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Spotlight On: Writing Quotes On Photos That Are Not Yours

Updated on June 9, 2014

Published June 9, 2014

by Rachael O'Halloran

Same photo with different logo claiming ownership

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Using transformative art on a public domain picture, with artist attributed, and quote text addedwith art.com logo in cornerfrom a website using just the photo to depict subject matterSnoveda has ALL RIGHTS RESERVED on the account of this PUBLIC DOMAIN picture. Notice My arrows pointing out artist's signature and Snoveda's rights blurb. George Goodwin Kilburne is English painter born 1839- died 1924
Using transformative art on a public domain picture, with artist attributed, and quote text added
Using transformative art on a public domain picture, with artist attributed, and quote text added | Source
with art.com logo in corner
with art.com logo in corner | Source
from a website using just the photo to depict subject matter
from a website using just the photo to depict subject matter | Source
Snoveda has ALL RIGHTS RESERVED on the account of this PUBLIC DOMAIN picture. Notice My arrows pointing out artist's signature and Snoveda's rights blurb. George Goodwin Kilburne is English painter born 1839- died 1924
Snoveda has ALL RIGHTS RESERVED on the account of this PUBLIC DOMAIN picture. Notice My arrows pointing out artist's signature and Snoveda's rights blurb. George Goodwin Kilburne is English painter born 1839- died 1924 | Source

Example of a webpage claiming copyright

art.com copyright notice as per the reference in the adjacent paragraph
art.com copyright notice as per the reference in the adjacent paragraph | Source

Proper Use of Pictures With Added Text

The artist of above public domain painting died in 1924 and his painting became public domain in 1994.

Besides my use, this picture has three additional thumbnails that I'd like you to click on before you continue reading and notice the source URL for each. Enlarge your screen zoom, if you can, when you get to the one showing the Flickr thumbnail.

Okay, assuming you viewed them, I wanted you to notice that each one had a different source and each one took liberties with the painting. Besides my use, one imprinted their logo onto it, one used it on their website with no altering, and one was from a Flickr site where the account holder claimed "all rights reserved."

There was fair usage and abuse depicted in the four examples.

The second thumbnail was abuse (not a legal or fair use) because they imprinted their logo onto the painting, implying their ownership or copyright.

  • Even though they left the artist's name intact in the upper right corner, they renamed the artist's painting "The Letter" and only gave his name in the "sale" portion of their website "art.com." Their website claims copyright and all rights reserved on the artwork shown on their site. The photo in the sidebar to this text has a screenshot of art.com website rights statement.

The third thumbnail shows the same painting on their website, with no altering or added text. It is attributed using the correct title of the painting as given by the artist and the artist's name.

  • This is considered correct and fair use.

The fourth thumbnail is from a Flickr site.

  • If you weren't able to see my arrows on it, please enlarge the frame so you can see. The Flickr account holder properly attributed the picture with the artist's name, but blew it when they wrote "All rights reserved" on the picture on their Flickr account.
  • "All Rights Reserved" means no one can use the picture without their permission.
  • This is abuse (not a legal or fair use) because it is not within their purview to state the copyright of this painting because they do not have rights to it. In other words, they did not paint the painting, therefore they are not the copyright holder and have no rights to reserve.
  • Flickr is partnered with Getty Images who approaches account holders to ask if they would like to license "their" photos so that Getty will procure fees for the usage. This is on condition that the account holder actually owns the photograph they posted. After research, I am convinced that Getty Images does not own the licensing rights to this painting.

The first thumbnail is my usage.

  • If the painting were NOT public domain and the artist were still living, then of course, he would still have his copyright and I wouldn't be permitted to just take his painting to do with as I wished.
  • If I went ahead and did it anyway, then typed a quote on it, even though I gave him credit in the source or if left the artist's name on the picture (instead of using some type of text removal program), he could sue me for copyright infringement. And he would win.

But because the painting is public domain and there does not appear to be any licensing company overseeing the use or the copyright (from my research), I am not required to seek permission and the way I used it is considered a legal and fair use.

  • I properly attributed the picture with the correct title of the painting, I put the artist's name in a caption, and only for your edification, I showed his birth and death dates. It is not necessary to show it this way; I only did it to show you the origin of the painting.
  • The only reasons you would ever have to "know" where you found a photograph is 1) to show it as a source URL (as many sites require) and 2) if you were ever called on it for copyright infringement. It would behoove you to know where you found it so you could prove it was public domain.
  • Sometimes the artist's name is pretty lightly written like it is in the upper right corner of this painting. If for some reason a painting is not signed or is lightly imprinted with a signature, by not making note of where you found the photograph, you might even forget who the artist actually was.
  • I added a frame and I typed a quote onto the painting, while still not obscuring the artist's name. Typing text on a public domain picture is considered fair use. In good conscience, anyone using a painting or photograph that has a watermark, signature or imprinted copyright would not obscure it with text or color shading, or remove it with a text removal tool.
  • If I changed the colors of the subject matter or shaded it differently, for example, it would be considered "transformative art" and it still falls within the realm of fair use, not copyright infringement.
  • Lastly, DO NOT type your website logo or your name on a painting, whether it is public domain or not. It just isn't right to do.

