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Thread: Copyright registration?

  1. #1
    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Copyright registration?

    I am tackling the daunting task to get organised in my workslow ... .... ahem...workflow.

    While I feel overwhelmed to get all this mess I am dealing with sorted into a structure over a weekend, mainly because I am using more than one program, and of course bcause I am guilty not to have done that way before, one major question popped up during my efforts....

    In the US you have that service where you can register your pictures, I believe you even get a cpyright certificate back, to help you protect you work.

    Now, does anyone around here know about s similiar valid process in europe?

    Would it not be nice if we would have a globally valid registration where any one regardless what nationality could do that? I suppose this is sceience fiction, because copyright, and infringement is a national matter. However, I would like to know a valid process for people working in europe.

    Then again, what if I am going over to the US and shoot there?

    How do you approach this?

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    Re: Copyright registration?

    HI George,

    Regarding copyright, international law varies by region (or country), but there are some international elements in place. In the U.S. copyright is attached to the photographer, if you will, when the shutter is released. Registration is not necessary, but it does afford some advantages in terms of penalties awarded in a case of unauthorized use – as much as triple damages I believe, depending on other factors.

    To deal with the international aspect of all of this, there are treaties that nations have entered into in order to protect their citizens. One such treaty is between the U.S. and most European countries for example. I say "most" because in that particular treaty Spain, Portugal (and I can't remember who else) declined to participate due to language. So, there is another treaty in which Latin America, Spain, etc. have entered into with the U.S and others. (Edit to clarify: the reference to the Latin agreement pertains more to trademark than to copyright, but illustrates how participation can vary) These treaties tend to protect most of us via reciprocity, though will generally require local legal representation in case of abuse (which can be expensive). There are still some holes in the net of treaties, but it is getting better.

    Countries participating in the WTO are also bound by certain copyright, IP, trademark agreements.

    I have some links to these treaties and will try to find them if they are of interest.

    Edit to add:

    Here's a link to some listed treaties and the parties involved: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_treaty_table It's not a direct link to a specific treaty, but that is also available on line which you can drill down to via the Wikipedia link. And there is a lot of info on the WIPO site.

    And: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_C...Artistic_Works
    Last edited by Dale Allyn; 26th June 2009 at 14:16.

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    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Re: Copyright registration?

    Very interesting background info Dale. Thanks for that! I had no idea about WIPO in the first place.

    I am not a friend of over the top regulated systems where solictors are the only ones who benefit from, and in fact, in Germany at the moment there are massive amounts of scams by these "honorable" laywers happening, these crooks are certainly not representative, where they use legal loop holes enabling them to send cease and desist letters to all kind of people to make them pay monies, and it flippin works! They hire students to scan the web for opportunities, and make a fortune in unsuspecting victims that just happen not to know about it.

    Having said that, I do believe that once a photographer enters the Web with work that has value to him/her, they are best advised to look for every possibility to protect their work, hence this questions.

    Jack recently pointed out that he was able to make a print from a 1200 pixel wide picture.... food for thought!

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    Re: Copyright registration?

    The US copyright process has really begun to be simple via web-registration and direct downloading of the images. I'll be doing this very shortly and can respond if anyone is interested.

    Don
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    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: Copyright registration?

    Quote Originally Posted by Georg Baumann View Post
    ...solictors are the only ones who benefit...massive amounts of scams
    If you are looking for solicitors, you could try these people in Sligo!

    http://www.sligotown.net/courthouse.shtml
    Sláinte

    Robert.

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    Re: Copyright registration?

    George,

    It's good that you're thinking about these things. It is correct that any image on the internet is at "risk" of being used in a manner not authorized by its owner. One must weigh the risks against benefits when images are posted online.

    We can use watermarks to reduce the number of folks who would mess with our images. Or we can accept that a few will be grabbed, but at least those who view them won't be bothered by distracting watermarks.

