than mine. That’s why I have to say: thank you AC for pointing me in the right direction!
I still need to point out that neither AC nor I are lawyers. 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.
And that is how watermarks do serve a purpose. Yes, they get in the way. No, they don’t provide a clear way to track exposure. However, they can help 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.