A good rule of thumb about any usage: If a photograph (or print, painting, sketch, clip art, etc) is not yours - if you yourself did not snap it (or design it, draw it or paint it) - don't put your name on it.

Special Interest Facebook Pages

awordlover's pages weren't Facebook pages she paid for, nor were they money-making opportunities, although many Facebook pages are for profit.

awordlover's pages were considered novelty or special interest pages, where she just posted cute sayings, quotes or jokes, etc.

How can every one of these websites claim ownership of the same photo?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Yahoo group posting "Touch To Life - Heartbeats"
Source
Yahoo group posting "Touch To Life - Heartbeats"
Yahoo group posting "Touch To Life - Heartbeats" | Source
Source
Source
Source

Free Facebook Pages

Anyone can create a business or novelty Facebook page (as opposed to a personal timeline) for almost any reason (hobby, special interests, Quote of the Day, product sales, self-promotion, etc.) free of charge.

The reason they are free is because Facebook runs ads on the sidebars so they make money off your page as free space.

If you want to make money off your own page, you can buy an advertisement package from Facebook where you get a cut of every sale, click, or view, depending on the type of advertising program you signed up for and length of term purchased.

These photos have been circulating on Facebook and other sites for years and now no one questions their use. But that doesn't mean they were originally legal to

Facebook Photo and Quote Usage

Are all those Facebook photos with quotes typed on them legal? Can anyone put their website or blog name on any photo they want?

Do you remember the 1960s hair dye commercial for Clairol? Does she or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure. It implied your secret of dying your hair was safe.

Well on the world wide web, there is not much that is secret, no matter how much you try to keep to keep it under wraps.

And the misuse of photos are the biggest non-secret of all!

If you use, copy/paste, take, steal, or borrow someone's photo - call it whatever term you want to call it - someone may holler "copyright infringement" just because they can.

However, if you post it to your personal Facebook timeline, you are likely to be ignored. But if you are a big fish -- well, read on further to see what happens to bigger websites.

All anyone has to do when they question the use of any photo is right click it and search. Within seconds they will know:

  • if the photo has been used on any other websites
  • if it could be a public domain photo
  • if someone watermarked it previously (and it might have been removed)
  • if there are some variations of the photo (enhanced, added or subtracted objects)
  • if anyone changed the color scheme in any way
  • if anyone typed text, then all the results will also show the photos with various text uses
  • if the photo had been manipulated to integrate it into another scene (taking the objects and placing them within another scene or background)

Facebook is by far the largest sharing site of photographs, clipart, and manipulated pictures, with Pinterest as a runner-up. People share photos on their personal Facebook timelines all the time.

Do they all use legal photographs?

No.

Unless someone calls a user's bluff, chances are copyright infringement will be overlooked because most uses are personal use, as opposed to on a revenue sharing blog or individual Facebook pages for a business, which make money from advertisements, or a Quote of the Day type of page, where some page owners of similar pages are in competition with each other.

Next in line for high volume uses comes business and special interest Facebook Pages. Some Facebook page owners or Facebook account holders have as many as 50 Facebook pages of varying topics - anything from Sales Product Presentations to Current Events to Opinion Pages to Investment Opportunities to Joke of the Day to Work At Home scheme types of pages. You can see there is diversity in the topics of Facebook pages just from viewing your timeline sidebar advertisements.

You'll see website logos all the time on pictures that you know you've seen somewhere else before. Take a look at the thumbnails in the sidebar of the Good Morning photos. Same photo, all different websites putting their logo on the photo, thereby claiming to own it. The real owner probably isn't among those listed.

Many Opinion and Current Event Facebook pages and blogs rely on news media websites like CNN or MSNBC for their posts and they just copy that website's photo to put on their Facebook page or blog, maybe with a link, comment or blurb about the story that went with the photo.

When the media sites post a photograph, in the bottom corner or running lateral to the frame, you will see a photographer's name, who likely works for the news agency or as a stringer (work-for-hire) providing photographs for a fee. Almost always you will see the news media station's name with a copyright symbol, implying ownership.

That's because they DO own it!

But people take those photos all the time to repost on their Facebook Pages, Pinterest, blogs or websites and no one questions it.

It is really not a legal use, however, news media have reciprocity between other media sites in the United States, but that doesn't hold true for other countries. Reciprocity means if one site runs a "Breaking News" story, for example, any other news media agency can copy it to run the story on their website. Who broke the news story first is all that counts in their world, verified by the website's time stamp.

So, for that reason, in the case of news media, copyright infringement for run of the mill news stories is often overlooked. After all, how can they prove copyright infringement on your little blog if there were a thousand news media outlets who already posted the exact same story?

They can't. And they probably won't waste time bothering to chase your site down.

However, there are some blogs, websites and Facebook pages that will take a photograph, picture or painting from a sale catalog, a magazine photograph, or maybe an art sales site, type a quote on it, and even go so far as to type their website name (logo) on it, implying their ownership.

You and I really know that all they are doing is claiming they own the quote and their rendering of the picture, not the original picture. But in the eyes of the legal system, they are copyright infringers, because they took a picture that was not theirs, then claimed it by putting their name on it.

The original owner can claim "defacement" when they file for copyright infringement, but the infringer can claim "fair use."

Both will end up in court if no one backs down to give in, because it will take a judge to decide who is in the right.

