If you have a Facebook account, chances are you have seen posts from your friends about the new Facebook copyright guidelines. The impression is that posting your disapproval of Facebook using personal posts for commercial use protects you from copyright infringement. But that’s simply not the case. Aside from the recent Facebook change, online copyright infringement is something that has been a concern of visual artists since the rise of social media. In fact, it’s something that I think a lot about. In a class I took recently I learned even more about this topic and it’s been incredibly eye-opening to learn more about the best ways to protect my photographs and most importantly, the people and subjects featured in my work.
The truth is, contrary to the recent buzz around that post on Facebook, once you post a video or photo online it becomes public domain; you still own the copyright to the photo or video, but you have granted that particular social media outlet license to use and display the content however they would like. That means you automatically grant them royalty-free license to use, copy, adapt or display the content in any way they desire.
I get a lot of feedback—sometimes not-so-positive—on why I watermark my images when I post them to my website or Facebook account. As I mentioned above, once a photo is posted to a social media outlet it becomes public domain, which means unless it is adorned with a watermark or photo credit anyone can take it and present it as their own work. Seems crazy, right? It happens all the time. Photography is not only my job, it’s my passion, and watermarking and photo crediting is the way I protect myself and also network my work. It’s crucial to the integrity of my business.
Obviously the world of social media is ever expanding and is sure to be a permanent fixture in our daily life, so it is important that we all stay educated on the importance of protecting our personal information and visual media online. I appreciate my clients respecting my decision to watermark my images when posting online and I am more than willing to provide a watermarked image to you to post on your Facebook page to share with your friends. Do you have questions or copyright concerns of your own? If so, I would love to chat more with you about this important topic!