    I generally post images of about 700 to 900 pixels at the widest dimension if its anything I care about. One can use Flash to display images on a personal website, which at least will deter folks from simply dragging the images off of your site. (I'm not a big fan of Flash sites.) Screen captures would still give them a copy at screen resolution however.

    To repeat though, I think one needs to measure the benefits and risks and decide how to proceed from there. For example, will an online catalogue lead to sales and other opportunities, such that someone copying an image to make a desktop image or an 11x14 is of much concern? If you sell 20 large fine art prints of an image, and then find out that some schmuck has made a lower quality, smaller copy (taken from the web) and sold it in some foreign land are you going to freak out? The answer is personal for each. How about if it shows up in a book and the schmuck is credited with the image? The latter is pretty easy to pursue compensation for, as the publisher will bear responsibility, etc.

    My site is in desperate need of being redone (was never even finished anyway) and I'm in the process of building it. I intend to have 700px images without watermarks and expect to find some used on the web without authorization as I do now. I can live with that, but I obviously don't make my living from photography. Still, if I did I doubt I'd change that part of it.

    It is an interesting study. Without the internet, many of us would never have an opportunity to share our photography. And without the internet we would also not experience someone misusing our images.

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    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Re: Copyright registration?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Campbell View Post
    If you are looking for solicitors, you could try these people in Sligo!

    http://www.sligotown.net/courthouse.shtml
    Oh, what a nice surprise; Greetings neighbour. I am in Donegal. Thanks for the link, fortunately I am not in need for legal services, and I hope to be able to keep it that way.

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    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Re: Copyright registration?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dale Allyn View Post
    It is an interesting study. Without the internet, many of us would never have an opportunity to share our photography. And without the internet we would also not experience someone misusing our images.
    Hi Dale,

    .... it certainly is!

    I am with you, I would not go overboard with all that, I just found the easy solution that you chaps have in the US with registering your work a very appealing concept. Have not come across anything similiar here in Europe.

    I have come across some people who had their work stolen in deed, and not for screensavers but rather profit generating purposes. In such a situation it helps to have the legal basics covered, which I suppose starts with IPTC entries in your file etc.

    ....Tricky subject though.

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    Re: Copyright registration?

    George,

    There was a case a couple of years in which a popular woman on Flickr had her work used to publish a number of posters and calendars without her authorization. It was quite a big deal at the time. She is an artist in Canada (I believe) and her work was used by a company in the U.K. (if I recall, could be elsewhere). As a "struggling artist" she did not have the money required to retain a lawyer in the country of the offense and there was a huge uprising on flickr about it. It grew into a mob, and the perpetrator was even supposedly threatened by someone in this mob, or so the story goes. I remember when it was unfolding, but don't recall how it all worked out.

    So I was not suggesting that stuff only ends up as desktop pictures. Just saying that there are different things to consider and to determine how each person is affected by them.

  10. #10
    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Re: Copyright registration?

    Yeah, I think I remember that story.

    While researching on the european situation, I came across the usual collection agencies that represent the artists, such as GEMA would be an organisation in music that would collect and pay out in that respect.

    I come to think, it is a little bit a wild west situation currently, and not very transparent for any concerned photographer.

    Of course, a phletora of membership organisations are on offer. LOL Pay per annum only xyz and have a stamp on your forehead and access to our experts. However, I learned the hard way that experts are a double edged sword which might cause you bleedin wounds if you trust expert opinions.

    For starters, I think I'll whack a © onto each and every single picture from here on, while I don't like it, it seems to be pretty much needed in these times.

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    Re: Copyright registration?

    Things get even more complicated...

    My wife was watching the TV network "HGTV" tonight. It's a home and garden network geared toward designing homes, decorating, selling homes, etc. This was an episode in which someone is trying to sell their home, but after a few months it has not sold... so the host comes in and recommends changes to make it more marketable. You get the idea.