So who will win?

It's anyone's guess, but you really don't want to let it get to the point of going before a judge. A judge's decision will be the final answer and for sure, there will be always be one party who won't be happy with the verdict.

If the infringer can prove no malice aforethought, and that he did not profit from his use (or detract from the profit-making of the copyright owner), then chances are the slap on the wrist will not hurt that much.

But if the copyright holder can prove that the infringer caused him to lose not only revenue, but his whole website went down considerably in search engine ranking, then the infringer will most likely lose this case in court and have to pay damages, court costs and all attorney fees.

It is not worth it. So the lesson to be learned here is not "Be careful who you steal from," but rather "Make sure the photo is legal for you to use."

Many Deviant Art pictures are ripe for the picking because they are beautiful, unique and eye-catching. Consequently, Deviant Art artists are filing DMCA notices all the time. They really have their work cut out for them in trying to stay on top of where their work appears on the internet.

If someone has a Facebook page dedicated to Inspirational Angel quotes, they might see a Deviant Art rendering of an angel that they think is just awesome. So they'll save it to their computer, then put it through a photo editing program to add an inspirational text to it.

In turn, they may feel - let's say "entitled" - to put their own name or their Facebook page name on the newly "transformed" picture to claim it as their own.

It's not okay, it's copyright infringement.

Is Deviant Art considered a legal use or fair use?

No. Chances are the artist has not been dead for 70 years yet, so they still retain their copyright. Fair and legal use is usually when one asks permission first to reuse the picture in its present state or before rendering any "transformative" changes to the original.

But if the artist did not post a copyright, does that mean there isn't one?

No. If someone created it, they own a copyright on it.

If the picture appears on a thousand websites, does that mean the artist put the picture out on the internet for general use?

Not always. Sometimes it just means that a thousand websites stole it and the artist just gave up going after all of them for copyright infringement.

In other cases, a Facebook page owner may assume since they can't see an obvious copyright on it, that the picture is free to use.

Especially when it comes to Deviant Art works, you really have to investigate to determine legality because the creators of Deviant Art will file copyright infringement charges.

Remember: Just because it is on the internet, doesn't mean it is free (or legal) to use.

If you right click a photo to search and nothing comes up in the search except for that one photo, chances are very good that the posting person actually does own it as their intellectual property.

That means they have the copyright to it and it is not yours for the taking.

But sometimes nothing comes up in a search because the photo has been so manipulated that it doesn't even resemble the original photo anymore. That is called "transformative art" and in most court cases, it can be considered fair use.

Pictures have to start somewhere; somebody owned them once before they were manipulated to look like something else, either in a different scene, background, or with added text. So never assume photos are free. Always assume someone owns them.

Nine times out of ten, no one will question where an original photo came from before it went through some transformative changes, unless you happened to have chosen a photo of a famous person, or a photo which still has a copyright logo or watermark embedded somewhere that the naked eye can or cannot see.

It is when you choose to use these types of photos on a website (other than Facebook), where you can get tripped up and be accused of copyright infringement. Your blog may not get many visitors, but use a photo improperly just once and within a short period of time, you will have drawn the attention of someone who cares about its use on your blog.

If you use it on a website that gets a lot of traffic, you will attract the attention of the "real" owner sooner rather than later, because they may see their website views reduce in number. Usually the copyright holder will just ask you to take it down. However, some copyright owners are out for blood and want monetary damages because you deflected traffic from their site, and they want to recover lost revenue.

Is it all worth it?

No. Only use proper legal photos, so you won't have to watch your back end.

True or False - Anonymous Poll Question

I don't care if I use a photo legally or not, as long as I have a photo that I matches my content.

See results

awordlover's Facebook Page

Nearing awordlover's one year anniversary, I decided to go through her files to see what I could throw out and what could be salvaged. On several flash drives, I found more than 1000 folders full of photos with quotes or sayings on them that pertained to Facebook pages which she had owned on her Facebook account for over five years.

Altogether, awordlover had four special interest (or novelty) Facebook pages using various photo topics (flowers, angels, quotes, signs, get well, Christmas, good mornings, and good nights) where readers would visit daily and share the Facebook page's posts with their Facebook friends. These were not pages she paid for nor were they revenue producing pages. awordlover (as well as more than 100,000 other Facebook page owners) would take photos they found on the internet that pertained to the theme of their page and type sayings or quotes on them. Some page owners were more careful than others in selecting free to use or legally proper photographs. Others just picked any photo that struck their fancy.

Toward the end of her life, awordlover reduced her online time considerably but kept one page going because it was uplifting, had a good number of followers, and from what I can see, she got very good feedback in reader comments. The page title was "Good Morning & Good Night." Choosing a page name (title) should be reflective of the page's subject matter and her titles told readers exactly what types of photos and messages they would find on her pages.

"Good Morning & Good Night" was awordlover's first and oldest Facebook page. When she first started, she was trying to build an audience - getting people to click "like" to follow her page. On Facebook, it is all about the "likes."

Usually other Facebook page owners would see a new page show up and in order to help it along, they would often "share" posts with their followers to help send traffic to the new page. awordlover had a few page owners who were very helpful in that way.

Unlike many other pages, awordlover created many of her own photos. For the most part, she used desktop screensavers and wallpapers which were free to use. Other photos in her files were public domain or from free photo sites. A sample of her usage appears below.

