Protecting your work as an artist is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your creative livelihood. Understanding “copyrights” and taking the steps necessary to protect them can save you a lot of grief in the future. You don't want to find one day that your intellectual property has been stolen. Here are some best practices to help protect your work on the Internet.
How to Protect Your Work
1. Register your work with the U. S. copyright authorities.
Copyright laws protect visual and written works including paintings, essays, photographs and sculptures and help establish reproduction limitations.
2. Add a Watermark or Logo to your work before uploading.
There are numerous free watermark tools found online. Put the watermark in the center. It needs to be as obnoxious as possible without taking away from the quality of your work. Place it in the center and not in the corner, you want to make it as obvious as you can make it so no one will try misuse your material. Here are a couple tools to get you started.
3. Add a copyright signature and warning to the image.
By adding an inscription such as © 2016 Jane Doe (copyright sign + date of creation + your name) and the text “All rights reserved” it tells viewers that the work is someone else’s property, and like any property, it is not theirs for taking.
4. Upload your work in a lower resolution.
Uploading in a lower resolution makes it harder to rip-off images when a high-resolution photo isn't available.
5. Put a copyright notice on your website or online profile pages.
This is a nice reminder for people not to use your work without your permission. Make it big and bold so it stands out.
What to do if your creative work is being used
without your permission...
If you have the misfortune of having your work stolen, here are some actions you can take to rectify
the situation. Information gathering is key here. Capture as much as possible on the offender.
1. Find out the domain owners name.
You can search on google, for who the site belongs to or use www.whois.net. This will give you a
2. If you see your work featured on a website, take screen shots and copy the urls of the
You'll want to have evidence that the individual or business violated your copyright. Make a copy of the urls and take screen shots to provide the proof that they have misused your work.
3. Try to find out where the site is based.
This is important. Laws very from country to country. However, if the site violating your copyright is based in the United States, you are protected by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.
4. Find the contact info.
Once you find their contact info, send them a cease and desist letter. Send an email or letter reporting the violation with the information you have obtained; screen shots and urls and ask that your work be removed as soon as possible.
5. Hire or contact an attorney if necessary.
If the offending party does not comply with your requests, your best recourse may be to contact an attorney.
Hopefully these tips are helpful and you'll never have to deal with having your intellectual property used without your permission.