Magazine Article


What are you doing to protect your intellectual property?

In an ever-changing, increasingly digital world, copyright infringement has become a big issue for photographers looking to appease their clients, but at the same time maintain a profitable business for themselves. Image theft has become easier for clients who are digital- or web-savvy, and illegally scanning proofs is another vehicle some clients may use to get more than they paid for. That's why our January Peer2Peer tackled this problem head on and asked our readers how they have remedied illicit usage of their images. Our survey was sent out on December 10, 2007, and ran for one week; with over 800 respondents, more than half of our readers (69.3%) answered that they are concerned with their intellectual property's security. Here's what else we found...


  • More than half of our respondents (52.24%) are concerned that their clients are making copies of their photographs from proofs and website images.
  • Posting low-resolution images on their website (32.51%), including a copyright symbol (28.18%), and watermarking (19.46%) are some ways photographers prevent misuse of their images.
  • Almost half of our readers (48.42%) have fallen victim to copyright infringement.
  • The majority of our respondents (75.24%) don't believe that the industry is doing enough to disseminate information to the public about image usage rights.

Click here to view PDF version of full article with survey results.

Quotable Quotes

"I ask for a credit line for every use. I try to use metadata copyright and only post low-resolution images on my website."
Cindy Petrehn, Cindy Petrehn Photography, Edwards, CO,

"I try to start a discussion about copyright early in the assignment/stock use process. A lot of problems can be avoided by having an understanding up front with a customer about what rights they have to the photos they're paying for and future uses that may require an additional fee."
Bob Arruda, Bob Arruda Pictures, Wellesley, MA,

"I constantly mark and remind my editorial clients that pictures are licensed for specific, not unlimited usage. I insist upon copyright credits. I formally copyright my work with the Library of Congress."
Steve Stibbens, SteveStibbens WorldWide, Dallas, TX,

"I use Digimarc and register the retouched images with the copyright office."
Bruce Eisenberg for The Focus Group, Los Angeles, CA,

"Prior to printing, we create a copyright layer [in Photoshop CS3] that is very subtle....If there should be an issue, we send them a print of the section of their image with this imbedded copyright and they buy prints immediately. They also sign an acknowledgment of copyright when they place their order."
Robert Davis, Tableau' Vivant, The Dalles, OR,

"I place a copyright symbol in my images along with disabling right-click copying."
Michael Carr, Carr Imaging, Laguna Beach, CA,

"I don't make proofs anymore. Everything I print is a finished portrait that the client has already purchased. I think texturing helps deter copying. My prices for small images are high and can only be purchased with a minimum portrait order. And...I include a copy of the copyright law in their order."

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