As happens with human nature, someone cried copyright infringement and had awordlover's Good Morning & Good Night page shut down about three months before she died.

The infringer was a rival page owner who was not happy that her readership was sharing awordlover's pictures to their timelines and those of their friends even more than they were sharing from her own Facebook page. She went through the Good Morning & Good Night page, picked out a photo to report the page to Facebook for copyright infringement. The one photo she clicked to report proved to be awordlover's original - it is the purple one that says WELCOME which depicts a medieval village background that she found on a free desktop wallpaper site.

Facebook does not investigate any copyright infringement claims; they simply shut off the person's account. Reporting in rampant on Facebook, and whether the report is true or not doesn't really matter. Facebook must act or risk a lawsuit, which they will avoid at all costs.

awordlover filed a rebuttal to the infringement notice, showing the steps she took to create the picture and her page was reinstated about two weeks before she died. By then they had stolen her joy because she was nearly blind from her brain tumor and not able to be online for more than 3 to 4 hours per day.

Just because someone claims copyright infringement on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube or a blog doesn't mean it is a true claim. However, unless the website host chooses to investigate it, the claim will stand and the infringer will be forever labeled as a copyright infringer.

No, it is not a fair system. But until someone legally pursues the flagrant misuse of our copyright infringement laws, it will continue to go on, no matter if it is Facebook, YouTube, a blog or a well-known website.

Samples of awordlover's work

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Timeline cover to awordlover's "Good Morning & Good Night" Facebook page that someone falsely claimed infringement. awordlover was vindicated but too late to restart the page.Many followers asked for timeline covers for their FB pages, so there are lots of them in her files. awordlover's added her name or FB page logo on each photo. She made this one using Pizap, a free photo editing program awordlover cropped a free wallpaper and made this timeline cover from it. She put her logo or name on anything she "made" or "altered" from using the Pizap program.Not all sayings were about Good Morning or Good Night. As time went on, awordlover added more variety to the page. This photo was public domain and she added text to it.awordlover used Image Chef, a free photo editing program, leaving their logo in corner. The photo was free to use as part of Image Chef's collection. She legally added text and her name/logo.awordlover made a lot of collages from legal photos using Pizap.  She compiled them into a theme collage and put her name on the creation.A public domain photo, awordlover added speech bubbles and text with her FB page logoThis photo was a free "blank" wallpaper, awordlover cropped the picture, added text and her name or logoA timeline cover awordlover made with Pizap program. She cropped the picture from wallpaper, put it on a timeline template, added text and her name or logoA public domain photo, awordlover added speech bubbles and text with her FB page logo
Timeline cover to awordlover's "Good Morning & Good Night" Facebook page that someone falsely claimed infringement. awordlover was vindicated but too late to restart the page.
Timeline cover to awordlover's "Good Morning & Good Night" Facebook page that someone falsely claimed infringement. awordlover was vindicated but too late to restart the page. | Source
Many followers asked for timeline covers for their FB pages, so there are lots of them in her files. awordlover's added her name or FB page logo on each photo. She made this one using Pizap, a free photo editing program
Many followers asked for timeline covers for their FB pages, so there are lots of them in her files. awordlover's added her name or FB page logo on each photo. She made this one using Pizap, a free photo editing program | Source
awordlover cropped a free wallpaper and made this timeline cover from it. She put her logo or name on anything she "made" or "altered" from using the Pizap program.
awordlover cropped a free wallpaper and made this timeline cover from it. She put her logo or name on anything she "made" or "altered" from using the Pizap program. | Source
Not all sayings were about Good Morning or Good Night. As time went on, awordlover added more variety to the page. This photo was public domain and she added text to it.
Not all sayings were about Good Morning or Good Night. As time went on, awordlover added more variety to the page. This photo was public domain and she added text to it. | Source
awordlover used Image Chef, a free photo editing program, leaving their logo in corner. The photo was free to use as part of Image Chef's collection. She legally added text and her name/logo.
awordlover used Image Chef, a free photo editing program, leaving their logo in corner. The photo was free to use as part of Image Chef's collection. She legally added text and her name/logo. | Source
awordlover made a lot of collages from legal photos using Pizap.  She compiled them into a theme collage and put her name on the creation.
awordlover made a lot of collages from legal photos using Pizap. She compiled them into a theme collage and put her name on the creation. | Source
A public domain photo, awordlover added speech bubbles and text with her FB page logo
A public domain photo, awordlover added speech bubbles and text with her FB page logo | Source
This photo was a free "blank" wallpaper, awordlover cropped the picture, added text and her name or logo
This photo was a free "blank" wallpaper, awordlover cropped the picture, added text and her name or logo | Source
A timeline cover awordlover made with Pizap program. She cropped the picture from wallpaper, put it on a timeline template, added text and her name or logo
A timeline cover awordlover made with Pizap program. She cropped the picture from wallpaper, put it on a timeline template, added text and her name or logo
A public domain photo, awordlover added speech bubbles and text with her FB page logo
A public domain photo, awordlover added speech bubbles and text with her FB page logo | Source

Facebook Question

Are there any Facebook Pages you visit that use quotes on photographs?

