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Watermarks on blog photos - what are your thoughts?

gardener & author
Posts: 1330
Location: Tasmania
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For my blog I have always put a small watermark on my photos to stop nasty people from claiming my work as their own. I try to do it in a way that doesn’t detract from the photo. I am having software problems as well as limited time for blogging, and watermarking now seems like one extra hurdle to jump over towards doing a blog post.

With reverse image search it is possible to find out whether a photo has been used elsewhere or not. I also use a creative commons non-commercial licence with my blog content, so I don’t mind people sharing the photos, as long as they attribute it correctly and don’t sell it or use it on something that is for sale.

I am wondering now whether the creative commons licence, and the difficulty people might have now to steal an image is enough to stop watermarking the photos? Or are there still good reasons to watermark blog photos?

Posts: 1398
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I wouldn't bother. if someone wants the photo where's the problem?
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Angelika Maier wrote:I wouldn't bother. if someone wants the photo where's the problem?

The problem is, where does it end? Where's the line between helping oneself to someone else's work and piracy? Taking someone else's work without permission is theft. This is a huge problem, especially for people who are trying to make a living with a creative endeavor whether photography, music, movies, or books. Some folks will give credit when the "borrow" without asking, but others will try to pass the work off as their own, even make money off it. Who doesn't want to be acknowledged for their work? Expecially, after putting hours of time into it? The problem is that people don't see helping themselves as a problem. The basic issue is a lack of respect.

When I kept up with my fiber blog I used watermark my photos.

But I haven't done it with my homesteading blog. It was a multi-step process (for the watermark I chose to do) and I had too many other things to do.

One problem, Kate, with yours and my type of watermark is that they can be easily cropped off. Or made to disappear with a clone tool. We've all seen photos that put the watermark across the face of the photo, but that destroys aesthetic appeal.

Creative commons licencing is a good thing, if people give the required attribution.

Lately I've taken to adding a copyright comment to my photos,

but that can be erased too.
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Upload the photo is a low quality, sure people might use it but no one is going to make any money on it. I don't bother personally I don't mind if others use my photos.
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What is the goal of the watermark?  

If it is to prevent people from stealing the photo and claiming it as their own, then no.  It won't work.  It's easy to remove a watermark.  Even I could do it.  

If it is to advertise your product/site/whatever, then it's useful to have a faint web address or easily searchable name.  That way if someone borrows the image for social media, it acts as advertizement.  But, I personally feel it's better if done tactfully with a faded watermark that looks beautiful.  So often, I see images with black or white text layered on them, which I think looks pretty unprofessional.   Even something as simple as the way the photographer made the text wavy for watermark looks good to me:

As for the first problem, this is a bigger area.  In most of the West (canada, UK, US, much of Europe, and possibly elsewhere) the ownership of the photo belongs to the person who presses the shutter.  This ownership is nontransferable (in most places - it's going to depend on where you live so don't trust what someone says on the internet, find your local photography association or ask a lawyer for your local laws).  Protecting these rights isn't easy.  Once you've published a photo, it's out there for anyone to see and with today's technology, steel.  Once you upload a photo, you've shared the use-rights with the publisher of that site.  It gets very complicated, very quickly.  Basically, it's not worth the money or effort to protect the photographer's rights once the image is out there.  

There are a few things we can do before we publish the photo to reduce theft.

1.  Don't publish:  If I'm hoping to write an article or book on a subject in the future, I keep the best images on my computer (and backup drive).  I publish my B-role (second-best images) or deliberately poorly edited images on social media. That way if I sell an article to a magazine, I can promise all-new content.  

2. Small and poor resolution:  This is something I'm trying to do more.  I scale down the image to be 700pixels on the long edge before uploading it to somewhere like permies.  That way the image is of less use for people who want to use it.

3. Watermarks: again, this is easy to remove, but most people don't bother when sharing on social media.  It becomes free advertising.  

Hey, sticks and stones baby. And maybe a wee mention of my stuff:
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