    Well, I walked into the room, made a few quick observations along with my critical remarks (as usual). Then I noticed that all of the wall-art was blurred. Huh? I asked "what's up with that?". Of course I knew what was "up". Somebody had complained to the network, or they heard of a possibility of such, in which an artist wanted compensation for their now televised image. Mind you, in this case the wall hangings appeared to be owner-made or art fair stuff or the like (only minor blurring effect used). I then noticed that the home owner's T-shirt had the design logo across the gentleman's chest blurred out. Now that's not too distracting or annoying! It was simply absurd. My wife said that it had started several months ago, maybe a year or less.

    This rant touches on George's remark about lawyers (solicitors, advocates, whatever) and how their efforts are not always in the best interest of the society or even their own clients in the long run. Now before I get pummeled, I will say that there are many fine lawyers who do important work, but there are many exploitations as well. And these exploitations have a negative effect on the quality of our lives. (Oops, I almost swerved into tort reform, frivolous law suits and the like. Sorry.)

    Anyway, I found it patently stupid to see a home decor television show need to blur out wall-hangings to avoid conflict with some artist or photographer. Sure the network is making money, but the artist may find a customer or two who goes to the trouble to find out who did the work as well.

    As a HUGE proponent of copyright protection and intellectual property protection I ask, where do we draw the line? At what point is the owner of said assets pissing in his/her own pond as they wrangle these things? What good comes from a network simply blurring out all of one's work? For me, I'd rather have someone say "hey, was that your image I saw on HGTV last night?". My answer would be "yup, wanna buy one just like it?".

    Last edited by Dale Allyn; 27th June 2009 at 00:19. Reason: typos, as usual

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    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: Copyright registration?

    There are two problems, as I see it -- the reasons behind the need for copyright [registration] --

    1. How to prevent your images being stolen

    2. How to find out if images are stolen, and get recompense

    1. You can't prevent any determined thief from stealing images [and taking/borrowing/using images without permission is theft -- a bit like stealing by finding] -- transparent gifs and even Flash aren't secure [not that I know how to do it]. The EXIF stuff can easily be changed

    You can reduce the chances by large, bold copyright signs over the image, and part of it, though again these could be cloned out. You can only post relatively small images.

    Isn't there software that will embed an encrypted code in the image that identifies it as yours?

    2. Have your images been lifted? A program called Tineye will search the web for similar images, though it isn't very comprehensive; otherwise it seems to be very much up to chance, unless anyone else knows to the contrary.

    How to establish ownership? This is where prior copyright registration comes in -- this would certainly establish it. An unaltered original file, with the sort of forensic registration that Canon offers might help. Otherwise, evidence of prior usage or posting. Compare your original and the copy in PS.

    How to get recompense? The simple thief, who posts on Flickr or wherever, can be reported to the site owners/managers --and can be subject to a campaign on the site if you can mobilise sufficient volunteers -- this happened recently on photographyireland.net -- and was ultimately successful -- the thief claimed to come from my home town in Ireland, but I couldn't trace him at all -- but had given enough details -- on a link to a for sale site -- for the original owner to be able to phone him.

    The determined thief seems to pose a much more difficult problem, and I'm not sure if there are any simple measures which work -- this seems the sort of area where Messrs Argue and Phibbs get involved, with all the delay and expense that always accompanies any legal expedition -- and the determined thief probably know this.

    Alternatively, don't run your own site -- send the pix off to an agency, and let them worry about theft.

    Anyone got any better ideas?
    Sláinte

    Robert.

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    Senior Member kweide's Avatar
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    Re: Copyright registration?

    Do not ever publish fotos on the web. Your pics can be stolen anyway whether they are protected or not.
    The problem: You do not even know when your pics got stolen !!
    Solution: None available....
    Watermarks can be removed. Digital signatures as well.

    Do we have to live with the risk ??
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    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Re: Copyright registration?

    When I started looking into all this, I also contacted a professional photographers organisation in Ireland, mainly to find out about inusrance for the business and ask about copyright protection.