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Public domain photo of a painting with text added

This is considered fair and legal use because the painting is public domain. Anyone can frame it, change the colors, add any text they want and still be considered fair use. Of course, van Gogh could be rolling over in his grave ....
This is considered fair and legal use because the painting is public domain. Anyone can frame it, change the colors, add any text they want and still be considered fair use. Of course, van Gogh could be rolling over in his grave .... | Source

Pinterest

After Facebook, you can bet Pinterest pictures follow closely behind with misuse. Although Pinterest has had a recent policy change regarding proper use and reposting of pictures to guard against copyright infringement, you'll never know when someone might cry out "copyright infringement."

Because of the repinning function on Pinterest, you can literally be tracing the origin of a photo for hours and still not find the original posting party.

Because Pinterest has a copyright policy, does that mean all pictures on Pinterest are fair game to use?

Nope.

It means that Pinterest users found a good thing, categorized it by putting the pictures in neatly labeled albums for easier reference, and most times showed the source URL where they found it, but it doesn't mean their repost was legal.

It just means they properly attributed the picture to the site where they found it, which - on Pinterest - doesn't necessarily have to be the real owner of the picture.

Pinterest pictures are a sticky wicket. You don't know if when you use them in your story, blog or webpage that your use will be legal because you don't know if the person who pinned them in the first place did so legally. Chances are they don't know either.

Does legality really matter with Pinterest photos, especially on sites like HubPages?

No. All HubPages is concerned with is that you properly show where YOU found the photo. I'm sure other sites have the same concern.

Tracing Ownership

Does that mean I'm going to take (waste) an hour or more tracing the origin of every pin I find on Pinterest that I want to use?

Not a chance. I waste enough time finding photos to use on my hubs through regular channels. I will attempt it, but after the 15th repost, I pretty much have given up. I take the first post in the results and that becomes my source URL.

Take this pin about Robert Downey Jr. for example. Try the following exercise to see what kind of results you get. Right click in the center of the photo and then select "search on Google."

Trace this Pinterest Photo

Right click and search and see if you come up with over 900 results for this photo
Right click and search and see if you come up with over 900 results for this photo | Source

Pinterest Question

How likely are you to use photos you find on Pinterest?

See results

These Are My Search Results

How many did you get? I got back 986 results. Over 850 of them are pins on Pinterest.

So how do you know what source URL to use? You can choose any from the list.

After I made sure the link was good (not a broken link), I selected the first one on the list and used it as my source URL.

What are the chances of the real owner of a Pinterest photograph calling you out for "copyright infringement?"

Slim to none. Because on Pinterest where users "repin" each other's pictures, chances are the picture you used has been repinned a dozen times already, so that tracing where the original corruption occurred will be almost impossible.

The internet is ripe for infringement of photographs, even more so than text documents and creative writing stories.

Sites that have a repin or reblog function like Pinterest or Tumblr make copyright infringement almost impossible to enforce.

Proper Use Question

Has this article helped you understand proper usage of text on photos?

See results

Do Not Copy

Please do not copy my article. Thank you.
Please do not copy my article. Thank you. | Source

© Rachael O'Halloran

© 2014 Rachael O'Halloran

Comments

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  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
    Author

    Rachael O'Halloran 2 years ago from United States

    Marion Reads, I'm sorry to take so long in answering you. Your comment didn't show up until yesterday and I don't know why.

    At any rate, I can't answer your question because the images on the CD could be from anywhere and obtained legally or illegally. If you look on the CD, you should see either a disclaimer saying the creator is not liable for infringement or else a copyright notice stating the approved use. If they are free to use, you should see a Creative Commons license or Public Domain tag. Thanks for your comment and I'm sorry I can't be more specific.

  • Marion Reads profile image

    Marion Reads 2 years ago from Canada

    In 2010 I purchased a CD-Rom in the computer section of a drug store. It has 200,000 images, many of them photographs. I use these most often believing there is no issue with copyright. What do you think?

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
    Author

    Rachael O'Halloran 2 years ago from United States

    #Glenn Stok,

    You are welcome and thank you as well.

  • Glenn Stok profile image

    Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

    Yes I know that about watermarks, but it's unfortunate that we can't use it to protect OUR OWN work. Anyway, it like your idea of the tiny text in several places much better. Thanks.

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
    Author

    Rachael O'Halloran 2 years ago from United States

    #Glenn Stok

    A watermark is what you see splashed across SHUTTERSTOCK and other photo sites because it shows their ownership if someone uses it w/o permission. When they pay their money, their copy has no watermark. This is what their point is about a watermark:

    http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-135644792/stock-ph...

    and deposit photos

    http://se.depositphotos.com/3482438/stock-photo-ma...

    That tiny little bit of text I use is barely noticeable (make it small, light colored, and write down where you put it so you remember). Every one of my readers knows about it now because I'm outing myself about it. But I don't mind, because it is important. Your copyright is not enough to protect you in every case, so you have to go out of your way to protect yourself. You can put it on outer edge and let the thief think that when he removed that portion, he got the copyright off the pix, but YOU will know there are 3 or 4 more randomly placed texts to cover your butt.

    Thanks for writing back. :)

  • Glenn Stok profile image

    Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

    Thanks for that detailed reply Rachael. Actually it was not a photo, it was artwork that I created. But the same applies. I noticed the tiny copyright statements on some of the samples you have in this hub, and I thought about doing the same thing.

