Identifying Text on Photos

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by michaellinder, Jul 1, 2014.

  1. Photographers have every right to get their names out to the viewing public. And I also understand the need to protect one's property and to maintain the integrity of a copyright. However, in my opinion, a photographer's name and/or trade name within the frame of an image sometimes is distracting. This also tends to lessen the image's impact and quality.
    Your thoughts, please . . .
  2. There are a lot of ugly ones, or ones that are so prominent that they are the first thing you see. Surely a bad thing. I understand the purpose of a small subtle one which alerts the viewer that this is an image not to be used without permission. Not that many people take a lot of notice, of course.
  3. If you are seeing this in on-line, digital images, many - if not all - of the photographers are not so much "getting their name out" as trying to prevent some third party from pirating their photo and claiming it as their own. This happens all too often, as some people believe that if it is on the internet, it is public, and free to use anywhere.
    It is an unfortunate fact of internet life, and it doesn't look like it will be disappearing anytime soon.
  4. Depends. Which Michael Linder is asking? Michael Linder? Or Michael Linder? If it's the one, I'm fer it. If it's t'other, I'm agin' it.
  5. The only way you will ever see one of my images without a copyright watermark is if you paid me lots of money to own it, or if you purchased one of my books.
  6. It's me, Lex - the Michael Linder. (Did something dumb when renewing; waiting for it to be fixed.
    Robin, Larry, Will - Please review the OP. I acknowledged the legitimacy of protecting one's work. Yet, I'm sure this purpose can be accomplished without messing up a viewer's experience of the image. What about an inconspicuous copyright water mark in a corner of the image? What about adding a border and placing the watermark on the border? There probably are other options to those more expert than me.
  7. Michael, if a water mark is meant to protect the work, then its being inconspicuous would undermine its purpose and usefulness. Text within a border around the photo can be cropped out in an instant. A small signature placed off in a corner could most likely easily be cloned out.
    That being said, I don't use watermarks for precisely the reason you mention, they're unsightly and interfere with the experience of a photo (in most cases). The Internet is an important viewing medium and often the only one that's going to convey my photos to others or theirs to me. As there are billions of photos circling around the Internet, I'm not too concerned about maintaining control over the integrity of my images. When they're out there, they're out there.I use only low resolution jpgs for Internet purposes. If people want to steal them and claim them as their own, it doesn't present me with much of a problem or at least I don't find the aesthetic tradeoff worth the protection the water mark supposedly offers. If I had my 'druthers, I'd prefer people didn't do things like steal images, but I'd also like everyone not to cheat on their taxes and not to spit their chewing gum on the street . . . there isn't much chance of my controlling any of it.
    Most of the time when I see these logos and signatures, they do get in the way and they just seem silly and a little too protectively possessive to me. But I've also become used to them and they've become more like background noise than a major irritant. It's like the stupid logos now in the corner of every TV screen or the iPhone screens that light up before the applause ends at any play, movie, or concert I go to see. Just part of the modern-day experience of sensory bombardment.
  8. Larry ...I think it started before the internet, or at the very start, with some people ... I remember my boss copying a complete book on the firm's copying machine.
    I am 'a-gin' becuase I know from experiments/exercises-in-editing-competance that it is usually very easy to remove them if one wishes to so ... so it is a] an advert for the photographer's lack of artistic sensibilities and b] a pointless exercise since only the honest take any notice.
  9. There is this. By the way, it's my understanding that you do not have to have registered the copyright under this statute.


    Section 1202. Integrity of copyright management information . . .
    No person shall, without the authority of the copyright owner or the law:
    (1) intentionally remove or alter any copyright management information . . .
    (3) distribute . . . copies of works . . . knowing that copyright management information has been removed or altered without authority of the copyright owner . . . knowing . . . that it will . . . conceal an infringement of any right under this title.

    (c) DEFINITION. . . . "[C]opyright management information" means any of the following information conveyed in connection with copies . . . of a work . . . or displays of a work, including in digital form . . . :
    (2) The name of, and other identifying information about, the author of a work.
    (3) The name of, and other identifying information about, the copyright owner of the work, including the information set forth in a notice of copyright. . . .

    Section 1203. Civil remedies

    (b) POWERS OF THE COURT. In an action brought under subsection (a), the court . . .
    (3) may award damages under subsection (c);
    (4) in its discretion may allow the recovery of costs by or against any party . . . ; [and]
    (5) in its discretion may award reasonable attorney's fees to the prevailing party . . .