    Strange enough, on calling them, I was confronted with the first question, "Are you a member?", and I answered, "Not yet, but I may be interested." and the voice on the other end changed into a more cold and unwilling person, she strongly gave me the feeling that I am stealing her time. May be they do not want new member? On asking what benefits a member would have, she pointed out that all this is on their website and gave me no information or general idea about their organisation at all.

    I learned quickly how useless this really is.

    In terms of insurance, oh well, yeah of course they offered a VERY special package, geared towards professional photographer, and of course not availlable anywhere else but through becoming a member in their organisation first. They gave me the contact to the insurance chap they were praising, and I called him up and got a quote from him, keep in mind, you had to add a couple of hundreds per annum member ship fees, otherwise he would not insure you as a non member.

    Interesting concept I thought, but had all my red flags up.

    No surprise, his offer was three times higher then the best offer I had on the table for the same values to be insured. However he insisted it is a very special deal only available through their good contacts and for members only.

    Well, need I say that I am not a member of this "professional" photographers organisation?

    Lots of sharks in irish waters, well unfortunately not baskingsharks anymore but more so the greedy human species.

    Copyright:

    What Robert experienced seems to happen more and more. So what is a "safe size" 900 pixel wide with a massice © sign, as we know it can be removed, hence offers no protection at all, may be a deterent at best.

    I am not overly worried about these things, but of course would hate to have to spend time and monies on legal proceedings in case someone seriously steals work and generates business from the theft.

    To use the internet and a website for marketing purposes makes sense, and how nice if we could offer anything from 17" screen to 30" screen pictures to be looked at.

    So as it stands, we have to take the risk and live with the hassle and possible actions to be taken, or do not post anything, which I think is out of the question.

    I would think, that professional forums are a desired target for such determined thiefs as well.

    I come to think, my main business will be in the larger format pictures, and from a 900 or 1200 pixel wide compressed jpg in 72, I can not see anyone making a decent large format print. So I probably need not be concerned on that respect.

    Am I worried about people snatching pictures for A4 sized prints or screensavers? Not really, I do not think they would buy any work in the first place.

    Can they cause damage to my business? If they make a profit from my work, of course. But how likely is that secenario? May be I am too naiv on that point, and this is happening more than I can imagine.

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    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: Copyright registration?

    Quote Originally Posted by kweide View Post
    Do not ever publish fotos on the web. Your pics can be stolen anyway whether they are protected or not.
    The problem: You do not even know when your pics got stolen !!
    Solution: None available....
    Watermarks can be removed. Digital signatures as well.

    Do we have to live with the risk ??
    That's all very well, Klaus, but those who want to make money from photography [and this doesn't include me] see the web as advertising to a much larger audience than would otherwise be possible, with potentially greater rewards. I suppose these rewards must be greater than the risks [of theft].

    Part of the theft problem isn't that you have lost something you once had, but the violation of your personal space and property, and I suspect that it's this personal violation and the natural emotional response which hurts as much -- or more -- as the loss itself.
    Sláinte

    Robert.

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    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Re: Copyright registration?

    Metadata can be stripped, © Logos can be cloned out, what's left? A very unattractive 900 pixel including a logo.

    Looks like a fight lost before the battle started.

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    Re: Copyright registration?

    George, I think there are compromises which one must consider. (Back to the "risk vs. benefit" evaluation process.) But each of us has a different comfort level.

    I have had images used without permission. Some were spotted by friends, one was located by TinEye thanks to one of their developers, etc. Some folks see something like this and start screaming "Thief! Thief!" and sometimes that's accurate. Sometimes it's just someone who simply "doesn't get it" and is unaware of copyright responsibilities. I try to deal with these situations very calmly, contact the "perpetrator" and inform them of the copyright status, etc. They are invited to license the image or take it down, etc. But I have never found my images used for a calendar or in print without authorization either. That is a different issue.