    I do have many with a noticeable copyright with my name and year of copyright, but I like that idea of making it small and in several places. I'll definitely do it for any images on new hubs, and over time, I'll update the existing ones.

    HubPages complained about me using watermarks to protect my images, and last time I checked, they still don't allow watermarks. But they never said anything about not allowing using tiny text.

  • RachaelOhalloran profile image
    Author

    Rachael O'Halloran 2 years ago from United States

    #Glenn Stok

    It wasn't until I ran into the Cariou vs Prince case I wrote about on my hub

    http://rachaelohalloran.hubpages.com/hub/Interacti... that I started to even understand the scope of transformative art.

    They should call it stolen and defaced art with what Prince did to Cariou's photographs, it was that bad. What I thought was clearly and open and shut case of defacement, US Supreme Court upheld his 30 plus career of doing this to other artists as "transformative art." I do believe it was a coined term somewhere along the line but it got world-wide use after this case went through the lower courts and then up to the Supreme Court.

    I am all for art in good taste. I don't even mind art that belongs to others that is transformed into something "beautiful" and STAYS in good taste. But not what amounts to defacement and filth. Prince took a tribe of people who trusted Cariou to show their culture and he destroyed any faith these people might ever have in a future photographer or journalist to tell their history.

    As for your photograph, unfortunately I wasn't around then. But if I had been and also had been armed with the Cariou vs Prince knowledge, I would have pushed that to the limit.

    1. your photo was protected by copyright --all of your photo

    2. taking part of your photo (which is copyrighted) to do as they wish is copyright infringement, AS LONG AS you can prove the part they took was from YOUR photo. If it was a generic item that could have been found in any photo, you have moved down a few pegs on the lawsuit ladder.

    3. they changed the color - unfortunately this is done every day - even I do it, because I want something unique. BUT, you are only supposed to be doing it to photos that are a) in public domain or b) you have permission to do so or 3) if a creative commons license allows it

    I want you to do something for me since this has happened to you before, and likely may happen again.

    I want you to use a Picasa type program and in faded text, write © Glenn Stok in smallest text you can and insert it in at least 3 places on images with humans/and almost humans (pets) and at least 4 places if the picture is bigger than 3x5 snapshot. Randomly select places not too close to each other.

    Do this on old and new photos you have online. If you want to replace them all with the new updated text and have time, do it. Otherwise, your copy of the photo is good enough to present for first leg of copyright infringement for offer of proof. If you ever get to court, it would have been best to replace your original with the updated version, so that when a jeweler's eye is taken to the photo, all of your text will show in the appropriate places and there will be no question of theft. Randomly inserting text, you have a fighting chance of at least one remaining behind WHEN IT is cropped, so you can prove your case.

    Copyright infringement fees are up to $150,000 per image as determined by a judge. The more agreggious and more malicious the act, the higher the award.

    It may seem like a case of closing the barn door after the cow ran away, but you probably have 100 photos out there over your years on the internet. IF you care about it and if you want to make sure YOU retain ownership AND copyright, it would be worth spend a day to do this.

    Thanks for writing and I'm sorry about your issue with the other hubber. A copyright statement is not enough. You have to mark your photo in a couple of places because the burden of proof lies with you.

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    Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

    I found what you said about "transformative art" to be an interesting dilemma with copyright infringement. A couple of years ago another Hubber took an image I created, cropped off part of it, and changed its color. She used this modified version in her hub. When I reported it to HubPages, they said they couldn't do anything because the image was modified and no longer protected as my copyright. I never fully understood this, but now that you mentioned "transformative art," I realize this seems to be an exception to the rule.

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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #susi10

    Sorry for delay in answering. Thank you so much for your praise. Regarding your question about using Microsoft's images from Word, if you mean Microsoft's clip art, they are free to use. I'm not aware of any images in Word except for those you can paste into the program which you obtain from other sites.

    Regarding quotes by famous people, the only way they can be copyrighted is - if someone compiles them in a book format and puts their name on it. In that case they would be allowed to copyright the collection but not the individual quotes.

    The quotes themselves are free for anyone to use. Liken it to overhearing something clever someone says in a restaurant. They can't copyright the actual words and you would be free to use it. Writers overhear stuff all the time and make full length books from it. Ask Jackie Collins - almost all her books started with overhearing conversations. lol

    If quotes are placed on a picture, as in text on a photo, people put their names on them all the time to say they own the copyright when in fact, the only thing they own is their rendering of the work, especially if they used an altered medium to make the work unique.

    You can take the quote off any photo and put it on another photo anytime. That is considered fair use of the quote if you are ever called into question about it.

    Thank you for your comment, questions and votes,

    Rachael

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    Susan W 3 years ago from The British Isles, Europe

    Rachel, what a great hub! This has cleared up a lot of confusion for me and I have learned a great deal of new information! It never occurred to me that many of the internet memes or photos with quotes more than likely were copied or used an image which was not legally allowed to be shared. Strange enough, I am creating an image quotes hub right now and I make sure that the images used are either my own or from Pixabay (Public Domain). I am tempted to use Microsoft's images from Word but are they legal? I have searched this online and I seem to find no answer. Also, are hugely popular quotes from famous people copyrighted? I think they are protected by a fair use policy which allows copying but I am not certain.