    (c) AWARD OF DAMAGES. (1) IN GENERAL. . . . [a] person committing a violation of . . . 1202 is liable for either
    (A) the actual damages and any additional profits of the violator . . . or
    (B) statutory damages, as provided in paragraph (3).

    (3) STATUTORY DAMAGES. . . .
    (B) At any time before final judgment is entered, a complaining party may elect to recover an award of statutory damages for each violation of section 1202 in the sum of not less than $2,500 or more than $25,000.
  10. Michael,
    What about an inconspicuous copyright water mark in a corner of the image? What about adding a border and placing the watermark on the border?​
    Sorry, I thought I agreed that this was OK, but I'm with Fred on this one really. The more aggressive the watermark or whatever it is, and the more obscuring, the more awful it will be, but the more protective it will be of your image. If I was making my living in the business, I would probably put a small copyright line outside of the image area to brand the image and as a reminder that the image shouldn't be stolen, but I would not anticipate it being left alone because of that. The main thing of course is that someone else is not making money off your photo nor are they using it for purposes for which you do not approve.
  11. I'm both "fer" and "agin." I have both images for sale and images I want to share. The images for sale are the sorts of images I imagine someone might want to hang on a wall. They get a big, hunkin' watermark that is frankly hard to edit away. It extends diagonally across the image like a ribbon, so it would be impossible to crop it away. I also vary the darkness of the watermark, so that it would be impossible to replicate it and apply an algorithm to diminish it.
    I apply this huge, hunkin' watermark not only to protect my own commercial interests, but also to protect the commercial interests of other photographers. I fully realize that "free" and "stealable" images both work into supply and demand dynamics. It is my responsibility to other photographers to do my part to control "stealable" supply. Even though I have these huge, hunkin' watermarks, I rarely hear comments about them. Most people are able to see through to the photo beneath without too much distraction.
    I once tried making my photos unwatermarked, but of a size that I felt nobody would be interested in printing, for lack of suitable resolution. Then I saw someone had actually printed one of these images. It looked awful. It was certainly nothing I'd want associated with my name.
    Some of my photos are not really meant for sale, usually serving somewhat of a political purpose. I do watermark them, but the watermark is small. I realize it is easy to clone/crop out such a watermark, but I won't get horribly upset if it happens. In all likelihood, whoever might do it would probably be promoting the same cause. In the case of these photos, I don't want the watermark to provide any distraction or have any prominence.
  12. I'm not sure that the faith people have in watermarks is warranted anymore. To my knowledge since CS6 anyone with just a casual understanding of Photoshop can remove even the most obtrusive watermark perfectly and almost instantly. There are dozens of YouTube videos out there showing you how.
  13. "I'm not sure that the faith people have in watermarks is warranted anymore. To my knowledge since CS6 anyone with just a casual understanding of Photoshop can remove even the most obtrusive watermark perfectly and almost instantly."​
    One purpose of the watermark is to reveal intent. The watermark shows the photographer intends to retain full rights to the photograph. Removing the watermark shows the thief intends to violate those rights. As the section of the law quoted above shows, intent is important.

    I'm not particularly concerned about non-commercial usage. Some of my photos have been used on personal blogs. Doesn't bother me. I can't control that sort of thing anyway. I'm only concerned about commercial usage or editorial usage by media outlets that can afford to pay. And I no longer try to predict which photos might have some commercial or editorial usage, so I usually set Lightroom to automatically watermark every photo. And it might make it easier for someone to find me if they'd like permission to use the photo. Again, it's a matter of showing intent, not some misguided notion that the watermark automagically offers a shield of protection.

    Regarding the aesthetics of watermarks and copyright notices, my general impression is that unappealing, intrusive and tacky watermarks and logos are generally used by photographers whose photos show the same lack of taste and artistic sensibility. So while a bright red logo or name that shows awful posterizing and JPEG artifact degradation may look ghastly, it's seldom any worse than the photo itself. Usually good photographs don't suffer from fonts that are at least legible, even tasteful, in plain white or black with variations in transparency to suit the background.

    Overall the issue doesn't concern me any more than seeing photographer's notes on fine art prints signed on the border of the photo or on the mount board. It's certainly more discrete than the pretentious watercolorists who not only sign their names but also the initials of the various watercolor associations they're members of.
  14. "Usually good photographs don't suffer from fonts that are at least legible, even tasteful, in plain white or black with variations in transparency to suit the background." Well said, Lex.

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