Copyright Stamp

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by kariann, May 6, 2007.

  1. I was encouraged to get a copyright stamp and stamp the back of my proofs, not
    to just "sign" them on PS on a border, because "the client can just cut off the
    border." Can anyone tell me where to find such a stamp and what it might say?
    Thanks for your help! Kari
  2. Kari-- First of all, if you are located in the US you should know that it is illegal in the States to remove a copyright notice. That can get a copyright violator worse off than just for minor infringement. However, if the edge is cut off the problem is proving it, and in that your information is correct.

    You can get a rubber stamp at just about any office supply store. They can have them sent out to be made custom, or you can get a make-it-yourself stamp kit for about $20 or so. Just be aware that most rubber-stamp ink is very liable to smudge or be wiped off of the back of most printing papers, especially if you are still using the kind that works with a darkroom and chemicals (i.e., resin-coated).

    You are better off going to a custom print shop and getting a roll of labels with your copyright and contact info on them, backed by "security" adhesive. This type of label is very difficult to pull off of whatever it is stuck onto, and the harder the miscreant tries to pull it off, the more it is evident that a label was tampered with. In some cases, the paper will rip before the label will release.

    a much cheaper method is to sign the back of the prints with a Sharpie permanent marker. Just test it to be sure that the ink will not seep through the paper before you do it for real.

    The method I'd use, though, would be to watermark each image with a copyright notice. It's time-consuming, but worth it if you are that concerned about getting your images stolen.

    Happy shooting. -BC-
  3. I agree with Bill that the cheapest way is to use a sharpie marker and sign the back, as a painter would do in the front of his/her painting. Add the copyright logo next to your name to remind people this is material to which you own the copyright. That method is effective and still looks professional.
    If you're willing to invest a bit of money and want a more consistent and professional look, you can do what I did.
    I use two custom made stamps that I ordered in an office supplies store. Some places offer this service, some don't, but it can be found locally in the yellow pages.
    Both are 1 3/4 by 3 3/4 which is ok for any photo size.
    The first one has this on it: Top line centered "- DO NOT COPY -" / Next line, left side "Photographer:" (rest is blank for a signature with a sharpie) / Third line, left side "Date:" (rest is blank again - sharpie) / and final bottom line, centered "copyright - ©". Having the web site is definitely not standard, but that's because it's also my name. You definitely want your name to show with the copyright logo or word.
    The second stamp is identical except the second and third line have been replaced with: (centered lower case, smaller font) "not for commercial use" and the third line is the very same right under it but in french.
    Both stamps are for different use depending on the client, job, material
    And as for the ink used, it's basically the same as the one you find in the sharpie marker but in a bottle that you use to fill a stamp pad. That ink has many names but usually you refer to it as "ultra-dye permanent ink" or "ultra permanent ink" (few stores use the "black #555 perm" reference term). Long story short, the back of photographs doesn't absorb ink. So you want to order an ink that is pretty much identical as your sharpie's.
    You should be able to get it, with your custom stamp. The stamp is rarely made at the office supply store. They have a provider they use for that service (Trodat being a very popular one). Tell the store you need to order that ink and need a pad without ink already in it for your stamp. They will tell you they don't know about that, or don't have it. Ask them to request it from the provider. They should have it and the store will sell it to you. Most the time they don't know because it's not something people ask about frequently.
    How much? Canadian dollars, I paid 45$ for a stamp (it's a large one, with a bottle of ink (14.oz if I remember correctly - good for thousands of stamps), and a pad. It should cost you less in the United States.
    There are other ways to do it and as for the words on my stamps I didn't follow any legal directions. It's short, to the point, and the copyright part is standard. Requirements may be different for other countries or regions.

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