    Thanks for this excellent and in-depth hub, Rachel. You did an amazing job! Shared and voted useful.

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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #vkwok,

    Just make sure you put your name somewhere on your own photos (and drawings) because once you post them on the internet and someone takes a liking to them, they will be appearing on their website. Read above comments for advice on text marking. Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

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    Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

    For me, mostly, I just draw my own pictures on a computer or use my own photos to make sure I don't violate any copyright laws. Thanks for sharing this interesting, excellently written hub.

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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #breakfastpop,

    It is confusing, but many users take any photo that suits their purposes or go with Google or Bing images. Users are best to stick with free photo sites or membership photo sites.

    You can't go wrong with Microsoft Office clipart. lol

    Thank you for reading and commenting,

    Rachael

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    breakfastpop 3 years ago

    This whole area confuses me. I only use photos or illustrations from microsoft office clipart. That way I am sure what I am doing is legal.Thanks for a very comprehensive article that clears up what can be a most confusing topic. Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome.

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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #mary615

    Using your own photos is great but always put your name somewhere in the body (middle) of the photo so it can't be cropped out.

    There are programs that infringers can use that can fade text and some that can retouch and remove the text but in the process they will screw up the objects in the photo and in the end, it isn't worth it.

    If you make your name text light enough so that one doesn't even notice it at first glance, chances are no one will try to remove it because they won't see it.

    And it is those type of people who will reuse a photo and it is you who will have to be vigilant to see where your photos have been used. Try to use the same area of each photo to put your name in faded text and if you choose a different spot on one or two, make a note of it so you remember where you put it.

    IMPORTANT TO ALL READERS:

    On your own photos: Once every week or two, do the right click I described in the article and check to see WHERE YOUR photos have ended up. You'll be surprised that someone saw and used it and didn't even bother to ask your permission.

    Like suzettenaples, you can ask them to take it down, but don't be surprised if they ignore you, in which case you file DMCA notice and let them know they will be removed from search engines because of their infringement. If they make money from their site with ads, etc. they will care enough to honor your wishes.

    Thanks for reading and commenting,

    Rachael

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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #suzettenaples

    You're right, until someone takes on this monumental task of regulating usage, copyright infringement (whether allegations are true or false) and providing clear directions of usage, this will go on indefinitely.

    I'm glad you had a reasonable person that snagged your photo and was willing to cooperate with your wishes. Not everyone does.

    Many infringers ignore cease and desist notices which is why they end up being sued in court. Personal use is rarely pursued; it is when the use is on a site that makes money that the copyright holder usually goes after the infringer. So one is pretty safe on FB or Pinterest, but not so safe on sites like HubPages or blogs that bring in revenue.

    If you use your own photos, read my comment to bravewarrior about marking them.

    If you are using Google images, right click and search because they are not owned by Google - it is just where you found them.

    You'd be much safer picking a result off the search list and using them as a URL source than Google images because HubPages kicks out Google images as illegal use in almost all cases.

    If all else fails, list Pinterest or a free photo website as a source.

    By the way, I want to point out to all readers, even though source URL's are optional, you do not need to put the source in the "live" URL space.

    I put it in the Name of Source space or in the description, because

    1) it will not be a live link nor

    2) it will be a "no follow"

    3) it won't be picked up by a search engine as a live link

    4) it will not count as a "link back" when the photo owner uses Google Analytics or any other tracking program to see who linked to their website.

    5) it will not alert the photo's owner that I have linked the photo to their site as a link back.

    You should only put a link in the "source URL" box if you want your reader to follow your link by clicking on it for further reading on that site. HubPages does not require LIVE links.

    A live link is when it appears in "blue print" under your photo. Put it in the description box or in "name of source" to have it remain in black or gray text and it won't be a live clickable link. You still attributed it by stating your source.

    Thanks for reading and for your great comment.

    Rachael

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    Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

    I try very hard to use my own photos!! I'm always afraid I'll get into trouble. There are a couple of sites I go to for free stock photos, and of course there is always Wikimedia Commons to use. I use a small watermark at the bottom of my own photos: I never thought about someone chopping that off. I like your method of "hiding" the watermark.

    Very informative Hub: thanks Voted UP and shared.

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    Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

    Yes, this is a great hub, Rachael. I don't use photos with words on them originally myself, but I probably have shared them. I have not used any photos with my own captions unless I have taken the photo myself. That goes for facebook and HP. When I find photos on Google images, it is very difficult to trace the photo's original owner. I try to give a website and if I cannot I just use google.com. I think people have to realize that if they put their photos on the internet they will be stolen and misappropriated. It is just the nature of the beast. Our hubs are stolen all the time and we have to track down the abuser to get it off the offending site. That is why your article is so great. I try to give what I think is the origin of the photo, but I never really know for sure. No one has ever come after me, I can tell you that. I once had a fellow hubber use one of my personal photos from a hub of mine on his/her hub, but they posted the photo on their hub blank with no info on origin. When I told the hubber it was my personal photo, the hubber was very nice about it, apologized and told me she had gotten it of Pinterest and immediately took the photo down. This is going to continue to happen until there is some regulation on the web.