    Heck, I even have (or had) someone in China using my domain url in theirs (as a sub-directory) as a way of stealing traffic and taking credit for images. Ugh. I think I have clipped that one (hopefully).

    My point, if I had one, is that I think a balance is appropriate. We should take care to protect what's dear to us, but not to the point of paralyzation. We should strive to improve our craft to produce a unique and recognizable style (ha! easily said) so that others will help us to spot miss-use. And perhaps above all, we should be careful not to overreact if we find our images used without authorization. A polite process of clarification might very well result in a new client (this has happened to me).

    Cheers

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    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Re: Copyright registration?

    Well said Dale!

    The China story is amazing!

    In the grand scheme of things, the counterfeiting and piracy mafia is a massive problem for markets. In europe there is a commission at work trying to deal with that.

    Thinking about pharmaceutical products etc. it even poses a danger to peoples health what is happening there.

    As for china and photographs. Two years ago I was approached by a furniture chain who were interested in selling my prints.... Until they learned what minimum price range I require. They are selling canvas prints for example, of course made in china, that picture typical stuff like Golden Gate bridge, Chicago Skyline etc etc. The prices for their mass produced canvas were unbelievably low of course. I am not saying thye are all stolen photographs, but it would be very easy for them to do that and even avoid the relatively low cost stock photography.

    However, I offered them a license model, from where they could print as much as they see fit, but then the housing market crashed in Ireland and it never came to that.

    So, Risk vs benefit is the only way to look at it, as there is no such thing as protection for photographs available at this point in time.

    National parks start asking for license fees to be abkle to take photographs as soon as you are seen with a tripod, the "obvious" indicator for a professional , and more such ridiculous restrictions are finding their way into our daily life.

    Software products are protected by all kind of measurments, down to annyoing hardware dongles that need to be conncetd to be able to use the software, my Mac lights up like a christmas tree already, and we, the enduser pay for these software protections at the end of the day. I just happen to be one of these "Idiots" who honor the work of other people. You will not find a single piece of cracked or hacked software on my macs, every single piece is payed for. I can not count anymore how often colleagues asked me, did you try this and that, brilliant program, I send you a key if you want. Thanks but no thanks. There are people somewhere trying to make a living from their work you know.

    I wonder, why can they not bake the metadata in such way that it is interwoven with the picture that without the metadata the picture is rendered unusable for example. Then again, I am no software engineer, and may be such is not possible. At the end of the day, there is no such thing like software protection, if a group of determined people want ot crack something, they will do it eventually.

    My most expensive software is a library of the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra that I use for composing and recording music, all dongle protected with a sophisticated code of course. But one single google on the product and you find Russian and Chinese sites where anyone can download the very product for nothing. Of course, it annoys me is that I am paying for the protection developed and implemented by the manufacturer, so my end price is higher.

    As for pictures, I really have to think hard about my strategy of dealing with that. Oh btw. thanks for the info on tiny eye, I never heard about it before.

    Crazy world.

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    Re: Copyright registration?

    George,

    One "heads-up" re. TinEye: their concept is great, but results are still very spotty. Ultimately they need to index every image file on the internet (growing every second) which is no small feat. They have spotted a couple of my images that were used without authorization for commercial purposes, but they have also missed several which I knew of, as well as my own image when I have it uploaded in three different places, including my flickr account and personal site, and the files are linked to each other. And in another situation I have an image which gets a large number of hits from Google searches, comes up on the first page in a Google image search (usually the top row), is on flickr (#1 or #2 in Explore - big deal ) and TinEye does not even find one instance of it – not even on my site or flickr.

    So, when TinEye gives you a link to your images used without authorization it's great (or finds the ones you do authorize or uploaded yourself), but if TinEye returns nothing it is not helpful in any way. I like what they're are attempting and hope they succeed.
    Last edited by Dale Allyn; 28th June 2009 at 11:30.

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