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COPYRIGHTING & WATERMARKS

2010 March 24
by R.L. Gibson

Click Here to Learn More about Social Media ManagersAs many of you know, I am employed as a Social Media Manager (See Online Community Manager at Wikipedia) for Carousel Gardens and do graphic design, web, and logo work in addition.  Yesterday I approached an artist’s representative about incorporating a piece of his artwork in a logo that I am currently designing. 

He said, “Sure.” 

I replied, “Thanks.  I will make sure it is small enough that it can’t be reproduced and stolen and…”

He interrupted laughing and said, “Clearly I’m not worried about that, or I would make a better effort to protect the artwork on the website.  I figure if someone can figure out how to steal it and make a million bucks, I’ll steal it back and make the second million.”

Folks, to put it in perspective, I am talking about an internationally-known artist whose work on canvas, paper and bronze is very well editioned and supports more than one generation of his family.

Click Here to Find this at iStockphoto!So my question is, why are artists so paranoid that we’re watermarking tiny digital images of our work online? 

If you’re a stock photographer–I get it.  Corporations using your images for logos and not paying–I get it.  But otherwise folks, let’s all loosen up.  Can’t we all just remember that theft–regardless of how wrong–is still a back-handed compliment?

The ones that really kill me are the images you right-click and they say “This image protected.”  Really?  I have yet to find an image protected from my PRT SCRN key.  Maybe what we should be doing is encouraging people to cut and paste our work so their audience is prompted to say, “Wow!  Who did that?”  

Optimism, folks…catch the wave.

2 Responses
  1. mikey permalink
    March 24, 2010

    When you can support several generations from the sale of your work you are less concerned with losing a few thousand in possible royalties. Having watched countless African American music artist die poor while their songs made millions, my perspective is a little skewed. I’m not overly cautious with my images, at this stage I’m happy to get extra exposure, but if I take stock of history and current trends in appropriation I would be wise to rethink my approach.

  2. March 24, 2010

    I certainly understand being concerned about theft on principle alone and particularly when it costs you money. However, I think there are a lot of artists out there doing themselves a disservice by protecting every 100×200 pixel image with a glaringly ugly watermark. There has to be a balance. I have had my work stolen both physically and digitally, but in the end I am still not going live with the paranoia (even if justified) or mar every image of my work. I just can’t do it.

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