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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #Nell Rose

    Photo usage has been used and abused as you can see, and we can only do the best we can when we use photos. I appreciate you taking time to read and comment.

    Thank you,

    Rachael

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

    Hiya, Wow! I clicked on that photo and as you said there were tons of them! I am always trying to be so careful when I use a photo, and have often wondered how I can find out the original owner etc. I steer well clear of Deviant Art photos even though they are amazing, and just try to get it right! lol! this is great though, and so useful! thanks! voted up and shared, nell

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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #someonewhoknows - thank you for reading and commenting on my article :)

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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #bravewarrior

    You are very welcome and I Thank you for being my friend :)

  • someonewhoknows profile image

    someonewhoknows 3 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

    Gives new meaning to those famous words - "A photo is worth a thousand words."

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    Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

    Wow, how can someone claim to be someone they're not? I never even thought of that! Geez, the more I learn the more befuddling it all gets.

    I used Paint to add my name to the photos. They're all pretty much in the same place and I chose a color to match pretty closely with the background, but not so closely that it's not noticeable when you really look. At first glance you don't see it. I know when I'm searching for photos if I see a watermark I don't even consider it. But then again, not everyone is as honest and ethical as I am.

    I really appreciate all the effort you put into these posts, Rachael. Those of us who make a living online need to cover our asses. You've taught me so much in a short period of time it's mind boggling!

    You have no idea how much I appreciate you. Especially knowing what I do about you. You are one awesome woman my friend!

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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #bravewarrior

    Your photos are your personal intellectual property and you always retain copyright to them, no matter if they were taken at DisneyWorld or at The White House in Washington DC. They are yours.

    Glad you know about right click now, it is invaluable for many uses.

    Watermarking - simply typing your name somewhere on the photo (preferably not on edges but more toward the center) is good enough instead of investing in any kind of watermarking program.

    I use Picasa, then I use the fade button to bring the color of the text down to just about noticeable (to me) so that it doesn't detract from the picture when one looks at it. I generally put my name in nearly the same places on each photo so, if you can, get in the habit of picking the same spot or two so you know where to look on each photo and you won't be scratching your head with wonder "Where did I put my name on this one?"

    I like to use a straight edge, bury it in hair or in clothing (like down the arm or down the leg) and I color match text so it blends. Anyone else looking may not notice it when they go to steal the pix but I know where I put my name and that is all that counts.

    This has been invaluable because I have 2 pictures at the moment that have been stolen by others who had no idea my name was buried somewhere in the body of the picture.

    So when I filed DMCA against one gal, she had the gall to file a rebuttal saying the picture was hers. The picture was only in my profile spot for about 3 hours before I removed it and it is the only time I have ever put a picture of myself on the internet. After sending Google a copy of my passport with my picture on it, they asked her to send a current picture too and she couldn't do it. Because she is not me!

    Never again will I use my own photograph for a profile picture. I'll use a picture of my dog before I put my own face on it.

    Someone stole my Princess Diana hub the other day so I am battling that out too. None of the pictures are mine, just the content. I'm getting pretty fed up with filing against people who can't write their own stuff. lol

    Thanks for taking time out to read my article,

    Rachael

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    Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

    Rachael, I didn't know about the right click trick. Good to know! Today, I spent quite a bit of time filling in details in the properties section of personal photos I wanted to use in my blog post. Then I went into each photo and added the copyright symbol and my name to them. All of the photos were taken when my family visited Sea World in 1996 and fear they might be used when they show up on the Internet. I also had your hub about watermarking photos in the back of my mind. Since I took the photos, I'm assuming I retain copyrights even tho they were taken at a famous attraction. Am I right in my assumption?

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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #billybuc, Thanks for stopping by to read it and comment. I appreciate it when you have so many you visit. :)

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    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I've never done this and I doubt that I will, but you cleared up a lot of confusion about it. Well done!

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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #MsDora,

    When a lot of us started writing online, many of these legalities were not in place. Out of desperation comes measures to help fight off bad behavior.

    It is only with the genius and ingenuity of certain computer programs that people are able to alter photos or claim them for their own because they don't see a name on the picture. Properly attributing photos in a source URL helps you to know where you found a photo because one can't always remember one's internet travels. But it also credits the author and it also tells readers to go look there if they question your source.

    Thanks for reading and commenting,

    Rachael

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    Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

    #DDE

    Even if you are using your own photos, you need to get your name on the photo somewhere showing your ownership because the first time you post them and no one sees your name on the photo, they will take them as public domain and use them as they wish.

    I always suggest typing your name in very light print very small in the body of the photo - like along an arm, tree trunk, a cloud - somewhere you will know where to look for it but not so bold as to be the first thing you see when you look at the picture. I'm all for using your own photos, but make sure you can keep them as your own with your own name on them somewhere - anywhere but along an edge where someone would be able to crop your name off. Burying in the middle somewhere or in the clothing or scenery is a help to keep stealing at a minimum.

    Thanks for reading and commenting,

    Rachael

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

    When I started writing online, I was not aware of all these legalities. As I edit old hubs, I try to make corrections. Thanks for these detailed explanations to help us do right by photographers.

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    Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Great hub! I try to use my photos in most of my hubs but sometimes use other photos with the source link provided. Free images and so on. You have helped me see how important it is to use my own photos. Pinterest photos are also a good idea.