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Copyright Your Photographs The Easy Way

Updated on December 10, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years. Hope you enjoy my hubs! | Source

There are several ways to protect your photographs from being used without your permission. Although this really applies to their use in a commercial venue and not really when used for personal reason, there are a few simple things that you can do to add an extra level of protection to your images especially if they are of your best work and can have a sale value.

Copyright is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution. This is usually only for a limited time. The exclusive rights are not absolute but limited by limitations and exceptions to copyright law, including fair use. Wikipedia

Copyright does not solely apply to images. It also applies to books, writings, and even to unpublished images if you value them.

Keep in mind that the protection usually entails preventing the use of your property for distribution where someone else besides you can stand to make money from their use.

If they are to be used to make a point, show a technique, teach or illustrate, even critique, the Fair Use Doctrine may offer some leeway to whomever uses your images.


Although your work is mostly protected under copyright the moment you post it on a web site , your blog or in any print medium it is wise to add the copyright symbol and some wording declaring what you allow and what you do not. This serves as an added level of protection which may be prove useful in the event that you have to take legal action against anyone using your image improperly.

However the best way to protect your work is by registering it with a government agency that handles this type of action. This is great should you wish to receive compensation from anyone using you work without your permission. Keep in mind that even in these cases you will still have to wait until the user of your work proves that their use of your work falls under some type of protected use like Fair Use.

Start by contacting the U.S. Copyright Office. This takes three steps; The first is to file an application. The second is to pay a fee and the third is to submit copies of the work that you want protection for. Copyright for visual arts may be sent to:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office- VA
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20559-6000.

In the event that you find it necessary to sue for damages you can expect to receive amounts starting at about $2,500 to up to $25,000 if your legal action proves successful. | Source

Another very method to keep your images safe is to add a watermark. Not the best way to display your images but good enough to make them not attractive to "steal".

Make sure that the watermark is not too obtrusive and affects the way that the image is viewed and appreciated by potential clients.

Here is a good site that shows you how to create a watermark in Photoshop:

Some other really effective methods to keep your work from being used without your knowledge and permission are to disabling the right-click option which prevents users from quickly saving the image on a computer.

Instead of the “save as” option opening what anyone trying to save a copy of the image will see is a notice stating that the photo is protected by copyright.

The second way is to use a hidden foreground layer. To do this you place your photo on a blank foreground image and whenever someone right clicks to save it, they will download the blank image instead.

There is also a third method but it is rather complicated and time consuming so it is worth it not to even mention plus you really need to be handy with Photoshop or any other similar editing program.

You may get more information as well as exploring other methods to twart the use of your images by going to the following link:

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If you are unsure if any of your images are being used you can do a search quite easily by using any of the several system that are currently available. One of the best is It is a free service and counts with a large data base.

One more key factor to keep in mind is that Copyright is a legal right given for a fixed period of time. In the United States work created from January 1978 and after is protected the moment it is copyright register during the life of the author and 70 years after the death of the creator.

Remember that when the copyright expires the work becomes part of public domain and it is free to use for any purpose whatsoever. | Source

Nothing will keep a well versed individual from using your work without your permission if they want to do so strongly enough but by taking some added precautions you can at least minimize the chances that your photographs will be used rampantly without regards to ownership.

Since most of today's advertising and business takes place in the Net, you need at least some level of protection before posting your most valuable images for the world to see.

© 2015 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 2 years ago from Miami, Florida

      RTalloni: Thank you. Glad it helped

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for this useful information on copyrighting photos.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 2 years ago from Miami, Florida

      easylearningweb: Thank you.Glad you found it helpful

    • easylearningweb profile image

      Amelia Griggs 2 years ago

      Very helpful and good suggestions, Luis! Thanks for sharing :-)