Thursday, January 8, 2009

An Aside: A Cold Chill Down My Spine

OMG! Today, I discovered exactly how easy it is to copy one of my images online by taking a screenshot. I am still very new to learning how to use my Mac Book Pro, so I admit I didn't know how to take a screenshot until I was asked to do so in order to submit my blog to the Professional Photographer Magazine's "Freshest Photoblog 09 Contest." I did a quick Google search to explain to me how to do a screenshot of my blog, and the ease of it was astounding. That's when I felt that cold chill down my spine: I realized how it would be possible for someone to do the same thing with one of my photos, especially if it wasn't watermarked.

Up until now I'd always believed in the perspective that said "If anyone really wanted to take your image, they would." Somehow I never thought anyone would be interested in taking any of mine because somewhere down inside I feared my photos weren't good enough. But as my self-confidence grows in my own abilities and talents (and my sales and client base continues to grow); I'm realizing that someone may indeed desire one of my images. Am I making it easy for them when I link to an unwatermarked Flickr image? Yes, when you click on the image, it takes you back to the Flickr photostream where it appeared and once there, the image is right-clicked protected (when you upload the image, all you get is a blank black square). Many of my friends have created actions to help them more easily watermark their images when they are placed on public photography sharing sites such as Flickr or Photobucket.

How can I protect myself? If you take a screenshot of an image, can it be enlarged or can it only copied at the size it's viewed? Maybe I should start watermarking all of my images the same way I protect images on my business website. When I upload images there, SmugMug automatically watermarks them for them with a PNG file I created. I would appreciate it if someone could explain this to me, because to be quite honest, I'm still scared.

I turned to my friends on the Mile High DPS Social Group and asked them for tips to protect my work:

From Cuchalainn:

"Even easier than a screen shot are programs such as Grab. They let you capture a screenie, a selection of the screen or a time screen if you wanted to capture a slideshow. Programs like this may it way to easy for someone to grab your stuff, even bypassing the disabling left clicks as some web masters try to do. If you care about about protecting the image, be aware that there are programs like this out there.

Oh... and also be aware of programs such as Blue Crab as well. These programs allow people to download your entire website to their hard drive including images, pdf's, video etc."

From Dizzle:
"And there is the argument that if you do nothing to attempt to protect your image that you are in essence saying it is free to use. A watermark at least shows you have the intent of protecting your images and they are not free for use just because it is posted online."


Dizzle said...

My rule...if I am posting it online, it gets a watermark...period.

Not only for the "protection" it offers (not much really but anything is better than nothing) but because people have seen my watermark on images and contacted me from them.

If it goes online, watermark it.

I even watermark eBay images...

Sheba Wheeler said...

I think you are right and that I need to make it a part of my editing workflow. I'm going to create that action in PS tonight. It's also a good idea to make sure my images are smaller too so they can't be resized larger and printed.

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